During my many years of working with couples, and writing about them each week for major media outlets, I have been able to comfortably come up with a list of things we should and should not be doing in order to have strong personal relationships. There are some common themes and behaviors that many couples seem to do that fray the relationship, and sometimes cause irreparable harm. I am hoping that be reviewing this list, you are able to think about them, and start to avoid them. Your relationship will be stronger for it, and you will feel more connected as a couples.
Things to Avoid For Better Relationships
Do not take your partner for granted.
I have couples so an exercise that they universally end up loving. I have them spend a week where every day they tell their partner something they appreciate about the other person. They can do it face to face, leave a note, or send an e-mail or text. Most as me to keep that particular assignment going, as it makes them feel so good. They often did not know the things that their partner appreciated about them, and it makes them feel more connected.
Do not try and mind-read your partner.
This is incredibly common in relationships. People take history, or what they think they “know” about how their partner will say or react to a situation, and they become upset with them before even asking the question. When I have them actually ask each other what they would have said or thought, the partner was normally off base. This shows how important simple, open communication is.
Do not insist that you settle a disagreement here and now.
This is one of the greatest fallacies of our time. People insist that you cannot walk away from each other until something is resolved, or that you should never go to bed angry. The truth is that sometimes you are each so mad, that nothing productive will be resolved in that moment. Agree to come back and revisit it when you have both calmed down, and keep this promise. Take a breather and clear your head, or even sleep on it. Almost every time, things are not as dire as they seemed in the heat of the moment.
Do not forget what it means to have good communication.
This means strong active talking and listening skills. Don’t forget that you partner cannot know what you are thinking and feelings unless you share it with them. Be open to tell your partner what is on your mind, ask them to hear you out without interruption, and then listen to what they have to say with the same respect.
Learn to approach issues in a way that makes your partner more willing to hear you.
If you comes at them in a hostile manner, they will either match your level of hostility, or they will shut down. Make sure that you are calm, clear, and that you are willing to hear them out and put yourself in their shoes. When you approach your partner in this way, they are much more willing to hear you, and they are more open to work an issue out.
It is essential that you are willing to tackle the tough topics, especially early on, so that they are cleared up and will not cause issues in the future.
There are heavy issues like faith, finances, and family involvement that will erode any relationship if you do not come to an agreement and understanding about how these issues will be dealt with in the relationship.
Do not live in the past.
While there are some thing that are easier to get over than others. If something happened that you have agreed to move on from, or you have agreed to stay in the relationship despite this issue, you must leave it in the past. If you cannot not live with it, don’t stay in the relationship. However, if you genuinely want to work things out and be with this person, you must move forward, and leave the issue in the past. You cannot say you forgive and want to be with the person, but pull out their mistake every time you are upset, or it is convenient.
Do not fight dirty!
Attack the issue and not each other. If there is a problem, stay focused on it, and do not resort to personal attacks and character assassination. Instead, stay focused on the issue at hand. This will more often get to a resolution, and no one walks away with hurt feelings, or having said or heard something that does permanent damage.
Do not refuse to compromise.
We all have our own sets of beliefs, values, and morals. There is nothing wrong with having strength of our personal choices, but we cannot expect our partner to follow our path exactly. They have their own set of beliefs, values and morals. Sometimes the two are not the same, and the couple needs to find a common or mid-ground that they can each live with.
Do not have unrealistic expectations for your partner.
We all have a “perfect” image in our minds of what a partnership is, and usually they is pretty far from reality. Adjust your expectations to be realistic and fair. If you do not take this hard look at yourself, and make this change, you are setting your relationship up for disappointment, and you partner for letting you down when they have done nothing wrong.
If you keep in mind these simple themes to avoid, and you use these tools to strengthen your relationship, you are truly putting yourself on the right foot. While a few of these may feel like a lot of work on the front end, they will save you countless hours and issues on the back end, and throughout your relationship.