Unless your parents had a great relationship and made a point of teaching you the tricks of the trade, you’ve had to go it alone. However, just “winging it” isn’t always the most effective way to learn something as important and potentially life-changing as relationship skills.
There are several techniques for dealing with relationship conflict that appear to be effective, but are not. These techniques ultimately serve the purpose of making you feel better in the short-term at the expense of the long-term prospects of the relationship.
Avoid these common relationship mistakes:
1. Using gifts as medicine. Get caught having an affair? Take your partner on a tropical vacation. Is he mad at you for allowing your mother to move in without a discussion? Let him get that sports car he’s always wanted.
* Covering up relationship issues with money and exciting diversions doesn’t last. The same problem comes back, only a little stronger next time.
2. Relying on hints as an effective form of communication. Sometimes, your partner won’t get the message. Other times, they get the message, but resent that you’re dropping hints instead of stating your desires directly.
* Instead, take responsibility for your wants and needs and state them clearly. You’re much more likely to have your wishes respected this way.
3. Threatening the relationship. Only the most insecure people would tolerate this tactic for long. When you threaten the relationship as a way of getting what you want, you destabilize the relationship. It puts the other person on notice that they can’t do anything wrong without the possibility of you leaving them.
* Using drama to get your way increases the intensity and frequency of drama in the overall relationship. You might get your way in the short-term, but there is a huge price to pay.
4. Passive-aggressive behavior. This is another form of dropping hints, only the hint is less clear, and you’re punishing the other person in the process. Be considerate and assertive enough to tell you partner what you want.
* Punishing your partner under the radar isn’t as easy to accomplish successfully as you think. You’re likely to receive the same treatment in the near future.
5. Tit for tat. You’re familiar with this one. You screwed up by not attending his last softball game, so he uses that as an excuse to skip out on the barbecue with your family. Whenever you’re using past negative events committed by your partner as an excuse to behave poorly yourself, resentment is the result.
* The converse is true, too. Keeping track of your good deeds and refusing to do anything else for your partner until they’ve evened the score doesn’t create an environment that fosters relationship growth.
6. Failing to take responsibility for your own happiness. Do you blame your partner for not making you happier? Do you blame your partner for your negative emotions? If she goes out with her friends for a night on the town, do you pout and blame her for making you feel bad?
* This is a good example of codependence. Your emotions are your own responsibility. Your partner’s emotions are their responsibility.
Avoid the use of these relationship killers. Understand that your partner isn’t as capable from one day to the next. Neither are you. Some days you’ll get more from them than others. The other key to a successful relationship is the ability to communicate directly and fairly. Take responsibility for your emotions, too.
Relationships are easier when you refrain from doing things that will weaken them!