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How to Prevent a Breakup

Watch out for these relationships blunders that could cause your honey to decide they want out.

| February 26th, 2013
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How to Prevent a Breakup

Splits spike in January and peak in March, a FindLaw analysis notes. So divorce lawyers are busy! Learn from their clients’ mistakes.

She told her girlfriends about his erectile dysfunction.
When one husband realized his now-ex-wife had dished to her girls about his sex issues, “it was clear he felt humiliated,” says Erik Newton, an attorney in San Francisco who represented the wife. Emasculating topics such as bedroom shortcomings or even a bad work review should be off-limits. They make him feel inadequate and that he can’t trust you, which is tough to recover from, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. Sure, we all love a good bitchfest, but let us remind you of a little game called telephone. You tell friends, “We’re having trouble in bed.” They hear, “He can’t get it up.” They pass along, “He’s probably on Viagra!” Not cool.

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He said, “You can’t have five bucks.” She said, “OK, then, you can’t have me!”
Teri M. Nelson, a divorce attorney in Milwaukee, told us about a couple who had a major money beef. The guy put his wife on a strict budget. She adhered—until he told her that she couldn’t go out for ice cream, since they already had a carton in the freezer. “I see this all the time. Instead of hashing out the larger issue—finances!—one party holds back until something seem- ingly minor pushes her over the edge,” Nelson says. The mes- sage: If you’re not happy, say so in the moment before your pent-up anger escalates and some stupid little thing sets you off.

She raved about her male coworker.
A client of Los Angeles–based divorce lawyer Kelly Chang Rickert revealed that his wife constantly compared him with a “wonder- ful” guy she worked with. Turned out he had reason to be pissed (she was cheating), but bigger picture, “comparison shopping” can ruin even a faithful relationship. “Couples essentially agree to be each other’s number-one fan, so overly praising someone else can make your partner feel diminished,” Greer says.

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She refused a gift from his mom.
Chang Rickert worked with a guy whose wife hated her in-laws so much, she turned down a Tiffany necklace from them. It made the husband realize that no matter how nice his parents tried to be, there wouldn’t be any getting along. If your guy cares about his family and you reject them, it can drive a wedge between you, Greer says. Try to compromise, and if that fails, smile and nod.

She punished him in the bedroom—not in a good way.
Newton says couples often come to him during a sex drought. “They’ve got tension as a result of other problems, and one party starts withholding sex” as a fight tactic, he says. That’s basically the sexual equivalent of the silent treatment. And like staying mute, spitefully crossing your legs resolves nothing. Plus, you’re missing out on a healthy way to feel close. We’re not telling you to do it if you don’t feel like it, but repeat after us: Sex is not a weapon.

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