While everyone can admire a hard worker, if you live to work rather than work to live, it can put a significant strain on your relationship. Spending quality time with your partner, as well as giving yourself space to decompress from outside stressors and do things you both enjoy, is extremely important for maintaining a work-life balance, and for strengthening your bond with one another.
Not listening to your partner
Everyone deserves to be heard and listened to, especially when you’re in a couple. Whether your partner is sharing their excitement about a hobby with you, or they’re trying to express their discomfort with something, holding space for them to share things with you instead of acting disinterested or shutting them down is a good way to show that you value them and their opinions.
While it may seem counterintuitive, too much time with your partner can be just as damaging as too little. Both of you need space to explore your own hobbies and friendships, rather than having your lives revolving only around one another. You both need room to breathe and concentrate on your own sense of identity.
Handling conflict badly
Conflict is never easy, but it is unfortunately inevitable. Being self-aware of your triggers and communicating them to your partner is a step in the right direction; if your partner knows what you need from them in difficult moments, and you know what they need, this can help de-stress the situation when conflict does arise.
Projecting worries and insecurities onto your partner can only serve to cause tension and resentment, and prevents the real issue from being addressed. Though dealing with these issues can be uncomfortable, owning them and having an open and honest conversation with your partner in addition to getting outside support can not only help you work through your concerns, but can also strengthen your bond.
Comparing your relationship to others
It can be hard not to compare our relationships to those of others, but it never helps to put unrealistic expectations on yourself and your partner. No matter how we perceive other couples from the outside, we will never fully understand anyone else’s dynamic with their partner. Remember to focus on improving your own relationship and cultivate a connection that is truly your own.
A lack of communication
Communication is fundamental in any relationship. If you don’t clearly voice your feelings – both positive and negative – then misunderstandings and tensions can ensue. To properly communicate, you must also understand the way both you and your partner individually communicate. Your partner should create a safe and comfortable space for you to express yourself without judgement, and vice versa.
Not confiding in your partner
Confrontation is scary, and getting help from an outside source (e.g. counselling) can be healing if you have some real concerns about your relationship. Expressing feelings and worries to your partner should take the weight of your chest and allow you to work towards a solution together, rather than exacerbating the problem by frequently keeping it bottled up.
Refusing to take blame
None of us like to admit we’re wrong, especially if we believe strongly in something. However, it’s important to learn to compromise and take accountability, whilst showing consideration and respect towards your partner and their point of view. You don’t have to backtrack entirely, but be big enough to apologize if you’ve hurt someone or approached something the wrong way.
Resorting to ultimatums
Ultimatums usually represent an inability to compromise, and a lack of respect for your partner’s feelings. Demanding your partner behave according to your wishes or face some sort of extreme consequence shuts down any chance of communication. Avoid this and keep dialogue open between you and your partner, ensuring you can both articulate your wants and needs without fear of the repercussions.
While venting to your partner can be useful to blow off some stream, it’s also important to realise if talking about others excessively is becoming a bad habit. Your partner may start wondering what you’re saying about them behind their back, and constant negativity can hold you back from working on your own relationship.
We all have our moments, and days where things just aren’t going our way. However, being late repeatedly can give your partner the impression that you don’t value them or the time you spend together and cause unneeded stress. Make sure to be mindful of other people’s time, especially if it’s an occasion or activity that means a lot to your partner.
Believing others over your partner
One of the fundamentals of a relationship is trust – something that is very difficult to earn back once it’s been lost. Of course you should trust your gut, but if you hear something about your partner the best move is to communicate about it and give them a chance to either explain or address it, which will let you make an informed judgment.
Taking too long to get ready
Everyone’s routine is different, and you should always be given the time to make sure you’re comfortable before going out. However, time management is key! Don’t be scrambling to spend two hours getting ready right when you’re supposed to leave, as this can easily be stressful for both you and your partner.
You should never feel like you’re being financially controlled in a relationship, but if you notice you’re routinely spending money on things you don’t need and it’s impacting your joint finances or your ability to pay for necessities, it may be time to talk to your partner and ask for help. They can help you set a budget and hold you accountable when you overspend.
Not taking things seriously
Having a partner who is constantly joking or deflects from serious topics can be frustrating, especially if it’s something that needs to be discussed. While some subjects can be uncomfortable to talk about, making sure that you’re hearing your partner and showing respect for what they’re saying demonstrates your ability to be mature in your relationship.
Compromise goes both ways. Constantly expecting your partner to bend to your whim shows a lack of respect and care for them, and can make them begin to feel resentful towards you. Communicating things that are important to you is of course vital in a relationship, but remember to extend your partner the same courtesy and work towards a solution together.
Not tidying up
So many relationships get strained over everyday household chores. While one spoon in the sink isn’t the end of the world, make sure you’re pulling your weight. If you’re sharing a space with your partner, be mindful of leaving mess, or give them a heads up if you need a bit of time before you’re able to get to something you’ve agreed to do.
Stealing the covers
Although sometimes unintentional, stealing the covers is something we’ve probably all done at one point or another. However, when it’s a repeated behavior, using separate blankets or investing in a heated cover for your side of the bed could be a possible solution if you tend to get a bit chilly at night.
Not prioritising your partner
Considering your partner’s wants and needs is a huge part of being in a mature relationship. Making sure you get your partner’s input on important decisions, inviting them out to do things with your friends or family, and accommodating them in your day-to-day life can help your lives feel a lot more connected.
Not dedicating time to your partner
Expecting your partner to just slip into your life without making a conscious effort yourself can be tempting, but if possible it’s important to go out of your way to spend time with them to ensure they feel loved. Try not to blow off plans with them, or constantly ignore them in favor of something else when you are together.
We all have lazy days, but repeatedly neglecting your personal hygiene can begin impacting your partner, especially during more intimate moments. While you don’t have to be dressed to the nines every time you see each other, make a bit of time to practice self-care when you can and make being with you a comfortable experience for your partner.
A ‘my way or the Highway’ attitude is often a recipe for disaster in a relationship. Give your partner the same respect and consideration you expect from them, and let go of the need to control every situation. Putting trust in your partner and allowing them to blossom will do wonders for your relationship overall.
Not taking equal responsibility
Expecting your partner to shoulder most of the burden of keeping your relationship together is not only unfair, but is also likely to build resentment. Expectations are unique in every relationship, but make sure you commit your fair share of chores, contribute to any shared finances, and pull your emotional weight, whatever that looks like for you and your partner.
Interrupting can be a hard habit to break, as we don’t always realize we’re doing it. Sometimes it’s just because we’re excited, or we want to voice our thoughts before we forget them. But before you jump in, take a step back and be mindful of giving your partner the same opportunity to be heard in the relationship.
While you may think poking fun at your partner is all fun and games, sometimes our words can be hurtful, even if they’re not intended to be. If your partner appears upset by something you’ve said, or voices to you that they dislike a behavior, cast aside your intentions, don’t get defensive, and listen to them. A joke is only a joke if everyone’s laughing.
Wasting food, leaving the lights on or burning through electricity needlessly can make a huge difference on your financial situation. Practicing being more mindful of what you use and don’t use in your home and discussing the issue as a partnership can help reduce any monetary stressors in your relationship.
Your partner should support you in whatever hobbies you choose to indulge in in your free time. However, make sure these hobbies aren’t disrupting your relationship, your lifestyle, your sleep, or the time you spend with your partner. Try finding a way to include them in hobbies like gaming, dedicating a certain amount of time to spend together, or setting yourself a curfew.
Being on your phone too much
We can do everything through our phones now: access social media, talk to friends, work, check emails, shop, and stay up to date with the news. But it’s important to remember to be present with your partner. Setting a timer or using time-management apps can be useful if you find that screen time is eating into your ability to pay attention to your partner.
While you don’t have to stick to a rigid schedule with no flexibility all of the time, disorganization can put a huge strain on a relationship, especially in relation to occasions that require a lot of preparation and planning. Discussing expectations with your partner or working on things together can help reduce the last-minute stress of rushing to get things done.
Having unrealistic expectations
We’re only human, and we all make mistakes. Expecting your partner to adhere to your precise expectations of them can undermine their personal identity. Trying to control your partner’s physical appearance, mould them into someone they’re not, or put them down for not being exactly who you want them to be is only going to indicate that you don’t love them for who they are.
While there is a time and a place to discuss serious issues, keeping things from your partner entirely takes away their ability to make an informed choice, no matter your intentions. If you’re aware something will upset or affect your partner, unless you’re in a dangerous situation, it’s usually best to trust them, be open, and work through the issue together.
Not replacing things when you’ve used them
No one likes a milk thief in the workplace, and it’s no different when you’re at home. If you share a house and you split groceries or utilities, it’s important to be somewhat mindful of what you’re using or eating. Make sure you replace the toilet paper if you use up the roll, and consider leaving that last slice of cake for your partner.
Being a bad passenger
Driving can be stressful enough as it is, especially if you’re heading somewhere you’re unfamiliar with. If your partner is making you feel unsafe and driving dangerously, then you should of course say so. However, being overly nervous or criticizing their driving is unhelpful, and is likely to just make the journey a lot more turbulent than it needs to be.
Not respecting your partner’s sleep
We’re all guilty of hitting the snooze button from time to time, and it’s unlikely we have exactly the same schedule as our partner. However, it’s important to be considerate of your partner’s health and well-being, so if you’re coming to bed late or getting up early while they’re asleep, make an effort to not disturb them.
‘Weaponized incompetence’ describes the phenomenon of feigning ignorance or claiming to be bad a task to avoid having to do it. This often comes in the form of evading responsibilities such as chores. Not making an effort to understand your partner’s frustration or being unwilling to learn how to do something are signs that you’re likely not pulling your weight in the relationship.
While you don’t need to be glued to your phone, keeping the line of communication open with your partner when you’re apart can be very important. Whether they’re supposed to pick you up from somewhere, you’re running late, or you’re on a trip away, remembering to reply to your partner’s texts or calls regularly will help give them peace of mind.
Hiding things from your partner, whether it’s infidelity, behavior you know they’d disapprove of, or keeping a secret that would impact them or your relationship in some way is likely to severely damage the trust between you. You can’t work through a problem as a couple if one party isn’t fully informed about what’s going on.
Holding onto the past
Getting over past events that have affected you negatively can be a long and painful process. However, taking frustration out on your partner for something you’ve already worked through – or projecting insecurities from past relationships onto them – is unfair, and will only drive you apart.
Excluding your partner from things
Having your own interests and identity outside of your relationship is a positive thing, and helps you avoid becoming stifled in your relationship. However, going out of your way to exclude your partner repeatedly from gatherings or outings can make them feel like you don’t want to share your life with them and that they’re unwelcome around the other people in your life.