I’m no relationship expert but I’ve been in enough shitty ones to know what NOT to do and what doesn’t work. I’m no saint. I’ve messed up plenty of times but I’ve also been on the flip side of that. I believe if you’re dating or married the same deal breakers apply. The only difference is when you’re married you’ve got more at stake. Some people say a relationship is work. Others say it’s not work if you’re with the right person. I say there is no right or wrong answer. I’ve dated and I’m currently married. In all cases some days were easier than others and some days felt like a double shift at a job you can’t wait to quite. I don’t know every thing but I do know what not to do in a relationship if you want it to last.
This seems like a no brainer but let me explain. When we meet someone we can fall for outward appearances and go by what they tell us. Everyone has layers that need to be peeled back in order to really get to know someone. Nothing can ruin a relationship faster than investing time in someone that isn’t who you thought they were or come to find out you have completely different beliefs.
Instead: Don’t rush things. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. I recently came across this New York Times article about psychologist Arthur Aron. He apparently has a knack for helping people fall in love. His claim to fame? Asking your potential mate 36 particular questions to help you fall in love. Which basically goes back to… get to know each other!
This can be hard especially if you’ve got young kids. Couples get busy with work and their lives outside of their partners and they unintentionally start spending less and less time together causing them to drift apart.
Instead: Make time for one another. If you have to set a standing date night at least once a week where it’s just the two of you and reconnect. If you have kids choose a night when they are fast asleep and just chill on the couch and talk. Or put money aside for a sitter once a month and go out and enjoy each other’s company.
Not Sleep Together
I don’t mean sex. I mean actually not sleeping together. When we get mad it’s an instinct to either leave the room or tell our spouse to sleep on the couch. After all we need our space right? Nope. Going to bed angry is one thing but going to bed separately may cause more space than you really want.
Instead: Even if you’re still angry and the issue hasn’t been resolved sleep on it but don’t sleep apart. It may bring you even closer and help you move past the problem if you can get through the night in the same bed.
It’s easy to shut down and try to ignore our problems. Talking can be pretty uncomfortable. I think that’s why lack of communication is such a big issue for couples. Some times it’s just easier not to talk about certain topics and just hope any issues that may arise just blow over.
Instead: We need to open up no matter how uncomfortable it may be. If talking isn’t your or your partner’s strong suit find another way to communicate. Do it in writing if you have to. Sit down and write out everything you have to say. It may be easier than talking because you won’t feel rushed or get interrupted if your partner doesn’t agree with what you have to say.
You haven’t seen your partner all day. You’re tired, they’re tired. You’re pretty sure their day was the same, as always so you don’t bother asking how their day was.
Instead: Show them that you really do care. Regardless if your spouse stays home caring for the kids all day or they have a monotonous job where it’s the same thing day in and day out ask them how their day was and actually listen to what they have to say. It shows you care about them even when they’re not with you.
This is really a case-by-case basis. If you’re in middle of a conversation with your partner and your BFF calls or your playing on your phone it’s just plain rude but when you constantly do it to your spouse it can be a real relationship killer.
Instead: If it’s not an emergency and your friend stops by unannounced, your sister calls to gossip or anything else that is unimportant while in the midst of spending time with your partner politely let them know “Hey I was in the middle of something I’ll call you back.” Or “I’ll stop by later”. Make your partner feel like they mean more to you than Joe Blow down the street.
Like I said, I’m no relationship expert but I have been in some good and not so good relationships. I’ve also made mistakes but I’ve learned from them. If I can help anyone from the mistakes I’ve made then great! Glad I can help. You can repay me by send me a bottle of wine.
Have any relationship advice? Leave it down in the comments and lets get a discussion going!
Photo credit: annajuliesh via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND