10 Tips On How To Prevent Cheating In A Relationship

Cheating on your partner, it would seem, has become an accepted part of having a relationship, but it shouldn’t be. Cheating hurts and it betrays a trust, and there really is no excuse for it. But, cheating is often a symptom of a deeper problem in a relationship, so here we explore some of the things that can be done to prevent cheating in a relationship:

1. Understand and agree on the boundaries

What constitutes cheating can vary from person to person. Is it OK to dance with another person, kiss a person or give them a hug? Or, to your partner, does this mean that you have cheated? There needs to be a clear understanding of what cheating means to each of you, and then there can be no mistakes.

2. Be best friends, as well as starry-eyed lovers

It’s important to be good friends, as well as lovers. You need to be able to talk to one another openly or you will find that some things are being kept a secret.

3. Learn to grow and change together

Couples need to be able to grow, in their right, and together. Everyone needs new challenges and new opportunities, so pursue those together and no one will feel the need to go elsewhere to broaden their horizons.

4. Make staying faithful a no brainer

The best defence against cheating is to make the relationship so great, that your partner has too much to lose by cheating. Communication is the key here, talk to each other about what you want, and make sure that you take account of each other’s needs.

5. Keep things interesting and try new things together

Boredom is often cited as a reason for cheating, so keep things interesting and try different things. This is not just restricted to being adventurous in the bedroom! It also means going out to different places, taking up new hobbies and even changing the channel you watch on TV.

6. Be there for each other and listen

You’ve heard it before: ‘My wife / husband / boyfriend /girlfriend doesn’t understand me’. That is as much a symptom of not listening, as it is about not understanding. Listen, when your partner says ‘let’s do something different this weekend’, or they could be doing something different next weekend with someone else.

7. Don’t take your relationship for granted or you can find yourself surprised, and alone!

Don’t assume that your partner is happy and never assume that nobody else would put with them! Just because you would never consider living apart doesn’t mean that they feel the same way. Taking someone for granted is a sure way to finding yourself surprised, and alone.

8. Don’t be too controlling

Complaining, nagging and criticising can all add up to an unhappy relationship. You are in a sharing partnership and no one of you should be controlling the other. If you are trying to control your partner, you might find that they suffer in silence, until one day, they go elsewhere for solace.

9. Be sure to let your partner know that they are appreciated and loved

You may well love your partner, care about them and would never want to be apart from them. But, when did you last tell them that? It’s about taking things for granted again, so don’t assume that your partner feels loved, tell them that they are.

10. Don’t cheat on your partner!

Cheating means different things to different people, as we have already said. Men, in particular, are very sensitive to what they might see as cheating and, even if it’s only emotional, their way of hitting back can often be cheating in revenge. In the long run, no one wins by cheating. It is far better to just be honest.

Do you have some other relationship advice and tips on how to prevent cheating in a relationship?

 

 

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5 Ways to Make Your Relationship Stronger

Relationships are love and war. Until you get to the war part of it, it’s hard to realize how much work is actually required to maintain your patience, affection and commitment. There are ways you can reinforce and strengthen your relationship so both of you can bounce back from difficult phases as painlessly as possible. Here are five tips:

1. Small gestures count big-time. Consistent ‘little things’ can add up to one resilient relationship. I’m a believer in Dr. Gottman’s 5:1 ratio. The theory is: for every negative action, it takes five positive actions to restore stability in a relationship. Therefore, it’s important to build up that positivity whenever you can. Frequent small gestures, such as compliments, “thinking of you” text messages, love notes and more are great ways to do this.

2. Talk, don’t read. Ever have a hunch that your significant other isn’t telling you something? Because relationships (and people) go through phases, there may be times when the two of you don’t sync up. Don’t read into things. Instead, let them know that you want to talk. It’s your time to let the other know that you’re feeling left out, disconnected or concerned. Most importantly, remember to open the conversation from a curious standpoint, not confrontational or accusatory.

3. Listen, don’t talk. It’s easy to get caught up in multi-tasking, internal thoughts and what’s going on around you. All of these things can prevent couples from hearing each other completely and communicating well. Always listen to what your loved one is telling you. Four tips for listening better are: focus on your partner, don’t interrupt, pay attention to their body language and validate what they said before you respond.

4. Keep the love alive. As if you need convincing to get frisky with your lover, research proves that sex connects a couple on an emotional level. In addition, it’s a moment to satisfy and focus on each other without distraction. The general rule is to do it as often as you can by keeping your sex life active and not letting it fall by the wayside.

5. Put up a good fight. Love is wonderful, but it can also be emotionally exhausting. Arguments in particular can leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused and requiring time to think. The popular saying ‘Don’t go to bed angry’ can put pressure on a couple to resolve something that doesn’t always have a quick solution. By following that rule, you may be at the giving or receiving end of lip service. And I’m not talking about the good kind of lip service. Take time to authentically resolve a problem. It could take hours or days, and several heated conversations, but do not give up when your relationship is worth fighting for.

 

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Michelle – Thanksgiving Weekend Visit

I loved writing this post.

I know that Michelle is going to be visiting the area for Thanksgiving. She’s been in Delaware mostly with the collective families, but will come to Philly for one day to meet up with friends. (See: Michelle – A Brand New Day) She texted me to let me know she was flying in and that she’d maybe be available for an hour or so on Saturday. I said possibly, but that I may not be around. She normally texts me on a weekly basis. She always asks me about what I have planned for the weekend and I do the same.

The last few weekends I’ve been spending time with Cherie. But I haven’t said anything to many people about her, including Michelle. So I’ve been telling Michelle that I’m not really doing anything, just hanging out. But in reality I’ve been spending Saturdays with Cherie. Michelle flat-out asks me if I’m seeing someone. I tell her I don’t want to jinx it. But she knows me really well and she guesses who it is. She really wants the inside scoop, so since she’s an old friend of nearly ten years I tell her a little bit about Cherie.

She says she’s happy for me. But there always seems to be a twinge of something there. I spoke to this cool psychiatrist that comes to the salon, and ran it by him. He said the reason Michelle stays in touch with me, is there’s something her husband isn’t giving her. Keeping me a secret from him gives her a life line to a possible escape if he fails her again.

I don’t know. I just want Michelle to prosper and be happy.

I really mean that.

My work is done.

I tell her Cherie has to work Saturday and won’t be down until around 5:30 so if she still wants to hang out, I can. She says she’ll text me and let me know.

So I did all of my domestic, bedroom babe lair set up Saturday morning, and I’m just picking up a couple of last-minute items for tonight. Just snacks and some bottled water. It’s around 3:30. Michelle says she’s finishing up with a friend at The Bards, the Irish Pub on Walnut. I drop off my stuff at the apartment and head up to Rittenhouse Square.

I head into the park. The Christmas tree is up but not decorated yet. Every holiday season they decorate the a big tree and hang lights from all of the trees. It’s really a beautiful time of year in this part of the city. I know the Bards is at 20th and Chestnut so I know she’ll enter the park at the northwestern entrance. I obviously go to the statue of the lion and the serpent.

French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye helped establish a 19th-century school known as the animaliers, artists who focused on animal subjects, frequently as stand-ins for human emotions. Barye’s portrayal of a lion subduing a serpent illustrates his fondness for dramatic animal battles.

The lion, however, is not an ordinary beast. It represents the French monarchy, and the serpent is a universal symbol of evil. Hence this sculpture convinced the French king to name Barye to the Legion of Honor.

Just sayin’. Pretty cool place for me to meet her since I’m a Leo. I’m waiting and she’s taking forever. Which in German time is like fifteen minutes late. I’m standing there and people are coming by to take photos. I’m assuming they’re visitors or tourists. I start telling them the story that I just wrote above. They love it, but all seem a bit tipsy. It’s the holidays so I expect that. One drunk guy thought for a moment that I was part of the display! Then I started talking.

Day drinking!

I’m standing there and waiting and then I see Michelle as she enters the park. She’s approaching and then suddenly sees me.

She starts running toward me.

Running.

I love Michelle.

If you’ve made it this far on this journey, you know that Michelle and I have an extremely rich history. So running is almost a requirement when we reconnect. She comes up and hugs and gives me a safe peck on the lips. (because she’s married!) But she is exuberant and so am I.

It’s Michelle.

We’re a legendary couple in this city. I met her almost ten years ago and she looks just as beautiful as the day I laid eyes on her. But she’s grown so much. I always called her the emerging Michelle. She has emerged and flourished. She’s better today than ever before.

I think in that moment if she had stayed with me here back in Philly she would have descended into a dead-end series of empty drunken weekends of bars, movies and whatever else. It was elegant and we both grew through it but ultimately didn’t work for her. She was younger than me and wanted a husband and kids. I had already burned through that years ago. Knowing that, the relationship was doomed from the start.

I once told my late father the entire story. He had a similar experience. There are people you meet, and they are the loves of your lives. Sadly, we sometimes ruin our partners for future relationships even though we’ve saved them in the process. I helped fix her. When I met her she was a beautiful girl that everyone loved but didn’t really know. She was covered in armor that was impenetrable by any suitor. I taught her that it’s okay to be herself.

I was the first man that she felt safe around in her whole life. It’s okay to cry. You don’t have to be on point all of the time. When she learned to cry her tears rusted that old armor and it fell away. I taught her that she still had her armor but was no longer sheltered and hidden by it. She had a new power that was an armor she could apply in the real world. Most of all she would be heard and was safe.

I brought Lorelei into this world. No big deal. Anybody can make a kid. It’s easy.

But being a parent. That’s the tricky part. But to help build a person that’s already here is something special. If you can help fix or save a person…. that’s comething.

Even if it’s only one person, you’ve changed the world. I felt that I had that with Michelle.

She was never a project. I loved her madly and will always love her.

There’s a history we have than no one on Earth can take from us. Michelle is family I will take to the grave.

But I want her to live a happy and healthy life. She’s made the life decisions that she feels are best for her. I think that’s admirable. As fun as our life seemed in my writings you can’t always be that couple. Everybody either settles down and gets married and has kids or you break up.

That’s life. I’m up to a thousand words right now. Writing about a one hour encounter with my love, so you can see what that does to you.

I’m editing it now again so it’s perfect for my Michelle. I don’t have to do this. I know it’s fine, but I want it to be right for her.

I’m happy she’s married and living a prosperous life. That’s what Michelle chose and that’s where she is now. She set a goal and attained it. Michelle emerged like I said she would and I’m honored to have been a part of her life for the time she allowed me to be in it.

It was absolutely magical.

All of it.

As you can tell I do what I do and live on. Sometimes I think I’m done but love comes  for me and takes me again. But I know we’re only here for a short time. Why settle for mediocrity? I’ve done it many times for all of the wrong reasons and the results have always been the same. Most people date, love, fail, settle and marry and then kids.

I did it. But I was able to continue to grow and evolve and learn from my mistakes. We should always be evolving. If we don’t we die. A comedienne once said I can be lonely some times or be in a committed relationship and be frustrated and angry. I have felt all of that but I still believe true love exists.

Many couples have it. Most don’t. They settle into grinding mediocrity. For some it saves them. They live a happy sober life. That’s so good. Settle down and fall into domestic bliss. But for me I’ve been in love many times.

It’s glorious.

To fall in love is like heroin.

I’ve never done it but falling in love is like playing rock on stage and people cheer for a song you wrote when you were heartbroken in your bedroom.

So I choose the latter. I will keep hoping for love but if I don’t find true love I’ll at least die trying. But you never know. Love could be on the next bus that stops at your corner.

Never give up.

But I digress… Ha ha! Michelle and I walked around Rittenhouse on that overcast Saturday together.

Two old friends with an amazing history that belongs to no one but themselves. Passing the spots we once commanded.

Drinks flowing and people loving us. Dancing through the streets of this city and making it our own. Only for us.

We visited her old apartment that she lived in when she first came to Philly. (No we did not try to break into it) Her apartment on Spruce, and walking down Delancy and lovely Addison St. with all of the trees decorated in lights. We talked and reminisced about our lives.

In San Francisco she and her husband are being priced out of the market in regard to real estate. They’re going to have to move back in the next year.

She has a fantastic job that she’s earned and it pains me that she should have to leave it, but life is what it is.

We were doing a tour and about to go look at our first apartment on 18th and Kater when we both got texts at the same time from our significant others.

Her husband was wondering where his bride was. She got paranoid and said she had to go. I assured her she didn’t do anything wrong. (She’s already done way worse. That’s my girl!)

My text said Cherie was looking for parking. So I had to go too. I will always love Michelle, but I need to take care of Cherie…

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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If He Says Any Of These 15 Things, You Can’t Trust Him

These phrases will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of guy you’re dealing with.

You’ve heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words.” That’s generally true, but there are also some phrases that reveal important information about the person who speaks them.

Sometimes, the words that come out of an individual’s mouth demonstrate attitudes and beliefs that should cause you to tread carefully. Reading into these words will give you the signs you can trust someone — or not.

1. “I won’t ever talk about it.”

Do you feel barred from certain aspects of this person’s life? If so, you have to wonder what lies behind those walled-off areas. (Annabelle used to pull that shit on me. Dysfunctional idiot.)

2. “Let’s get married!” (if said too soon).

Under the right circumstances, these are amazing words. But some people hurry the process, perhaps out of insecurity, desperation, or unrealistic expectations about what is needed create an enduring and satisfying union.

3. “Why should I have to explain everything to you?”

If your date is defensive or sensitive when you ask simple questions, he or she may be hiding something.

4. “C’mon, it was just a little white lie.”

A person’s willingness to lie should serve as a big red alert about his/her character and emotional health.

5. “I’m bored.”

Some people need constant action and busyness to feel satisfied. They easily become restless, making it hard to relax in their presence. Another danger: This person may quickly get bored with your relationship.

6. “Can I borrow some money?”

Loaning money to a romantic partner is fraught with danger. A request for a loan, at the very least, shows that the person is not conscientious about money management. Be especially wary of anyone asking to borrow money you are chatting with online.

7. “No duh!”

Insert your own sarcastic phrase here. Sarcasm stings, even when the other person insists it’s “just a joke.” Biting humor is a sign of insensitivity and superiority.

8. “You can trust me—really!”

Trustworthy people usually don’t need to proclaim their ability to be trusted. Instead, they demonstrate their reliability through actions, day in and day out.

9. “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

A healthy relationship is impossible with someone who insists on always being right and reacts strongly to any suggestion otherwise.

10. “Our relationship is fine the way it is. Why do we need a commitment?”

Some people want the best of both worlds—the security of your dating relationship and the freedom to date others.

11. “Well, that was stupid.”

If someone puts you down or tries to make you feel inferior, consider this a warning sign of more trouble ahead.

12. “Just do it the way I told you to.”

Beware of those who feel the need to take control of every situation and be in charge. In the name of being “helpful,” some people want to micromanage your life.

13. “How could you say that to me? That’s so mean.”

This is a red-alert phrase if you have gently and sensitively offered feedback or made a suggestion. People who are hypersensitive to criticism may be insecure or narcissistic.

14. “How can you believe that?”

You will feel stifled if your date does not respect your opinions and beliefs.

15. “Don’t you feel lucky to be with me?”

Some people exude arrogance and aloofness, sending the signal that you’re fortunate to be in their presence. A relationship can thrive only when BOTH partners feel grateful and blessed to be together.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Sun Stories: Alexa – The New Hookup

Last year when I started at the salon, I loved so many girls that came in that I had to make a list. Alexa was in the top five on that list. I think I was so enamored of being around this bevy of fit young woman I had to somehow placed her near the top.

She would come into the salon and lament to Achilles. He was cold and indifferent to her. Treated her like trash. Apparently she used to work at the salon and maybe the separation was negative. But God she was beautiful. She would come in and she had a special arrangement. Achilles treated her like garbage and I never understood it.  She was so beautiful.

A fine boned beauty. Slender, pretty face and revealing clothes. Achilles doesn’t like girls acting or dressing seductively because he just thinks they’re whores nobody wants, but my man is old world and I respect that. I have sisters and a daughter. I get it. Alexa dresses like she’s asking to be seduced. Low cut tops. Tits hanging out, legs out, or just really minimalist clothing. I would actually be worried about her walking out of the old salon in what she was wearing. It was too much sex and too little clothing, but I loved her because of that.

Achilles would treat her like crap when she came in. This is a former employee, but he treated her like a whore. It’s a weird situation. She comes in and pays $17 for a packet of lotion and a session in the premium bed. It doesn’t make sense. If she’s a former employee she should get a deal on a package, but she always rolls in and does the same thing that is profitable for us but a loss for her.

She’s beyond pretty and I yield to the rules of the salon and give her all of the attention I can to a flower this pretty, like I do all of my favorites.

My co-worker Haley would say, “You just missed your girlfriend… and she was looking extra slutty today. You would have loved her.” (See: Haley – Lightning in a Bottle)

Even little Haley knows I love broken wing Alexa. But I can’t help it. I was new back then and I’m caught up in the flirty sexiness of the job. I’m fine now and they’re all just clients by now, we have a business to run. Work in a bank, all the money turns into lettuce if you’re honest.

I no longer keep LOVE lists or anything like that, I just want the place to run and the people we employ to do their job and move forward.

Butt Alexa comes in and it’s always an event to me, because I love her. And when I say ‘love’ I mean phicklephilly love her. Alexa is so beautiful. Slender and I don’t know. There are so many pretty girls that come in here with their charm and caramel thighs , but Alexa can just hang out and just gush sexuality.

I’m a dad and I love my little Lorelei and I wonder if Alexa’s dad ever thinks about his daughter’s power and the negative aspects of that power. He’s a cop that works homicide in this city. That is some serious shit. I hear their relationship is solid and I like that. I hope he’s the man she says he is. Because a father is the most important man in a young girl’s life ever. You fuck that up and you pay big time. Everybody pays.

I know it can’t be easy being a cop, I have a few friends that in law enforcement and it’s a tough life. You’re dealing with the worst part of humanity most of the time.

But I’m fascinated by Alexa. I love her beauty. I love that Achilles hates her. I love that she’s sexy as fuck. I like that I want to be her sex slave. (kidding, but I kinda would)

She can’t keep a man. Her visits with hickies on her neck are juvenile and moments of jealousy for me. I wouldn’t mark Alexa by bursting the capillaries in her neck I’d leave her with  a far deeper memory

I know I could do that.

I’m so nice to her when she comes in she actually says to Achilles that she thinks I’m in love with her. Of course Achilles balks, but we have to be cautious. This is a business. I’m not in love with Alexa but I know Im fascinated with this gorgeous, damaged girl. I love damaged girls. It’s what I do. I tried to fix Lisa, Michelle an Annabelle, and they all need to fix themselves but at least I tried to help.

Whenever Alexa comes in my eyes are watering she’s so beautiful. I’m always looking after her. Getting her water or whatever she wants. She will use a tingle lotion that will roast her and make her red and I’ll look after her. I’ll get her water and fan her and she must know that I’m just some old loser guy that will cater to her. I don’t even care, because there are really pretty girls that come in here and that’s fine, but when Alexa comes in here she brings the sex, and I see it and feel it. She is just one of these girls that can walk through life and just slay everyone in their path with lust and desire.

She just has that power and just does it. I have mad skills, but baby doesn’t even need them because she looks right and acts right and people just yield to that. I’m sure she’s making a fortune at her new bar job.

She’s back studying communications at Temple. Standard young girl shit here in Philly. But she did give me this reveal.

She says she left Pub Web in shitty North Philly and is now working as a bartender at Tir Na Nog in Center City. I hate that bar because it’s a sausage fest and just a rugby and soccer bar. It’s just a bunch of dudes yelling for sports and I’ll never go there.

but Alexa will be there on Wednesday and I’m off Wednesday so I should say hello.

She comes into tan and looks pale.

I tell her she looks pale and she does her usual deal. But buys a tingler pack and ends up red as hell. Poor baby. I tell her to wash up use make up and she’ll be fine.

She sits in th waiting area with 15 minutes to spare and does her makeup. I love watching this gorgeous girl do her makeup in front of me. I love girly things.  I try not to look but Alexa is so beautiful I can’t resist.

Her shoelaces are untied I tell her not to trip on her on feet and that I’m worried about her.

I ask her when she’s working and she says, Friday, Saturday night and Wednesday.

There’s my moment.

“I can come in Wednesday because I’m off.”

“Cool. I’ll give you free drinks.”

“You don’t have to do that, Alexa.”

“I tell all of my friends to come in and they don’t. You come in and I’ll give you free drinks and you just tip me.”

At that moment I knew I had just solidified another hookup in Philly that I so desperately needed because we’ve had a few fall off. I love getting new ones. I’ll be there Wednesday on my own or hopefully with a loved one that will appreciate free drinks!

I’ve loved Alexa from afar for a year and understand her struggle, but remained a huge fan for a year. She doesn’t worry about me falling in love with her because I’m already in a relationship, but I so appreciate that we have a new place to hit for the hook up!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am  & 12pm EST.
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Maria – Another Try

Back in August on my birthday I got a text from Maria.

“Happy birthday!!”

“Aww! Thank you Maria!”

Last week against my better judgement I decided I wanted to see Maria. This would probably be a complete waste of time and money, but I wanted to see what she was up to and phicklephilly needs content.

Wednesday

“Happy hour tonight?”

“Hey I had my internship now off to my night class unfortunately.”

“No worries! I have been working a lot and had a free night. What’s a good day/time I could catch up with you for an hour.”

“Probably Mondays or Wednesdays in Old City.”

“Perfect. I’m not working at night those days. Next Monday for a happy hour?”

“Maybe for one drink. I have a huge test that Tuesday.”

“Would lunch on Wednesday work better?”

“Probably.”

(She seems thrilled)

“1pm in Old City or does noon work better for you?”

“I don’t know my workload until that day.”

“Alright, well then let’s do one drink in Old City Monday. It’ll be great to catch up. I have stories!” (Bold faced lie. Just seeing her out of curiosity and for the blog)

Sunday Night

“We good for a drink in Old City tomorrow?”

“Yea one.”

(Try to contain your enthusiasm, Maria)

Monday Morning

(7:30am)

“What time?”

(2:47pm)

Ahh Maria. Since I haven’t heard from you I assume something’s come up and I’ve already been invited to an event. (Bold faced lie. I’m just sick of waiting seven fucking hours for a response from her. By now I don’t even feeling like going to Old City) But no worries. Is there another day and time we can catch up?

(2:50pm WTF?)

“Hey sorry I was running around for our press conference. No big deal. I probably should take that extra time to study anyway. I’ll check my schedule and get back to you.”

“No worries. Look forward to catching up on all the news.”

 

How much do you want to bet I never hear from her again? I think that would be a sucker’s bet.

(Sigh) Still love her anyway.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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The Number 1 Predictor of Divorce (and how to fix it)

After four decades of research, a clear pattern emerged

The number 1 predictor of divorce (and how to fix it)

John Gottman, Ph.D, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, is one of the world’s foremost marriage therapists. He’s spent four decades studying couples at The Gottman Institute in order to determine what really causes a rift between two people — and how to fix it. After all that research, Gottman noticed a clear pattern among couples that didn’t stay together, identifying what he says is the number one predictor of divorce.

It’s contempt.

Yes — as in eye-rolling, disgust-feeling, negative-thinking contempt. Many of us have felt it for a partner before — but even if you’re feeling it right now, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to separate. Here, Gottman Institute expert Mike McNulty, Ph.D., LCSW, breaks down what every couple needs to know, including why contempt is so detrimental to a relationship, how to spot it (in both your partner and yourself) and — perhaps most importantly — how to stop it.

How contempt occurs

It’s normal to feel annoyed at your partner or to disagree on things, but when you allow yourself to reach a level of contempt or disgust for them, that’s when McNulty says it becomes unhealthy. Every couple fights, and every couple has issues: “All relationships involve ongoing, perpetual problems that will resurface,” says McNulty. But it’s how you handle them — either with kindness or contempt — that can make or break you as a couple. “Partners who do not handle discussions of these problems well are at the most risk of divorce,” he says. Imagine discussing a recurring issue, such as a difficult mother-in-law or major difference in libidos.

The number 1 predictor of divorce (and how to fix it)

“Partners who are headed toward divorce have the following tendencies: They become angry and use what we call the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse or negative patterns of communication, which are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness,” says McNulty. “This leads to something we call ‘diffuse physiological arousal’ or ‘flooding’ [which involves] one or both partners’ bodies releasing hormones as heart rates accelerate, muscles become tense, the skin becomes hot or sweaty, and the stomach feels nervous.”

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever experienced a “heated” argument in which you felt your voice or blood pressure rise, you know that this mental state isn’t conducive to a civil conversation. “In this state, partners cannot take in new information and they lose their senses of humour and creativity,” explains McNulty. In other words, you’d be better off speaking later when you’re both feeling more calm. “All of these factors make discussing the important ongoing problems totally unworkable,” McNulty says.

The good news about anger

Even if you and your partner have been having some heated arguments lately, it doesn’t mean you’re headed for disaster. “Relationships die by ice rather than fire,” says McNulty. “Some couples eventually stop trying to have a dialogue. They find working on key conflicts to be too difficult or painful. They give up. They grow more distant, and live more like roommates than spouses. In the end, emotional disengagement is truly the ultimate sign of a relationship headed towards divorce. “If you’re both still arguing you haven’t yet reached the point of surrender,” says McNulty.

What to watch for

Rolling your eyes at something your partner says is one of the most common ways people express contempt. “Besides the eye roll, another sign is the lifting of the upper lip to make a sneer,” says McNulty. “It’s an overall attitude of disgust at one’s partner and/or a sense of superiority.”

Sometimes it’s subtle: “For example, when discussing how to keep their home [tidy], one partner may say to the other, ‘In my family, we cared more about our house.’ The unspoken ending to that sentence is, ‘…than your family did.’ The implication is: ‘My family is superior to yours.'” McNulty adds that people who are perfectionists can easily fall into this trap.

How to handle conflict better

Now that you know how harmful contempt can be, here are five things you can do in your relationship to handle conflict better:

  • Be on the lookout for common no-nos, like rolling your eyes, sneering, or making passive-aggressive comments.
  • Give your expectations a reality check. Remind yourself that your partner is a different person with different opinions and a different set of fundamental needs. You will not agree on everything, and you have to learn to be okay with that in order to maintain harmony.
  • Turn the issue around on yourself. When something really ticks you off, “Think, ‘Why does the behaviour bother me so much? Can I learn to live with it?'” If not, you can seek counselling to learn some coping mechanisms, but as McNulty points out that “in marriage, we have to learn to pick and chose our battles.”
  • Instead of feeling anger as your partner is speaking their mind, challenge yourself to listen more deeply to your partner’s point of view.
  • When it’s time to voice your feelings, remember to “complain gently without blaming the other person,” says McNulty. Talk about your feelings, and how you feel, versus blaming or criticising their actions. “These shifts in behaviour are fairly simple but really do make a difference.”

 

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