Could you be wrecking your love life without even knowing it? If you're having problems in your relationship, you probably think it's all your partner's fault. But it might be worth looking at your own behavior in case there's some self-sabotaging at play.
Here, relationship experts reveal some common habits that can develop that may be damaging your partnership and how to break them.
Trying to Change Your Partner
You adored his ambition and drive when you first met him, but now you're always telling him not to work so hard. Or, you were attracted to his quiet confidence and the way he felt comfortable in his own skin, but now you urge him to be more outgoing at parties. Maybe you were thrilled he was super sociable and had a really fun circle of friends, but now you want him to stay in more.
"I see people do this all the time," says psychologist Jo Lamble, author of Answers To Everyday Questions About Relationships. "They tend to change the goalposts, and their partner says, 'I don't get it. You knew this was what I was like and now you're asking me to be different.'"
Do This Instead:
"Remember what you were attracted to in the first place," Lamble says. "You did love that side of him. You should also remember that you're not two halves of one whole — you're two individuals who are choosing to be together."
Taking Your Partner for Granted
You feel pretty secure in your relationship, so you're in cruise mode. You don't really make an effort to sit down and talk when he gets home from work – in fact, you're both too busy checking your Facebook status or watching TV to factor in any quality time. Before long ,it seems as though you might as well just be roommates.
"Leaving your relationship to take care of itself can lead to feelings of resentment, decreased self-esteem, and lack of relationship satisfaction, where neither of you feels appreciated or valued," warns relationship and body language expert Katia Loisel.
Do This Instead:
Acknowledge your partner, stay curious about them, and celebrate their achievements. "Thank him for the time, energy, and effort he puts into everyday tasks, such as taking out the recycling or fixing that leaky tap," Loisel says. "It's one of the simplest yet most romantic gestures."
Bottling up Your Emotions
You might think that avoiding arguments or confrontations is the key to a happy relationship, but in reality, the opposite is true.
"If you shut down when your partner does something that bothers you because you don't want to rock the boat, you are doing yourself and your relationship a real disservice by not communicating honestly," Loisel says. "Suppressing your true feelings through lack of communication can build resentment and friction and can lead to an emotional and physical gulf between you."
Do This Instead:
"Trust that your partner cares enough about you to acknowledge your point of view, your wants, and your needs, and vice versa. Communicating openly, honestly, and without blame allows you and your partner to express your feelings, get your issues out and to develop a deeper bond."
Whenever you have an argument, you bring up something hurtful he did in the past.
"It's like you're holding a little fistful of trump cards," Lamble says. "And those cards may be something huge, like an affair, or something small, like forgetting your anniversary. Then, no matter what you're arguing about, you pull out that trump card and say, 'Well I'm still not over that' — and you win the argument because nothing you have or haven't done is as bad as what they did a week, six months, or 20 years ago. That's really unfair."
Do This Instead:
Rip up the trump cards.
"If your partner has apologized for his mistake and you've made an informed decision to stay with him, it's time to leave it in the past. Focus on today and resolve the things that happen in the here and now." If you really can't move on, Lamble suggests it might be a sign you need couples' therapy to help resolve the issue.
Four Healthy Love Habits to Practice
- Kiss each other each day.
When you first met, your kisses were deep, long, and passionate. Now, they’ve dwindled down to a small peck. If that sounds familiar, you need to start smooching — pronto.
“Kissing activates all five of our senses and sends a direct signal to the emotional brain associated with love and lust,” Loisel explains. “It also releases neurotransmitters and hormones, including oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone, that send you into a euphoric high.”
One study showed that couples who kiss frequently argued less, felt more connected, and were happier and healthier than those who didn’t.
“Just a daily five-second smooch is enough to keep your happy hormones flowing,” Loisel says.
- Mind your language.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, it becomes all too easy to forget your manners and use negative and critical words such as "never" and "always." This can lead to a vicious cycle of criticism and defensiveness.
“If you have an issue, voice it as a complaint rather than a criticism,” advises Gisela Adams, a clinical coordinator at Relationships Australia. “Start with ‘I’ statements, so you own it and don’t blame the other person. Say, ‘When you’re running late, I feel very worried. What I need is for you to call me.’ That sounds very different from, ‘You’re always late, you never think of me!’”
- Remember why you fell in love.
A recent study found that couples who share laughs and actively reminisce about the good times they’ve had together tend to stay together longer and enjoy high levels of relationship satisfaction.
“It’s really important to express these feelings to each other every day,” Loisel says. "It will not only help you focus on the positive things in the relationship, you’ll also see your partner’s positive points rather than all their flaws.”
- Try new things together.
Remember when you were first dating and your stomach would flip whenever he called you? That’s lust and attraction at work, pumping out feel good hormones that make your heart race. Then, over time, day-to-day realities kick in and you forget to invest in that kind of excitement. But, you can reignite that spark, Loisel says.
“Do things together that are fun and rewarding, like taking up salsa dancing or going to a trivia night," Loisel says. Even better, if you do something new and challenging that gives you an adrenaline kick, like abseiling or going on a ferris wheel, that will release phenylethylamine — the love hormone that gives you that feeling of butterflies. And that can help you feel more attracted to your partner.”
This post was written by Bonnie Vaughan. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.
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