4 Ways You’re Accidentally Being Passive Aggressive to Your Partner
4 Ways You're Accidentally Sabotaging Your Relationship—And How To Fix It
Women really are from Venus and men from Mars, at least when it comes to how we relate. "When you don't understand each other's communication styles, it can create a huge misunderstanding between you," says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author ofHow to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together. "Both partners can develop hurt feelings, resentment can build, and the resulting arguments and struggles can actually destroy the connection that holds a marriage together."
Solution: Learn your partner's language.
"Women need to know how to ask men for what they want directly, and in a rational, not emotional manner," says Tessina, who adds men respond much better toHoney, will you take out the garbage?than toThe garbage can is overflowing, and it smells bad.On the flipside, men need to dial into women's feelings when they want something. "Women do not always respond to a direct request. They do better when feelings are talked about," says Tessina. So instead ofWait till the game is over, honey, tryI'm sorry it's bothering you, sweetheart, I'll take it out as soon as there’s a commercial break.
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It has been said that “expectations are resentments under construction.” Healthy boundaries in a relationship are good; setting exacting specifications for how your partner and relationship should behave can spell disaster. “These unmet expectations, and a person's reactions to the unmet expectations, can leave your partner feeling confused, or like they're not enough,” warns Ramani Durvasula PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist.
Solution: Keep checking in with yourself and be aware.
“The key to awareness is being authentic with yourself about your narratives and expectations,” says Durvasula, who suggests paying attention to petty differences and looking for patterns: Are they about money? Do they happen when you compare yourself to others? Are you holding expectations in the relationship that your partner does not know? Are you talking out of both sides of your mouth, one minute saying that you are so happy to have such a sweet guy, and the next castigating him for not being a good provider? “It is critical to deconstruct your narratives and really face up to what is yours versus the voices of others,” says Durvasula. (Get more relationship advice and healthy living tips delivered to your inbox—sign up here forPrevention's FREE newsletters.)
Thinking relationships are all rainbows and roses is a dangerous fairy tale. "The assumption has to be that your relationship will tarnish if you're not doing the work," says Page. "Like silver, you have to polish it again and again, and sometimes it takes elbow grease." If not, distance and resentment grows, conversation becomes less intimate and sex diminishes (though from the Prevention Shop will absolutely bring you much, much closer...).
Solution: Polish your relationship.
Work doesn't mean punishment; it means expressing your need, focusing on your own work rather than trying to change your partner, and sharing your most vulnerable parts. "Tell your partner how much you adore them, what you love that they do in bed, and what you love that they do out of bed," adds Page.
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