You’ve probably met couples in which one or both partners interrupt the other person in public. You might even be that couple! One partner’s tendency to interrupt can create significant marital difficulties. It is a “negative habit” in love.
Male heart rates do not rise as high as women’s during a marital conflict or stressful situation. Scientists Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ron Glaser found that conflict and stress in marriage not only increases women’s heart rates but also raises their stress hormones epinephrine and nor-epinephrine.Men’s “hearts,” literally, remain oblivious at times to the possible damage in their actions, including their interrupting.
Women often tend to mirror the public male behavior (interrupting, in this case) in private in more damaging passive-aggressive ways than they realize. By trading interrupting behavior back and forth in various settings, both lovers devalue one another. Over a period of years, it is difficult for this kind of relationship to work.
Below are 5 habits you can identify and work on right now! If you are involved in 3 or more of these – to a significant degree – your relationship might be at risk. Please be sure to answer all of the questions on this list twice—once for yourself (i.e. “look in the mirror at yourself”) – and then for your partner (i.e. gently assess your partner’s habits).
1. Interrupt your partner in public and/or private? Some interruption is normal between best friends, but do you do it too much?
2. Avoid doing things you know make your partner happy? Or you do it only when your partner forces you—perhaps through bribery, begging, or anger.
3. Avoid doing things sexually? This includes avoiding doing things sexually you really want to do and/or things that you know your partner needs and wants to do?.
4. Criticize your partner in public and/or in private? Some amount of critique, judgment, moralizing, and correcting is normal – but too much is too much.
5. Let your partner criticize, judge, moralize about, and correct you more than is safe for the development, growth, or stability of your own separated identity and self? If you are getting critiqued every day (and you constantly assume your partner is right and you are wrong) then your self-confidence is probably being significantly debilitated.
After you (and/or you both) have done this exercise, talk with one another about any insights which surface – and be sure to share anecdotes or examples which might explain what you want to work on improving. As needed, talk with a counselor alone or together about these lists.
Remember: Identifying and talking about bad habits is the first step in the journey to becoming your best self and enjoying the best relationships.
Dr. Michael Gurian is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight books published in twenty-two languages. He provides counseling services at the Marycliff Center in Spokane, Washington. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called the peoples philosopher for his ability to bring together peoples ordinary lives and scientific ideas. He has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy.