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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Be a psycho-pest (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

In this day and age, we get relationship advice from many places: friends, family, Google, books, lectures, workshops and therapists. Many of us become familiar with psychological concepts and are very adept at using psychological jargon.

If we are using this information for our own growth and development, with the intention of improving our relationships, it can be a very good thing.

Very often, however, once we read a book or learn a concept, we become REALLY good at identifying how are significant others are falling short and could do with a psychological tune up. We even begin diagnosing our loved with various psychological issues based on our newly acquired expertise.

We gently and not-so-gently remind them how they are not great at communication or are not practicing effective relationship skills. If we are in therapy, we might remind our spouse that they are not following the therapist's recommendations.

This is a fun and easy way to ruin a perfectly good relationship as our...

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Look down on your spouse (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

A really effective way to destroy a relationship is to think that you are better than your spouse. You get bonus points for conveying it to them through words and body language.

This kind of looking down or contempt in relationships has been found to be the number one predictor of divorce by Dr. John Gottman in his many decades of relationship research.

How can you show contempt for your spouse? There are so many ways, verbal and non-verbal to be truly mean and show disrespect and contempt for others:

Using sarcasm
Name calling
Hostile humour
Sneering, eye-rolling,
Making light or belittling what matters to them
Invalidating their thoughts and feelings

Saying things like: who does that? Everyone knows that not the way it is done. What's wrong with you? Etc. etc. etc.

In whatever form, contempt is very destructive to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It's virtually impossible to resolve a problem or feel loving towards the other when your partner is getting the...

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Refuse to discuss issues (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Another easy way to destroy a relationship is to shutdown or stonewall your spouse when they are trying to discuss an issue which is of importance to them.

Stonewalling can look slightly different in different people: being unresponsive, walking away, tuning out, ignoring, turning away, turning to technology, acting busy or saying "I will not talk about this".

When your spouse is making an effort to address a problem, whether attempting to talk about something that is upsetting them, explaining their feelings about an ongoing area of conflict, or trying to reach a resolution or a compromise, and you are pretending that they aren't there, they are likely to reach a level of upset or anger so high that unless this issue is addressed, it is almost guaranteed to destroy your relationship. Here is some research on the impact of stonewalling on relationships.

A word of compassion for you if you are the stonewaller: you are likely engaging in this behavior because you are going through an...

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Be defensive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

An easy way to ruin a perfectly good relationship is to NEVER EVER accept responsibility for anything. If your spouse makes a complaint, counter that with a counter attack or criticise them for bringing up the issue.

When we do this, it pretty much guarantees that our significant other will stop bringing up issues that bother them. The issues will fester and grow and impact other areas of our relationship.

For some of us, our defensiveness is truly unconscious. We immediately and impulsively refute or rebut whenever our spouses bring up actions and behaviours that are causing a problem in the relationship.

If we do not want to ruin our relationships, however, we do need to pause when we feel the urge to be defensive. Pausing allows us to reflect on what our spouse is truly saying and asking of us. What part of it can we take responsibility for? What can we acknowledge and commit to changing?

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