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4 Not-Obvious Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble

4 Not-Obvious Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble

Unfortunately, there’s no alarm that magically signals the start of relationship problems. Usually, problems creep up on a couple, affecting their lives in ways that seemingly have little to do with the relationship.

After several exchanges where he feels disrespected by his wife, a husband may suddenly begin to find reasons to spend more and more time at work. A wife, feeling lonely and unimportant, may begin to have a short fuse with the kids and her husband. And this hypothetical couple may have no idea their workaholic or irritable tendencies actually stem from their relationship problems.

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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to detect relationship problems before they do lasting damage to your life, your well-being, or your relationship itself?

Relationship researcher, John Gottman, investigated just that by observing and comparing patterns of behavior in happy vs. unhappy couples. He came up with four behaviors which he dubbed, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” and concluded these are the behaviors that best predict deterioration of relationships. Here are Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, AKA “four not-obvious signs your relationship is in trouble.”

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1. You criticize

Criticism is a destructive relationship habit. Criticism means putting down your partner’s character or behavior. Instead of criticism, healthy couples explain how they feel and make direct requests. In healthy couples, critical comments such as,  “You never do the dishes,”  are replaced with I-statements and direct requests such as, “I feel overwhelmed when I come home to a messy kitchen. Could you please put your dishes in the dishwasher before I get home?” If you want to rid your relationship of criticism, practice beginning your statements with, “I feel…” and then ask your partner for what you want directly.

2. You hold contempt

Contempt is any form of disrespect or ridicule. It can be name-calling, belittling, sarcasm or any other communication meant to show disgust, disregard or disdain. According to Gottman, contempt is the single biggest predictor of divorce. Healthy couples think in terms of other-appreciation and self-responsibility, and are able to truly validate and empathize with another person. If you want to rid your relationship of contempt, these mindsets and skills do much to fight off the second horseman.

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3. You are defensive

Defensiveness is exactly as it sounds: Automatically defending your position. This occurs at the expense of understanding or validating the other person’s position, and is usually a trigger for the other person to also become defensive. Examples of defensiveness are making excuses for your behavior, changing the subject to what your partner did wrong, and justifying your behavior. Instead of being defensive, healthy couples practice daring to see the others’ statements as understandable and true according to their partners’ perspective.

4. You stonewall

“Stonewalling” is withdrawing from the conversation or from the relationship for the sake of avoiding conflict. This could occur in the form of “the silent treatment,” walking away, leaving the house, refusing to talk, or nonsensical mutterings. The solution to “stonewalling” is self-awareness and self-control to indicate that you are too upset to speak constructively, but would be willing to come back to the conversation after a given amount of cool-down time (20 minutes to a few hours). Thus, there is no avoiding the topic or the relationship partner. A relationship without stonewalling is a relationship in which problems and conversations are addressed instead of being swept under the rug or ignored.

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If any of these signs sound like a habit of yours or your partner, the good news is, researchers have found couples are able to change these habits with guidance and practice. Couples counseling may be a helpful way to learn and practice alternative communication strategies if you notice any of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” trampling over your relationship.

Featured photo credit: taliesin via http

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Last Updated on May 17, 2019

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

The pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

But do you know the biggest obstacle for most people trying to achieve their goals, the silent dream killer that stops people before they ever even get started? That obstacle is the comfort zone, and getting stuck there is bound to derail any efforts you make towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you want to achieve those goals, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at how your life will change once you build up the courage to leave your comfort zone.

What Is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone is defined as “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”

What stands out to me the most about that definition is the last part: “using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.” How many successful people do you know who deliver a steady level of performance?

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The goal in life is to continually challenge yourself, and continually improve yourself. And in order to do that, you have move out of your comfort zone. But once you do, your life will start to change in ways you could never have imagined. I know because it’s happening right now in my own life.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You will be scared

Leaving your comfort zone isn’t easy. In fact, in can be downright terrifying at times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little trepidation when you’re embarking on a journey that forces you to try new things.

So don’t freak out or get overwhelmed when you feel yourself getting a little scared. It’s perfectly normal and all part of the process. What’s important is that you don’t let that fear hold you back. You must continue to take action in the face of fear.

That’s what separates winners from losers.

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2. You will fail

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before, and learning things you’ve never learned before.

That steep learning curve means you’re not going to get everything right the first time, and you will eventually fail when you move out of your comfort zone. But as long as the failures aren’t catastrophic, it can actually be a good thing to fail because …

3. You will learn

Failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned more from each one of my failures than I have from each one of my successes. When you fail small, and fail often, you rapidly increase the rate at which you learn new insights and skills. And that new knowledge, if applied correctly, will eventually lead to your success.

4. You will see yourself in a different way

Once you move out of your comfort zone, you immediately prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving more than you thought was possible. And that will change the way you see yourself.

Moving forward, you’ll have more confidence in yourself whenever you step out of your comfort zone, and that increased confidence will make it more likely that you continue to step outside your comfort zone. And each time you do, you’ll prove to yourself again and again what you’re really capable of.

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5. Your peers will see you in a different way

Whether we want to admit or not, people judge other people. And right now, people view you in a certain way, and they have a certain idea of what you’re capable of. That’s because they’ve become accustomed to seeing you operate in your comfort zone.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you’ll prove to other people, as well, that you’re capable of much more than you’ve shown in the past.

The increased confidence other people place in you will bring about more opportunities than ever before.

6. Your comfort zone will expand

The good thing about the comfort zone is that it’s flexible and malleable. With each action you take outside of your comfort zone, it expands. And once you master that new skill or action, it eventually becomes part of your comfort zone.

This is great news for you because it means that you can constantly increase and improve upon the behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And the more tools and skills you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

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7. You will increase your concentration and focus

When you’re living inside of your comfort zone, the bulk of your actions are habitual: automatic, subconscious, and requiring limited focus.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you no longer rely on those habitual responses. You’re forced to concentrate and focus on the new action in a way you never do in your comfort zone.

8. You will develop new skills

Moving out of your comfort zone requires that you develop new skills. One of the many benefits you’ll experience is that you’ll be stepping away from the “limited set of behaviors” and start to develop your ability and expertise in new areas.

Living inside of your comfort zone only requires a limited skill set, and those skills won’t contribute much to your success. Once you can confidently step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, there’s no limit to how much you can achieve.

9. You will achieve more than before

With everything that happens once you move out of your comfort zone, you’re naturally going to achieve more than ever before.

Your increased concentration and focus will help you develop new skills. Those new skills will change the way you see yourself, encouraging you to step even further out of your comfort zone.

Featured photo credit: Josef Grunig via farm3.staticflickr.com

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