We'll say it straight up: There's no good reason in the world to hang onto these habits. They aren't helping.
1. Nagging, nagging, nagging. We know about the squeaky wheel, but complaining loud and long gets you only short-term gains and builds up powerful discontent on your spouse's side.
2. Blaming, criticizing, and name-calling. These tactics belittle the person you promised to love, honor, and cherish; let you play angel to his or her devil; and don't address the responsibility you both share for your marital happiness.
3. Bullying, rudeness, and selfishness. These ugly power plays tell your partner that he or she doesn't count at all in your eyes.
4. Peacekeeping and passive placating. A "whatever you say, Dear" attitude may keep your home quieter but leaves you in the martyr's role. You'll end up angry, defensive, and a drudge. What fun is that?
5. Deploying logic all the time. Life isn't the starship Enterprise; playing the dispassionate Mr. Spock not only cuts you off from your feelings but also subtly tells your spouse that his or her feelings don't count either.
6. Throwing up distractions. You're just having fun, right? Think again. Being hyperactive, fooling around all the time, and refusing to focus—in conversation or in life—often is an attempt to avoid intimacy or difficult issues, which can be horribly frustrating for your mate.
7. Stonewalling. Another stall maneuver, stonewalling stops arguments and constructive discussions cold. Not much can happen when one spouse just won't talk about it.
8. Making unilateral decisions about the big things. Sometimes you have to pick the bathroom paint color on your own. But if you're making major decisions about your money, your time, your kids, and your family life, you're acting without accountability and cutting off the possibility of joint decision-making and deeper intimacy.
By Sarì Harrar and Rita DeMaria, Ph.D.
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