“I can order takeout now so that it’s ready when we get there to pick it up!”
Instead of trusting me to place the order, my fiance’ insisted on doing it himself. This was a common occurrence, and even though it seemed so trivial, I began to have a meltdown.
“Why do you try to take over every small task? How can we get married if you don’t loosen the reigns?”
Ultimately, the fight was not about ordering takeout. It was about the reality that there was a lack of communication and trust regarding task management. A seemingly small issue in our relationship needed to be dealt with, to avoid resentment down the road.
In a long-term relationship, it’s easy to assume that everything will be roses and romance forever. That isn’t the case, and many couples fall into ruts, routines, and habits that can ultimately end their relationship.
Here are five examples of the most common mistakes I observe in long-term relationships.
#1. Assuming that once you hit a particular milestone, things will be “more secure.”
The words that came out of my friend Janna’s mouth next were surprising but not entirely shocking.
“I don’t know if I should have gotten married.”
Janna had only been married to her husband, Rick, for a little over six months.
Before their marriage, there had been infidelity in the relationship. Even as close as a few weeks before the wedding, Janna mentioned that Rick felt like he still couldn’t trust her. That distrust didn’t disappear when they married, and their problems remained at the forefront of their union.
Often we believe that marriage, a baby, or an engagement will add security to our relationship. The truth is that those life steps usually only add stress and responsibility and you need to have a strong foundation.
#2. Settling for breadcrumbs/less than an equal partnership
Jane attempts to silence the little voice in the back of her head, saying that her relationship is not healthy.
Jane and her boyfriend Brad both work full-time jobs. Jane, however, is responsible for constantly making all the plans, doing all the cooking, all of the cleaning, and initiating any intimacy between them. Although they are not equal, she keeps telling herself that things will get better and that things always ebb and flow.
Imagine that you have a bucket in the center of your relationship.
You and your partner are pouring into the bucket to ensure that both parties contribute to the alleged partnership. If one person is doing all of the pouring, they are going to become exhausted.
#3. Letting romance fall entirely by the wayside
Every morning my best friend’s stepdad makes his wife a latte.
No matter what they have done the night before or what their plans are (if it’s early), he gets up. They have been married for over fifteen years, and not a day goes by where he doesn’t ensure his wife begins her day with a latte in hand.
Often I hear couples explain that there is no time for romance or that it’s entirely meant to be at the beginning of a relationship in the honeymoon phase.
A life without romance/kind gestures will be a long and painful one. Our nature is to want to be desired and appreciated, and not making time for those special moments will harm your relationship.
#4. Accepting that constant turmoil is normal
A couple in our mutual friend group had one of the most toxic relationships I have ever witnessed.
Every time they went out with friends, they would fight. Every time that they went out to dinner, they would fight. Every couple of weeks, they would break up, get back together, and act as if everything was normal even though we voiced how unhealthy they were together.
Eventually, they did break up, but it had been a solid two years of constant drama and fighting.
No relationship should be exhausting, challenging, and ridden with conflict every waking moment. Couples who believe this is normal either don’t understand what constitutes a healthy relationship or accept a lifetime of dysfunction.
#5. Believing that your partner is “lucky” to have you
Many years ago, I dated a great-looking guy, Chris, who I was beginning to worry about being ego-centric.
One night after a couple of glasses of wine, Chris said that I was lucky to be dating him because so many other women would hit on him.
“You’ve such got a catch, babe!”
At first, I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly, then realized that he was earnest. The power dynamic constantly felt as if it fell in Chris's favor, and I realized that it was because he felt more attractive and therefore didn’t have to give as much in the relationship.
Most relationships don’t end due to a catastrophic event
Movies and music would lead us to believe that most couples end their love with a bang, tears, and a dramatic exit.
Reality plays out very differently. In the day-to-day the kids take priority, the dishes pile up, deadlines are around every corner, and instead of prioritizing and cherishing our partner, we take from for granted.
The failed romances I have observed and been part of were usually not due to infidelity or a huge blowup.
The relationship usually ends because we grow distant, stop communication, and the little cracks eventually add up to the ones that are irreparable.