There are some critical mistakes in Long Term Relationships that are easy and critical to avoid.
After all my years as a marriage counselor, I’ve been able to see some patterns emerge in the couples who come to see me. After a couple have been married for several years, they begin to make some rookie mistakes that hurt their relationships. Below is a list of what I call “marital pitfalls”. Avoid them at all costs!
A lack of Polish
As the years go by, we begin to let our hair down a bit. We forgot to take care of ourselves and begin to do things in front of our partner that we would never do in public.
Do you fart in front of your partner?
Do you belch and not say excuse me?
Does your basic wardrobe at home consist of sweat pants and holey socks?
How about this? Do you go to the bathroom without closing the door or even worse – do your business while sharing the bathroom with your partner? Some people have told me that this is actually a level of intimacy, showing that you can do anything in front of one another. Really? I guarantee that this one level of intimacy that your partner does not want you to share with them.
It comes down to respect. When this starts to slip – other things begin to slip too. And basically, you are sending a message that they are not important.
Along this theme is fitness. Are you taking care of yourself? If you let yourself go physically you are not only harming yourself, you are harming your relationship. Ask yourself this: if you met your partner today, do you think they would be interested in dating you?
Adding a little polish and decorum to yourself will have huge benefits!
Too many times couples begin to ‘relax’ into their relationship. That’s ok – but not when you begin to take it for granted. All day long I talk with people about the “care and feeding” of a relationship. You always have to be working on it in order for it to grow. If not, small cracks can begin to appear and small cracks have a tendency to become big cracks.
Don’t let your guard down! Love has to be active. What are you doing or saying to actively “love” your partner. If you can’t think of an answer to that, you better start working on a way to step up your game!
As a relationship ages, we hopefully begin to know our partner inside and out. We know their moods, likes and dislikes – that’s the joy and benefit of fighting through the hard times and growing old together. But too many times that benefit of knowledge leads to mind reading – never a good thing.
We begin to assume what our partner is thinking or wanting or not wanting – because we know them so well! And you know what? Maybe we DO know what they are thinking sometimes – but not all the time.
You have to keep talking and you have to keep asking. The actual verbal exchange of ideas, desires, and basic information creates intimacy and prevents us from making some fundamental mistakes.
Sometimes I see couples who have allowed old wounds to simmer and grow. Maybe they have been hurt by their partner years ago, and have just not let it go. Forgiveness is a choice and it’s a choice that all healthy couples have to make. And when we forgive – we have to then let it go.
I worked with one couple who were married for over 30 years. 10 years into their marriage, the husband had to travel out of town on business and missed the funeral of the wife’s best friend. Now this was a misplacement of priorities, of course. And the husband apologized and realized how his wife felt abandoned at that time. But instead of letting that go – she had held onto that hurt for 20 years. As a result, she felt she could never truly trust her husband to be there for her in times of pain.
We all make mistakes – but forgiveness is a crucial part of all relationships.
The list could go on and on – but basically what I want you to realize is that you can never let your guard down. You always have to be growing and working on your marriage. A coach once told me: you are either growing our falling back. There is no neutral. I think that applies to relationships too.