Takeaway: Ask yourself if you’re blaming someone for something you’re partly responsible for. Then think about how much of the situation you’re truly responsible for. Be willing to take ownership for your part, but avoid becoming overly responsible for situations outside your control: “We both had the same idea to talk to the sitter about leaving the baby unattended. If that upset her enough to quit, at least you and I are on the same page about our child.”
You unconsciously filter out or discount the positive aspects of your relationship, allowing only negative aspects to enter. You downplay your mate’s accomplishments or positive qualities and dwell on the negatives. You attribute the success to luck or accident and believe it’s only a matter of time until failure is imminent: “You won top broker of the year, but that was a fluke.”
This bad habit of selecting the negative over the positive eventually leads you and your partner to feel as if everything is negative and eventually cripples your intimate relationship.
Takeaway: Pay attention when negatives outweigh positives and give the positives equal weight. Learn to voice the upside of a downside situation or find an opportunity in the problem. Be a cheerleader for your partner and give positive reinforcement and “atta-girls” and “atta-boys” abundantly.
You tell your main squeeze what to do and that you expect them to do what you say. You make other commands and demands that cross the line in a parental way: “Keep your cell phone on and with you, in case I need to reach you.”
Takeaway: To avoid this trespass, state your concern, or ask a question: “Are you OK with leaving your phone on in case I need to reach you?”
Things have to be perfect for you to be happy in the relationship, and you hold your partner to unrealistic standards. Your partner constantly feels like a failure because you focus on and magnify his/her shortcomings and ignore the “tallcomings.” “You have to get that promotion or our marriage goes down the tubes.” Or, on the flip side, you downplay your contributions to a stressful situation, “Oh sure, I forgot our anniversary, but we can make it another night.”
Takeaway: Try to be aware when your outlook about a situation is at one extreme or the other. Take the point of view of an outside observer or even your partner. Try to see the situation through a wider lens, and put it in perspective: “I’ve got your back whether you get the promotion or not.”
Overuse of oppressive words (like should, ought, must, and have to) can cause your partner to feel shamed in the relationship: “You must get home earlier to help me with the kids.” “Musterbation” was coined by the late psychologist Albert Ellis to remind us when we bow to the oppressive pressures in our heads or put those pressures on our partners: “You must be a better parent,” or “You must spend more time with me.”
Takeaway: Ask yourself if your words oppose or support your relationship. Replacing mandatory statements with empowering words enhances the well-being of your relationship. You become more aware of what you require of your partner and can choose more supportive, compassionate words: “I would like for us to spend more time together,” or “Although parenting isn’t always easy, we can still meet its challenges as a team.”
10. Emotional Reasoning.
You make judgments about your relationship and your partner from how you feel instead of from reasoning: “I feel hopeless about our relationship, so it must be over.” Or, “If you cared about us, you would read the self-help book the therapist suggested. Obviously, you don’t care.”