According to a recent HuffPost article, the little challenges in our relationships tear couples apart as often as the big ones. In other words, while some marriages end with a bang, many go out with a whimper, a small oversight, a facial expression or forgetful moment when, something that didn't get done or remained unsaid, turned into the last straw. In the thick of relationship stress and dissatisfaction, molehills become mountains, avalanches start, and next thing you know, one of us yells, "I'm done!"
If you think your relationship is about to fall apart, consult a Marriage Counselor or Life Coach. But, if you sense an undercurrent of stress that's not yet do or die, check out these 4 bad relationship habits and heed the small tips to make big improvements.
- Interrupting: Unless two interrupters marry, and get enough words in edgewise to form a conversation, interrupting is rude and disrespectful. One research study even equates it with exerting power over someone else, which damages intimacy.
What to do? 2 to 3 times a week, invite your main squeeze to sit down and talk about what matters to him or her at that particular moment. Then, set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes, while you listen intently and don't say a word.
- Rolling Your Eyes: Eye-rolling also falls into the disrespectful bucket. True, we don't say anything, don’t make any grand gestures, but those small eye movements communicate a dismissive and belittling attitude, which erodes trust.
What to do? As someone who could win a medal as an eye-roller, if it were an Olympic event, stopping cold turkey failed because I didn't always know I was doing it. My wife helped me break the habit by calling out my eye-rolls. That made me more conscious of them, which decreased their frequency, and gave me a chance to apologize.
- Not Picking Up After Yourself: Let's face it, some of us are messier than others. While accepting our differences diminishes resentment, if we know our spouse is driven mad by wet towels on the bathroom floor or other habits that drive neater folks berserk, refusing to change is our right, but it breeds anger and distance.
What to do? Ask your spouse for his or her top three neatness requests of you and, then, choose the one that feels least disruptive to your messier lifestyle. Or make some improvements—say 30%–40% more neatness—in all three areas.
- Nit-picking: There's more than one right way to load the dishwasher, change a baby's diaper, or tell the story of how we met. But those of us who nit-pick are like a dog with a bone when it comes to correcting small details.
What to do? When you next feel the urge to remind your spouse that the mugs go in the top rack, or that you ate Chicken Marsala not Parmigiana on your first date, inhale deeply, and zip it.
Tried the "What to do?" tips but still can't change? Up the ante:
- Think of an organization or cause you can't stand. Seriously, one you hate.
- Come up with a dollar amount that would be painful for you to give away to anyone, never mind the cause. $50, $100, $1,000?
- Promise your spouse that if, yet again, you interrupt when s/he talks, or roll your eyes with gusto, or forget to squeegie the shower door, or correct his or her pronunciation of the restaurant where you met, that you will write a big fat check to that heinous organization.
And if, despite best intentions, you end up writing that check, it might be time to call a Life Coach who specializes in relationships to make sure the "little" things don't end your marriage. Did I mention my first session's free?
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