My relationship book, Why Can’t Your Read My Mind?, teaches couples how to manage toxic thoughts and behaviors in loving relationships. As they become informed, readers ask me about the things they themselves say or do that makes their relationship suffer.
Before I go further please hear that I do realize that your relationship partner may be saying or doing things that get you upset! Please also hear that I am not saying your partner is free from responsibility in the health of your relationship. And, I am certainly by no means saying that people should feel compelled to remain in toxic, abusive relationships.
That said, it is really tempting to completely blame our partners for our relationship misery. After all, isn’t it a heck of a lot less stressful to point our fingers at them rather than take a good look at our thoughts, attitudes, and ways of expressing ourselves in our intimate relationships?
Your relationship, however, may be suffering the negative effects of YOUR OWN toxic thinking and behaving if one or more of the following statements is true about the way YOU argue on a regular basis:
In at least two out of three of your most recent arguments, you:
- Often ending up arguing about something other than the original problem or issue.
- Are not able to remember why your argument started.
- Label your partner negatively (in your mind or actually saying things like), “You’re a couch potato/lazy/selfish/downer/impossible/selfish person.
- Focus mostly on making your partner understand how YOU feel.
- Say things you later regret.
- Apologize for saying something mean to your partner even though you still staunchly believe it’s true.
- Use words like, “you always/never/should.”
- Have declared certain topics “off limits” during arguments but you have a hard time sticking to it.
- End up using bad argument behavior, such as screaming, blaming, name-calling, door slamming, kicking one partner out of the house, or locking doors.
- Bring up past issues or arguments—even ones that you thought were resolved—in a hostile way again during current arguments.
If the preceding list of toxic behaviors rings a bell for you, please don’t despair. As a wise friend of mine once said, “The only perfect people are in the cemetery.”
Seeing the “good stuff” that your partner brings to your relationship, seeing his or her faults as limitations vs. taking them personally, and being self-aware about how you think and relate to your partner can go a long way to make things better!
For more about Dr. Jeff please visit, drjeffonline.com
Getting Unstuck: The Toxic Relationship. Mark Banschick, M.D,http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201309/getti…
The Five Love Languages. Gary Chapman
Why Can’t You Read My Mind: Overcoming the 9 toxic thoughts that get in the way of a loving relationship. Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D.
Why Marriages Succeed or Fail? John Gottman