How an Intimate Partner Can Sabotage Relationship Rehabilitation – Psychology Today

Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows that they will face challenges as they spend more time together. The potential for your relationship to thrive, survive, or end will depend on the depth and frequency of these crises and the level of resilience of both partners.

They come to therapy when they realize they may need outside guidance and support. But this decision is usually initiated by one of the partners and rarely by both. Although the most resistant partner may seem fully engaged in the rehabilitation process in the therapeutic setting, they may behave very differently at home.

Learning to fully recommit to a relationship that is in emotional turmoil is not an easy process for anyone. There are layers of buried resentments and emotional scar tissue to deal with. And even though they both feel upset and angry when they first go in, the partner who initiated therapy is often more motivated to get things back on track than the partner in the process.

When therapists attempt to cooperate in letting go of negative behaviors and practice more successful relationship skills, they are usually able to identify the partner who verbalizes the intent to cooperate, but unconsciously sabotages the process outside of the therapeutic setting.

This partner, conflicted between making the changes they have agreed to and not being able to carry them out, may become increasingly uncomfortable heading into the next session. They have put energy into reducing their negative behaviors and have tried to perform the new skills. However, the relationship doesn’t seem to be improving, so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to continue.

If you are one of the people I have described, you may not know that you are sabotaging the rehabilitation process without even realizing what you are doing. Sincerely wanting the relationship to improve, but too upset internally to do what you should be doing, you have become inert, passive, and apathetic.

Here are the eight most common behaviors you’re likely to engage in that identify your unconscious sabotage of the therapeutic process.

Warning: You may have always behaved in one of these ways in these relationship behaviors, which could be part of why your relationship failed.

1. Delete

When trying to revitalize your relationship, you need to make your partner feel welcome after being apart for any length of time. But on the other hand, when your partner walks into the room and tries to make a connection with you and you ignore that offer, you’ll effectively wipe them out. Failure to acknowledge a person’s presence is a passive way of saying, “I don’t care if you’re here or not.” No matter what relationship skills you are practicing at the same time, this behavior will eradicate their effectiveness.

2. Absence of compliments

Unfortunately, it’s much more common for established couples to “think compliments” but often don’t vocalize them. But when a relationship is in trouble, both partners must commit to consciously expressing what they still love and care about in the other. Have you actually decreased your praise of your partner, avoiding any sign of appreciation?

3. Concern

While this behavior can have the same effect as erasure, it places the blame more directly on the other partner. When your partner tries to connect with you, you are visibly irritated by their “insensitivity” to what you do when you are “interrupted”. Your partner is supposed to feel like it’s their fault for bothering you when you care about something so important to you. They’re “pulling you out” or “keeping you out of something they’re invested in.” “Why can’t you see I’m busy and wait until I finish what I’m doing?” Yes, a thinly veiled dismissal that is used in a subtle way to leave the other out.

4. Decreased tracking

Couples in rehabilitation need to show a greater interest in those their partners are away from them, especially in difficult situations such as illness, work problems, or problems with family members. Have you stopped showing interest in your partner’s world outside of you? Do you forget important things like doctor’s appointments or a constant nag with a friend or family member? You’re really silently saying, “You’re lonely when we’re not together.”

5. Primetime Energy When Away

This behavior is quite indisputable. You’re lying on the couch or watching TV, relatively muted and uninvolved. Then a friend calls with an invitation to do something with you, and instantly you’re alive, excited, and ready to re-enter the world as a willing participant. Are you spending more and more energy and enthusiasm away from your primary relationship and obviously not fully present or interested at home? One drop with your partner and magically transported out of the relationship.

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6. “Forgotten” agreements.

Your vows were sacred to both of you in the past. Either you kept your word or you renegotiated, but you rarely followed through. But now you are clearly different. When faced with forgetting agreements, you now react by blaming your partner and defending your excuses. “You’re just trying to make me look bad. I’m trying so hard, and I’m bound to slip.” You’re not just “forgetting.” You knew you weren’t going to date, but you didn’t want to deal with it because you didn’t want to.

7. Flipping Blame

Before you started therapy, there were times when you had to struggle with uneven appetites in many areas and make compromises for greater success. Now, in the midst of relationship rehab, you’re suddenly and constantly telling your partner that they’re “asking too much” and that they can’t see that “you’re doing the best they can.” Even if you have been much fairer in the past. You’d rather blame your partner for being unreasonable than face the fact that you’re the one holding it back.

8. Avoid intimate contact

This is another irrefutable and obvious behavior change. Compare how spontaneously affectionate he was before therapy, even if it was only occasionally or as a prelude to sex. Therapy makes people more vulnerable and open to being hurt. If you feel like you want more closeness but at the same time fear it, you may have put up a wall to intimate connection.

To find a therapist, visit Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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