Learning how to relate to your partner can mean the difference between a joyful union and a painful breakup, so do yourself and your significant other a favor by taking the time to adjust potentially harmful behaviors. When things get tough, relationship expert Gail Katz says both parties need to be involved. “If you decide to ditch your old habits to save your relationship, you need to practice your new social skills so they become new, healthier habits,” Katz said. “And your partner needs to celebrate your changes and remind you when you fall back on old habits.”
To hear more about what leads to a relationship breakdown, The Cheat Sheet spoke with some other leading mental health and relationship experts. Based on what they said, here are 10 behaviors that can kill your relationship.
Criticism is a nasty habit that can belittle a spouse and break trust in a relationship. You started off your marriage optimistic, looking to your spouse as a life partner you could always turn to, but now it feels like you’re being nitpicked on a daily basis. It goes without saying that it is important to focus more time on what your partner is doing right as opposed to focusing on the negative. As you begin to see more of the positive, the negative will be less apparent or bother you less.
Nonetheless, there are likely to be things your partner does that bother you. Instead of criticizing, learn a healthier way of asking for your needs to be met. Replace shaming statements such as “you always do such and such” by taking ownership and using I statements. For example, say “when you do ‘X’, I feel ‘Y.'” When approaching your partner with more sensitivity and gently explaining why you feel the way you do, as opposed to focusing on what he or she is doing wrong, you’re more likely to see the change you are looking for.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, therapist and founder of The Marriage Restoration Project