Often times people feel like they don’t understand what happened to their relationship. These 6 things may be what happened to yours or what will happen if something doesn’t change, fast…

Stonewalling

Stonewalling is icky business and may be a term you are not familiar with. It is essentially the proverbial, “talk to the hand.” This is when you shut down and refuse to talk about whatever is at hand at the moment. It happens when someone storms out or gives silent treatment. The more often this behavior shows up, the more likely your relationship is about to fail.

Contempt

Contempt is an verbal or non-verbal attack putting yourself on higher ground than your partner. Mocking, rolling eyes, and name calling are all forms of contempt. When you have the urge to do this ask yourself, “Is this behavior helping me or the situation right now?” Contempt become a wedge that slowly gets driven between two people and it is very hard to undo years of hurt at the hands of this weapon.

Defensiveness

If you are defending you are not listening because you are too busy thinking about what to say next. The name of the game in a relationship is to take responsibility for your actions. In the moment this is a hard one to stomach but, I kid you not, accepting responsibility or showing interest in a conversation about what someone else is feeling will make you night go by so much easier and will help everyone in the long run.

Criticism

“You always…”

“You never…”

These are common forms of criticism. Erase the words always, never, forever, everyone, and any other absolutes when talking about negative things in your relationship. Complaints and frustrations are a part of life. Having an empathetic start up to these conversations is key to change. Explain how you feel when xyz happens keeping the focus off of the other person’s character. Stay in the here and now with it.

Sharing information about your marriage with your circle of family/friends

Danger, danger Mr. Robinson! Social supports are important but I have yet to see how they help when a couple is in strife. Friends and family are well meaning loved ones who often contribute to the problem. See a therapist if you want to vent or, better yet, take what you need to say directly to your partner and take care of things as they come. A conversation a day keeps the therapist away.

Distracting yourself from your relationship

Are you a master of avoidance? Well, taking a break is fine to think or regroup, but get back in the game man! Distracting yourself from your relationship is no good because, as I said before, you must take things as they come otherwise there will be a build up and you will be one of those couples you hear saying, “We just drifted apart, no idea why.”

I believe all of these behaviors are a choice one must make to have a happy relationship. It takes time and there is no such thing as perfection. Be patient with yourself, relationships are work but a lot of it is self work and reflection. 

The rest is a dance.