The Behaviors That Are Warning Signs
Relationship expert John Gottman has long asserted that he can successfully predict whether a marriage will last by homing in on the absence and presence of certain key behaviors, which he calls The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are:
As separate from complaint, since criticism is highly personalized and accusatory; let’s say you are upset with your spouse for leaving the living room windows open with rain in the forecast, and the curtains got soaked. Rather than addressing the issue, you begin with a litany of his or her flaws, with the words “You always” or “You never.”
includes responding to your partner’s words or thoughts with gestures that belittle or mock, or becoming verbally abusive by name-calling or assailing him or her with a litany of character “flaws.”
is just what it sounds like: getting into a defensive crouch, denying responsibility, playing tit-for-tat, or making excuses for your words, behaviors, or actions. Of course, if criticism and contempt are already part of the landscape, defensiveness may be the only way to protect yourself from abuse.
is perhaps the most damaging of the four, since it signals the end of dialogue and communication. The person stonewalling, it’s the man 85 percent of the time — communicates disdain by folding his arms and not deigning to answer, and signals his smugness by the coldness of his glare. It’s the ultimate emotional shutout and likely to provoke an outsized emotional response from his partner.
How your and your partner’s childhood experiences factor
Those whose emotional needs weren’t met in childhood and have insecure attachment styles. This shouldn’t come as a total surprise, since securely attached people are capable of regulating their emotions and are comfortable articulating their own needs; they’re also more likely to choose partners who have the same skills. That’s simply not true of those who display one of the three insecure attachment styles: anxious-preoccupied, fearful-avoid-ant, or dismissive-avoid-ant.
Our experiences in childhood affect not just our need and tolerance for intimacy, but also our ability to engage in discussion without feeling threatened; this is especially true of those who have an avoidant attachment style.
Avoidantly attached husbands withdrew in direct proportion to the amount of negative affect expressed by their wives in demand situations.
Five red flags you shouldn’t ignore
In every relationship that’s troubled, there’s a point of no return that, unfortunately, can only be seen in hindsight. Following are some completely anecdotal tips drawn from my own experience and those of others;
1. You and/or your partner evade each other.
This can be either literal or metaphorical — such as making sure you’re never in a position to have a private conversation, pulling out a cell phone, remembering an errand you have to run when your partner wants to talk, or changing your schedule so there’s little time face-to-face. You or your partner may rationalize this as “turning down the heat” or “keeping the peace,” but if you actually hope to salvage the relationship, you need to cut it out.
2. Every conversation and interaction escalates.
Walking on eggshells is unhealthy, and when the petty begins to dominate — who filled up the car last, who didn’t flag the fact that we’re out of eggs — you’re in trouble, as are your children, if you have them. When you find yourself irritated by your partner’s familiar habits, the relationship is in deep waters.
3. One or both of you stop discussing major decisions or choices.
A woman I know finally realized how bad things had gotten when she learned her husband of six years had applied for a job in another city without telling her; he had, however, mentioned it to a neighbor with whom he commuted. Beginning to think of yourself as single isn’t a sign of independence in this context.
4. You or your partner display shifts in behavior.
If you or your partner have difficulty talking about your feelings directly or even identifying them, the depth of someone’s unhappiness is sometimes communicated nonverbally through shifts in behaviors. Are you distracted most of the time and pretty much ignoring your spouse, focusing on personal goals that have nothing to do with your marriage? Does your partner seem distant and preoccupied? Are either or both of you avoiding physical contact?
5. You or your partner make it clear that you’re “done” talking.
This is both manipulative and a power play, and it could equally be called the “gauntlet” moment: You take it or leave it. No matter how hopeful you are for a resolution, you actually need to take your partner at his or her word, because it’s really a declaration that he or she has absolutely no intention of changing.
11 Common Relationship Myths
1. If the relationship was “meant to be,” it will just work out.
Relationships are like ships: They need to be steered. Sure, you can just let the tide take you to…wherever, but when you crash or sink, don’t conclude the relationship wasn’t “meant to be”—it was your mutual passivity and lack of effort that doomed it.
2. Couples should have sex X times a month/week/day.
One of the most common causes of sexual dissatisfaction for couples is faulty expectations. If you think you should have sex three times a week and you’re having it only once, you might be convinced something is wrong when it probably isn’t. Frequency of sex depends on the sex drive of both partners and, even more, on the actual circumstances and opportunity. If you think you’re not having enough sex, checking with friends to see how often they have it is pointless and misleading. Discuss it with your partner directly.
3. Avoid voicing dissatisfaction’s early on.
The first stage of a relationship sets future expectations about the roles you each will play, your initiative levels, communication styles, and other relationship dynamics. If your partner is late to most dates, even by a little, and you say nothing, you message that you’ll be OK with their lateness going forward. If you’re not okay with lateness, you need to speak up, even on the second date, and even if by voicing just a mild and constructive comment.
4. The partner knows exactly what they did to upset me.
Although many of us assume our partners should be able to read our minds, the science has yet to prove existence of telepathy even among the long-term couples. Yes, partner can probably tell you are upset but they’ve probably done thousand things to upset you over the years, so figuring out which of them is culprit this time is risky proposition. Don’t stew and wait for them to confess.
5. Having a baby will solve our problems.
Having a baby is an amazing experience that will change your lives in every way. It is also the most stressful thing you could possibly do to a relationship. If your goal is to be too exhausted to argue, then procreate away. But if you’re already having the problems, you should deal with them directly and not to expect a baby to make them disappear. The Marital satisfaction almost always dips after birth of a couple’s first child; take that into account when doing the family planning.
6. If you’re truly happy with your partner, you shouldn’t need to be close to anyone else.
This might be true if both of you are massively co-dependent but assuming you’re not, one person asserting this to his or her partner is either an attempt to control that person or just sheer ignorance about our basic psychological need for friendship and community.
7. Couples in good relationships don’t argue.
One of most consistent and established the research findings in all of the psychology is that what matters is not if coupes argue but how they argue. The Productive arguments are those that avoid the escalation and result in the resolutions, problem solving, and mutually agreed takeaways for dealing with similar situations more productively in the future. Most couples should learn how to argue productively and practice the relevant skills if they want to change how they deal with conflict.
8. Never go to bed angry.
Yes. Is it realistic to expect to be able to do so when it’s already past midnight and you have to be up with the kids and/or for work the next morning and also function at your job? No. What you can do is agree never to go to bed without at least deciding when to continue the discussion or argument. In addition, some people actually need to cool down before they can continue a productive discussion, so taking a break could be wise.
9. You should learn to love your partner’s worst qualities.
Some people have habits that are slightly disgusting and impossible to “love.” Fortunately, loving your partner’s poor qualities and habits is not necessary.
10. Good relationships don’t require work.
This is my favorite, because it’s the most common myth and the most inaccurate. Of course relationships take work—and lots of it. You’re merging your life, the needs, the wants, the desires, dreams, and the hopes, all of which shift and change over time and in response to various the circumstances, with those of another person whose separate the needs, wants, the desires, and the dreams also shift and change. How else is such complicated endeavor possibly supposed to succeed unless you both work at it? How much the work it actually takes might ebb and flow, but the expect to invest the attention and work even in best of times.
11. If you’re truly in love, passion will never fade.
Thanks to the movies and the romantic novels, we assume that if we genuinely love the someone, the passion, urging and loving never go away. However, passion naturally diminishes in all the relationships.
Daily routines are one of culprits. As their responsibilities grow and the roles expand, the couples have less and less time and energy for each other.
But this doesn’t mean that passion is gone for good. With little planning and playfulness, you can boost the passion (source). (source)
For more related articles click below: