3 Habits You Should Avoid In Your Relationship

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist By Linda Carroll, M.S., LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Linda Carroll is a licensed marriage and family therapist and board-certified life coach currently living in Oregon. She received her master's degree in counseling from Oregon State University and has practiced psychotherapy since 1981.

You know the feeling, we all do…You're angry, frustrated and/or upset with your partner. But rather than acknowledge it and communicate whatever the issue is to your partner, you rely on certain habits because you know them. But you also know the habits don't get you anywhere. And often times, you don't even know exactly how to identify when you're slipping back into bad-habit mode. Here are three common habits to avoid in your relationship:

1. Defensiveness

You go into "defense mode." You build an emotional fortress around yourself, and pace behind its walls, reinforcing the stories you've told yourself about why your upset. You rehash the reasons for your suffering and stew in them. You almost take pleasure in your active effort not to work toward resolving anything

Plus, you feel ready to pounce should your partner dare to challenge, protest, or complain about anything you say or do. You might even try to "teach them a lesson" by punishing any response they give other than appreciation and approval. Instead, you offer up sarcasm, shaming, escalating or stonewalling.

Sure, it is hard to listen to another's complaints but most often it is your own "inner critic," which brings the real trouble. Odd as it may seem, it is a sign of strong self-esteem if you are willing to hear and consider another's protest, even if it seems unfair or painful to listen to.

Relationships need time and a clear set of steps to clear out resentments ; it is what builds the bridge of openness and vulnerability for wholehearted communication and joint growth. So try developing a practice around learning ways to silence your own self- judgment and to cultivate curiosity rather than reactivity when you are listening to someone else's protest to you.

2. Flip-Flopping

The promises you made were dumb to begin with, right? You never really signed on to them in the first place. And besides, your partner didn't uphold their end of the bargain, either, even if they claim otherwise. What's "fair is fair!"

But trust is imperative to a good relationship. You could even say that trust is an essential foundation of any healthy relationship. And among other situations, trust will develop when our partner can count on us keeping our agreements, and vice versa.

Perhaps you say "yes" too quickly. And perhaps you should work on learning to say, "Let me think about it " before agreeing to do something. Remember we always have a "yes" and a "no", and we need to be able to use both to respond to our partners requests.

Devoting all of your energy to pleasing someone else will not make you happy, but will lead to eventual frustration, resentment, anger and other negative feelings within. There is nothing inherently wrong with saying "no."

3. Blaming

You point out what your partner is doing wrong, any time and every time you feel that they are failing you, or themselves, or anyone else. You just go right ahead and nitpick, because it's for their own good to stop saying and doing things that annoy you, right? You complain when nothing changes. You make demands to be treated certain ways. You are never satisfied.

But more often than not, this kind of ongoing whining is a substitute for not speaking about what the real issues are. Complaints about petty things that might be annoying you often cover up deeper, more profound issues in the relationship, and perpetuate negative feeling rather than alleviating pain through communicating about it.

Yes, honest communication is difficult and can also produce pain, but prolonging issues through inviting other negativity into the relationship won't solve anyone's problems.

You and your partner can learn to communicate without complaining and criticizing. Give up whining: it's a convenient substitute for speaking your truth with clarity and an open heart.

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