These relationship blunders break up even the strongest of marriages.
Below are just some of the mistakes I've made, that my clients have made and that you should avoid.
1. You ignore issues as a couple. This is probably the worst thing you can do. Sticking your head in the sand around the issues you may have in your relationship is not the way to go. The unexpressed feelings will slowly but surely start eating away at you, and over a period of time, what looked like small annoyances will transform into massive resentments. (And then before you know it, you're hating your partner because you cannot put up with anything anymore.) I know this very well, as I have been there myself. Before my divorce, this is the exact state of denial that led to the demise of our relationship. I did not know how to express how I was feeling and my ex-husband simply didn't want to hear it. The problem got bigger and bigger, and before we knew it, we stopped trusting one another and the relationship broke down completely.
Instead, deal with the issues as they come up. Just like when you clean your home, if you keep dusting away the cobwebs, you will create a consistently clean environment.
2. You don't work on the relationship. Somehow, we seem to think intimate relationships will run on their own fuel without putting much effort into them. This is simply not true! A relationship needs work — just as a car needs fine-tuning.
At the very least, understand how relationships work; and at the very most, work on yourself and what you bring to the relationship. Healthy and fulfilling relationships happen from the inside out. I made this mistake and paid dearly for it. I kept wanting to change my ex-husband, thinking he was the problem, when in fact, it was me all along! Work on you first; learn about how relationships work and the rest will follow.
3. You don't learn how to effectively communicate. As I've already mentioned, good communication is one of the cornerstones of creating a fulfilling relationship. However, there's a right way to fight and a wrong way to fight. Resorting to "blame and shame" tactics will destroy any trust you've built and while it's a normal defense mechanism, all it does is result in the attacked spouse shutting down.
In my first marriage, I used this tactic all the time, which only caused heartache and disconnection. Learn to communicate clearly, listen intently and give yourself the time and space to do so safely. If not, divorce will be imminent.
4. You don't spend enough time together. One of the other cornerstones to any successful relationship is giving yourself the time to connect with one another. If you are not giving yourself the time to do this, then you will feel disconnected and distant.
I see so many couples putting everything else as more important so that they can give it to the relationship. The ironic thing is that the one thing that would fuel their relationships is the one thing that is not given — time. This is also one of the biggest errors I made in my own marriage. Before I knew it, my ex-husband and I were completely disconnected and were living parallel lives, which exacerbated our differences as opposed to highlighting our similarities.
Go for walks together, put time in the diary for a date together, go away without mobile phones together. Talk, laugh and above all, create memories if you want to avoid going down the rocky road of divorce.
5. You don't delegate jobs. Living with another person can drive us insane. Messy people end up marrying neat people and unhealthy people marry healthy people. Whatever the scenario, there are going to be guaranteed differences in how two people live. What ends up happening is one person in a relationship feels resentful over the fact that they had to carry the load in their relationship.
For example, arguments about cleaning used to happen regularly in my household. Now, we just delegate the work to someone who loves doing it! She gets what she wants and we do too. Does it cost money? Sure it does. Does it save us time with our arguments? Yes, and we'll end up saving on divorce bills too.
To avoid going down the rocky road of divorce, you will need to confront the brutal facts, learn to communicate properly, work on the relationship, spend time together and delegate the jobs you don't want to do to someone that does. It may sound like a lot of work, but it beats the heartbreak of signing divorce papers.