How-to

Top 5 Mistakes That Are Destroying Relationships Right Now

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The lockdown has many people questioning their relationships. Spending so much time together often leads to heightened levels of bickering, anxiety, and stress. Our fears about money, job security, or even getting COVID-19, plus learning to navigate online homeschooling, are enough to make even the sanest person crack! Unfortunately, we often take out our frustrations on those closest to us—our beloved partners.
However, like a teabag in hot water, what if the lockdown could also bring out the supportive nourishment of new flavors and aromas that could make your relationship even stronger? What if every obstacle was a gift in disguise? What if a mistake was a mis-take on the situation—one where you can retake the opportunity to benefit you rather than dismantle you? As an intimacy expert over the past 20 years, I’ve found five proven ways to turn these mis-takes into invitations to grow instead.

Mistake #1:

You Think That It’s Your Partner’s Job To Make You Happy

You pretend that you’re confident, but you really seek your happiness from others’ behaviors, your worth in another’s approval, your safety in getting another’s attention. But blaming your mood on your partner or waiting around for them to make you happy ultimately pushes them away.

What’s the invitation to grow?

Happiness is a choice, so choose to be happy. Focus on ways of thinking, being, and doing that nourish your spirit and make you smile. Appreciate, approve, and honor yourself with things that you can control. This can be anything from your posture and deep breaths to healthy eating or going for a walk after dinner. Celebrate the small wins, and be grateful for the tiniest of miracles. Given that the inside always creates the outside, become the one to awaken the parts of you and your life that truly matter.

Mistake #2:

You Look For Negative Evidence

You had a fight and then another fight. You’ve vowed never to get hurt again, so you’re on the lookout for the next time they will hurt you. You’re gathering negative evidence, focusing on the worst-case scenario, always ready for the other shoe to drop. Your fear attracts your worst nightmare—another fight—and you end up getting hurt again.

What’s the invitation to grow?

No one is perfect (including you). Give people the grace that you’d like them to give you. Given that you can’t control people—and when you try, you only push them away—give your partner space, and try to focus on finding positive evidence where they are supportive, understanding, appreciative, approving, kind, or compassionate. Then praise them when you discover it. Most importantly, find positive evidence within yourself, give yourself compassion and praise, and notice how the relationship in turn experiences a lightness of being, deeper connections, and more peaceful intimacy. 

Mistake #3:

You Hit Below The Belt

It’s happened to all of us. You get triggered, you see red, you go for the kill before you get killed: a glare, a passive-aggressive comment, or even downright cruelty. You feel shame and guilt and retreat from the situation, or you project it onto your partner and speak with righteousness, criticism, or blame. When triggered, we have approximately five seconds to breathe, lean in, sit in the fire, and say to ourselves “5...4...3...2...1...We got this” before we leave our heart, disconnect, and hurt our partner, saying something we regret and can never take back. 

What’s the invitation to grow?

We all know that plants need watering, fertilizer, sunlight, and pruning to flourish; so do people and so do relationships. Emotional charges, triggers, and traumas are stuck energy from an experience we didn’t know how to handle, so we stuffed it away. During lockdown, all of this energy is erupting to be healed. Nothing’s wrong. This intense time is a gift to do your personal growth work and heal your emotional wounds. Taking this time allows you to stay present with your heart open and even thrive through conflict. If you get flustered, you will learn to breathe, take a time out, return to heart coherence, then respectfully communicate. If you follow these steps and speak with vulnerability, honesty, and courage, you will reestablish trust, respect, and an intimate connection with your partner. 

Mistake #4:

You Become A Know-It-All

When our hearts are hurting from so much uncertainty, divisiveness, and pressure, we often ignore the intuition of our bodies. When we shut off the knowing in our hearts, we instead spin in our heads, nursing our anxiety with unhealthy habits. Instead of facing, feeling, and healing our emotions, many people live in their minds. This allows them to justify that they are right and become a little arrogant. They forget to be compassionate toward their partner who is also navigating a pandemic. They forget to stay curious and a humble student of relationships. Because they think they can’t handle one more rug being pulled out from under them, they place unrealistic expectations of perfection on their partner and are often degrading towards their partner’s humanity. 

What’s the invitation to grow?

Get down on your knees, literally, in whatever form of prayer or reconnection works for you. Pray to God for humility and compassion. Cradle yourself in the fetal position with empathy. Get close to Mother Gaia, and ground yourself in the dirt to remember that the lotus grows out of the mud. Open your heart, and feel what’s there with compassion. Surrender to a soulful structure of self-care and reconnection with your partner. Make time for healthy communication, sacred sex, alone time, friends, and personal growth workshops. Cultivate intimacy with yourself, your life, and your beloved as a daily practice, not a destination.

Mistake #5:

You Hide Your Truth

No one likes to be around someone negative or stressed out, so many of us choose to hide what we’re really feeling. On the path to personal growth, many of us engage in “spiritual bypass” and choose to pretend that avoiding our problems is the best way to solve them, when in reality, we are only putting sprinkles on the ice cream cone of crap inside our hearts. I believe unless you honor your truth, the repressed emotions will eventually come back and hit you like a truck. There is a difference between feeling your feelings and becoming your feelings. I’m not inviting you to dramatize and become your fears; just acknowledge them. Breathe through them or your unwillingness to feel will make you numb to life and your withholding of truth will eventually make you resentful and depressed while your partner feels abandoned and judged. 

What’s the invitation to grow?

Journal your truth to yourself every morning or evening. Get in the habit of listening, honoring, validating, acknowledging, and respecting what’s true inside of you. There’s no need to fix or create solutions. Just get the charge of the emotion onto the paper. Another way is to listen to your body’s wisdom is to move and hear yourself as you walk in nature, dance in the living room, garden, or paint. Create a safe space and regular time to communicate truths with one another; remember to seek to understand one another, not to always be right or have the answer. Let it become safe to be together however you feel, to be loved unconditionally, and to never be judged.

Moving forward…

I recommend turning one “mis-take” into an “invitation to grow” each week. Celebrate the process. Honor the wins. Bless the wobbles. Focus on the good. Once you get the hang of it, invite the kids into this process; they’re watching anyway. They feel you both. Know you’re healing your own hearts, your marriage, and your family as you do this important inner work. I believe in you. You’ve got this!
Kellee Khalil
About The Author
Kellee Khalil is the Founder & CEO of Loverly. She lives in upstate NY with her fiancé and two dogs.
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