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5 Habits That Crush Relationships

Raise your hand if you think you possess habits that are crushing some amount of love and affection between you and your sweetie… Are you raising your hand?

You probably should be! Once couples have been together for 6-12 months (and longer), inevitable habits take shape. Some habits are fabulous, loving, cutie-pa-tootie, adventurous, and mature. While others totally and utterly stink, and feel more like a spoiled, naughty, brat!

It's ok. We all arrive at adulthood and get into love relationships with amazing pieces to offer, and some 'not-so-amazing' ones that come to the party anyway! The trick is to identify any crummy, upsetting, or even destructive habits and remove or replace them with habits that serve and promote you and your lover's best efforts. Let's look at 5 popular icky relationship habits and how to exterminate them! Pouty Pants! I have met some professional pouters over my years of coaching. Oh wait, I used to be one of them! I could pout with the best of them and for days! Pouting is a super fun habit that creates an entire household of happy people… or in my experience, the opposite was true! Pouting is NOT an attractive, or useful tactic for building clean communication or sustainable love. Here's the 411 on pouting. Pouting is sad and makes sure your heart is closed off to love, care, problem-solving, and resolution. Pouting emerges when you are triggered and jerked back into a younger version of yourself, like say your inner 12 year old! Let's face it, the calm, zen, confident, adult version of you would never throw a pouty fit. S/he would calmly speak her mind and heart, while simultaneously seeking to find a solution. When you are triggered in this way, the most important thing to do is step away and give yourself time to connect deeply to the longings of your inner kid (the one who is actually throwing a pouty fit!) It may seem silly or odd to attempt to tune into a younger version of yourself, but it is necessary and wildly useful. When immature defense mechanisms like pouting come in to play, our inner kid needs to be reassured with care and kindness and told that s/he is safe and that 'adult you' appreciates his or her help, but that you will handle the situation in a more calm and useful way. Yes, I am asking you to have a discussion with a younger version of yourself! Give it a shot, it might take a few conversations, but you will find this technique to have a profound impact on your ability to communicate cleanly, confidently and effortlessly- It will take some practice, so be patient with yourself! Smothering This is an interesting habit, and one that pops up when a partner feels unsafe, neglected, afraid of losing his or her partner, or alone; and, when the other partner is perhaps a bit (or a lot) checked out or preoccupied. Usually, when one partner drifts 'too' far away, the other is tempted toward leaning in 'too' close, or taking on smothering tendencies. Smothering can look like giving too much affection, being overly attentive, interrupting while asking lots of questions, etc. The partner who tends toward smothering will begin feeling internally frantic or anxious (which can easily bend into anger if fear and anxiety persist long enough). And by the way, smothering is NO better or worse than drifting off into an emotional abyss. The best thing to do when you notice your lover become preoccupied or checked out, is to simply focus more intently on 'your happy life and independence'. Instead of panicking and smothering, give him or her EXTRA space, this usually does the trick! Go have a great time with your friends, try out that new hobby you've been putting off, or take a weekend retreat! You will feel great as you tend to yourself, and your lover will be drawn back by your confident and attractive independence! Emotional Shutting Down Emotional Armor is painful... for both partners. Sometimes, when hurt or upset is triggered, one person in a relationship has a habit of shutting down, or putting on emotional armor. It's a sad habit really. And one born of fear, shame, and anxiety. Fear of saying the wrong thing, of being punished, yelled at, or criticized. Perhaps the desire to 'keep the peace' and 'be nice' is stronger than the desire to find a fantastic solution and actually solve problems. This is one that can still pop up in our relationship. The solution for this challenge is two fold. The person who is inclined to shut down, MUST begin to take courage and speak his or her mind, no matter what the perceived risk or consequence- this is imperative for his or her confidence and perceived self-worth to shine and to build trust in your communications. Especially, because the actual risk is the eventual collapse of the relationship- as effective and useful communication is ESSENTIAL for a happy and sustainable relationship. If the fear seems too paralyzing, simply hire a coach to help you move through this barrier- I have coached dozens on this challenge, it's very real and very frustrating. For the receiver of silence and shut down, you must work PARTICULARLY hard to be emotionally safe, inviting, and caring. It took a solid year of my patience and care and Chris's conscious discipline, for him to learn to speak his mind confidently and open his enormous beautiful heart. It was not easy for either of us, but completely worth the journey and intentionality! Blaming Blaming is on the nastier end of the bad habit spectrum and can progress a relationship quickly toward an end point. Blaming, criticizing, and accusing are all in the same boat… of icky and off-putting behaviors. Often those behaviors are a result of not having better tools to work out problems or not knowing how else to get one's point across. However, one's lack of knowledge can no longer be a reason to unleash weapons of mass destruction onto your partner. Blaming, criticizing, and accusing will never allow your relationship to develop into one that's an open, safe, caring, and fun sanctuary. But instead will set you and your lover on the path of eminent doom! Solving behaviors like blaming are quite introspective in nature. If you tend toward this habit, it's time to figure out why. Do you fight to be right at any cost? Is your pride taking over the drivers seat when you argue? Do you enjoy being aggressive? Did you learn this tactic in your childhood and simply never thought about removing it? Are you afraid of being soft and vulnerable? Do you fear appearing weak? Likely, it's a combination of several of the above factors. Look intently at this habit, it's no doubt crippling the flow of USEFUL communication in your relationship. Losing Independence PLEASE! Maintain your independence and individuality, AND BE YOU! This may seem obvious, but every day, I watch once strong independent men and women, bend, morph, and fold to become what s/he thinks his partner wants. There's no bigger tragedy or betrayal of self and little that's less attractive to the opposite sex (even if s/he is asking you to do the bending). No matter how many tantrums your woman or dude throws, or guilt trips s/he gives, or whining you choose to endure… you must HONOR yourself. Loving another isn't about losing your identity. Everyone gets to adulthood with wounds to heal and work to do, but you are also worthy of being (or finding out) who you want and choose to be. A good man or woman will appreciate you and find you fabulously sexy for being exactly who you are! Love means acceptance- of yourself first and foremost and secondly, your lover! If you and your sweetie are struggling in your love life and want to move from 'rocky' to 'rock solid', check out our SEPTEMBER Couples Retreat- We'd love to see you there!

Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn

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