John Curtis, Ph.D.
Damage or destroy a relationship
Practical couples counseling tips to protect yourself from damaging or destroying your relationship. The phrase “death by a thousand cuts” means to be on guard for little problems Little relationship problems can do just as much damage as big relationship problems.
What can damage or destroy a relationship? I would say that America has been stuck on stupid for about a half a century when it comes to relationships. Here we are in the 21st century, and people go into a marriage with the idea that its concepts go back to the 1950s even.
For the guys, in particular, at the wedding reception there is perhaps at least two of the friends of the groom that are sitting at the table, elbowing each other, and going, “Well, this is good as it gets. Now it’s all downhill from here.” People already set up that expectation that the wedding day was the best day, and, of course, you spent 20 thousand dollars on it. So things begin to deteriorate along the way, because many times your expectation is this is as good as it’s going to get.
So one of the ways you can destroy a relationship are the little things. As the old joke goes, the kind of stoic grandfather, when asked if he still loved his wife, said, “Well, I told her that 20 years ago. If the situation changes, I will let you know.” The whole idea is that romance and keeping romance alive is important. So is it the Valentine’s card, is it the birthday card, or is it remembering to get the flowers? The little things that can be very, very important, and many times men miss that.
They don’t call it the opposite sex for no reason. Men want and value different things out of relationships that women do in most cases. So is that genetic? Is that programmed in? Is that suicidal? I don’t know. The fact is that there are differences. So, try to see the relationship from her point of view. Because, if you don’t, those are the little things that can erode a relationship.
Now, the other end of the continuum, are the big things: the extra marital affair or the physical and emotional abuse. Those are quite obvious, and most folks don’t see themselves likely to do that or capable of that. Nobody goes in to the relationship assuming that they are going to become abusive. Keep in mind that one of the key triggers of abuse has to do with the issue of anger management and impulse control.
Now, let’s go back to the illusions of and being stuck on stupid. People have this belief to this very day with modern, intelligent, sophisticated, savvy people that somehow or another love is all we need. Sounds like an old Beatles song. They believe that they can overcome all hurdles and all hassles if they just love one another enough. Of course, many folks that have been through at least one failed relationship smile and roll their eyes when they hear somebody say that. Those people know that it’s really about problem solving skills, communication, and conflict resolution.
Two things that are important to look at when you have a conflict in a relationship, even if it’s dating or cohabitating, but certainly in marriage, is to classify what type of conflict that you’re having. I see that there are basically two. One is a conflict of needs. You need the towel picked up off the bathroom floor. You need to cap the toothpaste. You need the car with gas in it when it’s been loaned to your spouse or your partner. And maybe your spouse doesn’t seem to pay attention to those kinds of things. There arises a conflict of needs.
The good thing about need conflicts is they’re easy to negotiate. You could flip a coin. You could change into a new house and get two bathrooms. He has his; you have yours. Don’t worry about that. You can hire a maid. You can outsource it. You can alternate. There are lots of ways to get that chore or that need fulfilled just doing the kinds of things you might do with a friend at work. For example, it’s like sharing a work project.
Value conflicts, on the other hand, are the non-negotiable ones. You have one religious person or one atheist. Or, you’re Jewish; he’s Catholic. You’re democratic; he’s republican. Are you going to argue all day long? I don’t think so. What you’re going to have to do is learn to accept those differences that are value differences and learn to really celebrate that in your partner. Trying to change it is one of those insidious ways that you’re going to destroy the relationship.
Keep romance alive, talk about things, communicate, and learn to resolve conflict together. You’re marriage will grow, and it will continue to get stronger as you live a healthy and happy life together.
Copyright – 2013-14 – Tunomi Unlimited Incorporated (Twoology)