What Makes Or Breaks A Relationship? By Regina A. DeMeo

Last week on the Washington Post Express FB Live segment of Baggage Check, I got to cover major issues that come up for couples with respect to money.  But hopefully it is clear that money is just the topic, and the real issue is usually something much deeper like a need for safety and security, transparency, honesty and not having someone exert control or try to dictate terms.  In order to understand the real issues at play, you have to be curious– in other words do not just state your position, but ask your partner why s/he disagrees with it or has a different point of view.

There are, however, some bigger, and perhaps far more disturbing issues that we typically see in divorce cases.   Here are some of the worst things you can do in a relationship:
1. Failing to disclose that you have an STD, especially incurable ones like HIV or herpes.  To knowingly transmit a virus that will harm another human being is truly unforgivable.
2. Making your problems your partner’s problems.  It simply is not fair to make poor choices (like not saving enough for a rainy day, racking up credit card debt needlessly, getting a DUI, not paying bills that impact your credit score, or having an affair) that now impact your partner.
3. Engaging in activities (such as a gambling addiction or sex addiction) that risk the safety and security of your partner, either in terms of health or financial stability.  To selfishly indulge in anything that fails to take into account the impact to your partner shows a complete lack of respect and consideration.  It demonstrates that your partner is not a priority at all.
4. Continually breaking promises will ruin the trust in your relationship.  It could be little commitments, like agreeing to be home by 6pm but instead you continue to show up late for a variety of reasons, or big commitments like promising to pay off a debt or put money into a joint savings account and then you do not.  The failure to follow through with your word eventually makes your word worthless, and your partner will lose all respect for you.
5. Not managing your anger properly is another common problem– especially if it gets to the point of violent physical interactions, but even emotional abuse is deeply harmful.  Anger is really an aggressive way of expressing disappointment.  All couples will experience disappointment, so it is critical that they learn to express their concerns in a constructive way, not in a way that will destroy your relationship.

From this list, it should be easy to identify the traits or habits that promote a happy and healthy relationship:
     (a) being open and honest;
     (b) communicating (as in not just clearly stating what you want, but actually skillfully articulating why you feel a certain way, and actively listening to your partner’s wants and needs);
     (c) a willingness to compromise and reach fair resolutions;
     (d) taking responsibility for your actions;
     (e) making smart and considerate life choices that promote your partner’s safety;
     (f) keeping your promises, and showing that you are reliable and trustworthy; and
     (g) remaining kind, in your thoughts, words and deeds.

Is it easy to do all these things? Of course not, that is what makes navigating relationships a challenge for all of us, but if you really care about someone then you need to give it your best (and avoid my list of worsts as stated above).

Here is the 20 minute Baggage Check segment on Facebook Live:

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.

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