10 Behaviours that Destroy a Relationship
Tom and Mary (not their real names) had been mcustomized jerseys cheap wigs human hair wigs lace front nike air max terrascape 90 on feet cheap nike air max green bay packers jersey nike air max 270 womens jordan 1 for sale jordan 4s cheap nike air jordan 4 retro cheap sex toys nfl dallas cowboys wholesale wigs nike air max terrascape 90 on feet new nike air max 2023 arried for nearly 30 years and had children together, but they came to us to seek counselling for divorce. During the sessions, it was revealed that they had no conflicts with each other; the only reason they wanted a divorce was because they didn’t feel they knew each other intimately. Over 30 years of marriage, although they had communicated with each other, they had not communicated at a level which allowed them this intimacy. They had very little knowledge of who the other person was.
It’s not new to see marriages falling apart because of poor communication habits and not being vulnerable enough with each other. Other behaviours could be straining relationships too. Do you see any of these traits in your own relationship? Book a Couples Counselling session with our therapists to work through your challenges together
1 Poor Communication Habits
When a couple communicates with one another, an open, consistent channel is ideal. We had discussed in a previous blogpost how communication in a relationship is key. But this isn’t always the case. Some couples experience something called Emotional Labour.
Emotional Labour in a relationship is having to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that pleases your partner— that means having to hide your true feelings or needing to always seem “happy” in front of them.
This can be damaging for a relationship because when either party suppresses their true thoughts and feelings, it can lead to resentment, exhaustion and feeling exploited or neglected.
2 Not Being Vulnerable With Each Other
Relationships can fall apart when couples are not speaking at deeper levels of communication. It is commonly accepted that there are 5 levels of communication:
- Niceties— “Hi, how are you?” often asked without offering too much of yourself or expecting any real response.
- Facts— a piece of impersonal information shared with your partner like, “We need to buy bread today”
- Ideas and Opinions— sharing of a piece of personal information that often begins with, “I think that…” and “I want…”
- Feelings and Values— these are the sentences that go, “I feel…” and honest answers to, “Are you alright?”
- Intimate Knowledge and Self Identity— the deepest level of communication, laying all your cards on the table and being upfront and honest about absolutely everything with your partner, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time…”
Some marriages unfortunately operate up to Ideas and Opinions and do not reach the Feelings and Values level, let alone Intimate Knowledge and Self Identity. It takes courage to fully put yourself out there, even with your partner. But it is better to deal with issues with open communication rather than to hide secrets for fear of judgement.
While it may not seem like a “bad” thing at first, financial independence can lead to issues in a relationship. To be clear, we’re not talking about keeping separate bank accounts per se but having the mindset that the money one earns is entirely theirs to spend however they wish.
This can be detrimental because when either party is still living like a single person and not as two united, opposing opinions on big decisions could lead to headstrong arguments and eventual separation. This applies not just to money but anything that could foster a self-centred rather than family-focused attitude.
4 Destroying Sacred Icons
We each have our own ideas and beliefs that we hold on to for their emotional value— it could be an old stuffed bear that reminds us of someone who’s passed on, a cosmetic or fitness product we buy in to, a family tradition, a religious ritual we observe or even the belief in life after death.
When one partner doesn’t see the importance of this sacred icon to the other person, they may put the other person down for “clinging on to old ideas” or being “too traditional”. However, beneath that is the statement, “My way is better than yours,” and this could lead to some negative consequences in the long-run.
While we may not necessarily agree on everything, it is important to have respectful boundaries, which brings us to our next point.
5 Not Having or Respecting Boundaries
Boundaries are what help to keep the balance in a relationship. They protect each partner and give each the space to be his or her own person. Overstepping these boundaries, for example, insisting on knowing exactly what they are doing 24 hours a day, could look like being controlling or possessive of your partner.
Some people may need time to be alone, especially introverts. When a partner says they need time to be on their own, it would be wise to respect this boundary (of course, while still being there for them when they are ready). Sometimes, the greatest act of caring for our partner is just trusting in them.
6 Having Emotional Baggage
If you’ve been in a past hurtful relationship before, you may or may not be carrying emotional baggage with you, like the fear of your partner walking out on you, a feeling of guilt from letting your partner down or a lack of trust. This could manifest itself in you becoming numb or insensitive toward your partner or having excessive sensitivity from insecurity.
It could also provoke passive aggressive (paggro) behaviour and emotional blackmail stemming from unaddressed hurts and angers. While emotional baggage isn’t “wrong”, it can impact your relationship, and would be worth working through for emotional closure.
7 Having Negative and Unresolved Conflicts
Conflicts are bound to happen in any relationship. It’s how we react or respond to them that makes the difference. Reacting is expressing your immediate emotions and thoughts as they come, while responding is pausing, thinking through the situation, then expressing your view. Reacting may be rash and unintentionally (or intentionally) hurtful, leading to further conflicts.
On the other end of the spectrum is running away from fights. This leaves the conflict unresolved and may force the couple to act as if “nothing happened”, suppressing emotions and throwing up defences every time the issue is touched on.
Keep in mind this doesn’t mean that you always have to agree. Accepting differences is a way of resolving conflicts.
8 Being Unforgiving
Even when a conflict is resolved, some may be tempted to bring it up again when another conflict occurs. This habit of keeping score of how many times a person has wronged another or failed to meet expectations can be damaging to a relationship.
Novelist Mitch Albom wrote in his popular book Five People You Meet in Heaven, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
One may feel they are wronged and rightfully deserve to hold a grudge, but grudges often only lead to bitterness, increased stress and hostility.
Nobody is perfect, and that is a fact. However, hypocrisy holds another person to a higher standard than yourself or elevates your own status such that the same standards do not apply to you. It becomes harmful when one uses it to gain something out of their partner by putting them down.
Another type of hypocrisy is putting on an act of possessing or believing something when one does not really possess or believe it. It could show through in keeping up appearances to give your partner the impression that you are a wealthy socialite or arguing for the sake of arguing because it validates one’s appearance of cleverness.
Either way, hypocrisy is a form of deceit, and this breaks the trust in a relationship. When trust is broken, it hinders intimacy and requires time and intentionality to be rebuilt.
Betrayal is the breaking of a spoken or unspoken promise or trust. Betrayal comes in many forms. Having a physical affair is an obvious one that has immediate consequences. But there are subtler forms that may not be as easily detected, including secret emotional affairs like beginning to trust another person more than your partner, calling your partner out in public for something they’ve done wrong, spreading rumours about them and exposing their secrets to others.
It may result in guilt, shame, shock, doubt, anger, loss and grief on both sides of a relationship. Resolving a betrayal will take identifying the deeper issue, being ready to make space or reconnect, repairing damage in the relationship and learning to be supportive of one another again.
If you’ve recognised any of these behaviours in your relationship, you may consider bringing it up with your partner in an open, honest manner. If you need professional help, you could book an appointment with a counsellor therapist, just like Tom and Mary did. Tom and Mary managed to talk out their deeper issues and learned that their relationship was much more than raising their kids and settling meals. They are now happily married and enjoying their newfound intimacy. While not all couples will come to the same resolution, it would be beneficial to sort through the difficulties and come to a positive solution you can both agree on.
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