Find out how to rebuild your bond after a wrecking ball hits your relationship — and learn how to sidestep couple-killers in the future.
#1. Having an affair with his “potential”
Wanting your man to be the best version of himself is admirable, but approaching his looks and personality with “Extreme Makeover” ambition will do little more than erode his self-esteem and leave you both frustrated and resentful. “If you and your partner believe that love means acceptance, pushing him to change and criticizing him is going to send him the opposite message. What he hears is ‘you aren’t good enough,'” says Nina Atwood, M.Ed., L.P.C., author of “Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid.”
How to rebuild: This is where the old 80-20 rule can be used to the benefit of both of you. Spend at least 80 percent of your time together letting your partner know all the things you adore and appreciate about him, so that when you mention something you don’t like, it doesn’t feel like another item on a long list of failures.
#2. Major mood swings
We’re living in some pretty anxiety-inducing times, and when life takes a stressful turn, it’s not uncommon for couples to start taking out that stress on each other. While the occasional mood swing can — and should — be forgiven, being in a relationship with someone whose bad moods outnumber her good ones can make a man run for cover. Wouldn’t you do the same?
How to rebuild: The next time you catch yourself taking a downturn, take a moment to consider what kind of impact your moods are having on your man and the relationship. “If a woman is too moody, we start to walk on eggshells because we just don’t want to deal with the drama,” says Matt, 31, of San Diego.
Talking to pals about your love life is a normal part of friendship, but if you’re calling your BFF, your sister, and your mom every time your man pisses you off, you’re not only going to wind up embarrassed when the storm passes, you’ll also find yourself in a relationship with someone who feels violated and judged. “As a couple, private information should stay private or you risk damaging your reputation as a couple, which in turn may isolate you from others and sever your relationship,” says Dan Schawbel, personal branding expert and author of “Me: 2.0.” Remember that word of mouth is a powerful force, and it can hurt your reputation if your mate or others brand you as untrustworthy.”
How to rebuild: The next time you log on to his computer and find an improper download, resist the urge to get on the phone and vent to your top five. Instead, sit down and talk things out with the one person who can help you work through it. If you’re not sure how to approach him about a certain topic, sit down and write him a letter. (Helpful hint: Sit on it for 24 hours to make sure it says what you really want to say and isn’t just filled with angry words and blame.)
If you’re calling him in tears every time your coworker irritates you, deleting him from Facebook during every argument, and threatening to end the relationship over him leaving the toilet seat up (again!), he might start looking for a new leading lady. “Men have a tendency to really like low-maintenance girls when it comes to relationships,” says Kristian, 35, of New York City. “We’re pretty lazy in general, and it’s exhausting when you need to work so hard to make someone happy and calm them down every day.”
How to rebuild: Save the details of your office drama for brunch with the girls, and the next time you feel your inner Heidi Montag moving center stage, take a deep breath and rate the situation on a scale from 1 to 10. If it scores below a 5, let it go and save award-worthy performances for anything above a 9 (cheating, insulting your boss at your holiday party, etc.).
#5. “Mom-ing” him
Your man loves his mama and he loves you, but when you’re the one telling him to stop playing Guitar Hero, scoffing at his lack of manners, or informing him he can’t go out with his pals because he has a “big day tomorrow,” it’s anything but appealing. He’ll not only resent that you’re trying to control him, but he’ll also likely do what all children do when they’re being reprimanded — rebel. “Scolding your mate creates an unhealthy dynamic of parent-child relationship, which automatically puts your partner into a child role and you into the role of mom,” says Jeannine Estes, M.A, a marriage and family therapist and author of “Relationships in the Raw.” “Children often do the opposite when they feel as if they don’t have a choice, and this is similar for couples.”
How to rebuild: “Instead of scolding or telling him what to do or not do, try to ask for your needs in a clear and respectful way and avoid using the ‘mother’ tone,” says Estes. “Share with your partner the importance of your needs rather than demanding or scoffing at what he has or hasn’t done right. Also, scolding him like you are his mother can put you in a parent role, carrying the relationship without any assistance or partnership.”
#6. Too much together time
Spending time with your guy is one of the best parts of being in a relationship, but there’s a big difference between bonding and being joined at the hip. “Many men are attracted to secure, independent women,” says Stacey Rosenfeld, Ph.D, a New York City psychologist. “Once in relationships, women may tend to become more dependent, to demand more time and attention of their partners. This can represent a problem, as often men need more space than women.”
How to rebuild: Remind your guy of the independent and fabulous woman he was initially attracted to by indulging in your favorite pastimes and enjoying your friends without him every once in a while. By flashing your independence, you’ll not only give him a chance to miss you but also have interesting things to share with him when you meet up.
He lets you know how much he loves you constantly, but that doesn’t stop you from checking his phone when he’s in the shower or sending every pretty girl he talks to eye-daggers. Although a tiny bit of jealousy in a relationship is normal, accusing your man of cheating and questioning his whereabouts every time he walks in will have him feeling controlled, manipulated, and insulted. “Jealousy in a relationship, or even personally, is the spiritual equivalent of dumping hydrochloric acid on the person,” says 33-year-old Marc from Los Angeles. “Just sit back and prepare for the disintegration.”
How to rebuild: Unless your man has said or done things to make you suspicious, your jealousy is more about your relationship with yourself than you two as a couple. Back away from his computer and check out your own history. Were you betrayed in the past? Did you grow up in a household where the fidelity vows were broken? There might be ways in which you are allowing unresolved issues from your past to dictate your present behavior. If you don’t feel you can overcome the green monster on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to a qualified counselor who can help you identify the sources of your insecurity and work through them.
#8. Getting too comfortable
In the beginning of a relationship, both parties make sure to look and act their best, but as time moves on, the sweatpants come out and routine takes over. “People tend to get lazy in their relationships, and while it’s good to be comfortable, no one wants to be boring or to be bored,” says Lissa Coffey, author of “What’s Your Dosha, Baby? Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love.”
How to rebuild: Men love to be seduced and romanced as much as we do, and part of what makes the courtship phase of relationships so fun is the experience of uncovering the mystery of another and trying new things together. “When a woman stops making an effort to look nice for her man and expects him to take care of all the stuff in the romance department, a man begins to feel taken for granted and thinks that she doesn’t care about impressing him anymore,” says Brian, 30, of New York City. Show your guy he’s still worth the effort by surprising him with a break from the ratty T-shirt you wear to bed, a sweet note, or planning a special night out for him “just because.” He’ll not only appreciate it, he’ll also reciprocate — and that’s a give and take to get excited about.