When I started as a Consultant in 1983, I picked up every book I could find on relationships, intimacy, sexual health – you name it. One Ph.D. and author whose work I’ve always found especially interesting is that of Dr. John Gottman. He has discovered that his methodology predicts with 90% accuracy which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. Part of Gottman’s theory states that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt.
Below are some other behaviors that I feel can contribute to the death of your relationship.
Neediness – Sometimes a woman will think that just because a guy wants to have a couple beers with his friends or shoot hoops with his buddies then that means that he would prefer to spend time with them over her. This is usually far from the truth. Everyone has to find their way of refueling and women are no exception; after all, how many of us feel genuinely recharged after chatting with friend online or grabbing a cocktail with the girls? Not allowing your partner his space can stifle a relationship. You just can’t expect someone to think about you every second, every minute of the day.
Also, by spacing out the time that you spend together, you make it that much more exciting when you do reunite. Smothering your partner can not only make your relationship boring, it can also burn it out altogether.
Controlling behavior – Another relationship killer is when we’re too controlling. Everyone probably knows someone who has given their partner an ultimatum to force them into marriage or to have children; there are many men who are afraid to let go of the relationship and will move forward out of fear rather than commitment. Unfortunately, although a lot of marriages start this way, that doesn’t mean it’s going to end up a healthy or faithful marriage. Same goes for those who attempt to control every aspect of the relationship such as what their partner is “permitted to do” with free time.
Jealousy – I truly believe jealousy is one of the most corrosive of negative tendencies of all. People can easily get consumed over the time their partner spends with others (male or female) and every conversation is viewed as a prospective betrayal. This is extremely destructive to a relationship because at the end of the day, if you’re not secure in yourself and your relationship than it’s not worth having. Work on yourself before you can find true happiness.
Reading into Everything – Anyone who has seen the film, He’s Just Not That Into You, knows that women can sometimes have a tendency to overanalyze everything. We don’t let things happen naturally and often try to figure out what the other person is saying or feeling. We are guilty of that ‘drive-through’ mentality meaning we want answers right away instead of communicating and getting to know our partner over time. Many women also mull over every detail of their relationship with their girlfriends to get to some sort of resolution when what they should really be doing is relying on their intuition. God gave us a gut and sometimes we just don’t use it! If you are communicating with your partner, try not to dwell with questions like ‘when you said this, did you mean that?’ Be ready to accept his explanation if you feel he is being sincere.
If you sense you are slipping into any of these negative patterns or if you are the one being subjected to any of these behaviors you may want to pull back the reins and re-evaluate your relationship.