Singaporebrides | The Groom Room

March 2014

8 Don’ts In Any Relationship

There are some habits and behaviour that can be toxic to a healthy relationship. Fu Jinming lists eight things we shouldn’t be doing with or to our other halves.

It takes two to tango. But when it comes to your marriage, it only takes one to turn that dance into a fire-walking exercise. Especially if you persist in bringing bad relationship habits into your little waltz.

Of course, the onus doesn’t just lie with you. Your partner has as much responsibility to avoid behaviours and attitudes that will harm the union you have both worked so hard to build. But as with all good partnerships, you’d have to put a foot forth first, before the other can follow. And as gallantry would dictate, the gentleman always makes the first step.

To help you on your way, here are eight toxic relationship habits you’d do well to fix now:

1. Don’t keep score

Remember when your siblings used to throw your past mistakes in your face during an argument? Remember how that made you feel?

Now remember that the next time you’re tempted to use your partner’s past wrongdoings to justify your moral high ground. Not only are you not dealing with the issue at hand, you’re trying to guilt her into feeling wrong over something that has very little to do with the present. That’s low. And pointless.

Unless it is related to your current situation, don’t bring up the past. By choosing to be with her, you’ve chosen to be with her past, present, and future – warts and all. So deal with the problem in the present tense.

2. Don’t be passive-aggressive

If you have to sulk, pout, or find petty little ways – like the silent treatment – to hint at your displeasure with your significant other, the two of you are obviously not comfortable communicating openly with each other.

Finding ways to press your partner’s wrong buttons to make your point is not only unhelpful, it’s juvenile. Be a man. State what you’re unhappy about and why, calmly and clearly. She may not agree with you, but you’d at least have shown your maturity; it shows your desire to discuss the problem like an adult, not a petulant child.

8 Don'ts In Your Relationship

3. Don’t threaten the relationship

More specifically, don’t turn every little argument, complaint or criticism into a reason to question your partner’s commitment to the relationship. It’s the kind of emotional blackmail that creates unnecessary drama.

And ironically, in questioning her commitment, you put yours into question. For how lightly you must take your relationship to dangle it over the sharks every time a perceived crisis occurs.

It is important for both of you to feel safe enough to communicate your displeasures to each other without having to feel that you’re putting your relationship under threat. That calls for a stay of judgement, an understanding ear, and above all, a rational mind.

4. Don’t take it out on your partner

We all have days when anything that can go wrong, does. That doesn’t make it OK to take it out on your other half. When you’re tired and emotionally wrung-out at work, it’s easy to expect the person closest to you to be sensitive about how you’re feeling. And to take it upon herself to make you feel better. When she doesn’t, you get upset.

Let’s get something straight: your partner is not wholly responsible for how you feel. You are. Blaming her for your emotional state is selfish and unfair. Being supportive is not the same as being obligated to your every whim and fancy. If you’re upset about something and think you need some support from your companion, tell her so.

But don’t expect her to just suddenly drop all her plans for you. There’s a difference between needing a supportive shoulder, and being a needy crybaby.

5. Don’t try to improve her

There’s no such thing as a perfect person, so don’t try to turn your significant other into one. That means not inflicting your unrealistic expectations onto her. It’s one thing to ask her to change the brand of her toothpaste, quite another to get her to change her personality. Like switching from being an introvert to an extrovert, for instance.

Picking on her perceived character flaws doesn’t make her a better person. It makes you an overly concerned partner at best, and a presumptuous, self-righteous jerk at worst. Apart from the obvious disrespect you’re showing her, you’re ignoring the reasons for why she is the way she is. Worse, it suggests that you’re unsatisfied and unhappy with her and who she is.

So quit trying to ‘improve’ her, even with the best intentions. She accepted you for all your imperfections. Return the favour, for goodness’ sake.

8 Don'ts In Your Relationship

6. Don’t be excessively jealous

While a little jealousy is normal – and can even be adorable sometimes – getting constantly obsessed about whom your partner calls, texts, talks to or hangs out with can turn you into a controlling, mistrusting, overbearing psycho. Think Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Before long, you’ll be checking her phone messages, tracking her emails, and following her to her yoga class – or worse, to the mall.

You may consider your jealousy a form of affection. But it’s behaviour that shows you up for who you are – a small, insecure man.

And if you can’t trust her to be around other men, it implies that you believe her to either be a liar, or someone who easily has her head turned. It’s demeaning, and destructive. So rein yourself in and curb your suspicions.

7. Don’t blame her family

When the argument heats up, it’s easy to drag both your families through the dirt and into the fight. But blaming her family – or anyone else’s for that matter – rarely solves the issue. If anything, it heightens the hostility, and makes for a tensed affair at your next family dinner.

Where possible, focus on resolving the issue, not on her family’s alleged involvement in it. Criticising her family, even if they are the cause of your conflict, just serves to worsen the disagreement. After all, her family is now yours too. So tread lightly. Solve the problem. Then move on.

8. Don’t buy your way out

Here’s every guy’s magic bullet to resolving any major relationship conflict: buy something nice and all will be forgiven.

Covering up your problems with material superficialities is hardly a long-term solution. The crisis may have temporarily been swept under the rug, but the underlying issues will still remain. Even with the deepest pockets, buying your way out of trouble doesn’t make you accountable for your actions. And it usually results in an increasingly bitter woman who is tired of being unheard.

While there’s nothing wrong in buying or doing something nice to make up after a fight, you should never use it as a way to avoid dealing with the problem. So rather than reaching for the wallet, you should learn to deal with the argument the old-fashioned way – by sitting down and talking about it.