Are you unhappy in your relationship? What if you are sabotaging your relationship? Read on to know the 6 relationship mistakes and how to avoid them.
Leo Tolstoy famously said, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Unhappy couples often believe this. They get sucked into the story of their unhappiness and get lost in the details of their hurts and complaints.
Your relationship may feel uniquely infuriating or painful.
In truth, most unhappy couples are unhappy in similar ways. The ways we try to protect ourselves from hurt, blame, or embarrassment doesn’t vary that much from person to person.
Here are six ways you or your partner might be sabotaging your relationship
and what to do instead.
1. YOU’D RATHER BE “RIGHT” THAN HAPPY.
My first job after college was showing apartments for a successful real estate broker in NYC. The secret to his success, he confided, was his motto, “You may be dead right, but you’re still dead.”
I have repeated this line countless times since I first heard it.
Years ago, a friend decided to move in with her packrat boyfriend. On moving day, she arrived at his apartment with her few belongings and saw that he hadn’t created any space for her things. She burst into tears and accused, “You haven’t made any space for me in your home or life. You never take me into account!”
He responded, “That’s crazy. I’ve been getting rid of things all week. It’s never enough for you. I can’t win!” She grabbed a movie stub from The Road to Perdition sitting on a nearby shelf and said, “Why are you keeping this? We saw this movie years ago. You hated this movie!” He countered, “I want to remember how much I hated that movie!”
Oh, how we love to be right! When we’re upset, we want to gather evidence, show that this offense is a pattern, and be proven that we are right and our partner is wrong.
The truth is, it’s pretty rare that there is only one “right” in any particular situation. There are two subjective truths in every relationship– yours and your partner’s. Consistently valuing your “truth” over theirs will not get you the closeness and trust you want in your relationship.
Instead of going on the attack, state how you feel, what you imagine is going on, and what you need. Then allow your partner to do the same. After a cooling-off period, my friend said, “I’m feeling pretty upset that there isn’t more room for my things. It’s like you haven’t thought much about how we’re going to live together, and that’s hurtful. For me to feel comfortable here, I need to be able to settle in and get organized, and that means I need you to clear out more of your stuff.”
Her partner confessed that he was overwhelmed at the thought of pruning and reorganizing his entire house, and asked that they tackle this project together. They married soon afterward.
2. YOU EXPECT YOUR APOLOGY TO MAKE THINGS BETTER INSTANTLY.
My daughter once head-butted her brother in the face during an overly enthusiastic pillow fight. When he came to find me, in tears, nose, and mouth bleeding, she trailed him into the kitchen, insisting, “I said I’m sorry! But he won’t listen!” With adults, as with children, we need to give people a minute to stop the bleeding.
Let’s say you messed up. You broke a commitment, you said something hurtful, or you over-reacted. Now you want to make things better, so you swallow your defensiveness, go to your partner and say, “I’m sorry.” But instead of responding with forgiveness, they start to launch into the reasons they are still upset. To you, this feels punishing, rejecting, and unfair.