Relationships Don't Self-Destruct
Little Behaviors that Destroy
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2018 (edited November 28, 2021)
We build or destroy our relationships one small action at a time.
Relationships don’t deteriorate without a cause, active forces pound against the bonds strengthening or destroying the connection. Usually, one negative interaction—depending
on the severity—doesn’t leave us abandoned and alone. The relationship is destroyed by accumulating negative happenings—the disappointments, the aloneness, the selfishness, and the anger. The nasty interactions slowly chip away at the positive feelings, leaving interactions laced with fear and resentment.
We usually have time to reexamine our path. Questioning past actions and replacing them with something a little kinder. Slowly transforming feels of dread with each other to warm feelings of love. Action is the building blocks of success. Positive action strengthens connection. We will make mistakes that lead to conflicts. These don’t feel good but are a part of the growing process.
"Over time, people fail to give proper attention to their partner and the relationship they share. This usually isn't caused by malice. Rather, couples stop making kind gestures to each other because of mistaken assumptions about the nature of lasting love."
Barbara Markway Ph.D. | Psychology Today
Mistakes will not be erased with an apology or an excuse but may be forgiven in light of the constant stream of other positive interactions. Still the good moments must far outweigh the bad. We should expect that when a partner returns home for work that the feelings will be positive. We can trust in a warm accepting experience.
Ten Destructive Relationship Behaviors
Little Behaviors Add Up
Overtime, many neglect the little moments—the bad mood from work is projected onto the family. Hurts, aggravations and angry retorts easily become the norm. Reuniting in the evening isn’t warmly anticipated but poisoned with anxiety, wondering whether the mood will be good or bad.
When negative experiences accumulate, they color the present. Even an earnest apology doesn’t replace the past. The emotional hurt remains tucked away, waiting to be recalled when future behaviors demonstrate lack of contriteness. We bury the hatchet with the handle sticking-up—just in case.
"Hurts, aggravations and angry retorts easily become the norm."
A Surprise: The Relationship in Shambles
You may eventually ask, "What happened to the love we once shared?" But a careful examination usually exposes a lengthy pattern of neglect, abuse, or apathy. Instead of purposely building the relationship, somewhere along the way, it became comfortable and then neglected.
"At some point in the marriage, typically early on, bad relationship behavior begins to surface and often becomes the source of a lot of conflict. These behaviors often contribute to a decline in our loving feelings."
Dr. Cole Ratcliffe
To avoid surprises we must be mindful of changing environments. Underlying feelings slowly morph from loving, to tolerant, to destructive. When we astutely catch these transformations early, we can intervene, reinfuse the relationship with love and avoid an untimely divorce or emotional divide.
No relationship is perfect. We all must work on relationship skills. Natural tendencies of selfishness invade when we our comfortable and secure. Oddly, healthy relationships invite comfort and comfort invites slacking. We stop engaging with healthy relationship behaviors. We become sloppy and the health of the relationship suffers.
We must avoid this slow drift to destruction by mindfully identify negative interactions—even the best relationships have them--and then establish a healthy pattern of positive, trust building behaviors. Soon the anxieties transform, filling moments with warmth, trusting our partner will respect and be kind. The relationship is spared from self-destruction by our active building.
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