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Be abusive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

We have been talking about "How (not) to ruin a perfectly good relationship" this past month. We have covered lots of ground about what builds and destroys relationships.

It is now time to talk about some more serious things that destroy a relationship. These are "the biggies" - the behaviours that you really should stay away from if you want to keep your relationship healthy. They are also those that are harder to recover from without intervention and support.

Please note that the posts this week are of a sensitive nature. Some may be difficult to read, especially if you or someone you know is going through this stuff. And yet, these are very things that we really do need to talk about if we want to strengthen our relationships and transform relationships within our community. I encourage you to read them even if you think that they do not apply to you. Please feel free to share (discretely) with anyone who might benefit.

So today's edition of How to ruin a perfectly good...

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Make the bed a battle ground (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Physical intimacy is what differentiates the marriage bond from other close relationships. So a very effective way to destroy your relationship is to use this special and sacred bond as a weapon of war with your spouse.

There are SO many ways to do this. Here are the top 6:

· Don't prioritize it – use kids, work, your to-do list, stress or any number of other excuses not to enjoy intimacy with your spouse.
· Withhold it as a punishment for other issues in your relationship. Hold onto unresolved grievance from the past as the reason. Insist that 'other issues need to be sorted out before we can be intimate'.
· If you are the partner with the lower desire, insist on controlling the frequency of your interaction. Give your spouse the cold shoulder when they make advances. Pretend to fall asleep or to have a headache. Fall for the modern myth about 'not doing it unless you really want to'. Make your spouse wrong for their desire. Say things like: "that's all you...

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Phub your partner (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Here is a modern way to destroy your relationship: keep "phubbing" your partner: snub your partner by showing them that your smart phone is wayyy more important to you than they are. Be distracted by your cellphone while in the company of your spouse and refuse to change your behaviour when they protest.

According to two recent studies, phubbing is a really effective way to create conflict in the relationship, to lower relationship satisfaction, to lower life satisfaction and to create depression in your spouse.

Here are some ways to perfect the art of phubbing:

· Check your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night – before and after you greet your spouse.
· Always bring your phone to the dinner table and during meals with your spouse, make sure to pull out and check your cell phone.
· Places your cell phone where you can see it when you are together. Keep glancing at it expectantly as if you save you from an intimate moment with your...

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Be passive-aggressive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

When something bothers or upsets you, under no circumstance tell your spouse what it is honestly or directly. Instead, express your anger indirectly in other ways, leaving them feeling like the two of you are in the middle of a fight but not quite sure what they did wrong to cause it.

Some great ways to show passive-aggression are:
- Go somewhere you don't want to go but drag your feet while going there, be late, make sure you are not pleasant company. Let everyone see that you are not happy to be there
- Say things like "I'm not mad", "Fine, whatever." "Yes dear" while seething on the inside
- Deliberately procrastinate. Rather than tell your spouse that you cannot agree to their request, delay completing their request until they get very frustrated, thereby punishing them for making the request.

Such behaviour will ensure that it is not possible to resolve the issue or reach closure. Make sure that your anger is always underneath the surface, simmering, causing resentment and leaking...

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Save your best self for the outside world (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Be socially charming, attentive to others in public and even flirtatious. Put on your best clothes and your best attitude when you go out. Be the life of the party and use humour and wit to entertain everybody.

But turn into a completely different person as soon as you are alone with your spouse.

In private be silent, critical, mean or aggressive. Never get the joke. Don't bother with personal grooming or charm.

This will ensure the speedy demise of your relationship because your spouse will soon recognize that you are capable of being nice, attentive and charming – just not to them.

If you wanted to save your relationship on the other hand, try this instead:

Adopt the stranger standard.

Be AT LEAST as good to your spouse as you are to others.

AT LEAST as good. At least as good to your spouse as you are to others if you want to have a stable relationship.

To have a healthy and loving relationship, you need to give your best self to those that matter most.

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Threaten Divorce (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

The foundation of a great relationship is safety: physical safety, emotional safety and commitment safety. Without a strong foundation, you simply cannot build a strong marriage.

So one way to destroy your relationship is never ever give your spouse the idea that you are committed to stay in the relationship through thick and thin.

To use this strategy effectively, keep your spouse on their toes by threatening to leave the relationship at the first sign of trouble. Keep them guessing at your level of commitment. Plan your exit strategy and leave the door open.

Using the D word can also be used as an avoidance strategy. When your spouse complains about a relationship issue, say things like: "If you don't like the way things are, just leave". Saying this will ensure that nothing ever gets raised or resolved and resentments can foster and grow.

What makes threatening with the D word so effective to end the relationship is that eventually the other person will call your bluff and show...

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Bad mouth marriage (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

When talking about your spouse, your relationship or marriage in general, be sure to moan and groan. Talk about the sacrifices you are making, how you have lost your freedom and how marriage is such hard work.

Discourage others from committing and settling down. Say things like:
Enjoy life while you can.
Marriage is the start of your prison sentence. Enjoy your freedom while you can.
You are stuck now - ha ha.

When you attend a wedding – instead of celebrating the couple and their commitment - feel sorry of them and show it in your words and actions. (Is it not weird that the humour at weddings focuses on demeaning the institution which it is meant to be celebrating? And then we wonder why the state of our unions is in so much trouble!)

Make and laugh at jokes about marriage, husbands, wives, in-laws.

Why is this a good way to ruin a relationship?

Because a good relationship starts in your mind and how you think about the concept itself.

When you are immersed in anti-marriage...

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Pick a fight (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

What's the difference between discussing an area of conflict (very healthy and necessary) and picking a fight (not so healthy)?

It is how you start the discussion.

If you want to ensure that a discussion ends badly, be sure to start harshly.

As we you may know, our favorite researcher Dr. Gottman can predict with 96% accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce within watching the first three minutes of a conflict discussion. His research in the famed "Love Lab" shows that the way an issue is brought up in the first place will have a major impact on how it ends.

Women are far more likely than the husband to bring up touchy issues and to push to resolve them. This is true both in happy and unhappy marriages.

(This is also why husbands who ask "Honey do you want to talk about it" get a zillion bonus points from their wives!)

There is however, a dramatic difference in how the wife brings issues up in unhappy marriages compared to relationships that are happy.

In relationships that...

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Keep score (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Use your mind like a psychological bookkeeper and remember "the score" at all times. Remind yourself of the ways you give to the relationship and your partner doesn't.

Tell yourself things like:
A good marriage should be 50-50 (an untrue and dangerous myth, by the way. It is only distressed couples that focus on the 50-50 score keeping)

I'm always the one who takes out the trash.

Why am I always the one getting up with the baby in the middle of the night?

I'm always the one who says sorry and initiates affection. S/he never says sorry. It is so unfair.

Keep at it and your feelings about the relationship will quickly fester into a stew of resentment, ensuring that you stop being loving and start creating distance in the relationship.

Keeping score is a "me-centered" way of operating, by which you're elevating your role in the relationship to a place of superiority. And if you're "up," then your partner has only one place to land: down. Down in the swampy, stagnant pond of "not...

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Always be right (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

A really effective way to ruin a relationship is to insist on being right. All the time. To make this strategy even more effective, insist on being right, refuse to give in even on the smallest issues and insist on having the last word on every issue.

Oh, and do remind your spouse about how wrong they are and how right you are.

When your relationship suffers, you will at least have the consolation of knowing that you were right.

You may be alone and miserable but at least you are right.

If you do not want to wreck a relationship, on the other hand, you may want to reconsider the need to always be right.

You see, in happy relationships, couples often choose to be happy rather than being right.

They chose to be open to a different point of view than their own.

They consider the viewpoint of the other with some humility and with much kindness.

They recognize that when you insist on winning every argument, it is the relationship that ends up losing.

Happy couples chose to be open to...

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