Sticks and stones may break our bones, but sometimes words can hurt even more. The words we say and the thoughts we think toward our partner will ultimately determine the strength and happiness of a couple.
Understanding and recognizing the way we think about our partner is crucial in finding communication problems. Having negative conversations can diminish trust, ruin the desire to be affectionate and end communication completely.
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a clinical psychologist specializing in couples and family therapy (as well as the author of Why Can't You Read my Mind?), describes toxic thought patterns to keep an eye out for. Each of these patterns have been proven to destroy couples and their relationships.
Here are seven of the most toxic thoughts Bernstein warns couples about:
ALL OR NOTHING
A person who constantly thinks their partner is always doing something or never is doing something is creating a toxic environment. Do you ever find yourself saying, "He always has to be right?" or "She never does this." If you do, try to avoid making over-generalized conclusions about your partner.
WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO
A person that always jumps to the worst possible scenario is crippling their relationship. Couples must have a stable foundation of faith and trust in their partner. If you are never able to give them the benefit of the doubt, they will consistently feel inadequate. Your inability to see the good will shatter your partner's confidence and willingness to make this relationship work.
'SHOULD' INSTEAD OF 'WANT'
Someone who expects their partner to do things because they should is toxic to their relationship. A partnership relies heavily on a desire to serve and love one another out of want and need, not out of obligation. Couples need to engage in give and take equally.
A person who calls their partner unfair and degrading names creates a storm cloud of negativity that hangs over the whole relationship. No matter the situation, be careful of calling your spouse lazy, inconsiderate, and insensitive. Avoid labels that degrade an individual's self-worth.
BLAME AND SHAME
A person who irrationally blames their partner for their relationship issues cripples their relationship. Blaming your partner and playing the victim only pulls the couple apart from each other.
EMOTIONAL TICKING TIME BOMB
A person who thinks their partner is incapable of dealing with their emotions is extremely harmful in any relationship. Thoughts about your partner's inability to be reasonable destroys faith, trust, and love. While it will be difficult, choose to be supportive instead of dismissive if your partner is emotional during a discussion.
Over thinking and fantasizing reality is destructive to your life, your partner, and your relationship. Break the habit of jumping to false and impractical conclusions. Instead, communicate and try to understand one another while being realistic about goals and expectations.
'HOW CAN I GET AHEAD?'
A partner who is constantly calculating their next move slowly destroys their own relationship and happiness. Trying to outsmart and outwit your spouse creates an unhealthy competition between the two of you. While it's important to look ahead, decisions should be made together and benefit both people in the relationship.
Bernstein suggests couples take the time to learn how to be present when talking with their partner. Don't multitask during conversations. Listen to understand your darling's point of view. Listening with a loving heart will help you look towards your spouse with kindness, instead of harsh judgement.