Fighting Again? Find Out If Your Relationship Is Do, or Die

We talk a lot about managing your differences and learning to see them as opportunities to grow as a couple. Quite often, subjective things like “opposite personalities” are opportunities to express respect and trust, and don’t have to be what breaks the relationship apart. Helping couples in trouble see that is part of why we write this blog.

However, some ask us, are there ever certain qualities that should be avoided (rather than “improved”)?

Sure there are, and that’s always important to remember. Sometimes, recurring conflict in a relationship isn’t caused by not knowing how to handle conflict – it’s caused by toxic personality characteristics.

In an article we found called “Yes, Virginia, Some Mates Really Are Wrong,” this same issue is discussed, and some basic no-no’s are outlined. The first? A partner who refuses to handle their substance abuse:

“An addict’s primary loyalty is not to the relationship, it’s to the addiction,” explains Ken Page. “Active addicts become cheaper versions of themselves and lose integrity or the ability to do the right thing when it’s hard. Those are the very qualities in a partner you need to lean on.” Gamblers fall into the same compulsive camp, with the added twist that their pursuit of the big win typically lands them, sooner or later, into deep debt that threatens the foundations of relationship life.

A partner who repeatedly strays away from the relationship can also destroy trust and intimacy. Like abuse or other forms of control, compulsive cheating is something that you should not have to put up with as a partner. The article also notes some other negative personality characteristics that should be red flags for any relationship:

[C]hronic lying; chronic worrying or neuroticism; emotional overreactivity; proneness to anger; propensity to harbor grudges; low self-esteem; poor impulse control; tendency to aggression; self-orientation rather than an other-orientation. Situations, such as chronic exposure to nonmarital stress in either partner, also have the power to undermine relationships.

If you’re wondering whether your current conflict-filled relationship is worth staying in, it helps to judge your relationship against these factors listed above. Do any of these qualities appear? Are they frequent, or simply once and a while slips? Learning to handle conflict effectively will teach you what conflict is worth dropping, and what conflict is caused by yourselves (and should thus be handled by the two of you). A common impulse is to run when things get hard, or to simply “not sweat the small things” so as to avoid causing discomfort. Both of these can lead to no communication, privacy walls that don’t need to be there, and issues that aren’t allowed to be discussed.

In “Yes, Virginia, Some Mates Really Are Wrong,” there’s a great passage to illustrate this:

If you get to the point where you’re delivering an ultimatum,” says Bradbury, you haven’t been maintaining your relationship properly. “It’s like your car stopping on the side of the road and you say, ‘It just isn’t working anymore’— but you haven’t changed the oil in 10 years.

(See the entire article here)

How about you? Are you managing your partnership properly, or is something more serious going on that’s poisoning your relationship? You can talk to Dr. Nora today, she’s our expert conflict coach. Your first conversation with her is free!


Dr. Nora

Dr. Nora

Dr. Nora is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Sign up for free, here on her blog, to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing coaching sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more! We can begin by you having a complimentary consultation with Dr. Nora. Visit her coaching site today to talk with Dr. Nora and receive a plan for action to change your life. She’s ready to help!

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