Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

5 Habits that will destroy a relationship

It’s not just overwhelming struggles and disagreements that can destroy a relationship; petty little things can have a huge influence too. Here are 5 habits that will ultimately chip away at the healthy fabric of any relationship:

Always having to be right

If you tend to respond to criticism with defensiveness or an excuse, you can turn around your whole relationship simply by learning to apologise when you slip up. There’s no need to explain why, just say ‘I’m sorry about . . .’ and leave it at that. When it becomes a battle of wills at every turn, your will both end up exhausted and the love will dwindle.

Zoning out

It’s so easy to keep one eye on the TV or to idly flick through your phone while your partner is talking, but this gives the damaging message that you’re not interested.

Look at each other when you’re speaking and have phone-free places (the bedroom) and times (when you’re having a meal together). It apparently takes five nice things (smiling, compliments, flirty texts, saying thank you, hugs) to combat a single nasty one (being short, a sarcastic comment, not looking up from your phone), but a ratio of ten to one helps love to thrive. Regularly do kind thing for your partner – a post-it note left with a loving message on it can do a whole heap of good!!

Tiptoeing around each other

If you regularly swallow your annoyance to keep the peace you could be shutting feelings down. This could eventually lead to anger and resentment and the erosion of positive feeling, including love.

It’s important to learn to disagree, argue and make up, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Start with a small irritant (chewing noisily, for example), then tell your partner — when it’s happening — that it irritates you. If it’s a small issue, they are unlikely to be upset and you should feel empowered to tackle bigger issues. There is however a kinder way to say things:

It goes like this:

“I feel (put emotion here) eg. sad when you (put behaviour here) the paper during dinner time, so what I would like you to do is…. (put suggestion here). When you this script (known as “assertive script” the other person is far more likely to listen to you and not respond defensively than if you use language sush as “you always…” or “you never…”.

Putting the children and grandchildren first (whatever their age)

Very often life continues to revolve around children even when they’ve grown up and left home. Make a point of putting your partner first occasionally and make time to have fun together. This is very important! Don’t be short sighted and stop making an effort with your partner. You’ll be asking for trouble further down the line.

Keeping score

Everyone has a secret score card in their head that keeps a mental tally of which of you is making more of an effort than the other, whether it’s earning money, doing the housework, or organising the summer holiday.

Periodically look at the division of tasks with fresh eyes. Sit down together and write a list, then discuss what makes you feel overloaded and listen to your partner’s problem areas. Look for win-win situations where you can both get something you want. Do a trade: I will sort this if you will do that.

Mandy X



Adapted by LOUISE ATKINSON from Can We Start Again Please? Twenty Questions to Fall Back In Love By Andrew G Marshall: Marshall Method Publishing, £6.99