Old Habits Can Kill Your Relationship — Unless You Do These 2 Things

Here's how to stop the past from ruining your relationship.

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Wouldn't it be great if all of the relationship challenges you faced in the past magically disappeared whenever you wanted them to?

It would be amazing if all the obstacles in the way of closeness, intimacy, and happiness vanished in one fell swoop. But sadly, it doesn't happen that way.  

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No matter how firmly you resolve to make time for you and your partner to figure out how to build the kind of relationship you've been longing for, it doesn’t happen magically. A brand-new focus on a better relationship with your partner doesn't guarantee anything. You're still the same person you were, and your partner is the same too.


To make room for what you want more of in your relationship, you've got to change those unhealthy habits.

Researchers in a study found that people really want to make beneficial changes, but they just can't seem to follow through. Old habits can seem like the "only way" and trying something different is usually uncomfortable or emotionally painful.

What makes this trickier in a relationship is that not only is your partner wrestling with their own unhealthy habits, but your partner is well aware of your habits too. Expectations about your behavior pile on and make the dynamic between you two appear even worse than it already was. 


So, how can you move past expectations and eliminate recurring relationship problems for good? Don't just resolve to create a happier and healthier relationship. Achieve it. 

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Old habits can kill your relationship — unless you do these 2 things:

1. Don't avoid the past

A big mistake that many couples make is to wait for a new year to make a fresh start. This has its benefits, but it can make you blind to the vital information you need in order to make sustainable changes. 

If you keep doing what you have been doing, you'll perpetuate jealousy, tension, emotional distance, and drama. Instead, find the courage to take an honest look at your actions and how they contribute to the problems that you and your partner have. Rather than getting caught up in assigning blame, analyze the habits that contribute to your relationship's problems, and then dig deeper and understand what drives those habits. 


Write about it. Meditate on it. Talk about it with your partner in productive ways. When you communicate about the past, make it clear that your intention is to understand the hidden needs, worries, fears, and convictions that you each have. Make sure your partner knows that you want to work together for a new and happier future. 

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2. Notice the differences between the past and present

Noticing what's different now is equally important as changing habits. Getting caught up in an argument that you and your partner had six months ago, or having a heated discussion about a misunderstanding that occurred when you first got together isn't going to serve you now. As the saying goes, "Learn from the past, but don't live there." 

Spend most of your time and energy tending to the present moment. When a familiar and triggering situation arises, pause, and remind yourself that this may feel like what "always" happens, but it can have a different outcome. Remember that you are not only starting new, but you are adding to the solid foundation that you've built your relationship. Learn and grow along with your partner to create a newer, more fulfilling relationship for the future.


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Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire.