According to ‘The Love Doctor’ Dr Terri Orbuch, there are five overlooked and under-discussed relationship killers that stem from everyday habits. These relationship killers are less obvious than financial differences, lying, or cheating and yet have just as much, if not more impact because they slide under the radar and help to assassinate even the best of relationships. Given my experience with relationships and coaching people in them, I have to say that I totally agree.
- Skipping ‘Me’ Time
Many couples don’t get the concept of spending quality time alone. They become joined at the hip and do absolutely everything together. Spending time apart gives couples the opportunity to grow individually and then when they come back together, they have more to talk about and more to share. Time alone re-charges you and replenishes your energy. When you spend time with another person, it takes stamina to exert your personality, engage in conversation, and listen intensely to the dialogue coming your way. Over time, this becomes draining and zaps your vitality.
Solution: Spend time alone and make sure your partner is on the same page. Explain the benefits of spending time alone such as inner peace from solitude and calm, making you a more attentive partner when time together comes around again.
- Assuming you know each other inside-out
Couples, who have been together for a long time, often assume that they know each other back-to-front and inside-out. They stop being curious and asking questions. They no longer probe in order to learn more about their partner on an intimate level. As Dr Terri Orbuch says ‘such loss of curiosity can be lethal. I call this the silent dining syndrome’. I’m sure you have been out to dinner and seen couples staring out the window or worse still, scrolling through their mobile phones in perfect harmony. When you stop learning about your partner and what makes them tick, you lose your connection to emotional intimacy. Like you, your partner changes and grows every single day. Keep up to date.
Solution: Ask questions and keep the channel for communication open. Don’t assume you know how your partner feels. Inquire about your partner’s work, hobbies, and social life outside of the relationship. Go out every week and just ‘talk’. Never stop ‘getting to know’ your partner.
- Sweeping pet hates under the carpet
A lot of couples sweep little annoyances and pet hates under the carpet for fear of creating something big out of something small. Over time, little peeves can turn into big gripes. Small irritations can accumulate when they are not addressed or adhered to and snowball into big relationship problems. For example, you may ask your partner to close his closet door. He likes to leave it open because it’s convenient and he’s not as fastidious about housekeeping as you are (can you tell that this example is rather close to home!). You have pointed out on many occasions that the open closet door annoys you because it makes it harder for you to rummage through your dressing table drawer. Your partner ‘promises’ to shut the door and yet still, to this day, continues to leave it open. I have three sons and one thing I know for sure is that men ‘forget’ these promises. Not because they don’t care about you but more because they have other things on their mind. Every now and again, I find the closet door shut and it warms my heart. At least I know he tries!
Solution: Ask for the things you want and make sure you feel heard. Don’t be too surprised if it happens less often than you would like. Accept that it’s not a huge deal and ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ too much. If it’s really important, keep insisting until the change really does take place. Be fair and reasonable. Make an effort to remember the things your partner asks you to pay attention to as well.
- Waiting for special occasions to express love
Many couples wait for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and times like Easter or Christmas to express their love for each other or even to celebrate life. One key finding from Dr Orbuch’s study is that ‘when partners feel special and noticed regularly (especially men), that couple is happier and more stable over time’. Men need to feel appreciated in the same way that women do. Often men are the primary providers and it means a lot to them when their partner recognises their effort and expresses gratitude. Every day is a blessing and a call for celebration. Simply being alive is a good enough reason to rejoice.
Solution: Do or say something every day to show your partner that he or she is valued, appreciated, and recognised. A simple kiss, a heart felt compliment, a small act of kindness is enough. Happiness shared is happiness squared. When you share your joy with your partner, you feel even more joy. When you show love to your partner, you become more loveable. Taking your partner for granted is a fast track to disaster. Make a regular day a ‘special occasion’. You don’t need a big reason to do so. Having positive relationships is one of the key elements to reaching and maintaining wellbeing. This alone is cause for celebration.
- Seeing the glass half empty
Many couples only talk about problems in their relationship and issues that need addressing. This leads them to focus on the negative aspects of their relationship and the areas that need ‘fixing’. In Dr Orbuch’s study, ‘couples who also concentrate on what’s working well – on the glass half full – were much happier over time than those who purely try to ‘fix’ their problems’. The key to a healthy relationship is ‘balance’. It is unrealistic to expect your relationship to be perfect and smooth sailing all of the time. There will be challenges, rough spots, and times when you struggle to agree or compromise. With good honest communication, all of these ‘glitches’ can be overcome and negotiated. There is always a solution. Keeping an optimistic approach is going to benefit you. If you keep looking for negatives, sure as hell you’re going to find them. Law of attraction promises that what you focus on intensifies. If you constantly focus on the negative, you will attract more negative. Look for the good aspects of your relationship and build on that to create more of it. Address issues as they arise and resist the urge to ‘blame’. Take responsibility for your part and work together to find solutions. Seeing the glass half full is a choice.
Solution: Keep track of the things that are going well in your relationship and create more of those experiences, events, and situations. Focusing on what’s working rather than what isn’t will move you toward more of what’s working. If you choose an optimistic approach, it is sure to rub off on your partner. Hold a clear vision of how you want your relationship to look. See yourself and your partner laughing, having fun, enjoying each other, and making crazy passionate love. If you can visualise it, you can materialise it.
Now for my bonus tip:
Make yourself happy!
Many people enter a relationship in the hope that they will ‘find’ happiness rather than ‘create’ it. Happiness is an inside job. Once you discover what makes you happy, fulfilled, and content, it is your job to maintain it. It is nobody else’s job to make you happy. Your purpose in life is to find out what gives your life meaning. This is where you find the key to your bliss. Searching for happiness through outside sources, namely your partner, is a sure way to fail. This places way too much pressure on another person and is selfish and unfair.
Solution: Find your happiness first through being grateful for what you have in your life. Find things to do and experience that ignite your passion. Fulfil yourself by chasing after your hopes and dreams. Your life is only yours to live and experience. Your partner is a witness to your life, not your whole life. Complete yourself. Don’t look for somebody else to ‘complete’ you.