THE TOP TEN WAYS TO SABOTAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Martha Jackson Oppeneer, D.Min., Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
- Speak for each other. Don’t waste time actually asking your partner what they think or feel. Just tell them!
- Focus on the negative aspects of your relationship. Assume your partner knows what it is you love and appreciate about them and doesn’t need to be told again.
- If you would like to discuss a relationship problem, raise the issue in a harsh, critical, even contemptuous way. In doing so, you will gain the upper hand by immediately placing your partner in a defensive position.
- “Globalize” your remarks by using phrases such as “you always” or “you never.” Utilize rhetorical questions such as “What’s wrong with you anyway?” Since there are no adequate responses to rhetorical questions (because they’re intended to make statements rather than solicit information), you can end the argument quickly and get back to your TV program.
- When your partner raises a difficult issue with you, withdraw, shut down, check out – do anything that will make you emotionally inaccessible. This approach gives you the satisfaction of knowing you caused your partner to feel helpless and isolated and, perhaps, even a bit crazy. With any luck, your partner won’t attempt to discuss relationship issues again.
- If you need something from your partner (e.g., more affection, affirmation, verbal expressions of love), by all means do not share this information with them. It would take all the romance and excitement out of the relationship. Let your partner guess! You may spend much of your life feeling angry with your partner for guessing incorrectly but, if they ever get it right, it will feel great! (That is, if you’re not too angry to notice.)
- Establish wildly unrealistic expectations for your relationship. Expect every moment to be something straight out of a Hollywood movie. If your partner isn’t measuring up, keep your eyes open for someone who might. Knowing you’re still sizing up the competition will keep your partner on their toes!
- Ignore the social niceties you would offer a friend, co-worker or acquaintance: courtesy, respect, kindness, appreciation. After all, isn’t the whole point of finding a life partner to have someone with whom you don’t need to work that hard? When you come home, shouldn’t you be able to “let down” and just be yourself – however rude or ugly that self may be?
- When you discuss problems in a relationship, don’t admit to any culpability. Defend your honor! Assume there is only one truth or absolute reality, and strive to help your partner understand this. To be fully effective in this quest, don’t listen to what your partner is saying. That will only confuse the issue at hand. When your partner is speaking, use this time to formulate your brilliant rebuttal.
- The goal of an argument is not to understand your partner better, to offer them enough safety and respect to freely share their thoughts and feelings, or to achieve compromise or reconciliation. It is to WIN. Be a warrior!