Wright Foundation | August 12, 2015

5 Common Relationship Wreckers

Engaging in a fulfilling, meaningful and deeply satisfying relationship with your significant other is easier than you think. So why do so many relationships go south?

Lying, relying on the other person for our own happiness, and playing the blame game are just a few reasons. Let’s explore 5 common (and definitely avoidable) relationship wreckers.

All couples fight—but how you fight can determine the success of your relationship. You can learn more about having the best relationship you’ve ever dreamed of in our forthcoming book: The Heart of The Fight. It’s our couple’s guide to 15 common fights, what they really mean, and how they can bring you closer together. (Now available on Amazon.)


#1: You’re Lying

Lying is never a good idea, regardless of intentions. In relationships, there are two types of lies. Overt lies are direct lies that are obviously not true. For example, saying you were at the gym when you really went somewhere else. Covert lies are when you don’t tell your partner something they should know, usually involving your feelings or activities. Some people believe covert lies aren’t serious because they think omitting information isn’t the same as bending the truth. Same goes for “little white lies.”

Lying is a bad idea. Period. So if there’s a reason you aren’t telling your partner something, it may be a good idea to reflect on that to figure out why. Honesty is always the best policy and trust should never be taken lightly.


#2: You’re Not Taking 100% Personal Responsibility for Your Own Satisfaction

We often assume we’ll someday find “the one”—a magical person; the only one in the world who can make us truly happy. Unfortunately, studies show that people who believe in soulmates tend to have less successful marriages.

Instead, we must take 100% responsibility for our own happiness. This means that “the one” isn’t one person you simply need to find—instead, it’s the partner you choose to be with. Two people who create their own happiness develop a synergistic relationship, where both people support and nourish the other’s growth and learning. But when they start depending on one another for satisfaction or recognition, that’s when the cookie starts to crumble. It’s not your partner’s job to “make” you feel good or affirmed—that’s up to you.


#3: You’re Playing the Blame Game

The “rules of engagement” are a set of ideals that ensure a balanced and rewarding coupling. The first rule was already discussed: we are all responsible for 100% of our own happiness and satisfaction. The second rule has to do with conflict.

When practicing conflict resolution, no one gets more than 50% of the blame or responsibility for the issue at hand. Even if you feel your spouse is the problem in your relationship, you have to own up to how you could help improve the situation. When partners are equal stakeholders in all areas of the relationship, it makes for a better overall team.


#4: You’re Focusing on the Bad Parts of Your Fights—Instead of Learning

Arguments with your significant other are never pleasant, but they are necessary (at least most of the time). All couples fight. It’s part of life. But, while people often disagree, it’s how they handle that disagreement that shows their maturity and emotional intelligence.

During a fight, always look for learning opportunities. If your partner is upset with you for not paying attention when they’re explaining something, own the behavior and analyze whether you do this with others as well. Perhaps your partner feels they need to be heard to feel nourished. This is something you can help support without taking their happiness into your own hands. (Remember the rules of engagement!)


#5: You’re Stuck in the Drama Triangle

The drama triangle, a model for interaction by Stephen Karpman, is quite common in many areas of life, from work to relationships to family dynamics. Within the triangle, there is one person (the Victim) who feels victimized by the other, known as the Persecutor. To complete the drama triangle, there is usually a Rescuer; this is someone who inserts themselves into the situation to try to appease the people involved while trying to help them solve the problem. Unfortunately, even if their intentions are good, Rescuers only complicate the situation.

Instead, the Victim and the Persecutor need to own the issue at hand and their roles within it, minus the outsider perspective. Deal with these conflicts directly and with each other. When you follow the rules of engagement, you may be surprised how much closer you’ll actually become.


“Are ALL My Relationships Doomed?”

Absolutely not! Sure, couples break up for many reasons, but some many of the most common problems can be avoided by following the rules of engagement and allowing for nourishment and personal growth for both you and your partner. Avoid lies and drama triangles while at the same time supporting your significant other in their life pursuits. Own your happiness and personal satisfaction and create a team mentality with your partner to bring out the best in both of you, and to be the best couple you can be.


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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user katietegtmeyer.


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.