Opinion: Long-Term Relationships Don't End Due To A Catastrophic Event

Stacy Ann

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“I can order takeout now, so 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 minor 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.

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 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 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 a strong foundation.

Settling for breadcrumbs/less than an equal partnership

Jane attempts to silence the little voice in her head, saying that her relationship is unhealthy.

Jane and her boyfriend, Brad, both have full-time work jobs. However, Jane is responsible for making all the plans, cooking, cleaning, and initiating any intimacy between them. Although they are unequal, she keeps telling herself that things will get better and 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 pourings, 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.

He gets up no matter what they have done the night before or their plans (if it’s early). 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.

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 long and painful. Our nature is to want to be desired and appreciated, and not making time for those special moments will harm your relationship.

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, but then I 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.

Real life plays out very differently.

In real life, the kids take priority, the dishes pile up, deadlines are around every corner, and we take from for granted instead of prioritizing and cherishing our partner.

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 and stop communicating, and the little cracks eventually add to irreparable ones.

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