11 Things You Should Stop Doing For Your Partner If You Want A Healthier Relationship
Most of us would do just about anything for our partner, all in the name of a happy, healthy relationship. But if you want things to truly go well, there's actually a pretty hefty list of things you should stop doing for your partner. This, my friends, is all thanks to "good intentions" and how easily it is to go overboard with them.
Take being agreeable, for example. Even though it comes from a loving place, saying "yes" to everything is not the ticket to a balanced relationship. Healthy couples can agree to disagree, fight a little, and state their opinions — all without fear of repercussion.
If you choose to be nice all the time, then I'm sure you can see how problems might form down the road. In fact, "your overload of good deeds can actually change the way your partner sees you or feels about themselves, and this can really impact a relationship," says clinical psychologist Dr. Paul DePompo, in an email to Bustle.
That's because all relationships need a healthy dose of give and take, licensed marriage and family therapist Annie Wright, MFT, tells me. If you find yourself constantly prioritizing your partner, always saying "yes," or picking up their slack, then you can't expect to have a healthy relationship. Sound familiar? Then read on for some of the things you should stop doing, ASAP.
1. Trying To Anticipate Their Every Need
While incredibly sweet in theory, trying to anticipate your partner's every need — and doing everything for them — isn't considered very healthy. As Wright says, "Relationships work best when we create space for our partner to notice and name what their needs and wants are, not when we always assume or rush to meet what we project they might want." So kick back, relax, and get a bit choosier about how often — and when — you offer up some help.
2. Being The First To Apologize
Since apologizing is often a two way street, it shouldn't always be up to you to fix things. "Both people in a relationship should participate in resolving conflicts or handling challenges," says relationship expert Sage B. Hobbs, in an email to Bustle. It may not feel comfortable — especially if you hate conflict. But sharing that responsibility is so important.
3. Fighting Their Family Battles
You may be way more skilled when it comes to dealing with your partner's family. And yet that doesn't make it your job to smooth over his or her family's conflicts. In fact, doing so can create even more problems than there were. "It ends up putting even more pressure on your partner and you then become the enemy in the family as it all can backfire on you," DePompo says. "It is better to find out how your partner would like to be supported and allow them to deal with their family as they desire." Makes sense, right?
4. Doing Everything They Want To Do
It's OK to be the nice one and occasionally let your partner choose the restaurant, or the movie. But letting them call the shots 24/7 does not a healthy relationship make. Not only will you eventually become resentful, Wright tells me, but you'll also create an unfair situation where your partner misses out on what you want to do. The best solution is to reach a mutually enjoyable compromise, "or at least take turns."
5. Having Sex When You're Not In The Mood
Whether or not you want to have sex is obviously 100 percent up to you. And yet, many people try to be "nice" and do it anyway if their partner is in the mood. While I totally understand the thought process here, going with the flow when you don't truly want to can breed resentment. That's why it's important to honor and respect your physical boundaries, Wright tells me. A loving partner will completely understand.
6. (Accidentally) Encouraging Their Bad Habits
Couples should try to encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves, blogger and relationship expert Marcus Kusi tells me. So if your partner is trying to make a change, don't make it more difficult for them by accidentally encouraging their bad habits. While it isn't up to you to "cure" them, it certainly doesn't help if you assist them in giving into their old ways.
7. "Taking Over" When They Feel Down
If they've been struggling with depression or anxiety, you'll definitely want to help your partner in any way you can. But keep in mind how "running the show" for them can be super detrimental. As marriage therapist Caroline Madden tells me, picking up their slack can create a dynamic where the "healthy partner" (you) now has to over-perform. Use your imagination and you'll see how that can get old pretty quick.
8. Doing All The Chores
Couples who live together will obviously have to figure out the whole "chore chart" thing. But even with one, housework still often ends up falling on one person. If this is happening in your relationship, and you find yourself picking up all the slack, try stepping back. "You may be surprised about what happens in the dynamic if you can step back and allow your partner to step forward," Wright says. "This may ultimately lead to a healthier relationship dynamic."
9. Offering Up Unsolicited Advice
As part of a couple, you have every right to voice your opinion about careers, money, etc. Do keep in mind, however, that unsolicited advice doesn't always come off as intended. "Although you intend to be helpful, they [can] feel that you are ... chronically disappointed in them," says relationship therapist and Relationup founder Rhonda Milrad, in an email to Bustle. It's way better to let your partner come to you, if they're in need of support.
10. Saying Things Are "Fine" When They Aren't
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time someone told me they were "fine" when that clearly wasn't true. We all do it, and it often comes from a good place. But it still doesn't make it OK. "Often we think we're 'helping' our partners by saying we're fine and withholding possibly challenging feelings, but in the long run this doesn't serve the emotional connectivity between you two, which is fed through honesty," Wright says. "So stop saying things are fine when they're not."
11. Making Excuses For Them
If your partner did or said something sh*tty, don't make excuses for them. This habit only enables bad behavior, psychotherapist Kirstin Naumann tells me. It also allows them to get away with something they shouldn't, while making it even more likely they'll act the same way in the future. So leave them be, let them own their mistake, and hopefully they'll be better for it.
Because really, that's what this is all about — being the healthiest partner possible, and getting yourself a healthy relationship in return.
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