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Are You Sabotaging Your Relationship?

Here’s how to tell if, subconsciously, you are devising an exit strategy.

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Whether short-term romance or long-term relationship, we’ve all had
that nagging feeling that maybe it’s time to cut and run. Is it possible
your relationship is death spiraling and you don’t want to admit it? Or,
are you just hanging on, doggedly investing in the sunk costs of your
relationship history?

1. You are trashing your partner instead of cherishing him/her.
What used to amuse you about your partner suddenly gets on your last
nerve. Time spent in the bathroom, on video games, out with
friends…it’s now annoying as all hell. And this leads to…

2. Building resentment rather than gratitude
Her night out with the girls is now full license for a boy’s weekend with
the option of strip clubs, “because you go out!” Score keeping abounds,
from picking up the kids to taking out the trash. You scream at him
because of the sound of his chewing, he gives you the stink-eye for
letting the gas in the car get to “fumes” stage. Neither of you can even
fart right to please the other person. And then you decide to give a…

3. Lower investment in the relationship
Withholding sex by being too stressed, sick, or tired is the perfect power
play to hold back your investment in the relationship. Scapegoating that
“work is too hectic right now,” or “the kids exhausted me today” is a hall
pass into the relationship void. Cue more resentment. Keep it up and
you’ll move to…

4. Less dependency on your partner for getting your needs met
More nights with the girls, mornings at the gym, late meetings, out-of-town
trips, hyper-focusing on the kids. Shift your dependency and your
partner becomes more obsolete. He masturbates more, you drink more
wine than you should. Your sensitive and vulnerable sides become
locked away; score-keeping abounds. Then you may begin to…

5. Stop sacrificing for the relationship
“But I’m putting in 65 hours a week at the office FOR MY FAMILY!”
Yes, you are. Realize that your absence has an altogether different
pricetag which cannot be quantified in your lucrative paycheck. Catch a
clue and tune in to a work/life balance that serves you, your health, and
your family. If you won the lottery tomorrow and told your workplace to
suck it, your company would fill your position in a heartbeat. You mean
more to your husband/wife and family than you could ever know. Show
up, be present, and get off your phone. Or not, and see yourself…

6. Escalating conflict so that it becomes completely absorbing
Roughly 69% of marital issues have no real solution, according to
researchers John and Julie Gottman. All couples have their catalog of
problems that are periodically discussed or argued over and over, to no
resolution. How are you able to get past them? Or, is this going to be the
fight that ends it all?

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If you have caught yourself doing any of these, above, with increasing
frequency, you may be thinking, “I can do better.” The thought process
goes like this: “I don’t need this. I don’t need his workaholic, pissed off
attitude day in/day out. I don’t need her emotional roller coaster routine.”

I CAN DO BETTER!

And this, dear reader, is the Comparison Level for Alternatives — the “I
can do better” mantra that precipitates relationship shut-down. When the
costs seem to outweigh the benefits, we look to the door.

Is there a way back, you ask? Of course. Self-awareness is key. But
relationships and self-improvement do not happen in a vacuum, and just
because one of you decides to fight for the relationship does not mean
the other is automatically on board. Thus is the tango of leaning in and
doing the work, not only individually but for the relationship and (if
applicable) children.

If you are reading this after a big blowout fight…or you couldn’t
sleep…or you wake up worried, sad, or distressed that there is no help
for your relationship:

• Read the Gottman research. Any couples’ counselor worth her salt
will use this research in her practice, and if she doesn’t, leave skid
marks in the parking lot and don’t look back. There are quizzes,
online classes, videos and articles that will shed some light on your
complicated situation. With information comes transformation.
The Gottman research is an excellent starting place.

• Watch Esther Perel’s video on infidelity. Esther Perel is one of the
newest on the scene for marital and sex therapy.  She will make
you see your relationship in a whole new light.

• Understand that you can’t change your partner. S/He has to decide
to change. But you can change yourself. My E-Book, Hopscotch
to Happiness, has 25 quick changes you can make to reduce stress
and unlock the magic in your life.  Be the change you want to see,
right?  Sometimes the smallest change in yourself can be the catalyst for change in your partner.  All you had to do was work on yourself.  Go figure!!

Is your relationship in a flat spin? Not sure how to get out of it? Roll the
dice and let’s get to work.

Color.Adjusted
Nicole N. Kaufman, MA, LPC-A

 

 

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