Doing Life Together

divorce-908743_1920John and  Jill were not getting along. In talking to both individuals, it was clear that they suffered from 5 relationship mistakes. Here is what I noticed.

  1. Little to no alone time. Yes, this sounds counterintuitive to a couple’s relationship, but most people need a little down time to reboot and refresh. It doesn’t mean they don’t love being with their partner, rather they are a better partner when they take time to think and process the relationship and develop their own hobbies and interest. A caution: Too much alone time can lead to problems, so it is a balance of attending to the relationship and allowing yourself time to regroup. For example, John felt that any time he wanted to do something with his guy friends like play racquetball, Jill was upset. She didn’t play, yet racquetball was a hobby and stress relief for John.
  2. Lack of curiosity about your partner. Getting comfortable with the person and not exploring how they think and feel about issues and life experiences can lead to emotional distance and loss of friendship. You may think you know your partner and yet will constantly discover new things about them. And the conversation keeps you intimately involved and being better known by the other. For example, when Jill talked about her feelings and reactions to recent events, John was stunned and had no idea she felt the way she did.
  3. Avoiding discussing the small stuff. You know the saying –don’t sweat the small stuff-well, in relationships that is not good advice. The small stuff builds to the big stiff and causes problems Talk through minor issues and problems. Don’t ignore or allow things to build. Practice good conflict management so you can address issues as they occur. For example, it bothered John how Jill did not clean up after herself. And Jill didn’t like how often John checked in with his family. She felt it interfered with building their relationship. Once they discussed these type of small things, their relationship began to improve.
  4. Allowing negativity to color the view of your partner. This is dangerous. Once you focus more on the negatives than the positives, you will move from criticism to contempt. An overall negative feeling is the road to emotional distance and often divorce. Stay positive;. Offer grace and talk through problems to resolve and reconcile. Focus on the positives. Rehearse the positives and say them often to your partner. For example, when John did something Jill didn’t like, she thought about it for days–never talked to him, but allowed the bad feelings to build. And John began to characterize his wife as someone who didn’t care about him or his family. This negativity grew to the point of resentment.
  5. No shared or individual spiritual life. Couples who lose sight of their spiritual bond or who don’t share a spiritual connection, struggle more because they don’t have spiritual resources or a spiritual plan  to guide their lives together. Biblical principles work in relationships and provide a foundation on how you treat each other and how to address self-centeredness and a host of other temptations. Without God in the picture, couples tend to become more “me” focused and discontented. A shared spiritual faith that is practiced is essential to creating a strong relationship. John and Jill had wandered from their faith, were not attended a church and falling into a pattern of self-centeredness Once they renewed their faith and began to study the Bible and pray together, things improved.
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