Relationship Dynamics: These Unhealthy Patterns May Lead to Divorce

With a near 50% divorce rate across the U.S., and in Houston, the chance of having a successful marriage is all too slim. Nobody, going into marriage thinks they’ll be part of that statistic; unfortunately, however, half of those couples are wrong. Divorce is common, but not inevitable. By changing the way you and your partner communicate, your relationship will have a higher chance of success. Avoid these unhealthy relationship dynamics for a longer and healthier marriage.

Unhealthy relationship dynamics can lead to conflict and divorce.



As humans, very few of us enjoy engaging in conflict, but it’s an inevitable part of every relationship. It’s a common misconception that conflict is the source of relationship problems.This falsity is dangerous because it leads people to avoid conflict. Ironically, the conflict itself is never really the problem, it’s the way we approach it (or in this case – don’t). Stonewalling occurs when we know an argument is on the horizon, so we do everything we can to avoid it. This can literally mean leaving the conversation and not discussing it again, or just pretending that nothing is wrong. When we avoid conflict, we internalize and hold grudges. Our relationship starts to become superficial as we ignore problems or act on them in a passive-aggressive manner. Issues that were once not a big deal, eventually become a big problem as stonewalling continues.

Character accusations/criticism

Being criticized is never fun, especially when it’s done by the person you love most. But what makes criticism even worse, is when the critique turns into a “character flaw.” For example, if your wife gets mad at you for loading the dishwasher incorrectly, do you think or say, “I can’t be married to somebody who is this controlling”? If so, you are generalizing one instance and turning it into a character flaw. If your relationship dynamics look like this, take a step back and try to isolate the situation from the person. When you’re engaging with your partner, try to avoid derogatory statements that include “always” and “never”.

Feelings of contempt

Healthy external communication is crucial for a successful marriage, but the internalized view you have of your partner needs to be healthy and positive as well. Feelings of contempt, for example, are extremely detrimental to a relationship. Researcher and Doctor John Gottman will go as far as to say that contempt is the “kiss of death” for a relationship. Contempt is more than just feelings of anger or frustration towards your partner; it involves thinking that you are better than they are. If you feel like you’re better than your partner – in any level, it means you respect them less and therefore treat them as if they aren’t equal. You certainly don’t have to agree with everything your partner says/does, but you do need to at least respect them enough to try to understand their opinions.

Read more: Family Conflicts: 7 Ways to Keep the Peace at Home 

Acting defensive

It’s incredibly frustrating when people refuse to own up to their mistakes. Relationship dynamics can start heading south when either you or your partner refuse to take responsibility for your actions. Continually playing the victim and behaving like nothing is your fault (especially when it clearly is) will cause your spouse’s patience to run thin. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake, but the refusal to own up to these mistakes can become problematic.

Take our “What is your relationship style quiz.”

Holding on to bad memories

If I were to ask you to recollect and think about your marriage, what montage of memories plays in your mind? In a healthy marriage, the memories showing up will be a mix of the good and bad, but would mostly remain positive. If you associate your marriage with only negative memories, that means you have a negative view of your marriage overall.

Marriages require a lot of work and commitment, and you really do reap what you sow. To maintain a healthy and happy marriage, you need to avoid the common relationship pitfalls as mentioned above. Steer clear of divorce by continuing to foster healthy relationship dynamics with your spouse.

Save Your Marriage

To learn more about how to cope with different relationship dynamics, contact one of our Houston counselors for help. Our relationship therapists are available for face to face therapy sessions. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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