This shows itself in many ways, for example: You first get together and we treat each other with our best party manners, until later, when the new wears off and we go from doing all the extra things, and showing appreciation for the things done for us ... and then, we tend to follow a very predictable pattern. We go from where we notice everything and show our appreciation, to taking such things for granted ... to finally ... where we get self-centered, and now we expect such things and only notice them, when they are absent.
Where once we showered our mate with thanks, now we rag and whine at them, for the lack of the same things, they gave to us freely in the beginning. And the reason such acts are lacking in most cases, is that you have made the mistake of taking them for granted.
largest pitfall of
any relationship, this tendency to take each for granted. Now, any
has the new stage, where we do the hearts and flowers, and that fades
with time, as it must. As most of us cannot keep that kind of romance
up, to the same degree we did at the beginning ... but our
to let the relationship die entirely, for a variety of
reasons, a slow death I might add, is the
At the base of every relationship, is the expectation of some kind of benefit from being in the relationship, or else why are we there ? However, when those expectations are not met, problems follow.
Expectations are human nature, we do not go into any relationship, of any sort, without them. However, what most of us fail to realize, is that unmet expectations, are the real reason behind many of the problems in our relationships.
It can be a challenge to see or even understand what our real expectations are, "as we are often blind to them, we honestly don't even realize we have them, until, like the air we breathe, we don't get them." So the hardest task becomes realizing what is at the base of our problem. It's often a far different issue than we first believe.
For example, little stuff. Everyday that we live with another, there are always the little things that we do, with almost no thought as to their effects, which can distress our partner and they do the same to us. However, since such things are, in and of themselves, considered petty complaints, we tend not to talk about them. This is a major mistake ....
Lack of communication on the little things:
Now, the "big" stuff, as in the really major issues, most of us can handle, it is the little things that trip us up.
Example: You leave the bathroom a mess every morning, as you get ready for work. You get in a hurry, as your running late, whatever the reason. However, it is what happens next, that matters. Now, your gone and your at home mate walks into the bathroom, and sees the wet towel on the floor, toothpaste in the sink, hair on the counter, etc. etc. that the mate, at least by implication, is now expected to clean up. I know of almost no one who will not come to resent this over time.
Now, in the over all scheme of things, this is minor right ? However, to the at home mate, this can easily be taken to mean ... my partner doesn't care about me. Your mate then complains to you, about how messy you are, but the reality is, that they are upset because you are showing so little care and consideration for them. Which is an entirely different issue, than their complaint that you are messy.
Even the so called big things, are often based on relatively, smaller issues. Example: the number of relationships that break up over money problems, is staggering. However, if you look carefully, it is not really the money itself, that is the problem. As it does not matter if we have very little money or we have "money to burn", the same problems ensue.
As if one partner say, "spends too much." We might fight over the money, but what we are really fighting over, is the idea that the mate who spends too much on themselves, is being selfish. That is what we are really objecting to.
There is no bigger stumbling block to real communication, than selfishness. I mean you could sit down with your partner and tell them anything and everything that you want or expect from them. Sounds reasonable, right ? Thats communicating, isn't it ?
No, it's really not, if your whole diatribe, is centered on YOU and you alone. Trust me, it almost goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that if you regale your mate with a long list of things you want, anyone with half a brain can see there is a problem with that. That is, they can if nowhere in that list did you say anything about their needs or wants.
So it comes down to not only speaking your needs, but understanding how you are perceived by others, when you do speak up. Selfishness gets you nowhere, as with the above example. The one hearing your laundry list of wants, it is likely to A: not pay much heed to what you have said, much less what you want and B: is not going to waste their time, reciting a list of their own. As you have made it very clear, by your manner of presentation, that the only thing your thinking about, is yourself. So why would they waste their breath trying to talk to you about what they want ? As a result, no one gets what they want, and the relationship, dies.
Selfishness, is the root under just about any relationship problem that you care to name. Don't think so yet ? Lets break it down a bit more and see.
As noted, the minor issue of leaving the bathroom a mess, the first party who left the mess, is being selfish, as they are expecting their mate to pick up after them. When, one assumes, that they are perfectly able to pick up after themselves. Money, same thing, if you are overspending, you are being selfish, as you are tending to your own wants, over and above the needs or wants, of your mate or family. Anything can be a selfish act, from sex, as in you get what you want, more than your partner does, on down to who drives the car when you go somewhere together... Over and over, many of the problems that come up, the root problem, is selfishness on someone's part.
This can range from having a major secret, to just keeping all of your feelings and thoughts, to yourself. Both are damaging, for the simple reason, any major thing your hiding, will come out at some point in time and your partner will, rightfully feel very abused by this. Further, by keeping everything to yourself, you are not sharing with your partner, hiding who you are and what you think from them. In short, your being selfish, and dishonest, by keeping everything to yourself.
Now, there are times, when telling the truth, can do more damage than a lie. We all know of people who use the "truth" like a stick, that they beat their partner over the head with, full of self righteousness, as, after all .... it is the truth. There is a large difference between constructive truth, and using it as a weapon. Be honest, but in the right way, as to do otherwise, is to risk damaging your relationship, beyond repair.
There are many forms of dishonesty. What most people think about, is infidelity. Which, while very damaging, we can generally forgive that. Again, it's the little things that can totally ruin an otherwise good relationship.
All the "white lies" about where you have been. ( to spare them being upset of course ) The evasions, when you are doing things, that you know your mate would not approve of. It is like all of the promises you made to each other, just flew out the window, as you justify your lies .... Time it seems, has eroded those promises, and they no longer matter to you. Even if you never get caught at these lies, you know you did them and it effects how YOU behave and therefore, the relationship suffers.
For any relationship to work, there has to be equality. When one person tries to play the "one up on you" game of being the superior one, it's a recipe for disaster. Now, it is true, that on some things one or the other, will be better informed or better skilled at a given task. However, at no time does this mean that you are better than your partner, over all.
Your gender is not relevant, nor is your age or income level. Everyone has things they are best at and it is that person, if you want things to run smoothly, who likely should be doing the task. But that is not always possible, so you just have to accept, that from time to time, one of you is going to be doing a thing, that the other might feel they could do better. So what ? The task gets done, that is all that matters.
Having to be right all the time:
This, is the kiss of death to just about any relationship. This comes from basic insecurity. Anyone, who MUST be the one who is right all the time, has a serous problem. Not only within themselves, but they create one for anyone they are dealing with, their partner in particular.
No one likes to be
made feel that they are wrong all the time and will resent it, often
consider this, even if you are right and you win, what have you done to
your partner and
their self-esteem ? Is it worth it ? A reasoned compromise, almost
always makes more sense.
Now the first thing that comes to most peoples mind when you say this word, is physical abuse. Which is dreadful of course, but there are many kinds of abuse, some that are worse in their own way, than if you hit someone. Bruises will heal, but mental hurts, cuts to ones self- esteem, passive aggressive withholding of affection, can be even worse.
Hit me and I will heal, but cut me up like a band saw with mental abuse, and I may never recover from it. Any time you see an abuser, what you are seeing is someone who is insecure in themselves. Someone who is hypercritical, and seeks to control ... everything. This means, that they do not trust their partner to behave in a reasonable manner, without brow beating them or trying to control their every move. This lack of trust, is a death knell to the relationship, as any relationship has to be based on trust.Criticalness:
Ben Franklin said, "The sting of another's criticism, usually comes from the truth in it." so when you are the one pointing them out, be aware of this fact, and do not expect immediate capitulation. It takes time and understanding on your part, to realize that no one "likes" their faults being pointed out, and that it will take time for them to even agree to the need for change, much less take action on it.
Not only that, if you, the one being told, refuse's to at least listen to such advice, you may continue to make the same mistakes, over and over again, until the other person gets tired of it ... and therefore, of you.
This reluctance to accept our own faults is commonplace, and we often compound that problem, by our failure to even attempt to amend them. This may be why people can go from one relationship to another, often with the same disastrous results.
Certainty: Or another version of ... I am always right"Whatever else you do, always remain certain that whatever you think, feel, or believe--about relationships, your partner, life in general, etc.--is true. ( even if there is evidence to the contrary* ) Never let doubt or contradictory evidence creep in. Never ask for guidance or support from others. And above all else, never admit any shortcomings that might make you appear weak or stupid. Always appear to know exactly what you are doing, even when you don't have a clue..." ( see links )
It does not take a rocket scientist to see whats wrong with this picture. This is the partner, who rather than admit there are things they do not know, will rush headlong into trouble, usually running over anyone in the way, with their idea of how things should be. This is the person, who will come along and literally take over whatever your doing, as your not "doing it right".
Probably the most misunderstood word in the English language, is the word "should". As the word implies, it means that someone is doing or thinking something, as that is what they are supposed to do. Never mind the fact, that all too often, they have never questioned the rightness or fitness, of the beliefs they hold.
Nor, in extreme cases, do they want to question them, and they most certainly do not want YOU to question them. ( read defensiveness ) Always second guess anything that comes with the word "should" attached to it. As very often, it's some grafted on idea, that has never been tested by anyone, for accuracy. So when someone points this out to you, do yourself a favor and at least try to listen. :)
You will find it often said in most missives about relationships, that one should never do anything for your partner, expecting your partner to reciprocate. Well, sorry, I don't happen to believe in that idea. For one basic reason ... it does not work like that. Now yes, we can do things for our partner, as a gift and say we expect nothing in return. Sounds great right ? Yes it does, however it is another recipe for failure.
It goes like this, no one does anything for anyone, and does not expect at least recognition of what they give and or, reciprocal behavior. That is a basic fact of human nature. We might put up with being the one doing all the giving, for a while, even a long while. But sooner or later, we will come to resent the other party, as we are doing most of the giving and little of the getting.
In short, if you get, you have to give, or very soon, you will stop getting, at the very least. Moreover, the party doing all of the giving, will either tire of it and leave you, or worse ... they will become a score keeper.
A score keeper is someone who counts up all the "good deeds" they have done for you and will use them like a stick to get their own way. As in " I have done all this for you, now you owe me." Making the other party miserable in the process. There is no room in a working relationship for this kind of behavior.
While we are on the subject, let's discuss the idea of 50-50. I will be blunt and say, there really is NO such thing in any one given event. Now, can there be over all ? Of course, but the trap this otherwise grand sounding idea creates for people, is expecting 50-50, in all cases. Not gonna happen people. It goes back to, who is best at a task, is ideally the one who needs to be doing it.
However, again the warning implied here is, if one party happens to be good at "most" things, this does not mean they get stuck with all of it. 50-50 is a workable idea ... provided you understand a simple concept. It is a matter of dividing up the tasks of life, so that each party is doing, in as much as they are able, their fair share.
A good example: In the current day, most partners work outside the home, for a wage. The reason for this is simple, one paycheck is seldom enough now a days, to cover expenses, especially if you have children. However, to expect that all of the household work and child care, fall to only one partner, because they are " better at it" is nothing short of ludicrous.
As what you are really asking, is that they should work all day and then come home and keep right on working, with no help ? Can you say NOT ! It is an idea that might, I say "might" have made some sense in the day when most partners, did not work outside the home. That is not, and has not been the case, for many years and if you want to keep your relationship, you need to wake up to a new reality and act accordingly.
Even in a relationship, one can be alone. In fact, it is the worst kind of loneliness.
You can, if your not careful, get so wrapped up in your job, your hobbies, almost any pursuit you can name, to the point where you totally neglect your mate.
Now if you both have busy lives and you agree, that for this task, you need that kind of solitude, your mate can likely handle the separation. But it's when it's not agreed upon, that we run into major trouble. The neglected partner will reach a point where they will say to themselves, " If I am going to be alone anyway, I may as well be in fact, alone" and they will walk out of your life, as they have given up looking for the sharing, that is not forthcoming.
Me and Mine:
Once you have passed the point, of "getting to know" each other and have said that you plan to stay together. Stop saying things like my house, my car, my money etc. I don't care if all of the above, technically speaking IS yours, in that you came into the relationship with it. At some point, other than personal mementos, or things that you set aside before you joined, as personal property, everything has to become ... ours. Otherwise, what you are saying to your partner, is that everything is mine and I can take off with it, whenever I like. Think about it. How would you feel if they did the same thing ?
It says that you won't even share your possessions with them. It is like a dog, marking their territory, saying MINE. This leaves your partner with only one thing they can really think. That being, that you plan on leaving them at some point. Otherwise, why would you make such a point, of claiming what "belongs" to you all of the time ? As expected, this action can become a self fulfilling prophecy, as you won't have to bother leaving them, as they will often leave you instead.
I think it should go without saying that personal attacks are a not, in any relationship, but they happen. Moreover, they are often subtle and not out in the open. For example:
Invalidation and contempt:
This is where one party, is always putting down the thoughts, feelings or even character of the other. This can take many forms. Sarcasm being an all time favorite, which often just signals contempt for the other party. The age old excuse of " I was just kidding" rarely cuts it. As most people are NOT kidding when they are being sarcastic, they are dead serous and the other party knows it. I don't care if their self esteem is lower than the basement, at some point, they are going to fight back, and it will not be pretty when they do.
As discussed above, fault finding or excessive criticism is another favorite, often cloaked in the mask of "I am just saying this, for your own good" when the other party may mean no such thing, they just want to feel superior ( read superiority ). In short, if you are with a person, one assumes that you care for them and being belittling, is not showing care, it is showing contempt. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to seriously re-evaluate the relationship.
Nagging, Stonewalling and other fun games:
We all tend to play avoidance games with each other. Again, it's human nature, as we use it as means to try and avoid confrontations. However, there is a fine line between coping mechanisms, and delaying tactics, and outright hurtful behavior. As noted above, in the "for your own good" category, it can lead to nagging and whining at the other party. This becomes a habit, one that can easily kill a relationship.
Now if the matter has been discussed in a rational fashion, and both parties have agreed to the need for change, then a simple reminder, should be enough. If you are forced into nagging, to try and enforce something agreed upon, you are just setting yourself up for game number two, from a partner that is not holding up their end of the agreement which is, stonewalling.
This is what is called passive aggressive behavior, where the party is actively ignoring not only the problem, but their partner. This is the person who refuses to make eye contact. Who spends excessive amounts of time in hobbies or TV, totally shutting out the other person. Going to bed '"early" constantly, to avoid any free time to discuss matters, is another sign. What can easily happen in such a case, is you may find yourself, with what you have inadvertently asked for ... as you will find yourself alone in truth.
Apathy:A state worse, in many ways, than doing the relationship active damage, as it is where you have just let the relationship ... die. Making no attempt to keep it alive and have let it slide into total apathy "Shared history, family tradition, religious convictions, and the expectations of others, are enough for some to stick it out, but others will need more. There are those who would rather be loved in hell, than disregarded in heaven." ( see links )
A few short ideas, that many agree, work .... and my personal thoughts on the matter.Relationships need to be renewed from time to time, with the intimacy that we forged in the beginning. Intimacy is not just about sex, it's about closeness, the sharing, the times when you smile that special smile, that is for them alone.