4 Habits That Will Ruin Your Relationship

4 Habits That Will Ruin Your Relationship

According to a guy famous for his ability to predict with 98% certainty whether a couple would divorce.
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February is finally here — aka the time of year when it’s perfectly acceptable to eat an excessive amount of See’s Candies Dark Chocolate Nuts & Chews. Who’s with me?

With the passing of Valentine’s Day, and whether the holiday finds you single as a pringle, or booking a dinner date with bae, the pops of pink and roses red invading grocery stores, Instagram feeds, and advertisements all around are unavoidable.

I'm with those of you in the first category but either way, celebrating the love in our lives doesn't have to be limited to significant others. The holiday of hearts doesn't have to be about what we do or do not have all — but rather a celebration of what we do. This exact day in my life, I only get to live once, and I get to decide how I’m going to live it. Same goes for February 14, and this entire month of love.

Today, I choose gratitude.

Today, I’m thankful for my family and friends, ones who are there in the moments it matters most, and who support me without wavering. I’m thankful for mentors and leaders who walk with and pour into me, each leaving a distinct impression on the person I’m becoming.

Thankfulness is trendy to talk about in November, but it’s applicable the other eleven months as well. We all have things we’re waiting on, whether it be a relationship, career breakthrough, or positive pregnancy test. The longings we feel are real, but so are the blessings we already have — and without gratitude, we run the risk of missing them.

I write this to hold myself accountable more than anything, because I’m far too good on focusing on what I don’t have, rather than what I do. But I want to be a better steward of the blessings God has given me. Specifically, I want to continually learn to love the people I do have in my life better — which brings me to the topic of this post.

As I mentioned here, I’m starting to share more of the resources that challenge and inspire me on the Books + Pretty Words section of my blog. Today, I’m sharing one I discovered in a communication studies class in college, called the Four Horseman of relationships. This metaphor depicting the end times was developed by Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus in psychology. Gottman is famous for being able to predict with 98% certainty whether or not a couple will divorce. He bases his predictions on whether or not certain habits are present in relationships — key word being habit. Truth is, we’re human and all of these will occur in most relationships at one time or another, but their habitual presence is when Gottman would classify them as a Horseman — a signal that the relationship was likely to have an end date.

Gottman’s research was centered on his work with married couples, but the principles he discovered are applicable to any relationship, hence why we were studying them in a communication class. I don’t think these habits often come up with acquaintances or even good friends we don’t see often. I think they manifest themselves most in the roommate, family, and spouse relationships — people we’re with day in and day out, who are often exposed to our worst. As I was writing this, I tried to think not of times when others, but I myself have had tendencies towards these habits. I challenge you to do the same as you read! Below are the Four Horsemen — four habits that will ruin a relationship.

1. Criticism

Rather than constructively pointing out something that bothered you, criticism is an attack on the person. For example, a complaint would be, “I feel like I’m left to do most of the cleaning on my own. I thought we had agreed to share this responsibility?” Criticism would accuse, “You never do any of cleaning; I always have to do it myself. You’re a lazy, ungrateful slob.” One is a statement on the person’s behavior, whereas the other is shame-driven, and it’s a statement on who they are.

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” - Brené Brown

2. Contempt

This is basically mean-heartedness. As Gottman says, “Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about a person, which come to a head in the perpetrator attacking the accused from a position of relative superiority. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.” This can be mocking with sarcasm, name-calling, eye-rolling. Contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce according to Gottman’s work, and he even found contemptuous couples to have weaker immune systems.

3. Defensiveness

Defensiveness is the grappling for excuses when we feel accused, in an attempt to get the accuser to back off. It’s a way of shifting the blame rather than owning it, and it corrodes the opportunity to deal with conflict in a healthy way. It’s often rooted in the mistaken belief that “if I own my bad behavior, it means I myself am bad.”

4. Stonewalling

This is when one person completely checks out, and it’s often a compounded response to being overwhelmed with the first three horsemen. It’s when you see someone completely unresponsive, even in the face of a highly upset or angry partner. Rather than confronting the issues, stonewalling, according to Gottman, “is when we make evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive behaviors.”

Discovering these habits doesn't have to mean doom, it can simply be an opportunity to prompt change. What do you think? Did any of these "Horsemen" surprise you? What habits have you found to be detrimental to relationships? Let me know in the comments!

Cover Image Credit: kacinicole.com

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Who Should Pay On The First Date?

Let's settle this, once and for all.

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You would think, since it's already 2019, that people would have better first-date etiquette. Nope! I'm still baffled how many guys and girls alike still can't seem to wrap their heads around the basic rules and expectations of the dreaded first date.

I should add that these rules should also apply to second and third dates, and so on unless you and your partner come up with another mutual agreement!

I cannot put this any more simply: WHOEVER ASKS THE OTHER OUT ON THE DATE IS PAYING. Plain and simple. Ladies and gentlemen, if you ask a girl or guy out on a date, you are offering to pay! Now, let me follow this up by saying that you must clarify that it is a date for this rule to apply! Ladies, don't get offended if a guy asks you to meet up at Starbucks to study and he doesn't pay for your coffee! However, if your date asks you out, takes you to a nice restaurant, or even McDonalds, and you are on what is very clearly a romantic date, and they ask if it's cool to split the check at the end of the meal? It's done. Over. Chivalry cannot already be dead, people!

There is an easy solution for those who are asking someone else out, but who don't want to pick up the tab: let them know beforehand! When you text or call to ask them out, just ask and see if they're cool with splitting the check! I get it, it could be a little awkward, but if you're really interested in someone, who you could see yourself going on a second date with, don't hit them with the "separate checks, please," when the waiter comes to your table after the meal!

Another first date mistake I have heard about people making before: not bringing money or any form of payment to the date so that the other person is forced to pay. First of all, there are so many things wrong with that. For one thing, the person you're meeting might do the same, and then you're both in trouble when neither of you can pick up the tab at the end of your date! Secondly, unless your date has assured you beforehand that they're going to pay, not bringing cash or a card because you're expecting your date to pay is so incredibly rude!

On the other hand, I do have to address those who do ask someone out and then refuse to pay at the end of the meal. I just have one question, really: WHY?? I can sort of understand if it's a girl who asks a guy out and doesn't realize she might be expected to pay since most women have been raised to expect any man they see to pay for everything on a date. However, to any guy currently alive in the 21st century who asks a girl out on a proper date to a nice restaurant then doesn't pick up the tab, he's fooling himself. However, as I wrote before, if you know that you can't or won't pick up the tab before the date, then just let your date know before you meet up, so they're not caught off-guard, possibly without any way to pay!

To wrap all these rules up, just don't expect the other person to pick up the whole tab, no matter what, and give someone the benefit of the doubt when they can't or don't pay for your meal! It all comes down to common courtesy, respect, and understanding, so next time you go on a date, do your best to extend these to the person you're seeing!

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