Let's face it: Some days even the best of relationships require hard work. So learning how to mend hurts and tear down walls of conflict is part and parcel to keeping a healthy and vibrant relationship going strong.
"Whenever a relationship isn’t working, there will always be an underlying condition of resisting or hanging on that is creating the problem," says Bill Ferguson, a former divorce attorney who wrote How to Heal a Painful Relationship. "This condition destroys love, creates conflict and produces all sorts of needless suffering. Typically someone gets hurt, puts up his or her walls of protection and becomes judgmental or critical of the other. This starts a cycle of conflict, resisting, attacking and withdrawing from each other."
It's this destructive cycle, he adds, that sabotages relationships. Here, Ferguson fills us in on three love pitfalls to avoid.
1. Don't take your relationship for granted.
When you've lost that appreciated feeling that's a warning sign your relationship could be in trouble. "It is very easy for someone to get hurt and feel unloved. When this happens, the person tends to withdraw or become critical" says Ferguson. "Then the other person gets hurt and does the same in return." If a negative cycle starts, do everything in your power to put a stop to it. How? "By making sure your partner feels loved and appreciated," says Ferguson.
2. Don't refuse to accept your partner as is.
You know what constant critiquing or nagging feels like, and it's not all warm and fuzzy. "Accepting and appreciating a person, as is, is how you make them feel loved. Incidentally, accepting is nothing more than telling the truth. That person is the way he or she is whether you like it or not. If you cannot be at peace with the truth of how someone is, you will radiate non-acceptance," says Ferguson. These negative feelings can destroy love and create suffering in your relationship. Avoid this love trap by doing everything you can to make your partner feel accepted.
3. Don't allow distance to build.
Every time a couple has a spat, a distance can form between the two. Each unresolved conflict widens the gap even further. It takes work to tear down walls and get connected again. "As this distance grows, the feeling of love fades away. To avoid this, say what you are upset about. Get it off your chest. As you do this, the distance disappears and the love returns." Be clear though, warns Ferguson, and let your partner know that your purpose is to remove distance and not to blame or change your partner.