And Healthy Habits to Replace Them
New year, new decade, new habits. Whether you’re newly in a relationship, dating, married, or in it for the long haul, here are 5 habits to leave in the past and habits to replace them if you want to have a happier, healthier relationship.
- Sacrificing yourself in the relationship.
We all know those people — the ones who are one person when single and a completely different person when in a relationship. Healthy relationships include space for both partners. For couples who lose themselves for the sake of their partner, to keep the peace or any other reason, this toxic habit builds resentment in the long haul. Eventually, all those parts of yourself that have been denied for weeks, months, years will come raging forward crying for attention.
You aren’t doing the relationship any favors by being anything but your authentic self. Did you have a secret single behavior that hasn’t existed since you coupled up? A hobby you used to love? A gym routine that has gone by the wayside? Well, this year is your year to reinvigorate those activities and charms about yourself.
So, instead of sacrificing yourself in the relationship, notice what you’ve neglected and start adding those activities back into rotation.
Healthy relationship habit: Take yourself on dates! Yes! In addition to dates with your honey, treat yourself to dates where you honor you and the things that bring you joy, independent of your significant other and relationship! Keeping your own life active and fresh gives you and your partner more to connect on, time to miss each other and keeps the spark alive and interesting.
2. Prioritizing your individual selves over the relationship.
This one is friends with the age-old adage — There is no “i” in team — but has a twist. Instead of melding with your partner and losing your identities, this toxic habit is about the you vs. me that can happen in the relationship, particularly around unmet needs or conflict. We’ve all been there, but it’s important to realize this very powerful point: When you’re in competition you’re not in collaboration. The moment you’re in opposition you’re no longer a team. The way out of this toxic habit is simple…take the “i” out of the equation and start playing like a team to create the best relationship.
Healthy Relationship Habit: Take inventory of your individual needs and what the two of you are building towards together. Identify key words that describe the type of relationship you two want to have and check in regularly to assess what you’re co-creating.
3. Giving too much attention to what’s going wrong
I don’t know one person who has said they want to create a bad relationship dynamic but if you’ve heard the saying “where attention goes, energy flows” then you know that spending time on negative brings more negative and vice versa. It’s important to take inventory of your problem areas but try to balance your constructive feedback on a six to one ratio. For every one thing that is going wrong, celebrate six that are going right.
Healthy Relationship Habit: Start a gratitude practice (in life and in your relationship). Acknowledging your partner, the growth you two catalyze in eachother and what’s going right in the relationship is just as important as proactively assessing what needs improvement. And start noticing your six to one ratio — can you work to bring your “wins — criticisms ratio” closer to balance?
4. Waiting for fights to look at problems in the relationship
Relationships are designed to drive evolution. And each person brings baggage into the relationship to help kickstart that evolution. Inevitably there will be conflict. The little things that were once cute will start to annoy, bad habits will surface, and frustrations will build. Waiting until your first big fight to check in on the relationship is a mistake. And if that becomes routine — calm until the storm over and over — the relationship will be a series of peaks and valleys that over time will wear on the couple.
Healthy Relationship Habit: Check in with your partner on a proactive and regular basis. Naming areas that are going great and areas that need a little TLC creates connection and transforms peaks and valleys into more manageable waves. Start here.
5. Pointing the finger at your partner
My mom always used to say, when you point the finger, you have three pointing back at you! This one’s about taking responsibility for your role in the relationship. Nobody can make you feel or react a certain way. You choose that. And pointing the finger at your partner is copping out of taking responsibility for your contribution, your feelings and your reaction. It’s also a way of attacking your partner instead of attacking the problem and finding a solution together. And, when you’ve got a finger pointing at you the natural response is to go into defense-mode.
Healthy Relationship Habit: Use “I” statements to explain what’s going on. “I get angry when…because I feel like you don’t care.” Another way, “When I’m not spoken to with respect, I start to question if I can stay in this relationship.”
So, which ones are you prepared to leave in the past?
If your relationship has a few of these toxic habits, try tackling one at a time instead of all at once! Then celebrate your wins and successes as you make progress swapping your healthy habit in for your old, toxic one.
Love and Light to you and your partner. Onward!