Editor’s note: Therapist Barton Goldsmith’s column is now running Sundays and Wednesdays in the News-Press.
The saddest thing I hear on the therapy couch is someone telling me that they’ve killed their relationship through what they have or haven’t done. In fact, certain actions are relationship killers.
Here are some areas where action — or inaction — will make all the difference.
1. Money. It is the No. 1 cause of divorce. If a partner has been unscrupulous, getting the trust back can be a challenge. You can start over, but you have to be willing to make up for what was lost and make sure the business side of your relationship is tuned-up.
2. Sex/infidelity. A sexless marriage or unfaithfulness can extinguish love quicker than blowing out a candle. Don’t let the flame burn out when keeping things warm is much easier than you think.
3. Disrespect. If you call your partner names, belittle him or her, threaten to leave, or use insulting language and yell, research shows that your relationship has a very low chance of survival.
4. Children. To some, children are bipedal germ carriers; to others, they are a reason for living. When families blend or go through difficult changes, the kids can become the entire focus of your relationship. Make sure to keep things in balance with your partner, so you have the energy to deal with any child issues.
5. Opposite-sex friends. Would you want your mate to hang out with a member of the opposite sex, having lunches, texting, etc.? If the answer is no, then you need to follow the same guidelines and talk with your partner about keeping appropriate boundaries.
6. Resentments. When you are holding pain, hurt or anger in your heart, there is little room for love. If you are harboring some resentment (and who isn’t?), talk it out and put it to rest, so you can enjoy your relationship.
7. Discomfort/remodeling. If you are living in a construction zone, it’s pretty hard to feel comfortable. Injury or illness can create a similar situation. Your home should be a place of serenity, so if you are remodeling or are dealing with physical issues, make your comfort a priority.
8. Lying/broken promises. Once you have been caught in a lie or break a promise, things change — and not for the better. Even if you’re afraid of “getting in trouble,” tell the whole truth and don’t break promises, and find a way to make up for past mistakes.
9. Laziness. All good relationships require work. If you are unwilling to do it, your connection will diminish, and you will begin to resent your partner. Talking about the kind of work your relationship needs is a good start.
10. Being mean. If you punish your partner when you don’t get your way, or if the two of you give each other the silent treatment, you are headed for a lifetime of emotional pain. Stop the nastiness and learn how to heal what bugs you.
It’s not very complicated. Avoid these relationship killers and keep the love alive in your life.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including “Visualization For Success — 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.