7 Biggest Relationship Killers (and How to Avoid Them!)
There are 7 Key Complaints I hear over and over again in my practice. These are the complaints that if not addressed lead to frustration, fighting, pain and ultimatley break-ups and divorce.
Read below to learn what these seven key complaints are and learn some tips to avoid (or if necessary heal) them in your own relationship.
If trust is the foundation which long-term relationships are built on then communication is the glue or mortar which holds them together.
Communication complaints come in many forms ranging from "they're always looking at their phone when we're talking" to "they always interrupt me" to "they don't seem to understand me".
My wife and I have very different communication styles (like many couples) and we had to learn each other's "language" to make it through the challenges we had and get to the good place we're at today.
Without communication it's impossible to deal with, much less solve, any of the other key complaints so the health of your marriage depends on communication.
- If you never seem to find time to talk about what's important then be formal and make an actual appointment, put it in your calendars and respect it the same as an appointment with your boss or an important client.
- If you seem to raise your voices every time then have your conversation(s) in a public spot like a restaurant where you wouldn't want to be seen screaming.
- Respect each other by not interrupting and be very careful about broad statements like "you always" or "you never".
- Be careful about your body language: don't cross your arms, roll your eyes, doodle or play with your phone when speaking with your partner. If you want to be respected and heard then make a point to respect and hear them.
Sex is the one thing which distinguishes your marriage or intimiate relationship from every other relationship you're in. Make no mistake: you sex life is a barometer of your relationship's health as much as it's a salve.
Yes, it can be that much more difficult when you're working, commuting, and taking care of children. But any flower which isn't fed will die, and your sexual connection must nurtured and fed or you risk waking up one day and realizing that it's gone and your marriage along with it.
- If you never seem to find the time then you must formally schedule it, put it in your calendars and respect it like any other important appointment. It's ain't sexy but it's better to do that and have sex than to hope for spontaneity and go without. The choice is yours.
- Don't assume that you know what your partner likes and doesn't; be mature and ask them.
- Don't assume that your partner knows what you like and what you don't; be mature and tell them.
- If physical pain (such as but not limited to hip or spine issues) is making it difficult for one (or both) of you to enjoy sex then see a doctor, exercise and do everything you can to be physically ready.
- If an emotional issue (such as but not limited to depression) is making it difficult to feel "in the mood" then see your doctor and do what you can to be emotionally ready.
- Because sexual intimacy with your partner releases hormones that help bond you to each other the more sex you have the stronger your bonding. Even if you're "not in the mood" you might find yourself feeling better and being thankful you made it happen.
Money-related fights are one of the top reasons cited for divorce. Marriage is as much a partnership as it is a love affair, and disagreements over money lead to resentment, fear and broken trust, all of which ruin partnerships (your marriage included).
It's important for each of you to understand what money actually means for the other. In fact, you might need to explore what it actually means for you!
- There are six human needs we all share: security, excitement, love, significants, growth and contribution. When you understand which need is driving your attitude towards money as well as which need is driving your partner's attitude then you can work on resolving the real conflict.
- Work together to create a budget that respects both of your needs. If necessary explore ways to reduce very large expenses such as your home, cars or vacations. Spending more than you can afford on these items can result in unecessary stress in your relationship.
Feelings of inequity around chores and household responsibilites are cited as the #1 reason for divorce. Imagine that!
Marriage is a partnership and partners must both pull their own weight and respect what the other does as well as what abilities they bring.
- Take some time together to write out everything each of you does around chores and household responsibilities (which include earning money as well as childcare), including how much time each week (including commuting or traveling) is required.. Review the list together and compare how much time is being spent by each of you. If the numbers are similar then respect each other for it, and if they're not find ways to balance the load.
- Be creative: if both of you hate cleaning the house and are pressed for time then hiring a cleaning service can be money very well spent.
In our marriage we like to think that we're our partner's #1 priority, and when anything happens that says we're not #1 we get upset, lose faith and feel threatened. If these kinds of things keep happening then we feel disrespected and unimportant, perhaps even ignored.
Making time for each other can be difficult in today's world of longer working hours and longer commutes, particularly if you add children in to the mix, if both partners work, and especially if one of you is starting or running a business.
- If you only have very little time for each other then really make it count by giving your partner your absolute and undivided attention and showing them how much you love them in ways that they want to be shown.
- Schedule date-nights (far enough in advance with babysitting if necessary) and do things really fun and special! Also make a point to "trade off" on things which one of you enjoys but the other not as much, like going out dancing, to a particular kind of restaurant or to a sporting event or amusement park. The important thing in relationships is to show your partner that you want to understand their world, do things they enjoy and, ideally , find ways to enjoy them yourself.
First the good news: if the two of you are fighting then it's a sign you're literally fighting for the relationship. There's a great thing in this movie "Hancock" with Will Smith and Charlize Theron where they're some kind of "angels", the last two of their kind, because they attract each other but then they wind up fighting and destroy each other.
The fighting is an inevitable consequence of the attraction: we're most attracted to partners who are different from us in important ways, usually ways we don't notice at first or ignore because we're caught up in the attraction.
When couples hold their feelings in and just start drifting in their own direction it becomes very, very difficult to restore a connection, bond and intimacy.
Constant fighting is the sign of a power struggle (which is something all relatoinships experience), and a power struggle is a sign of yours or your partner's needs not getting met (perhaps you're both missing your needs getting met).
- Before accusing or blowing up at your partner take a breath and consider what you actually want to accomplish.
- Never accuse your partner of being (or not being) a certain way. Instead, explain to them how whatever they're doing (or not doing) makes you feel and how that feeling impacts your love and relationship.
- When your partner is angry at you take their hand, look into their eyes and tell them "honey, I don't want us to fight. I get that you're angry, so please help me understatnd and let's figure this out together".
- Understand the need or (needs) that aren't getting met and find ways to fulfill them. There are six human needs we all share: security, excitement, love, significance, growth and contribution. When you fulfill each other's needs fights will magically disappear.
Trust is the foundation which long-term relationships are built on.
Without trust there's no partnership which leads to stress and resenment.
Without trust it's difficult to have intimacy, and when intimacy suffers sex goes right out the window.
Sometimes trust is challenged because of a big betrayal like spending a large amount of money before discussing it, gambling, or infidelity.
But other times trust is challenged because of a series of small but recurring hurts like being late, not calling when you say you will, or not doing errands or chores that you say you will.
- If your relationship has suffered a big betrayal then you have to begin with remorse and forgiveness. The partner who committed the betrayal has to take ownership of what they did, express their remorse, ask for forgiveness and commit to their partner. The partner who was hurt *must* be willing to forgive and move forward. Every relationship can be fixed but like the saying goes it takes two to tango.
- If your relationship has been injured by small, recurring hurts then the partner responsible has to take ownership, ask for forgiveness, commit to their partner and demonstrate they can be trusted.
- Keeping your word. Yes, sometimes things happen and we can't keep our word but those should be rare occurances (AND you should make sure to apologize and find a way to make it up to your partner).
- Keep your cool. Don't blow up or pull away whenever your upset or things don't go your way; that wouldn't fly at work and it doesn't fly at home.
- Be persistent. A tendancy to give up when something gets hard (even something like a home project or trying a recipe) sends a message to your partner that they can't count on you not be there for them in an hour of need.
- Do something for your partner every day to show them that you care; by doing this every day you'll show them that you're consistent (and consistency is the bedrock of trust).