When I'm in a relationship, and I'm really happy, I do a lot of Google searches for things like relationship killers and how to fight them. It's kind of like the equivalent of searching for your symptoms when you're sick. Do I have a common cold or is my blood full of parasites that are eating my internal organs? My point is, the searches tend to just stir up worries about things I didn't even know I was supposed to worry about, like if I spend too much time texting my cousin or if she secretly thinks I don't do my fair share of the housework. It's pointless crazymaking that isn't really rational or helpful.
So I take a deep breath and I get back to my training. Because science never fails me. When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator (with our well-researched, fact-based curriculum), we stressed the importance of having the healthy fundamentals in place, and then figuring the rest out from there. Deficits in these healthy fundamentals are the real relationship killers, not unwashed dishes or text marathons. If you want your love to last, and to be as satisfying and healthy as it can be, you have to fix any cracks in that foundation of fundamentals.
1. Lack of Communication
You can have a Master's degree in communication and still have problems in your relationship. That's because we all communicate a little differently, and we don't all know healthy ways to communicate. If you don't talk, or your talking just turns into yelling sessions and drama where nothing gets solved, try taking a new approach. Talk only about your own feelings, instead of placing blame for situations. Don't interrupt each other, and make sure each person gets their say. And remember, you can't ever expect your partner to read your mind, so when something's bothering you, speak up before it gets to a communication meltdown.
2. Lack Of Trust
If you can't trust your partner, you'll never truly be happy. And neither will your partner. That's harsh, I know, but no one wants to live with nagging doubts or feel doubted all the time. Small tweaks, like being on time and following through when you say you'll do something can help build trust. But some of it is also a leap of faith you have to be willing to make. If you can't make it, try talking the issues out with a counselor. Lack of trust is not healthy, and it's not an issue you can ignore.
3. Lack of Boundaries
Those couples who are attached at the hip — that's cute and all. But it's not necessarily the healthiest way to go about a relationship. You have to maintain your own friendships, interests, and personalities or else you become this soup of relationship goo. And then if things go sour, you have so much of your identity wrapped up in your relationship that you have a super hard time getting back on your feet. This one's easy to fix, though. Just make sure you're still doing the things you love to do, and spending quality one-on-one time with your people.
Unconditional love and support is not a free pass for your partner's bad behavior. If your partner has some bad habits, and you're always there to smooth things over or make their problems go away, you're doing them more harm than good. Whether you're giving a drug addict money to buy drugs or cleaning the house instead of making a messy partner learn how to take care of themselves, the outcome is similar. You're creating a power imbalance. Instead, learn to be supportive rather than accommodating. And never shield them from the consequences of their actions.
5. Lack Of Emotional Honesty
Emotional dishonesty comes in more colors than their are in the entire spectrum of human vision. Maybe you lie to protect your partner's feelings. Maybe you never let people get really close to you. Maybe try to manipulate your partner into feeling how you want them to feel. Or maybe you just never really show much emotion at all. Emotional dishonesty creates real barriers in your relationship that affect everything from communication to intimacy to trust. Instead, work with your partner, and a counselor if necessary, to get in touch with your real feelings, and to learn how to express them. This includes being able to ask for what your need.
6. Poor Conflict Resolution Skills
Even the happiest relationships are filled with conflict. Conflict isn't just fighting either. It can be difficult decision making, learning to compromise, and even just finding a way to get through an annoying day without getting snappy at each other. If you keep your feelings in, you'll create resentments. If you explode, you'll create more hurt that if you just spoke up when an issue bothered you. This is a skill that takes practice, and you both have to learn the best ways to deal with conflict, but you have to put a system in place to avoid letting conflict (or conflict avoidance) be a relationship killer.
7. Lack of Support
This final relationship killer might seem like a small one, but I promise it's a big deal. When you're in a relationship, you have to be your partner's biggest cheerleader. You have to be nice, and supportive, and a good friend. You have to have their back, even when you don't feel like it. And sometimes you even have to make sacrifices for their happiness. The best part is, you get all the same love and support in return. Check in with your partner and see where and how you can be more loving and supportive, then do it! It will make your relationship a million times better.
It makes sense. If your house has a broken foundation, the next storm could be the one to knock it over. But if it's built right, it can stand for centuries. Even if one of you gets a wiggling blood parasite that eats your internal organs.
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