I was recently asked, “What are three silent killers in relationships that erode passion, appreciation, respect and love?” This is such a great question because these behaviors can evolve organically in relationships and cause unexpected damage. Take a look at my answers below and see if any of these are at play in your relationship.
Silent Killer Number One: Not sharing your real feelings.
Some of the most critical relationship moments happen when we feel hurt, disappointed, frustrated, let down, or sad. These are markers that indicate our relationship needs redirection or mending to get back on track. However, it’s not uncommon for these to be some of the most difficult conversations to have. When partners put these dialogues off or blame each other for their feelings, rather than owning them and processing them, the negative emotions start to pile up. This pile up creates a distance between one another that, over time, is hard to navigate.
To prevent this from happening, try these three things:
- Acknowledge your negative feelings and express them in a non-blaming way.
- Accept that negative feelings are normal in a relationship and when discussed can often change your relationship for the better.
- Take action and don’t wait around for your partner to figure it out for you, they can’t read your mind and may not even know what bothers you.
Silent Killer Number 2: Complaining to other people about your relationship.
When you and your partner aren’t getting along, or you are feeling frustrated it can be tempting to blow off some steam with a friend or family member. It can feel good to have someone agree with you about how terrible you have been treated and what a jerk your partner is being. And frankly, lots of people use this tactic to manage conflict in their relationships, so it feels pretty normal.
But, it is one of the worst things you can do to your relationship. Once you start talking to others about problems between you and your partner you have invited them into your relationship. This arrangement allows the one sided opinions of others (remember, they aren’t getting your partner’s side of the story) to start to dictate your emotions about your partner. As they collude with you in building a case against your relationship, it doesn’t take long for trust to erode, along with your perceptions and confidence in your partner. And, most importantly, it keeps you from working on your relationship problems where they belong, in the relationship.
Next time you’re tempted to complain about your partner’s mistakes to someone, ask yourself these three questions:
- Have I talked to my partner about this?
- Is this problem going to end our relationship?
- Do I want people to think negatively about my partner?
If you answer “NO” to any of these questions, keep your mouth shut, go home, and have a long chat with your partner first.
Silent Killer Number Three: Resignation
Unfortunately, with so many negative stereotypes of marriage that exist couples can find themselves in a less than satisfying relationship believing that somehow it is a normal state of being. At this point, they just accept the disappointment and resign to surviving the relationship rather than thriving in it. Over time this resignation leads to avoidance, distance, and overcompensating by building a more fulfilling life with people and interests outside of the relationship. Then, as the years go by, partners eventually look at one another and wonder why they are still together because there is nothing left between them.
If you ever feel like your relationship is leading you to this state, it is not the time to coast; it is time to wake up. Being in an unhappy relationship is an indicator that you need to start talking and working together to make a change. Getting support is crucial, whether it is through counseling, a couples retreat or even reading a good book on relationships together. An ounce of prevention here will keep you from a pound of heartache later.
Preventing these silent killers was one of my motivations to create the Relationship Reset Project. I hoped, more than anything, that I could get to couples before their relationship got to a desperate, or even worse, dead place. If you identified with any of the three silent killers consider checking out my book or the online experience for couples, I think it might really help!
Until we meet again—Love each other well
Relationship Reset reveals the secrets to becoming a better couple through exposing valuable information from current research and identifying critical insights that make relating easier.