They say that if you do anything for 21 days straight you are on the road to developing a habit. The rule is known as the 21/90 rule. Hit the gym for 21 straight days and then follow that up for another 90 days and you’re off to a good start. This bodes true for both personal and professional goals. It also applies to both good and bad relationship habits. Sadly, there are some unhealthy relationship habits out there, whether societal or interfamily, that we buy into and don’t realize it. Unknowingly, we sometimes bring these habits into our union, unaware of the damage they can cause to a partnership we wish to protect. Let’s take a look at the worst of the worst and talk about the fix needed to break the habit.
Unhealthy Relationship Habits You Didn’t Know You Had
In this article:
- If you can’t say something nice…
- Seeking third-party validation rather than third party help.
- Compare and contrast
Relationships of all kinds take work. I say something akin to that in almost relationship article I write. In fact, when it comes to giving relationship advice, most experts will tell you that you don’t reap the benefits of a good relationship unless you commit to working hard at it. But sometimes, we get stuck in our ways and don’t quite know how to get unstuck. Well, these next unhealthy relationship habits are worth fixing if you care to keep your relationship going strong.
If you can’t say something nice…
This is a big one. In relationships, especially in marriages, a default behavior taught first by parents, then by society, is if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, that’s a habit that wreaks havoc on relationships in all kinds of ways. When one or either spouse refuses to communicate their dissatisfaction, it does more good than harm to their union. Often times with this behavior, the silent spouse believes they are protecting the relationship by keeping negative thoughts close to the vest. However, rather than protecting their partner, they are shutting them out. Rather than addressing an issue, they are shoving it under the rug. Over time, this not only damages the relationship, it kills it.
Just because I advocate openness in a relationship doesn’t mean I want you to be a tactless buffoon. Part of the work of turning an unhealthy relationship habit around is putting in the work on your communication skills. If you need to table a discussion until tempers cool or until you find the right words, then say so. Don’t blow up at your spouse but don’t leave them wondering if you even care about the issue at hand either. Let them know that the topic, subject, issue matters to you but you need some time to process before you can talk about it. Be specific about when the two of you will get together and then make it happen.
Seeking third-party validation rather than help
When a situation arises in your relationship that is bigger than the both of you, it’s natural to turn to a friend or professional to get your feelings out. As a side note, keep family out of your business if you want your relationship to last. In any case, talking to someone, while helpful, can prove to be a breeding ground for bad relationship behavior. Often, people are looking for someone to validate their point or tell them they’re right and they’re partner’s wrong. This damages the relationship because once someone is on their side, they dig in and refuse to even consider their partner’s point of view.
Seeking out a third party to discuss relationship challenges doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The opportunity to vent can be cathartic. But the goal should be to pursue advice that benefits the relationship, not your ego. Regardless of whose side the gavel comes down on, it’s important to get the kind of help that changes you for the better. Ask for honest answers and solutions to whatever problems you and your spouse might be facing. Then make the changes you need to make to bring harmony back to your marriage.
Compare and contrast
With the advent of social media, this habit has become a thorn scraping at the heart of many relationships. We get on our devices and go to town on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all kinds of platforms and get jacked up by other people’s lives. We look at some of the highlights in people’s relationships and compare them to our everyday lives. Back in the day, we called it keeping up with the Jones’. These days, the Jones’ seem so far ahead of us that there’s no way we’ll ever catch up…at least not according to the latest social media post. It’s rare that negative or unhealthy relationship issues get posted online. But to us, the highlights are representative of the relationship as a whole and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If checking out other people’s lives on social media is part of your daily routine, either nip it in the bud or get a reality check. At some point, you have to realize that by and large, people struggle with similar issues. Comparing a snippet of someone’s life to the entirety of your relationship is tantamount to judging a book by its cover. Don’t! Rather than allowing other people’s lives to dictate your relationship habits, invest your time doing things that benefit you and your spouse. Live your life and your life only.
Unhealthy relationship habits aren’t always easily recognizable. In fact, these are only a few. However, for every bad habit, there is a fix. And whether you use the 21/90 rule or some other relationship hack, putting in the work to turn around an unhealthy relationship is bound to get you and your partner back on the right track.
BMWK: What unhealthy relationship habits do you need to fix?