Many people come to therapy asking why they struggle to keep their relationship in a healthy place. They ask questions like:
- “Why do I always argue with my partner?”
- “Why do I have trouble expressing my feelings to my partner?”
- “Why do I feel like I always give more in my relationship than I receive?”
Struggles in romantic relationships are not uncommon, but they need to be addressed in a constructive manner.
Here, I’ll talk about three common mistakes to avoid to give your relationship a better chance for success.
Mistake #1. Trying to win an argument always
One common mistake people make in their relationships is always trying to win an argument. Needless to say, this approach creates tension and can lead to power struggles and disconnection between partners.
Rather than focusing solely on winning an argument, it’s important to find solutions to disagreements that benefit both partners. This requires active listening to gauge each other’s divergent viewpoints.
You are much more likely to feel emotionally connected and satisfied in your relationship when both you and your partner feel heard and understood.
According to research, the best relationships are those that are founded upon mutual trust and commitment, with both parties believing that the relationship will last forever.
Prioritizing understanding and empathy is one way for couples to work together to resolve conflicts and strengthen their bond. If you or your partner struggles to bring empathy into your shared dialogue, empathy interventions can help. One study published in Family Relations found that relationships improved when one partner felt that their significant other had become more empathetic after a five-session empathy training program. Soliciting the help of a licensed therapist or couples’ counselor is one way to begin this journey.
Mistake #2. Not expressing oneself emotionally
When emotions are repressed, they can fester and cause harm to your relationship. Expressing your feelings and needs is crucial to maintaining intimacy and trust between partners.
When approaching difficult conversations, try to adopt a non-judgmental attitude to encourage open communication and make sure your partner feels heard and understood.
Research suggests that people are more willing to be emotionally vulnerable with their partners when they perceive those partners to be responsive to them.
When you and your partner both are comfortable sharing your emotions with each other, you are better able to address issues in a healthy, transparent manner.
Mistake #3. Not paying enough attention to the need for boundaries
Healthy relationships require clear boundaries to ensure both partners feel respected and valued. This applies to even the most intimate relationships.
Without boundaries, individuals can feel taken advantage of and resentful. It is important to communicate your boundaries to your partner and work together to establish a mutually respectful dynamic. Here are a few examples of healthy boundary-setting:
- “I’ve had a really long day. I think I need to take a few hours by myself to decompress.”
- “Can you please keep the junk food out of the house? I am trying to eat healthy this week and I know if it’s here, I’ll eat it.”
- “Please give me the space to do things with my friends once or twice a week. It’s not a reflection on you or our relationship, it’s just something that I enjoy and I ask you to support that.”
By setting and maintaining clear boundaries, partners can foster a relationship based on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. This can ensure that both partners feel comfortable and secure in the relationship — and that the relationship is well-positioned to evolve with the changing needs of each partner.
Managing conflicts in relationships is easier said than done. However, by avoiding these seemingly little mistakes, you can pave way for a healthier relationship with your partner.
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