It's not only cheating or addictions that can drive couples apart: Sometimes the most minuscule relationship moves can sabotage a marriage. "That's because small things can accumulate and create real distance between a couple," says Victoria Fleming, PhD, a marriage therapist with a private practice in Chicago and author of You Complete Me and Other Myths that Destroy Happily Ever After. "What seems like a little slight in the moment can snowball into a bigger issue if left unaddressed, and this is why flexibility and communicating with honesty and humor are so important for a successful marriage." Guard against these 10 love landslides in order to keep your marriage on solid ground. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
CoupleLooking up your ex on Facebook
"It's natural to be curious about past lovers, but following him on Facebook is a clue that you may be trying to fulfill a certain intimacy need that your husband is not fulfilling for you," says Dr. Fleming. "Plus, there is always the chance that you will get caught. I can't tell you the number of clients I've seen who are in therapy because they got discovered reconnecting online with old flames." It didn't work out with your ex for a reason, so rather than wasting time Facebooking him, spend that energy trying to make your marriage even better.
Choosing your cell phone over a goodnight kiss
"So many of us are addicted to our devices, but the world won't end if you don't check your emails between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.," says Dr. Fleming. "You may also be using your cell as a distraction from your relationship. It's so important to kiss your partner before going to bed because it's an expression of intimacy, and you're sending the message that your husband is your priority. It's saying, 'You're the last person I see before I go to sleep and the first person I see when I wake up in the morning.' This helps create a solid relationship where you both feel supported."
Related: 15 Secrets of Happy Couples
Forgetting your sense of humor
"It's so easy to get into the TRS (terminal roommate syndrome) where all your time is spent on the logistics of the relationship versus reaping the benefits of being in one," says Lois Barth, a motivational speaker and life coach based in New York City. Find ways to be playful, even in your challenges. "Humor shifts perspective and allows us to move from criticism to creativity, a much needed ingredient in relationships," says Barth.
Not vocalizing your appreciation
"My husband wants props whenever he does a small chore, such as unloads the dishwasher," says Jennifer Brennan, 34, of Hoboken, NJ. "I used to come back at him with how much I did around the house that he never thanked me for, but I learned that was not the best approach. Men want to feel appreciated, and if they do, they're more likely to do stuff to make you happy. So I started giving him a hug and acknowledging whenever he did a chore. And guess what? That dishwasher started to get unloaded much more often!"
Related: What He's Really Thinking After 1, 5, and 10 Years of Marriage
Having energy vampires in your life
Whether it's a toxic friend or a cluttered corner, make one small move to tackle an energy sucker and you'll feel less drained and more able to give to your partner. "One of my clients opted never to ask her Negative Nellie relative, 'How are you?' but instead set a boundary when speaking to her by saying, 'Hi, I only have five minutes and need to know the time of the party,' in order to get off the call without a drawn out complain-o-logue from them," says Barth. "Again, the more you can deal with the stressors outside your relationship, the more mental bandwidth you'll have to deal with the possible ones that come up in your relationship and equally important, to gain greater gusto in your relationship."
Spending too much free time apart
"I love being social while my husband is more of a homebody," says Chantel Ventolieri, 37, of New York. "Meeting a friend for yoga class or co-workers for a drink makes me happy, but if I don't make any 'us time' with my husband, our intimacy suffers and we start acting like less of a team. I've learned that setting aside a date night at least once a month is key for reconnecting and keeping us both on the same page. Especially with a six-month-old baby, doing things just the two of us is not a luxury, but a necessity, to keep our marriage strong."
Related: 9 Little Gestures He Wishes You'd Do
Skimping on sleep
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, your relationship may suffer. When wives took longer to snooze, both husbands and wives reported less positive and more negative interactions with their spouse the next day. However, the same was not true when husbands had insomnia, according to a study in the journal, Sleep. Although getting enough rest may be a relationship booster, sleep tends to fall to the bottom of your to-do list when you have emails to answer, a family to care for, laundry to do, and exercise to fit into your already-packed days. The next time you're tempted to relax by turning on Jimmy Fallon, slip between the sheets instead - your health and marriage will benefit.
Talking about everything
Open communication is key to a healthy marriage, but there's such a thing as being too forthcoming. "In a relationship, persistently bringing up little issues that probably don't need discussion actually leads to bigger issues," says Melissa Tovaas, 33, of Los Angeles. "I found myself constantly nitpicking my husband, asking him things such as, 'Why do you have to leave your shoes there?' or 'Why aren't you helping me with this right now versus looking up an actor's name that you couldn't remember?' Recently, I decided to stop bugging him about every little thing he does wrong, and instead started to focus on correcting my own nitpicking tendency. Now we both seem happier, and my husband is helping to get my son ready for school without me having to ask!"
Related: 50 Fun, Cheap Date Ideas
Lying about purchases
Maybe you found a killer sale and ended up going over your budget. If you're tempted to hide the bags in your car and downplay the amount you charged in order to prevent a fight, know that you're only driving distance between you and your partner. "The child in you may worry that you are going to get in trouble, but by lying about it, you're putting your husband in an authoritative role rather than acting like you're in a balanced partnership, which will eventually destroy intimacy," says Dr. Fleming.
Paying more attention to your kids than your husband
"Parents often end up focusing all of their extra energy on their children, and tackle child-rearing duties separately," says Dr. Fleming. "If you're constantly taking turns picking kids up from soccer practice or reading to them before they go to bed, you're putting more emphasis on the relationship you have with your child while losing touch with your marriage relationship. That can be destructive long-term because intimacy requires time and attention."
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