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For a Happier, Healthier Relationship, Ditch These 5 Habits

For a Happier, Healthier Relationship, Ditch These 5 Habits

Pride has many flavors — they all make life unpleasant

Is your relationship in good shape? Or has it gotten a little saggy over the past year? Could it do with a little freshen up?

I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. — Moonrise Kingdom

We all need to keep an eye on our relationships — especially after the sh*t-storm Covid has — and is — putting them through.

But, even if you’re aware your relationship needs a little work, it can be hard to know where to start. Slapping a date night on top of your struggles just might not cut it.

So here’s an easier pathway. Start by checking in to see if any negative habits are quietly (or loudly) eroding your potential happiness. It’ll give you some valuable intel on what might be holding you back.

And the great news is that habits can be changed IF you are aware of them and committed to doing things differently.

 Here are five of the top offenders — and some ways to control them. 

For a Happier, Healthier Relationship, Ditch These 5 Habits

Love isn’t hopeless. Look, maybe I’m no expert on the subject, but there was one time I got it right. — The Simpsons
1. Always looking on the gloomy side of life.
Most of us are a little pessimistic at times but chronic — persistent/recurring — negativity takes it to new heights.

I’ve had a few clients struggle with this: It’s usually a product of their past environments and it becomes a habit to say no, or to be oppositional, before anything else. So it’s out of your mouth before you can stuff it back in. Chronic negativity is hard to live with because it spreads a gloomy vibe, makes those close to you reluctant to suggest things and voice their opinions — and can strip the joy from your interactions.

What to do: Listen to yourself. Be aware of what you’re doing, especially if you’re pouring negativity into the void. Create a habit of pausing before you speak. Then think before you do.

2. Being OCD with your phone.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a real and significant psychological condition and I don’t want to minimise it. [For the record, Obsessive refers to the thinking and Compulsive to the related behaviour.]

But being OCD with your phone — obsessively checking and refreshing for messages, browsing your favourite sights, taking your phone to the bathroom, gauging whether others have been online (and seen your messages), jumping online without even thinking it through — is a LOT. It makes you jumpy, distracted and not that fun to be around. It’s not so great for your mental state, either.

What to do: Boundary your phone use. You don’t have to go No Contact with your phone but don’t spend every waking hour attached to it. Show it you are in charge. Put it in a drawer. If you can’t do that, delete the apps you’re addicted too — at least until you’ve broken the habit.

3. Setting up camp on the couch.
Life is busy and households function best when both/all adult parties share the load — even better when the kids chip in. Leaving your partner to do all the domestic hard yards is a relationship killer — it breeds resentment and fatigue — not to mention conflict — that will infect the mood and mental health of the household.

What to do: Sit down with your partner, do an inventory of your chores and admin, then divide them up fairly. Select those that fit with your skills and interests — because you’re most likely to follow through on them. If nothing does, sorry, you’re going to have to do some things you hate. Or risk losing your relationship (and any relationship thereafter). You choose.

4. Moaning into the void about your job.
If you’re having trouble with Heather-from-work that’s tough. But it’s important to know that no-one will care as much as you, not even your partner. It’s also important to note that these work stories are not magnetic to your partner in any way, especially when they’re retold every night. (Cue massive yawn here.) Your partner should be supportive but should not have to be a bottomless vessel for your work troubles. It will get them down. It will make them hate Heather when they don’t even know her. Is that fair?

What to do: Create a clear division between work and home. Or allow yourself a 20 minute “vent” when you finish work, then move on. Or move away from Heather. Or start looking for a new job. Any proactive step is a good one.

5. Keeping score.
If you do that, I get to do this. I know, it’s a logical way of running things, but it’s no fun at all. It keeps you constantly counting, looking for ways to keep things even, to “take” what you can from the relationship, rather than think about what you can give. It contributes to a fixed, negative mindset towards your partner instead of an open, loving one.

What to do: Try to support the things your partner wants to do. Usually it will strike a chord and a decent person — who is invested in your happiness — will look to give back to you. But if you find yourself endlessly on the “giving” end, don’t be a martyr. Speak up for your own hopes and dreams — and even for a free hour at the weekend. A little “me time” is not too much to ask for.

If your relationship has the speed wobbles, don’t rush to fling it on the fire. Even solid relationships can get sticky. Talk first and see what you can do to change things up. Make an effort. Even a small change can spin you in a more positive direction.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  
Karen Nimmo

Karen Nimmo


Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Top writer in InspirationLoveSelf ImprovementMental Health,   PsychologyRelationshipsLifeLife LessonsEntrepreneurship

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