7 Sneaky Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Relationship

Some unhealthy behaviors in a relationship are obvious — things like lying, cheating, yelling and name-calling. But there are also more insidious habits couples develop without realizing how damaging they can be in the long run.

We asked therapists to pinpoint the seemingly inconsequential things couples do all the time that are secretly hurting the relationship.

1. You ignore your partner’s interests

It’s normal — healthy even! — to have interests that differ from your partner’s. Just because your significant other loves country music doesn’t mean you have to throw on a cowboy hat and hightail it to the Luke Bryan concert. But you can still find little ways to support your partner’s passions, even if they aren’t necessarily your cup of (sweet) tea.

“For example, if your partner wants to share a song with you, it is important to show interest in what they enjoy about it or to listen to it, even if you might not have a taste for that genre of music,” Los Angeles marriage and family therapist Abigail Makepeace told HuffPost. “Otherwise, a lack of acknowledgment of your partner’s interests can eventually add up to a feeling that their passions — or that they themselves — are unaccepted in your relationship.”

“You do not have to enjoy the song, but simply listening or conversing about what your partner might enjoy about it provides necessary support,” she added.

2. You don’t say thank you for the small things

You voice your appreciation when your partner buys you a gift, plans a weekend trip or books you a massage. But you may forget to acknowledge them for the small day-to-day ways they lighten your load. Neglecting to recognize these efforts can breed resentment over time.

“Good relationships are not about the grand gestures. They are built and maintained through the small, everyday moments,” said therapist Nicole Saunders of Charlotte, North Carolina. “Failing to notice and validate your partner for all the work they put into the relationship ― even if it is something they ‘should’ do, like unload the dishwasher ― is a lost opportunity to build positive connection.”

Don’t take these small acts for granted. Whatever your partner is doing to make your life easier deserves recognition.“This may be getting your favorite snack at the store, making the bed the way you like it, or greeting you with a hug because they know physical touch is your love language,” Saunders said. “Then give them a genuine thank you! Bonus — it’s also a good way to reinforce behaviors you want to keep seeing.”

3. You’ve gotten lax about your personal hygiene

Skipping the occasional shower isn’t a big deal, but when forgoing basic grooming becomes a habit, it can get in the way of intimacy and become a source of conflict in the relationship.

“Not brushing teeth, showering, shaving, etc. can be inconsiderate of our partners, especially when we know that it bothers them and we’re still not intentional about handling it better,” said Northern California therapist Kurt Smith, who specializes in counseling men.

It’s worth mentioning that poor hygiene can sometimes be an outward manifestation of a mental health condition like depression. If you’re struggling with motivation in other areas of your life, experiencing feelings of worthlessness or withdrawing socially, talk to your partner and consider making an appointment with a mental health professional, too.

4. You criticize your partner instead of asking for what you need

Criticism is when a complaint in the relationship is expressed as a character flaw, couples therapist Zach Brittle previously told HuffPost.

For example, you might snap at your partner and say something like, “You’re always late for dinner. Why can’t you ever be on time? You’re so inconsiderate.”

When we resort to criticism, we put our partner on the defensive, which often leads to an argument — not the positive change we hope to see, Makepeace said. Over time, these harsh words can hurt our partner’s self-esteem and create emotional distance between the two of you.

“If we want our partners to do something differently, we should make a specific request for a change in their actions, versus stating a negative judgment,” Makepeace said.

So in the example above, you could try saying, “I feel disregarded when you don’t tell me you’re running late. I need you to call ahead of time so I can plan dinner accordingly.”

5. You don’t maintain a life outside the relationship

When you first start dating someone, it’s not uncommon to go through a honeymoon period where you’re spending most of your time together. But after a while, if you’re still focusing all of your energy on your partner while letting your friends, family and other interests fall by the wayside, it could be a bad sign of things to come.

“When couples become too enmeshed, it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship,” Saunders said. “Maintaining the relationship at all costs can become the objective because neither partner has a separate life or support system to fall back on. It can feel like life will end if the relationship does.

To avoid this toxic pitfall, make sure you continue to nurture your identity, interests and meaningful connections outside your romantic relationship.

“It’s important to have time apart on the regular, whether that is time going out doing different things with different people, or simply having weeknights enjoying separate shows or in different rooms involved in different hobbies,” Saunders said.

6. You check your partner’s phone without asking

Sneaking a peek at your partner’s texts or Instagram DMs might seem innocent enough, but it’s actually a violation of their privacy and a sign of underlying issues between you.

“If you’re reliant on accessing your partner’s phone to confirm their faithfulness, it’s a reflection of a large lack of trust within the relationship,” Makepeace said.

It’s reasonable — not suspicious or dishonest — for people in relationships to want to maintain some privacy and autonomy from their partner.

“Many people in relationships desire a bit of their own benign independence,” psychologist Ryan Howes previously told HuffPost. “This isn’t to say they want to separate. They often love their relationships and want them to endure, but they also want a little bit of their lives to themselves ― and this isn’t necessarily a problem.”

Resist the urge to check each other’s devices. Instead, be vulnerable enough to talk about the insecurities that are driving you to snoop in the first place.

7. You make promises you can’t keep

Keeping your word — even when it comes to small things — goes a long way toward building trust and making your partner feel loved and appreciated. Conversely, when you have a habit of saying you’re going to do something and then blowing it off, whether consciously or unconsciously, it can drive a wedge between you and your partner over time.

“This can take any number of forms, from following through on and taking care of the lease expiration on their car, to finishing installing the baseboards in the family room, to emptying the dishwasher daily as promised, to not being ready to go somewhere at the pre-agreed time,” Smith said.

Try setting reminders to complete important tasks in your phone or writing them down in a planner so you don’t forget. Only commit to tasks you know you’ll be able to tackle and give yourself realistic time frames to do so. (In other words, don’t overpromise to try to please your partner.) And if it looks like you’re not going to be able to get it done, then let your partner know as soon as you can.

“Explain exactly why you’re unable to follow through,” relationship writer Sheri Stritof wrote for Verywell Mind. “Make this sort of situation the exception, not the rule, especially as you’re working to build trust.”

Kelsey Borresen - Senior Reporter, HuffPost Life

 

Kelsey Borresen

Source: 7 Sneaky Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Relationship | HuffPost UK Relationships

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Work-Life Balance: What Really Makes Us Happy Might Surprise You

Finding the right work-life balance is by no means a new issue in our society. But the tension between the two has been heightened by the pandemic, with workers increasingly dwelling over the nature of their work, its meaning and purpose, and how these affect their quality of life.

Studies suggest people are leaving or planning to leave their employers in record numbers in 2021 – a “great resignation” that appears to have been precipitated by these reflections. But if we’re all reconsidering where and how work slots into our lives, what should we be aiming at?

It’s easy to believe that if only we didn’t need to work, or we could work far fewer hours, we’d be happier, living a life of hedonic experiences in all their healthy and unhealthy forms. But this fails to explain why some retirees pick up freelance jobs and some lottery winners go straight back to work.

Striking the perfect work-life balance, if there is such a thing, isn’t necessarily about tinkering with when, where and how we work – it’s a question of why we work. And that means understanding sources of happiness that might not be so obvious to us, but which have crept into view over the course of the pandemic.

Attempts to find a better work-life balance are well merited. Work is consistently and positively related to our wellbeing and constitutes a large part of our identity. Ask yourself who you are, and very soon you’ll resort to describing what you do for work.

Our jobs can provide us with a sense of competence, which contributes to wellbeing. Researchers have demonstrated not only that labour leads to validation but that, when these feelings are threatened, we’re particularly drawn to activities that require effort – often some form of work – because these demonstrate our ability to shape our environment, confirming our identities as competent individuals.

Work even seems to makes us happier in circumstances when we’d rather opt for leisure. This was demonstrated by a series of clever experiments in which participants had the option to be idle (waiting in a room for 15 minutes for an experiment to start) or to be busy (walking for 15 minutes to another venue to participate in an experiment). Very few participants chose to be busy, unless they were forced to make the walk, or given a reason to (being told there was chocolate at the other venue).

Yet the researchers found that those who’d spent 15 minutes walking ended up significantly happier than those who’d spent 15 minutes waiting – no matter whether they’d had a choice or a chocolate or neither. In other words, busyness contributes to happiness even when you think you’d prefer to be idle. Animals seem to get this instinctively: in experiments, most would rather work for food than get it for free.

Eudaimonic happiness

The idea that work, or putting effort into tasks, contributes to our general wellbeing is closely related to the psychological concept of eudaimonic happiness. This is the sort of happiness that we derive from optimal functioning and realizing our potential. Research has shown that work and effort is central to eudaimonic happiness, explaining that satisfaction and pride you feel on completing a gruelling task.

On the other side of the work-life balance stands hedonistic happiness, which is defined as the presence of positive feelings such as cheerfulness and the relative scarcity of negative feelings such as sadness or anger. We know that hedonic happiness offers empirical mental and physical health benefits, and that leisure is a great way to pursue hedonic happiness.

But even in the realm of leisure, our unconscious orientation towards busyness lurks in the background. A recent study has suggested that there really is such a thing as too much free time – and that our subjective wellbeing actually begins to drop if we have more than five hours of it in a day. Whiling away effortless days on the beach doesn’t seem to be the key to long-term happiness.

This might explain why some people prefer to expend significant effort during their leisure time. Researchers have likened this to compiling an experiential CV, sampling unique but potentially unpleasant or even painful experiences – at the extremes, this might be spending a night in an ice hotel, or joining an endurance desert race.

People who take part in these forms of “leisure” typically talk about fulfilling personal goals, making progress and accumulating accomplishments – all features of eudaimonic happiness, not the hedonism we associate with leisure.

The real balance

This orientation sits well with a new concept in the field of wellbeing studies: that a rich and diverse experiential happiness is the third component of a “good life”, in addition to hedonic and eudaimonic happiness.

Across nine countries and tens of thousands of participants, researchers recently found that most people (over 50% in each country) would still prefer a happy life typified by hedonic happiness. But around a quarter prefer a meaningful life embodied by eudaimonic happiness, and a small but nevertheless significant amount of people (about 10-15% in each country) choose to pursue a rich and diverse experiential life.

Given these different approaches to life, perhaps the key to long-lasting wellbeing is to consider which lifestyle suits you best: hedonic, eudaimonic or experiential. Rather than pitching work against life, the real balance to strike post-pandemic is between these three sources of happiness.

By: Lis Ku , Senior Lecturer in Psychology, De Montfort University

Source: Work-life balance: what really makes us happy might surprise you

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