Love, Life Stories, Advice

How to break your toxic relationship cycle

The only person I have control over is myself, so I tried to be different, I tried to be better.

After you’ve been married for a few years and the honeymoon stage has passed, couples can often find themselves in a rut of sorts. The initial blind love passes and you start noticing all the annoying things about one another. What was once charming is now just a pain in your ass. What you were able to overlook for years begins bottling up and gets more and more irritating as time goes on. Does any of this sound familiar?

There came a point when my husband and I found ourselves arguing about the small things that started piling up and it caused a cycle of nagging and avoidance in our relationship. My accusations were usually that he doesn’t show me enough love. He thought I was always yelling and in a bad mood, so he avoided me. And so the vicious circle continued.

After a lot of thinking, and advice from my mom, of course, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I realized I couldn’t change him. And my continuous nagging was just pushing him away. The only person I have control over is myself, so I tried to be a kinder, sweeter wife, without expecting anything in return. I know it’s cliché, but treat people as you want to be treated.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint and wasn’t planning on doing this forever. I decided that I would try it out for a week or two. It seemed like a reasonable amount of time and I figured if it doesn’t work I could at least go back to being annoyed at him without any remorse. Ha! One thing I did notice, however, was that when I decided to try and be nicer, I realized how many negative things I was saying in the first place.

Things I changed:

1. The way I texted him – Instead of short to the point messages, I asked how he was doing and tried to be more friendly in general.  

2. I started telling him I miss him – I didn’t do it too often where it was weird, but just randomly enough so that he was pleasantly surprised.

3. I didn’t complain about the million things I’m doing and then accuse him of not helping –I still told him if I was busy or tired, but I didn’t add an accusation at the end. Sometimes you can talk about what you are up to without making it about the other person. 

4. I didn’t complain that he hadn’t checked in while he was traveling or that he was having fun without us – I had to remind myself that even when my husband is traveling, it’s for work and I have to respect that.

5. I stopped saying sarcastic comments – I am the queen of sarcastic comments and my husband hates it. Needless to say, that was a tough one to give up.

6. I stopped bringing up past problems – One thing I love to do when we’re arguing is bring up a problem from like three years ago when I have no arguments left. Instead, I tried to stick to the issue at hand.

The results:

1. He started telling me he missed me too and it was not just in response to me. It felt genuine.  

2. He actually called and texted more while he is traveling.

3. He told the kids to listen to me and how much I do for them.

4. He started giving me random hugs, while I am cooking or doing something else.

5. He was more appreciative and started thanking me for “everything I do.”

6. He started making a more conscious effort to do things I had been asking him to do for years.

I noticed a lot of changes in him, in myself and our relationship. And I realized that he wasn’t the only one making mistakes because I have a tendency not to see my own faults, as many people do. Someone had to break the cycle and I’m glad it was me. Of course, we still disagree from time to time, but it is definitely a lot more manageable. If you find yourself in a similar toxic cycle, then I encourage you to try this for a week or two and see if your relationship can change for the better.