What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

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What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

Are you in a toxic relationship? Sometimes it dawns on you all-of-a-sudden. At other times, you slowly come to realize that something is very wrong. If you aren’t sure, here are some signs. Is there a lack of respect in your relationship? Do you avoid one another and loathe the time you spend together? Does the atmosphere fill with negative energy whenever you are in the same room? Does the idea of spending time with your spouse or partner fill you with dread? Is there a lot of contempt and insults flying like knives whenever you are in a room together? If any of these sound familiar, then the relationship is toxic. Sometimes things get way off track, or something happened that the relationship is having difficulty recovering from, the death of a child perhaps or infidelity on the part of one or both partners. At other times, it’s the buildup of many unresolved problems that start to drive a wedge between the two. The more differences the further apart they are.

In a toxic relationship you can feel emotionally abused, neglected, manipulated, taken for granted, or deprived of a sex life. Your spouse or partner could have cleared out the joint account, disappeared for days on end or buffeted you with one juvenile remark after another. Whatever the situation, when you find yourself in a toxic relationship, where there is no way of resuscitating it and bringing it back to life, you have to find a way to extricate yourself as painlessly as possible, and that can be tricky. Though many relationships can be saved, in the case of one or both parties hurting each other repeatedly, a clean break is best. There are three easy steps that you can use to get out with as little discomfort as possible. First, have a clear understanding of why you want to leave. A charming lover can muddy the waters, confuse you, woo you back and make you forget, for a time, why exactly it was you were leaving. You need to have concrete examples you can hang onto when things get confusing. You can even make yourself a little slogan or mantra to remind yourself of why.

Make a clean break. Decide when you are moving out or when you are breaking up with them, do it and then close off all avenues of contact. You don’t want to get sucked back in again. Many feel vulnerable after a breakup. That means you may be more likely to be receptive to their charms. Also, seeing and hearing from them will keep those wounds fresh. You want to be given the chance to heal and move on. Unfriend them from your social media pages and erase them from your phone. It may seem drastic but it will also be effective. If you work with this person or see them regularly, keep distance. Be professional if not slightly cold and don’t slow down to chat when you see them in the hallway. Give them a polite nod, say hello and keep moving. Sooner or later they’ll get the message and will stop trying to get your attention. Feel your self-worth. It is when we feel bad about ourselves that we are the most vulnerable. When we feel good about ourselves, we usually won’t put up with foolishness. Don’t get sentimental about the relationship. Remember what they put you through and that you deserve better. For more advice read, Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People by Peace.

Top Divorce Indicator Prevention

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Top Divorce Indicator Prevention

Want to know the top divorce indicator and how to prevent it? The top indicator is how a couple communicates. Does their speech build people up or tear them down? The University of Washington’s Professor John Gottman is the nation’s top expert on couple’s studies. After more than twenty years of research, he has found that the single most common indicator of divorce is when couple’s show contempt for each other. Contempt can be defined as negativity, sarcasm or a negative judgment regarding their partner. The opposite of respect is contempt. Additionally, there are four major statement that symbolize contempt. Whether the contempt is intentional or not is another matter. Your language plus a directive for instance is such language. “You should, You are, You’d better, You have to,” are examples. These kinds of statements are showing that the person is being judged and told what to do. It’s only natural then that they get resentful and defensive, not good emotions for a blissful marriage.

Universal statements are the next sort that reveal contempt. “You always, You never, Everyone or Such a” are often included in these statements. They show a person’s behavior or character in a negative light. Statements like “You always leave your socks on the bathroom floor.” “Everyone gets places on time but you.” “Everyone knows what a slob you are,” and so on. These statements hurt our partner in a few different ways. These statements only say what is wrong and shame the person they are directed to. Yet, they fail to say things in a positive light. And they don’t say how to make things right.  What is the solution to the problem? Also, this sort of logic is easy to pierce. If you say, “You never pay for anything.” The other person can just say, “I paid for dinner just last year.” This person gets a laugh and the statement has been negated all at once. Then there is invalidating feelings. If you tell someone they are blowing things out of proportion then you are invalidating their feelings. Instead, validate your lover’s feelings. Tell them you understand how they feel and why they feel that way. When you have a problem address the behavior and how it made you feel. “You didn’t pick up your socks and it made me feel like your maid” should be enough to drive the point home. Always talk to your partner with respect and expect the same in return. For more advice read, Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Ways to Create More Love and Less Conflict by Jonathan Robinson.

4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

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4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

Most of the time people enter relationships with a feeling that everything has excellent potential.  They’re not anticipating an end to their love.  The truth is, that’s often the case.  Relationships do end.  Often, warning signs are missed, but they do exist.  John Gottman, Ph.D., is a leading psychologist in the area of marriage and relationships.  He has four warning signs and adjustments that can be made:

  1. Criticism - It’s not the same as complaining, when you’re attacking one particular problem or the behavior of your partner.  You’re actually attacking their character.  A criticism might include, “You are such a slob”.  A complaint, on the other hand, would sound more like, “I’m tired of picking up after you”.   You can’t say anything constructive when a person is criticizing, or, it would be more difficult.  If someone complains, it’s easier to address the concern.  To fix this, make it a point to complain and not criticize.  And, if your partner is guilty of the latter, have a discussion about it and see if they’ll commit to not criticizing.
  2. Contempt - This is really criticism, magnified.  When you’re attacking your partner as a person, it’s demeaning and insulting.  You’re looking down on them, possibly calling them names, mocking them and being sarcastic.  To fix this, increase your tolerance.  Learn to communicate with your partner and appreciate each other.  Couples therapy is often necessary for relationships involving contempt.
  3. Defensiveness - This is when you’re attacked and then attack in defense.  This typically involves playing the victim, ignoring your partner, making excuses and disagreeing.  To fix this, listen to the complaint and try to empathize.  Then, take responsibility, or some of it.  After truly listening and showing compassion, tell your side of the story.
  4. Stonewalling - Checking out of a conversation to protect oneself from being hurt is stonewalling.  A person will stop following the conversation or actually leave.  They may seem apathetic, but are actually overwhelmed.  To fix this, try to discuss the issue together and find out when the person stonewalling is becoming overwhelmed. Make plans to give space if needed and eventually come back to discussing the problem.  Identify these issues early on.  The longer they last, the more it hurts your relationship.  If you’re trying your best to fix things and there’s no cooperation, and situations are repeated, you might try counseling together. Also try reading the book, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman, Ph.D.

A Lasting Relationship Comes Down to Two Things

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A Lasting Relationship Comes Down to Two Things

How many married couples make it to happily ever after? According to psychologist Ty Tashiro only three in ten marriages contain health, happiness and longevity. So what makes some marriages toxic while a slim few stick it through? John Gottman might have the answer. He is a prominent psychologist who has been studying relationships for only about four decades. He along with psychologist Julie Gottman—his wife, run their own institute figuring out what it takes to make love last. “The Love Lab” at The Gottman Institute in New York City has run many a fascinating study. In one, newlyweds were hooked up to electrodes and asked a series of questions including how they found each other, what was a big problem they faced together and to share a cherished memory. The electrodes measured their heart rate, blood pressure and sweat response to signify the level of stress each was experiencing. The couples were followed up with six years later, to see if they were still a couple. Soon a pattern emerged. Gottman separated newlyweds into two groups: the masters and the disasters. Those who were still together six years on were masters, those who had broken up disasters.

Couples who had activated systems where their heartrate was racing, their blood pressure was high and their sweat glands were active were the disasters. Those whose systems were calm were masters. The reason was, those disasters just sitting next to their spouse and answering questions made them nervous. Their body was in a state of hyper-arousal, the fight-or-flight response. This raised their heart rate and blood pressure, and perhaps that of their partner. This physical response made them more likely to lash out at their partner which made the couple unstable. As a result of following thousands of couples over a long period of time, Gottman found that the quicker their system was during these initial interviews the less likely they were to have staying power. Masters were generally well connected, and calm during these interviews. Now the researcher wanted to know what aspects of masters helped them to keep intimacy flowing and how they stayed so close and connected. In the inverse, how did disasters shutdown channels of intimacy? What he noticed was when interacting, those couples that showed an interest in one another’s interests had a closer relationship. When one mentioned something they were interested in, called “bidding” if the partner responded positively, this helped build connection. But those who turned away or responded negatively missed a chance at connection.

Couples who had staying power looked for places where their significant other did something well and complimented them on it. They built an atmosphere of respect, tenderness, curiosity and love. The masters would notice things about the partner and compliment them on it. It came down to two things really: appreciation and kindness. Conversely, the end of a relationship was near when one or both partners showed contempt. Being kind bound couples together. Contempt and being taken for granted tore couples apart. Kindness should be thought of not as a trait but as a skill we all have that we either hone or do not. Some are kinder than others but we all have the capacity for compassion. It’s what makes us human. In our technological world we often get caught up in emails or social media. But instead of just muttering a response to our spouse, we should really listen to them and find elements of interest, when we don’t we miss an opportunity to grow closer. If we can remember to keep kindness and appreciation in our relationships, according to Gottman’s research, then we have the best chance of success. For more on the logic of love read, The Science of Happily Ever After by Ty Tashiro.

Subtle Signs the Relationship is in Trouble

relationship trouble

Subtle Signs the Relationship is in Trouble

Relationship problems usually aren’t like road signs. You don’t normally see them coming from far off, though if you’ve been there before it’s possible. But most times they tend to spring out on you, and then you and your lover are in the thick of it. What do you do then? Sometimes you solve them. At other times you ignore them and the tension builds and can even spread to other places in life such as work or in dealing with the kids. Instead, it would be better if we could see them coming down the pike, like road signs rather than obstacles that dart into our path that we suddenly have to deal with. Psychologist and couple’s researcher John Gottman is famous for many breakthroughs in understanding what behaviors and attitudes the happiest couples exhibit over unhappy ones. Soon he found four distinct behaviors which he labeled, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” specific behaviors that can spell a relationship’s doom. Here are some subtle signs the relationship you are in is in trouble. It may be time to seek out the proper relationship advice, or just have a long heart-to-heart and work things out if you encounter any of these. The first one is criticism. Criticizing your partner chips away at your respect for them. If you are putting them down privately, it’s one thing. But if you start doing it in public or to others it’s another. Criticism is often met with defensiveness. A blow out sometime down the line occurs. Than both parties go retreat to their respective corners to lick their wounds and wonder if the relationship will last. If you find yourself criticizing your partner, stop and think about a better way to communicate with them. If you find your partner is starting to criticize you, sit down with them, talk to them about it and work out a better, clearer and less negative way for the two of you to communicate.

Of course clear, open and honest communication should be one of the most important things in your relationship. Learn to communicate positively. Instead of sayings things like, “You never do your chores” instead tell them directly how it makes you feel and why it’s an issue. “When you don’t clean up like you are supposed to, I come home from work and immediately feel stressed, now that I have to clean, too.” Use “I” statements and tell them how you are feeling. This brings them in and makes them feel closer. You don’t make them feel defensive. Instead, you make them feel as though they should come to your aid. The next one is contempt. This is where you openly mock, ridicule or disrespect your partner. Sarcasm, passive-aggression, belittling, making fun of, ignoring, criticizing and more is the biggest indicator of a breakup or a divorce according to Dr. Gottman. According to his research, the best couples say five positive things for one negative comment in their relationship. These couples appreciate one another and tell and show the other their appreciation. It’s important that when you are with someone you can trust, whom you want to have a healthy long-term relationship, that you feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of this person. If they are and you have issues with commitment and vulnerability you may need to work through those issues. In fact, a loving, supportive relationship can help you do just that. Validate your lover. Empathize with them and the problems that they have and expect and enjoy the same in return in order to build and sustain intimacy.

When you are with the right person, you can relax with them and be yourself. But the third warning sign is becoming automatically defensive in front of your mate. If you notice you are starting to put your guard up, or you feel the need to argue your position, if this doesn’t have anything to do with past baggage from your parents or another relationship, then it probably has to do with your current relationship. You should look to see exactly what is making you defensive. The last indicator is when you are “stonewalling.” This is when you hold back from talking, or deny giving information. It could be giving the other person the cold shoulder because you are mad at them, but it could also be withholding information to avoid a fight or to help save the relationship. For the former situation it’s best to collect your thoughts and discuss the matter in depth with your partner. For the latter problem you need to be able to communicate clearly and openly within your relationship, if nowhere else. If you need a cool off period, where you don’t want to fly off the handle, want to simmer down and sort out your thoughts before coming to the table, that’s fine. In fact, that is a very mature, adult move. But if you just want to avoid the subject altogether, or if you are using your silence as a weapon, inevitably this will drive a wedge between the two of you, instead of pulling you together it will tear you apart. Once you have identified the problem or problems in your relationship, with an open, willing partner, studies have shown that you can turn a relationship around, and make it great. If your long term relationship is still progressing down the wrong path, pick up a copy of Before A Bad Goodbye: How to Turn Your Marriage Around by Dr. Tim Clinton.