Is love enough to make a relationship work? Most of us seem to think so.
We go into relationships with the highest expectations, believing that love is enough to make a relationship thrive.
But the reality is, love often isn’t enough. Our daily habits play a huge role, too.
The problem is, they are sneaky. The little things we do everyday could chip away at the bond we have with our partner without us realizing it.
So, it might be worth taking a look at your daily habits and see if they aren’t pulling the rug from under your feet inch by inch.
Let’s check out 10 daily habits that can derail an otherwise healthy relationship:
1) Lack of quality time
When a relationship is new, we want to spend every second with our partner, don’t we? It’s only natural.
However, once the honeymoon stage passes (and it will, unless you’re a unicorn couple who has daily access to Felix Felicis), we may begin spending less and less time with our partners.
In Marriage.com, Dr. Jenni Jacobsen says, “People may become comfortable after they’ve been together for a while, and they no longer put forth that same effort that they did at the start of the relationship. As this happens, quality time can fall by the wayside.”
The problem with this is, you can so easily lose your emotional connection to your partner.
And once that goes, so do romance and intimacy.
That’s why it’s important to make quality time a priority, even if it isn’t your love language.
My husband and I have one rule: once we’re done with work, it’s OUR time.
So, we chat while prepping dinner, then watch a TV show together before going to bed. Our routine helps us touch base and stay connected no matter how busy we’ve been during the day.
Aside from that, we practice the 2-2-2 rule – a date once every two weeks, a weekend away every two months and a week-long (or more) vacay every two years.
It’s all about commitment.
2) Over-reliance on technology
This is closely connected to quality time. Because like it or not, when you’re overly attached to your phone or video games, that eats into quality time with your partner.
I know just how distracting it can be. I mean, despite our best intentions to spend quality time together, my husband and I aren’t perfect. We do fall into the trap sometimes of scrolling through social media and not paying attention to each other.
Again, it helps to be mindful, intentional, and committed. Commit to disconnecting from your device so you can give your partner your full attention.
3) Poor communication
Another thing to commit to is to communicate in a healthy way.
We all have different communication styles. Some of us may have been raised in a household where difficult issues were swept under the rug. Others may have grown up in a family where confrontation was the norm.
Unfortunately, those differences crop up in the way we talk to our partners. I know couples who didn’t make it because they couldn’t figure out a way to communicate effectively.
Here are some examples of poor communication:
- Passive aggressive statements
- Speaking in absolutes (e.g. “You never”, You always…”)
- Avoiding difficult conversations
- Bringing up past issues
- Making assumptions
- Silent treatment
And let’s not forget non-verbal cues like rolling eyes or avoiding eye contact. Body language is powerful!
Effective communication is a key ingredient in healthy relationships. If you want yours to work, make sure you cultivate an atmosphere of openness and honesty.
4) Keeping score
Speaking of unhealthy communication, here’s another unhealthy habit – keeping score.
“I did the dishes last time.” “You owe me one.” “Why don’t you pick up the kids for a change?”
Have you ever said or heard these types of statements? Careful there, that sounds like you may be easing into a tit-for-tat mentality.
Relationships are all about give-and-take, yes. But they shouldn’t ever take on a transactional nature.
The best relationships are those with a teamwork mentality. You’re not competitors; you’re teammates. You both have your strengths and contribute to the relationship in your unique way.
For instance, my husband and I have very different areas of interests – he enjoys cooking, I don’t. I enjoy cleaning and organizing, he doesn’t.
So we make it work by taking charge of our respective areas. Win-win!
5) Forgetting the little things
How about the little things? Have you been together for so long that you no longer pay attention to them?
Grand romantic gestures are wonderful, but the reality is, they’re so few and far between that their novelty wears off eventually.
Especially if the daily stuff – the little things – falls by the wayside.
Things like a simple text that says you’re thinking about your partner. Saving them the last slice of the chocolate cake in the fridge. Taking over dinner prep when they’re too tired.
Those tiny acts of kindness and affection often carry more weight than any extravagant display. They show your partner that you notice and appreciate them every single day.
Which brings me to my next point…
6) Taking each other for granted
It’s easy to fall into a routine and start taking our partner’s presence and actions for granted.
Here’s the thing – complacency is an enemy of healthy relationships.
To go the distance, it’s important to continue appreciating what your partner brings to the relationship.
Should you still say “thank you” every time they have your coffee ready in the morning? Yes.
Should you stop and ask if they’d be okay with you spending a night out drinking with friends? Definitely.
The point is, never let consideration go out the window just because you’re sure of each other’s love.
7) Dismissing your partner’s feelings or opinions
Consideration includes being respectful of each other. How do you handle it when your partner raises a concern? Do you brush it off or give it the respect it deserves?
Before I was married, I was in another long-term relationship. At first, it was good, but over time, I noticed how he would dismiss my feelings. He’d say I was overreacting or he’d tell me to “get over it”.
If I happened to have a different opinion about something, he’d look at me incredulously, as if I was so stupid for even thinking that way.
Needless to say, it didn’t feel good. It did a number on my self-esteem, to be honest.
Looking back, I can see that that relationship would really never have worked even if I stayed. Because it lacked one important ingredient – respect.
8) Not setting boundaries
Just like you shouldn’t forget to be respectful, so should you never forget the importance of boundaries.
Yours and theirs.
I know I’ve said that couples should be teammates. However, that doesn’t mean you’re no longer individuals.
Thus, you each have your limits, and it’s essential to express and respect these in a relationship.
Boundaries will look different for each one of us; like I said, we’re all individuals. Whatever yours are – whether it’s personal space, time with friends, or handling finances – be clear about them.
9) Neglecting self-care
Speaking of individuality and personal space brings me to this next point – the importance of self-care.
Look, taking care of your partner and your relationship is only right. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of your own well-being.
It’s already been well-established that self-care is necessary, not just for relationships but for life in general.
Think about it – when you’re constantly stressed or tired, doesn’t that make you snap at people? Or at the very least, stop caring?
I know that when I don’t get my me-time, I get cranky. And I don’t like admitting this, but my family gets the brunt of that.
When you’re feeling good about yourself, you have more to give. In effect, you become a better partner. It’s that simple.
However, remember to keep it balanced. Too much emphasis on your own personal time and growth can result in this next thing…
10) Not growing together
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard friends who broke up say, “We’d grown apart…”
I think it’s a shame, but also understandable. It’s what happens when many of the things in this list happen – poor communication, little or no quality time, and all that.
Not only that, but we also change and evolve. Our goals and plans may change in a way that’s no longer compatible with our partner’s.
And it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. It’s just how life goes sometimes.
The person you were five years ago might not be the person you are today. The same goes for your partner. Interests shift, passions fade, and dreams take on new shapes.
But not all is lost when that happens. If you’re both committed, you can find ways to bridge these gaps.
Continue communicating and supporting each other’s evolving dreams. Find new common grounds to walk together.
As you can see, you can’t just rely on love to carry you through the day-to-day of relationships. What can do that is EFFORT.
So put in the work. Be mindful of your habits and the way you treat your partner each day.
If you’re committed to that, there’s no reason why your relationship won’t work.