When it comes to relationships – especially long-term relationships – underlying issues can silently tick along for months or even years before finally blowing up and causing major damage.
Here are eight of the most common:
- Ignoring your partner’s complaints. For whatever reason, people often stop listening to their partner’s legitimate complaints about the relationship, be they about money, housework, sex, in-laws, texting, etc. You may not agree with your partner’s complaints — you don’t have to — but you do have to listen to them with humility and an open heart so that you can work together to resolve them.
- Not showing enough appreciation. Feeling unappreciated is a common lament in almost all troubled marriages. It’s also exactly the kind of long-simmering complaint that can unexpectedly boil over to make a real mess of things.
- Having opposite-sex friendships. Opposite-sex friendships – especially of the time-consuming and overly familiar variety – don’t create problems in marriage…until they do. At some point, they are likely to lead to suspicion, insecurity and feelings of divided loyalty between spouses. Plus, opposite-sex friendships (especially of the sort enabled by personal forms of technology) can chip away at trust and are often the gateway to emotional and sexual extramarital affairs.
- Having a child-centered marriage. Of course, a couple’s attention is going to be focused primarily on the kids, especially when the kids are young; however, kids shouldn’t be the only focus. As the years go by, it’s far too common for couples to lose sight of their own romantic partnership – the foundation of marriage itself – and to go from being loving partners to dutiful co-parents. And that’s about as sexy as it sounds.
- Speaking of sex…letting sex slip off the radar is another relationship time-bomb that can sneak up on a couple. Sex is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing. So use it. As much as possible. A healthy sex life (which includes emotional intimacy) is the glue that keeps a couple together and that distinguishes a romantic friendship from other friendships.
- Excessive use of technology. The pervasive use of personal forms of technology has caused a serious disconnect in the lives of many couples. It’s common to see a couple sitting in a romantic restaurant, each partner staring vacantly into the glaring screen of some gadget instead of staring loving into the eyes of their sweetheart. While that’s fine once in a while, couples who make it a habit are slowly pulling the plug on their own marriage.
- Poor communication skills. From using nasty voice tones and making unpleasant assumptions to blaming your partner for all your problems and giving the cold shoulder, poor communication is a sure fire way to slowly drain the life and love out of a marriage.
- Indulging your negative personality traits. Some people have short fuses and fly into adult temper tantrums. Some people are negative, critical or bossy. Some people are self-focused, lazy or impatient. Some people are overly emotional, judgmental or complacent. Wait a minute…almost all of us are like that, at least on occasion! We’re only human; however, serious problems arise when these behaviors become commonplace and persistent, and when they affect the overall, long-term interactions in the marriage.
Let me ask you – are any of these relationship time-bombs ticking away in your marriage? If so, consider this article a heads-up. It’s just a matter of time until these nasty relationship habits will escalate and explode to inflict serious damage in your marriage. Take action to defuse them now.
• Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. can help you now, not weeks from now. See her Marriage SOS instant-access marriage recovery programs.