By Erika Townsend
We are all creatures of habit. First, there is a cue that triggers a certain behavior. Then the behavior becomes a routine. Finally, the routine becomes a habit. While it may be a foreign concept to us, the habits that we form in a relationship steer the course of our relationships. The longer that couples are together, the more they become set in their ways. These healthy and unhealthy behaviors can have a vital impact on a relationship without either partner being aware of the real issues at hand. While a mate may feel that something is missing or the relationship is just not right for them, it may just be that some bad patterns have formed that need to be corrected. On the other hand, someone may have consciously made a bad decision that has prompted behaviors that are unhealthy for them.
In the first instance, we may be unaware of the triggers that are prompting issues in our relationships. For example, your partner may shut down when it comes to financial discussions. While the partner may think that their mate is purposely behaving inappropriately, the trigger may not be them or even related to the day’s argument. The trigger could be an old argument about money, either with you or someone else. It could be the person’s tone of voice or even fear of disappointing a partner. The point is that some triggers have little to do with the situation at hand and are automatic responses that we unconsciously process.
In the second instance, we may have consciously made a bad decision that has led to habitual bad behaviors that we can’t seem to control. This could be an extramarital affair or a habit of manipulating our partner to get what we want. The flesh is satisfied, yet our emotions and mental stability have been altered. The lies we tell ourselves become truths and we delve into uncontrollable behavior. Though we may regret it, we don’t know how to change the situation.
The first thing to do when altering habits and routines is to identify the triggers that are causing unhealthy behaviors. This may mean you, as a partner, have to point out some triggers that you see that provoke unwanted behaviors. This may also require some inner dialogue as well. Habits are not formed overnight, and it may take some time to discover the real issues. Once the triggers or cues have been identified, it is important to change the circumstance of a given situation in the future to prevent unwanted behaviors. As Albert Einstein is famously quoted, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Again, it is important to give yourself some time and expect setbacks. This said; don’t let the challenge discourage you. Once the behavior is changed, avoid those triggers that will enable automatic behaviors that are unhealthy for you. As Andrew Carnegie put it best, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”