Feeling unsatisfied in your relationship right now? It’s a familiar story – once so close, yourself and your partner are now arguing more than cuddling, feeling resentful more than loving. What’s causing the disconnect?
Sadly, it’s all too easy to to fall into a whole range of habits that might be sabotaging your relationship. Here’s where you might be going wrong – and how you can put it right!
- You don’t listen
When you’re having a conversation with your partner, are you truly present, or is your mind somewhere else? Are you really listening to what they’re saying, or just thinking about what you want to say next? Listening involves more than just not interrupting. It involves listening actively. That means asking questions, following up, and taking their comments seriously.
- You flake a lot
If you make a plan with your significant other, stick to it. That goes for meeting somewhere, scheduling a phone call, or even doing each other small favors. This separates minor relationships in your life from major ones. Why? Over time, consistency and reliability builds up to create trust and a deep connection. If things are constantly rescheduled, missed or forgotten, it creates a sense of perpetual insecurity. Pay attention to your calendars and write things down if you think you might forget.
- You complain all the time
Complaining now and then is just being honest about your emotions. And emotional honesty is a very good thing. But then there’s another habit altogether: complaining as an automatic reaction to everything. You become extremely negative. People like that are hard to be around. Instead of connecting with your partner, it will lead them to detach from you, consciously or unconsciously.
- You don’t show enough interest in your partner’s life or interests
One of the great treasures of a relationship is the opportunity to learn new things from your partner.That can mean a new language, a new field of expertise, or simply sharing someone else’s perspective. In healthy relationships, however, the exchange should be two-sided. You should both get home from work each day eager to find out new things from the other person. If one person fails to see that they can learn from the other, the relationship can stagnate.
- You command and demand
Most people don’t like being bossed by colleagues or friends. Sadly, however, many people accept it from their partners at home. In most cases, this leads to resentment if not addressed. Learning to make plans and achieve goals as a team is different than telling someone what to do.
- You “stonewall” your way out of conflict
This is when you become defensive and react by “shutting down” – metaphorically (or literally!) turning your back on your partner. You no longer speak about how you feel, or how you can move past a fight. While this is an instinctive reaction for many of us when we get into conflict, it’s absolutely one of the worst things you can do to a relationship. Much more productive to talk about your emotions, or to get help from a professional therapist if you find it hard to open up.
- You look down on your partner
As a general rule, people are not as good at hiding condescending thoughts as they think they are. If you harbor patronizing thoughts about your significant other, chances are they can tell. Nonverbal communication is huge here. Body language and facial expressions give a good deal away.
If you feel condescension toward your significant other on a regular basis, something is wrong. You have lost respect for them, either because they have done something to deserve it, or because you’re not making the effort to appreciate them. Either way, it will take its toll on your relationship.
- You place blame by default
This is especially damaging. Rather than work through your conflicts by talking, you resort to pointing the finger. It’s much healthier to own up to your mistakes, acknowledge any part you might have had to play in an argument, and come to a resolution together.
- You criticize constantly
Criticism can sound the death knell in a relationship. Of course, we all find fault with our partners from time to time, but criticism differs from complaints in that it finds fault with our partner’s very character.
“I wish you would help out more with the kids first thing in the morning” is a complaint. “You’re so lazy” is a criticism. If you have an issue with an aspect of your partner’s behavior, try to discuss that behavior, in a constructive, non-aggressive manner, rather than framing it as a character flaw.
- You forget emotional intimacy
Emotional intimacy is the magic glue that holds couples close together. And it’s all too easy to lose track of during the daily grind. Even if you’re spending time with your partner, doing new things together, and maintaining physical intimacy, it can be difficult to make yourself psychologically vulnerable around one another.
Make sure you emotionally “check in” from time to time with your significant other. Make time to talk about your dreams, hopes and fears. These kinds of conversations happen naturally at the start of a relationship, but as time goes on, they tend to become rare! It’s important to reassure your partner that, no matter what’s going on in your lives, you have their back.
Of course, sometimes issues run too deep to be solved by the above steps alone. If you find it hard to communicate without descending into arguments and frustration, help from an experienced professional may be the only way to get your relationship back on track.