Your relationship with your significant other or life partner can simultaneously be the most difficult and rewarding thing in your life. However, a relationship is really more of a verb than a noun. Achieving and maintaining a healthy one requires us to constantly look in the mirror and evaluate what we can do better—how we can be better.
The path toward achieving a rewarding relationship requires starting new habits and contributing to our relationship in new and improved ways. But along with that, ceasing destructive habits can often be the best thing we can do for ourselves and our partners. Consider these four common destructive habits and take some time for honest reflection: Are any of these slowly ruining your relationship?
1. Giving the Cold Shoulder
Every relationship is different, but they all have something in common: None is perfect! No relationship is immune to an occasional disagreement, disappointment, or upset. People handle these difficult situations in many ways, and some do so better than others. One of the most destructive responses, however, can be to do nothing at all. A cold shoulder, or the silent treatment, is some people’s go-to reaction when they are angry or upset. This lack of communication, however, does not allow for any forward movement. Instead, it creates unhealthy stagnation which can breed misunderstanding and resentment—on top of the initial issue at hand. Next time you feel the urge to give your partner the cold shoulder, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and expose yourself to the vulnerability of honest communication.
2. Keeping Score
The saying, "Love is just a game,” is problematic on many fronts. Most importantly, equating love to a game means that there is a scoring system, winners and losers, and, worst of all, cheaters! Keeping score in relationships, even for simple things like who took out the trash last, can become a toxic habit that undermines your connection. It takes the focus away from maintaining a selfless partnership, instead directing your energy toward competition. It’s also crucial to realize that everyone, including your partner, may have a different “scoring system” for perceived acts of kindness, or relationship "deposits." Instead of keeping score of any kind, seek to understand your partner’s love language and to love them unconditionally.
3. Making Comparisons
Our society is primed for making comparisons. Social media sites represent a perfect platform to make us covet the lives of friends and acquaintances. In such a culture, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of comparing our relationships to other people’s that may be painted through perfect photos, sappy updates, and location tagging at the most romantic sites in town. The reality, however, is that it’s impossible to know the true depth and reality of any relationship solely through the prism of social media. Moreover, such a comparison study does no good for building and esteeming your own relationship. Next time you catch yourself social-media stalking another couple or coveting a friend’s relationship, reinvest that time and energy into putting a smile on your own partner’s face.
4. Taking Someone for Granted
It’s easy to get into a comfortable routine with a significant other—especially if you have been together for many years. There is a difference, however, between feeling comfortable with a person and taking them for granted. Simply put, taking someone for granted means that you do not appreciate or acknowledge how that person contributes to the quality of, and the happiness in, your life. To keep your relationship healthy and fulfilling, express gratitude and appreciation for the other person. Each day, find at least one thing your partner does for you, or one thing in particular you love about them, and express your gratitude.
Relationships are complex, and require constant nurturing. Avoiding the four issues above can prevent long-term stress and ensure a happy, healthy connection. However, if your relationship is experiencing significant turmoil, it may be necessary to seek professional help to rebuild and restore it.