Why Bad Habits Could Be Killing Your Relationship

Marriage & Family Therapist, Kelly Hoffman, told us the about the three habits that could be killing your relationship and how to break them.

That’s right, just like biting your nails is a habit, so are biting comments and other negative habits that can take a toll on event the best relationships. Here are 3 of the bigees; they are the habits almost everyone has, and they can do the most damage.

Eye Rolling You see it on movies and tv, and it gets a laugh, so what’s wrong with a well timed eye roll you ask? Well, its all about what the eye roll is communicating. What eye rolling, (or huffing and sighing etc.) are all about is a feeling of contempt for the other person. Yeah, you heard me, contempt. Think about it, what do politicians do when they want to discredit their opponent? They pull out the old eye roll. Its tried and true and communicates clearly and effectively to others that you think the other person is a real schmuck. Great for political debates,  not so good for relationships you want to keep non adversarial.

Comebacks So many times we walk away from a situation thinking about what we should of said, and how fabulous it would be, so why not let a comeback fly if you actually can think of one! Trouble is, most comebacks are sarcastic, and the basic premise of sarcasm is that you say one thing but you really mean another. Not a firm foundation for trust, which of course is essential for a healthy relationships. Next time you think of the perfect comeback, comeback to it.

Silence Ok, silence does not always mean someone is being a jerk. This isn’t just that someone is confused or taking a while to answer because they are thinking about things, this is the silence that comes from “I don’t like how this is going so I’m not playing anymore”. Reminiscent of school yard “its my bat and ball and if you don’t play my way I’ll take them and go home”. “The Silent Treatment” is the official title, and nothing says “go jump in a lake” better. Problem is, it would be better for your relationship to tell your partner to go jump in a lake. Silent treatment leaves things, important things, unsaid, and therefore unresolved. This can lead to resentment which will eventually destroy the trust and intimacy if not the relationship itself.

What to do?
Well, like every habit, there are are some tricks. Just like if you are an alcoholic you don’t go back to your favorite bar, with these habits don’t even drive past the joint. Just don’t go down that road, here’s how:

Eye rolling: Hold your eyes up instead of completing the roll, blink a lot.
Ok, this sounds odd, but when you look up, it communicates to the other person you are THINKING!! much better than communicating “I’m thinking you’re an idiot”. Blinking also is interpreted as a non-aggressive facial action, so these two actions will totally change the way your partner is interpreting you and therefore totally change the interaction.

Comebacks: Here’s a novel idea; try saying what you are actually thinking instead of oh so cleverly disguising it in sarcasm. (use this last statement as a case in point for the difference in sarcastic tone) You may just find yourself in a problem solving rather than problem creating situation. “What if my partner can’t handle it? you ask?” Well they for sure are not going to handle not being able to trust your sincerity long term. So bite the bullet and you may just be surprised at how mature you both can be.

Silence: This is a toughie. When people go silent on the outside they are often anything BUT silent on the inside, and what’s going on inside their head is not good. They are usually assuming worst possible scenarios for EVERYTHING!! And thats what has to change. You can’t be in a successful relationship and always be gathering evidence / working yourself up to believe that your partner is a jerk. You will end up believing it whether or not its true!!  First of all, most of what you are telling yourself is not true. What’s more, catastrophizing the situation is keeping you from successfully addressing what is true, which means that whatever ticked you off in the first place is going to happen again, and NOT because your partner is a jerk, but because you failed to communicate to your partner what was bothering you. Thats right, if you keep quiet, and your relationship doesn’t change, its your fault.

This of course is all assuming a relationship where both persons are trying their best to make things work. If you are in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, changing the dynamic at all will cause greater pain and stress. But if your partner is sincerely doing their best, and you are trying your hardest, these simple techniques can help cool things down when “discussions” get a little too heated.

For more advice from Kelly Hoffman you can link  to Kelly's blog and podcast by clicking here.


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