Maintaining a mutually satisfying relationship over a substantial period time is one of the most difficult feats during one’s life time. There are varies attempts to rekindle what has been lost. However, I have found that there are some standard things that come out of one’s mouth that circumvent that stated goal. Here are but a few that I hope ring a bell with you and remind you to think before you speak.
“What about you?”
This is usually introduced when one person in the relationship reacts defensively when the other person brings up something in the relationship that he or she is bothered by. This type of reaction goes nowhere because the issue first brought up is never dealt with. The defensive question merely deflects the issue with nothing really ending up being dealt with. The recommendation is to deal with one issue at a time.
“You’re no longer the same loving person you were when we first met?”
When first dating, couples behave in ways that makes the best impression in order to win ,over the other person. As time goes by, circumstances change and couples become complacent. As a result, pressures build and underlying patterns, not previously recognized or minimized, begin to surface. As a result of not dealing with those early warning signs, problems become chronic and more irritating. The recommendation is to use your brain more and heart less. Being tuned into those warning signs and dealing with them up front will save a lot of future pain and dysfunctional interaction.
“Why do you always do that?”
This brings forth a two fold problem. First, be aware of not starting a question with the word “Why”. It automatically puts the other person on the defensive. Secondly, using the word “always” in this case is too global and takes away from the specific irritant at hand. It is recommended that you rephrase the question another way that doesn’t start with a “Why” and focus on a specific and not use the broad stroke word “always”.
“I don’t feel you see me as number one in your life anymore.”
Again, it is natural to talk in generalities. However, if you really believe you are being treated poorly by your partner, you need to identify specific behavior your partner is exhibiting that gives you the impression that you are no longer number one in his or her life.
“You never listen”
This is usually met with denial. Regardless, the results are your not feeling validated or important enough to the other person to be heard. However, the act of listening is manifested differently by different people. Is not listening the problem or does it go deeper? I can’t stress it enough the importance of citing specific behavior the gives you the impression of not feeling heard. Dealing with specifics stand a better chance of resolution than speaking in general terms.
“No matter what I do, it’s never good enough.”
Constantly feeling you’re falling short of the expectations of your partner is demoralizing. For many, partners thinking or behaving differently can easily be perceived as being wrong as opposed to merely being different. People do not end up in relationships with clones of themselves. It is important, though difficult at times, to keep this in mind and recognize that people come form different backgrounds and experiences. Therefore, each in a relationship can view the same things very differently.
“How come I have to do all the changing?”
It is much easier to see where your partner is wrong and needs to improve. As a result, it is also easy to think you don’t need to make the changes. However, in order to true change to occur, you will need to begin to take responsibility for exploring ways that you can behaviorally change. This does not mean you are abdicating your partner’s responsibility with the problems in the relationship. It means only that you are willing to work on improving yourself that can result in your taking better care of yourself and also can go a long way to correcting the overall problem in the relationship.
These are but a few ways that what is said can fuel problems that already exist in a relationship. If you can add other examples, please share them and I will attempt to address them in future blogs.