How to Ruin Your Relationship (Or, at the Very Least, Make Things Worse)

How To Ruin Your Relationship

I know, catchy title, eh? It is not a trick, however – I absolutely intend to tell you how to ruin your relationship.

You see, for some reason, people always come to me for advice. More specifically, people come to me for relationship advice. And, I want to laugh at them. Loudly. In the last ten years I have had a failed marriage, a really (really) rocky start to a second marriage, and a serious relationship (which ended horribly) in between.

I don’t have a clue how to have a happy marriage. And, you know what? Most other couples don’t have a clue, either.

So I’m going to give you some real, raw advice, based upon my personal experience, on what doesn’t work.

And here we have it – How to ruin your relationship:

1. Take marital advice from your friends, or family.

Everyone on the planet will want to give you advice and tell you how to make things work but, truth is, you have to discover what works for you and your partner.

I can tell you right now that what works for our parents doesn’t work for us. What works for us wouldn’t work for most of my friends. While we all want to have happy relationships, our definitions of a happy relationship generally differ greatly. Different strokes for different folks. Relationships are the same way.

2. Surround yourself with unhappy people. 

This one took me a long, LONG time to figure out. If all your friends do is complain about their marriages or husbands, talk about divorce, or have escape plans and divorce countdowns, it will be relatively hard for you to focus on the happy parts of your own marriage. This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with those people and it doesn’t mean their issues aren’t real – all relationships have problems now and again… but if you have a hard time recalling the last time your friend said or did something positively about or toward their significant other (in your presence, not just on Fakebook!),think about finding some legitimately happy, positive couples to hang out with now and then. Or, don’t. Misery loves company?

3. Tell your problems to the world – especially ^^ those friends. 

Negativity breeds negativity and, the more women get together and talk about how miserable they all are in their relationships, the more miserable they will be. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your problems at all, though. I have a handful of friends whom I have no problems venting to, and one friend that I know I can message, even in the middle of the night, with often ridiculous complaints or rants. She’s my person. Everyone needs a person. The entire world, your in-laws or parents, and your Fakebook Newsfeed are not your person.

Another negative side to telling your problems to the world is, as I quickly learned, they’re not as quick to forgive as you are. You get to spend lots of time with your partner to kiss and make up. They (either fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it) do not. So, months later when you’re celebrating your anniversary or gushing over something your other half did, you’ll find your friends and family still holding a grudge about whatever it was you were blabbing about three months prior. (Sidenote: My person doesn’t hold grudges against people for things not directly related to her. She only wants to strangle him when I want to strangle him. This is why she’s my person.  <3 )

And, speaking of grudges:

4. Hold on to Grudges

Remember yesterday when he/she made that completely insensitive comment that almost made you cry? Be mad about it. Stay mad about it. Hold on to all the little (or, sometimes big) things that irk you, like when the trash doesn’t get taken out, an anniversary is missed, or you find yourself upset for whatever reason. Holding onto grudges makes other little nuances even more irritating and you can just start a whole pile of grudges. You know what happens to piles of grudges? They explode. And, that’s a lot of fun.

5. Don’t Communicate

This is something VagabondHusband and I struggle with on a regular basis. Just last week, we had an awesome middle of the night conversation that lasted nearly two hours. At some point, I said something and he responded with ‘Honey, I don’t know what you want unless you tell me.’ Not five minutes later he said something and I said ‘Honey, I don’t know how you feel unless you tell me.’

No brainer, there. It really doesn’t seem like a no brainer, though,  when you’re upset because your other half hasn’t stopped to ask how your day was, has stopped being as affectionate or (the holy grail of relationship arguments) hasn’t initiated intimacy in for.ever.
But, if you want to make things worse, don’t tell them what you want. Don’t tell them that it’s bothering you. Then, you’ll stew over it so much that you’ll start to miss or forget when they actually do these things. And that, my friends, leads to:

6. Circular Arguments

Circular arguing is something that, in my previous relationships, I mastered. Instead of talking about how to make things work, we’d just talk about how we felt and how we’d been inconvenienced or hurt. Then, the other person would take a turn about how they felt, and how they had been inconvenienced and hurt. Then, we’d defend ourselves. Then, we’d argue about whether or not their defense was substantial and insist that our feelings were valid. A lot of times, we’d spend hours talking about grudges that had piled up (see explosion, #4), and debating whether or not they had actually been doing the things we were so upset about while we were too upset to notice (see number 5). Circular arguments = extremely productive for helping a relationship not work. 

7. Don’t Have Sex. 

I originally thought this was a ‘me’ thing but, after surveying my female friends, I discovered that the stereotypes really just aren’t true. Women want sex. Men want sex. People in relationships? Want sex. Want to ruin the relationship? Don’t do it. If you don’t have sex, you won’t have a reason to fall asleep with a smile on your face. If you don’t have sex, you won’t have a reason to wink at each other as you’re making coffee or heading out the door the next morning. If you don’t have sex, you might not continue to physically desire your partner and will, as a result, continue the pattern of not having sex. So just, don’t do it – especially if you’re not getting along, or are just too tired.

8. Focus On Your Partner’s Faults

She is a horrible housekeeper, and it irks you to no end. He looooooves his video games, and all you want is a real conversation. She has a tendency to be negative about herself. He has a tendency to come home too tired for sex, every night (see number 7). All perfectly good reasons to be irritated with someone, really. So, focus on those. Forget that she chases the kids all day (or works, or goes to school – whichever), cooks a great dinner, and wears your favorite team jersey for luck even though she hates sports. Forget that he works 40+ hours a week at a job he hates, holds you as he falls asleep, and brings you coffee in the morning when you’re grumpy. Forget all the positives – focus on the faults. Much easier to make a good relationship a bad one when you focus on what’s bad.

9. Only Think About Yourself

This one’s a biggie. When you’re upset about something, don’t consider the other person’s feelings in the situation. Don’t consider how what you’re doing might affect them. Don’t think about how they might be hurting or frustrated. And definitely, do not under any circumstance, do little things to make them smile or brighten their day. 

10. Be a Negative Nancy

Instead of focusing on how to make your relationship work, focus on the times it sucks. Or, instead of focusing on the times you, or life, are great, focus on when you’re not. Remind your other half, often, of your opinion that you’re overweight, unattractive, unintelligent, or whatever other negative fault upon which you have a habit of focusing. Always see the glass half empty when it comes to mounting bills, job problems, etc. The VagabondHusband says I need to add something about money in this post, so I’ll add it here – focusing on having money, or not having money? Also, a quick way to ruin a relationship. Because, you know…how broke (or not broke) you are now will absolutely matter in twenty years when things could be completely different.

So there you have it – 10 ways to Ruin Your Relationship.
Obviously, this is intended to, for the most part, be sarcastic and funny. In reality, though, I did many of those things in my early adulthood (and some well into my marriage with VagabondHusband), and they really are draining on relationships. So, you know…don’t do them.

Now, we’re all human and we’re going to do them from time to time, but I think they key is to make an active effort to improve and become a better couple, together. VagabondHusband and I have been through hell and back over the past almost-three-years and, if you’d like to know how we’re still standing, this blog post from Today’s Letters provided a lot of useful tips that we’ve incorporated over the past few months.

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