8 Sure-Fire Ways to Ruin Your Relationship

Relationship Problems

Did you know that having good relationships can help you be healthier and happier—and even live longer? It’s true! In addition to how great it feels to be in a positive, warm, and satisfying relationship with another person, it’s actually helpful to your brain and body as you age. Conversely, people who are in unhealthy relationships filled with conflict and stress can become more vulnerable to sickness and earlier death.


Having a positive, warm, and satisfying relationship helps your brain and body stay healthier as you age; however, being in a relationship filled with stress and conflict can make you more vulnerable to sickness and an earlier death. Click To Tweet

Couples who are having trouble but want to stay together must be willing to examine their relationship problems together. If you’ve got issues, there are a number of things you and your significant other can learn to do to relate better to each other. At the same time, there are notably destructive things people do—and sometimes without much awareness—that can erode the health of any relationship. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

8 Relationship Problems and 8 Solutions for Them

Here are 8 common problems—things NOT to do—that sabotage marriages along with 8 solutions for strengthening the health and happiness of your relationship:

  1. PROBLEM: You blame your spouse/partner for all the problems in your relationship. By doing this, you fail to take ownership of your behavior and role in conflicts. Remember, it takes two to tango.

SOLUTION: Responsibility is your ability to respond to whatever situation you are in. Taking responsibility for your own words and actions empowers you to identify your contribution to the issues and take steps to change your behavior.

  1. PROBLEM: You are insensitive toward your significant other. When you are dismissive of how your partner feels, it sends the message that you really don’t care about anyone but yourself, except to the extent that what he or she needs/feels/etc. doesn’t inconvenience you.

SOLUTION: Empathy is something you can learn to develop and can enable you to have closer relationships with others. Get outside of yourself by imagining what it’s like to “walk in someone else’s shoes” and start treating others the way in which you want to be treated. Practice will make progress!

  1. PROBLEM: You lack good communication skills and tend to jump to conclusions, always must be right, or use put-downs rather than engage in meaningful conversation with your partner. When this is the case, it’s no wonder every conversation ends in a stalemate!

SOLUTION: Listen when your spouse is talking, instead of thinking about your response before he/she has finished. Pay attention to what they are actually saying and reflect it back to them. Saying something as simple as, “I heard you say [……]—Is that what you meant?” can convey that what they have to say is important to you and their needs matter.

  1. PROBLEM: You don’t say what you mean and let others run over you. For example, saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” is a set up for resentment and diminishes your sense of personal power. When you acquiesce to your significant other in order to avoid conflict or because his/her anger makes you uncomfortable, you are teaching them how to treat—and control—you.

SOLUTION: Assertiveness, in an appropriate way, is about being firm but kind. It isn’t about being aggressive. When you say what you mean and stick up for yourself, it garners greater respect and demonstrates better relationship balance.

  1. PROBLEM: You have a busy life, and your spouse is not a priority. You tend to focus more on your kids, job, friends, chores, emails, etc. much more so than your partner. This sends the message that they really don’t matter that much to you. In turn, they are likely to reciprocate the behavior to make up for the lack of connection—or possibly turn elsewhere to get their needs met.

SOLUTION: Time—actual physical time—spent together is necessary for any successful relationship. There’s no getting around this. Making an effort to have focused one-on-one time without distractions is imperative for maintaining a healthy connection to one another.

  1. PROBLEM: You let your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) have their way in your brain. We have thousands of thoughts every day, some positive and some negative, and not all of them are based on reality. Sometimes your thoughts tell you lies about your significant other, but you believe them anyway.

SOLUTION: Inquiring about the ANTs that are causing you distress—rather than accepting them at face value—can help you do some reality testing on them. For example, if one of your ANTs is that your spouse never listens to you, ask yourself if that is 100% true. Really think about it and write down the times he or she actually did listen. Don’t forget, ANTs can lie and cause you unnecessary suffering.

  1. PROBLEM: You pay more attention to what you don’t like about your partner, than what you do like. Perhaps you are critical and make them feel miserable when you don’t get your way. This type of behavior is relationship doom, not to mention it can adversely affect your partner’s self-esteem and sense of value.

SOLUTION: Noticing more of what you like about your loved one and their behavior, rather than what you don’t like, is called positive reinforcement and is likely to encourage more of the things you do like. Relationships with at least 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction are likely to be happier over time.

  1. PROBLEM: You stubbornly cling to grudges and hurts—even small incidental ones. You refuse to forgive your mate despite honest apologies. Did you know that holding onto transgressions in this way elevates your stress hormones, which in turn can adversely impact your mood, immune system, and overall health?

SOLUTION: Grace is a universal form of forgiveness. By forgiving your spouse, you aren’t letting them off the hook or condoning their bad behavior. Instead, it is about creating some peace inside of yourself despite the painful thing that happened. And although you likely wish that whatever it was had not happened, you cannot change the past. Through the process of forgiveness, you can release that incident’s control over you and how you feel.


Together, the 8 solutions provided above are part of the easy-to-remember acronym: RELATING. By following the recommendations for each item, you can learn to connect, communicate, appreciate, and love your partner better. And by practicing these important tools, it’s possible for you and your spouse or significant other to avoid ruining what might otherwise be a good and meaningful relationship—one that both of you want to be able to cherish in the years to come.

Relationship problems can be caused by undiagnosed mental health issues. During this time of uncertainty, your relationships and mental well-being are more important than ever.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. 9. PROBLEM: Try to be helpful and send this article to your spouse.
    SOLUTION: Keep it to yourself and take the advice 😉

    Comment by Fred Hubler — May 12, 2021 @ 3:24 AM

  2. A most powerful and insightful analysis of good relationships . A good reminder to all to be mindful in thoughts, words and deeds. I am most grateful to Dr Amen and his work.

    Comment by Debra Morse — May 12, 2021 @ 5:01 AM

  3. Thank you!

    Comment by Edith Foley — May 12, 2021 @ 6:24 AM

  4. Does your Mental Telehealth take Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance?

    Comment by Nicole — May 12, 2021 @ 6:42 AM

  5. A good read whether you have big partner issues or not. It serves as a great reminder AND I like the acronym! An easy way to reassess regularly.

    Comment by Sharlene Bourdon — May 12, 2021 @ 7:40 AM

  6. Hello Nicole. Amen Clinics is an out-of-network provider and we do not bill insurance. We do provide a superbill containing applicable diagnosis and billing codes, which can be submitted to insurance companies for possible reimbursement. Our doctors and therapists are not affiliated with any insurance plans or networks. Please check with your insurance provider for any mental health benefits. For additional information regarding your pricing, insurance, and financing options, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 12, 2021 @ 8:56 AM

  7. I am interest to have great communication.

    Comment by eunsil lee — May 12, 2021 @ 9:00 AM

  8. Just what I need now when I am making tough times with my husband because I am dealing with kind of unworthiness feelings. So I am very careful now to respect myself through him. Thank you Dr. Amen. I will work out my own issues first.

    Comment by Ismenia — May 12, 2021 @ 9:21 AM

  9. Number 8
    Holding on to old grudges and hurts
    I struggle with this, He just acts like it’s nothing to talk bad to me, now after 36 years I’m fed up , and now he’s the victim smh

    Comment by Jodi Shanahan — May 12, 2021 @ 9:44 AM

  10. Good one Fred Hubler🤗. In some cases, not all, when you make changes in how you relate to someone important to you, you may notice that person makes changes also.

    Comment by Maxine Phillips — May 12, 2021 @ 9:55 AM

  11. These are so on point. At least 5 are a constant problem. I’m not sure my husband would think any of these relate to him though. If the sun didn’t come up tomorrow, he’d probably ask me what I did to make that happen.🤔

    Comment by Tina Wade-Lucas — May 12, 2021 @ 12:28 PM

  12. The comment #9, send it to spouse was funny – she’s already left me. We have ZERO talking, she will not respond. She knew this pkg was coming in, and I DO want to send it to her.

    Comment by AW — May 12, 2021 @ 1:38 PM

  13. Sometimes it does take “Two to Tango” but it only takes one sociopath to traumatize an entire family…

    Comment by JOANNA MARSHALL — May 12, 2021 @ 2:37 PM

  14. Spot on! We can all learn. By improving own behaviour we add to the relation

    Comment by Marianne Sandberg — May 12, 2021 @ 3:42 PM

  15. Yes, Maxine Phillips, for the first 9 years of our marriage I practiced Problem #1 with predictable results. Then, after transitioning to the recommended solution, the next 18 years have gotten progressively better. Good advice has no shelf life even if it does slip our mind from time to time.

    Comment by Fred Hubler — May 13, 2021 @ 9:01 AM

  16. Great, practical article – EXCEPT – unfortunately, the majority of males (and some females) were brought up by mothers who coddled/worshipped their “little man” and thus, I agree 1000% with Tina (“If the sun didn’t come up tomorrow, he’d probably ask me what I did to make that happen.”). LOL! Every relationship comes down to personal, emotional maturity and most males (and some overly pampered females) have not been taught that THEY need to be “grown ups”. At some point, you just have to IGNORE them ALWAYS blaming you for EVERYTHING and just put it in God’s hands and go on with YOUR life. For self-care, IMPORTANT to remember that NOT every relationship can – or should – be fixed.

    Comment by Adrianna — May 13, 2021 @ 1:26 PM

  17. Amen, Joanna Marshall!
    Or, 1 ADD/ Narcissist😔😶
    22 years later, and after a lot of confusion, stress, and turmoil/ anguish, and 2 separations … I’m spent🤕😔

    Comment by RM — May 14, 2021 @ 9:03 AM

  18. So true. I have made so many mistakes in the past by thinking I was listening. As I look back I was only waiting for my turn to speak and make my point. Not being a good listener has been one of my greatest challenges. Today I have made a concerted effort to Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen. One of my better choices with regard to all my relationships are:
    Do my best not to go to bed angry.
    Do not start my sentence with “You Never” or “You Always”
    Look for the good in others I find good in myself.
    Do my best not to Judge and leave my opinion to myself unless asked.

    Comment by Tony L Burse — May 14, 2021 @ 4:46 PM

  19. I would say every one of these issues is present in my marriage to some extent. I’m presently in counseling and trying to change some things, it’s a long hard road in which I could veer in different directions. Some people are just not capable of taking true, honest responsibility . But I would say the biggest mistake most couples do is wait too long to take action. Thank you for a great summary of major relationship pitfalls! Good luck to everyone trying to find peace and happiness in their relationships .

    Comment by Janlynn — May 15, 2021 @ 8:17 AM

  20. All this is really good concepts and advices and i agree. There is something to say regarding persons who have been hurt in their self esteem so much that pointing out a mistake starts a war … they just can’t apologize without feeling less than nothing, it just have to be someone else fault, not theirs. That’s when i rely on Jesus that didn’t return the offense when offended, to help me cope by my faith in Him, with the hurt i have and he helps me forgive even though i don’t get an apology. I need A LOT of help from HIm.

    Comment by Pierre — May 24, 2021 @ 9:17 PM

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