Stop making these 3 common mistakes in your relationship today

Couple arguing over sports car
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With one out of two marriages headed for divorce, any help out there to improve or save relationships is significant. So many couples are walking around with less than ideal relationships, caught in common destructive patterns and not communicating.

To really commit to taking one's relationship to the next level through couples therapy or even a relationship enriching weekend is not for all couples, as helpful as these forms of help are.

If you are a partner in one of these couples, read on to stop making three common mistakes that so many unhappy couples make on a regular basis.

Mistake #1: Assuming your partner is a mind reader 

Even though your needs, your desires and your emotions may be obvious to you, your partner is probably clueless about them unless you are very clear about what those are. Staying true to yourself and being honest and upfront with your partner is imperative. Make sure to do whatever you need to do in order to get clear on your needs, and express them. Do not be that person who gets angry at your significant other for not doing something they had no idea you even wanted them to do. As much as you might believe your partner knows you well, he or she cannot read your mind.

Similarly, you may have strong feelings of affection, admiration or attraction to your partner that go unsaid. The importance of expressing these appreciative feelings cannot be overstated.

Just because you have these feelings does not mean that your partner knows them, and your partner needs to hear them. 

Mistake #2: Fighting unfairly

Dr. John Gottman, psychologist and relationship expert who has been studying what makes marriage work for over forty years, has pointed out a few key elements about the arguments of happy couples.

He reminds people that happy couples fight, but the difference between them and unhappy couples is that happy couples fight fair. Here are two pieces of advice from Dr. Gottman on how to fight more fairly:

1. Complain, do not criticize. If you are upset about something your partner did, you should be able to complain to them. Couples get into trouble when such complaints about their partners become global criticisms about who they are.

Jane, for example, is angry that John did not do the dishes even though he said he would. A complaint would be, "it really bothers me that you did not keep your word and do the dishes." A criticism, which would only wind up in probably shutting down the conversation, would go something more like this: "You are so selfish and unreliable, I cannot believe how disrespectful you are." See the difference?

2. Reconnect as soon as possible after an argument. Gottman found that a theme of consistently failed repair attempts is one predictor of divorce. A failed repair attempt is when one partner tries to reconcile after an argument, but gets refused.

Happy couples fight, but they are able to come together and make up soon after their arguments.

Mistake #3: Fighting when your blood is boiling

Even though just about everyone loses it with each other from time to time, no good comes from fighting when you feel like your blood is on fire. When you get to this place, physiologically you are in such a state that makes it difficult to process information or think about things in an open way. You are basically stuck in a negative and rigid place, and your problems will not get solved from here. Instead, you will more likely wind up saying things you regret and cause your argument to become even more difficult to resolve. 

Couples are better off knowing the importance of not fighting when their heads feel like exploding. They should create a sign of some kind that indicates that they are too wound up to further engage in the disagreement. It is crucial that partners know that the reason for the time out is not to dismiss the other person, but to gain composure of themselves so that they will be able to have a productive discussion.

If you are making any or all of these mistakes in your relationship, stop right now and take a few steps closer to happiness together.

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