Relationships comprise most of our daily interactions with friends, family, and work colleagues. And sometimes relationships don't work as well as we would like them to.
Jay Shetty shares how some simple everyday mistakes can significantly impact our relationships. It is usually the accumulation of small things which can harm the other party. It’s not usually a single big thing that destroys a relationship.
Imagine a rock getting eroded by water over time. It is the same here. Likewise, the accumulation of experiences and mistakes creates an impact over time. The six most common mistakes listed here might seem insignificant by themselves, but added up, they become dealbreakers.
Overly Criticizing and Complaining
Jay Shetty invites the listener to think about their behavior in a relationship. Ponder how often you criticize your partner – is it monthly, weekly, or daily?
One needs to understand the difference between stating the obvious and talking about the person with a distinction between them and the issue. “I don't like this” vs. ‘”I don't like this about you.” It is easy to fall into the trap of confusing the person with the problem.
It is vital to make clear that the other person also existed before this trait developed. We also existed before this trait. When we are tough on our partners, we are, in fact, tough on ourselves. Criticizing them is us criticizing ourselves.
As Jay Shetty put it: “Often, the criticism that we share with our partners is being triggered from somewhere inside where we're unhappy with ourselves. The issues we notice in them are so often the issues we have within ourselves.”
A way to fix this problem is to evolve from criticism to complaint and eliminate the latter. For example, instead of telling them they are time wasters, useless, unfocused, or unorganized, tell them you don't like what is happening. The second step involves getting creative to move around the schedule, divide chores, etc., to avoid complaints.
Constant criticism chips away and weakens a relationship. You may think you are not saying it often or don't mean it in a mean way, but it is essential to realize they might take it otherwise. So before you criticize, rise to be constructive: what steps can you take to improve things and construct a better environment for both of you?
When Jokes Go Too Far
Using sarcasm or passive-aggressive comments to communicate how we feel is another mistake many make. Sometimes people use sarcasm to express what they don't want to say in a grown-up conversation. But, again, it is the feeling of trying to poke something deep inside or important to that person.
There is the so-called banter culture in the UK, where the tougher the jokes toward friends, the closer the relationship. It is easy to joke with friends because you only meet occasionally. However, in a romantic relationship, you should be able to laugh at yourself and each other without hidden meaning. Jay Shetty advises that you shouldn't communicate how you feel about the other person by joking at them.
Our partners get more triggered when we say something about them, unlike our friends or family, because they think we know them better than anyone else. Jay Shetty encouraged the listeners to observe how many sarcastic jokes they made during one week. You may be shocked how often you do this. To rectify your behavior, you must become consciously aware that this habit is part of your daily interactions.
When you are close to someone, you know what makes them uncomfortable. And “if you push that button, you are pushing them away,” Jay Shetty warns the listeners. When sarcasm relates to someone's vulnerability, it is very challenging for someone to take.
“Someone has been open with you and honest with you about what they're going through and what they're experiencing, and now you've used that against them.”
This is usually a response to the first two points: criticism and sarcasm.
“We become deflective, we become defensive, where we shut down, and we don't take any responsibility,” Jay Shetty explains.
In a healthy relationship, partners have to take responsibility for their actions. Often, people don't maturely accept their faults, but make comments such as “All right, I'm wrong. I'm wrong. I'm always wrong.” This behavior is not taking seriously the responsibility that one has.
Jay Shetty advises not to see things from a black and white perspective. Being defensive or deflective can have long-term negative consequences on your relationship. Your partner may think their feelings don't matter to you since you can't and aren't willing to take responsibility for your actions.
Disconnecting or Being Aloof
Becoming quiet or shutting down is one way people respond during a fight or a confrontation. It is not to be mistaken for the time when someone quiets down to think of a way to answer.
Jay Shetty describes how “some people like to shut down so they can switch off and think about it so that they can come back to it later with more stillness, more poise, more clarity.”
However, others might just disconnect when in an argument, letting time pass without doing anything about it. Then, when they return, they act like everything is back to normal. It is unhealthy because their partners will feel like they never get to share their feelings and emotions with them.
This frustration will accumulate when they can't share their feelings, and their big feelings will surface during a big argument. If you are the one to shut down and “forget about it,” don't assume they will do the same thing.
“Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean you have the same mind,” Jay Shetty explained.
Different individuals process events differently, and they might experience very different feelings caused by the same circumstance. What helps in cases where someone disconnects is to check in with them and ask them to discuss the topic at a later point in time. If they shut down and don't want to discuss the issue, mention how meaningful that conversation is to you.
According to Jay Shetty, you need to give them time and talk it out together when they are ready. However, if they disconnect during an argument and come back as if nothing happened, this will hurt the relationship in the long run.
Avoid Discussing the Relationship
A three year study showed that couples who watch movies about relationships and discuss them afterward are less than half as likely to get divorced than couples who don't1. Jay Shetty emphasized that learning from others' relationships, and reflecting on yours, is a healthy way of processing how you want to live yours. It helps to analyze and break down these movies to understand more about your relationship.
Sometimes, if you don't know how to start a conversation about relationships with your partner, a good icebreaker would be to bring up a movie or an episode of a show that involves the characters' relationship. Then use it as a starting point to discuss yours.
“Often, we don't realize that these simple things can have a massive impact because the art of discussion engages us. When we're talking about someone else, we can now finally talk about how we really feel,” Jay Shetty explained.
Listening to what our partner has to say without shutting them down or getting triggered by their words is crucial. We need to hear them out and understand their perspective on things. Try to follow their train of thought and engage in a discussion, even if you disagree on certain aspects.
Keeping these discussions healthy is vital. Don’t turn them into angry arguments simply because someone touched a nerve. Jay Shetty advises you to approach these conversations with an open mind and ear. You need to understand the more profound value hidden under a specific request of your partner.
See Your Partner As Your Coach
In today's world, we get into relationships to grow rather than experience comfort and stability. This mindset may feel like a burden for our partner because if we expect them to be coaches, this puts a lot of pressure on them.
It is essential to realize that your partner has a journey of their own ahead of them. As their companion, we need to think about how we can also support them on their journey in return, rather than expect only them to support us. This exchange builds an excellent foundation for a long-lasting relationship.
According to Jay Shetty, it is important to take time and have a look at your behavior. Try to count how many times you criticize your partner and observe how you react when a conflict arises. Do you disguise your dislikes as passive-aggressive comments, or do you shut off when your partner needs you to discuss an important issue? How much do you communicate in your relationship?
Being observant and working on improving your relationship can get you a long way and strengthen your bond.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Mistakes We Make in Relationships & 4 Ways to Make Them Right” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.