How to Avoid Three Common Relationship Mistakes

group of young people

Have you ever wondered why so many people’s attempts to save their marriages fail? Why do so many people divorce? Why so many who go to counseling still separate? Are you worried that might happen to you too?

First and foremost, many couples simply start too late and give up too soon. What I mean is this: they let the problems in their marriage go on for so long (often for years!) that they become increasingly difficult to fix. (Not impossible, just increasingly difficult). Then when they do finally decide to fix them, there’s so much hurt and resentment built up that they give up too soon. Couples frequently come to me for counseling and initially say, “We don’t know if it’s going to work out.” I look around and always ask them, “What is it?” I point out that they are speaking about their marriage as if it is something outside of themselves that they can’t control, like the weather. I remind them, “it” is actually the “two of you.” I tell them what I will now tell you – If you want your marriage to work out, work it out. It’s up to the two of you to work on it, to put in the time and effort required to learn marriage success skills like those taught in our StrongMarriageNow System.

Wherever you go, there you are

Secondly, running to a new relationship, doesn’t solve 50% of the problems that ended your last relationship because you bring yourself, (50% of the partnership), with you into the new situation. Staying and working on yourself and through the issues with your partner allows you to learn and, therefore, to grow into a better person and a better partner.

The grass isn’t always greener…

Finally, when things get difficult and painful, if often appears as if it’s all too easy to walk away from the person you’re having problems with – as if there’s always somebody out there to take their place. I’m amazed at how many people think that if they find someone new, all their “problems” will be gone. The bottom line, as mentioned above, is wherever you go, there you are. Whatever issues you had in your previous relationship, you are likely to have in your next one. Plus, once you start dating, remarrying and blending families, you bring a whole new host of issues to your life. Yes, a new person can bring about those exciting, passionate feelings again – for awhile – but is that really worth a lifetime of complications?

To learn more about avoiding Common Relationship Mistakes using our online videos and downloadable exercises, check out our StrongMarriageNow System.


Have you noted any other Relationship Mistakes you might be making? How can we help avoid relationship mistake? Please comment below.

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marelize 13 years ago

how can i make my husband stop sms and email the other woman to stop all contact

SMcbride 13 years ago

Marelize - I know what you are going through. My husband was in a long-term e-mail and phone relationship with another woman without my knowledge - and ended up spending a week-end with her when I was out of town. I confronted him when I looked at his e-mails and basically said "decide now - either you want this marriage or you don't. If you want this marriage - no more e-mails, no phone calls, no letters or text messages - nothing". He promised to send her a "dear Jane" e-mail but for several days he didn't do it - and I asked him every day if he had done so. The one he send (didn't show me - in retrospect I would have said "and show me it before you send it, because it was really a wishy-washy thing about how wonderful she is, she should find an unmarried man to give her the deep, generous committed love she so richly deserves - real crap). Nevertheless, he did it, and she e-mailed him back to say " I don't understand -can't we still be friends - and he said basically "no, I'm working on my relationship with my wife.) I made him promise to tell me if he ever heard from her again. So here is what I would do if I had to do it over, because it would have saved some grief: (1) Put the ultimatum to him - her or our marriage - with absolutely no contact. (2) Expect (demand) that he show you the Dear Jane message before he sends it - and make sure the message is firm and non-negotiable.- (ie I love my wife, I'm going to work on our relationship, I do not want any more contact with you.) If he is not prepared to do these things, then your marriage will only get worse, because he is putting time and energy into another relationship that should be going into resolving whatever issues there are in your marriage, and what each of you thinks is missing. I know that if I had been firmer about these things in the beginning, we would have saved a lot of time and grief. No doing so has made it even more difficult to get past the affair. Hope this helps. Best of luck.

amybarnhartsd 13 years ago

Great advice! Thanks for sharing your story! You might also be interested in Dr. Dana's advice on 6 steps to survive an affair: Step 2 that Dr. Dana talks about is stopping the infidelity in order to move forward with the marriage. Definitely a very important step...

Brandi 12 years ago

It talks about not giving enough time to work thru the problems. How much is enough time? What happens when niether knows what to do? There are issues with trust, issues with being intimate, but we keep going day by day like no big deal. We both know the issues are there, we have deciede to wait til after the holidays to deciede if a seperation could help us. We have been having issue for over a year now. We keep getting back together. When do we know when enough is enough?

NT 11 years ago

When is enough enough? I've been asking myself this question for months. Truth is, only you can make that final call. If you have children, (like we do) enough is defined by "how much of myself-pride will I give up for them"? My immediate answer has been ALL OF IT! With no regrets, I will do everything possible not to put them through a family break up. However, in my situation, I've been aware of countless contacts wherein my wife of 11 years, has been telling another man, (old boyfriend - re-united through Facebook) how much she loves him and how "he is her world". Each time I think of this, it feels like its over and that I'm just hanging on to an illusion that she may have a change of heart for our children's sake. If you get to this point, you may have to make the tough call yourself. From what I can see, my wife isn't ready to have the family broke up but she still wants this other guy way too much to quit. I made a "him or me" demand the other day and the result was a stepped up effort by both of them to assure the other one, they're in love with them forever. With this in front of me, I feel I am loosing too much of the strong self-assured man that I am and this will eventually take a toll on my children as well. I am ready to stop the pain and force the issue once and for all time. I will get both of them in a conversation and we'll settle where we are, (no more wiggle room for her to stay in touch with her "friend"). Either they're over or we are. No more room for gray areas. I hope this helps you to make a stand for yourself and for your marriage. My sincere hope is that you can convince your spouse that you still have a chance. If you do, cherish them and make every effort to make it the best partnership you can. If not, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for the next chapter in your life. Keep smiling and be the best person you can, life, love, God and friends will take care of the rest. After all is said and done, there is a one-word solution to a bad relationship..... "NEXT" ! ;-)

Karmelo 11 years ago

both of you guys need to seat down and just be honest with each other. for epmxale you could say **** i love you so much, i really want us to work out. I want to do everything in my power to keep are love alive. That is why we need to start talking about are emotions, how we feeling,are problems so we can fix them baby. You know why I want ti fix it babe, its because I love you from the bottom of my heart. I know when I tell you I love you, you think its a normal thing. But i want you to believe it baby every time, I cant see my self with nobody else, but only you. So what do you say you want to fix this . Let me know what happned

Norby 11 years ago

I have been in a relationship for twelve years. The last two we were separated, we are back together now but, she was in a relationship for eight months. She has a child who became close to the "other" man. He has continued to have contact with that child, and her "about" the child. After we got back together we split up again and she moved back in with him. She swears they were not intamit, and she was just living there. She came to visit me and we were, during the two weeks she was gone. The child does not live with us and he still contacts her about the child and vistations he has with her and planned events he takes her to. I trust my wife and belive what she tells me but I want ALL contact to stop! This is not his child, and I feel he is hanging out in the wings waiting for the next break up. He has the support of her Parents and Family, witch I do not. The support of this child witch I do not. Do I make this demand of no contact with him for any reason ?, or do I just keep waiting and hoping he will lose interest in time? She says she thinks he is good for the child and can see nothing wrong with him having contact with her, but i find it strange. They were together eight months and he refers to her as "our" daughter. I would like to take him out behind the barn and have a little "talk", but that would just cause more trouble. I dont want to be controling or force my wife, but everytimeIi hear his name or find out he was at a event where my wife was with the child I cringe. I am not able to go to thease events due to a falling out of epic perportions with her family. How do I get rid of him for good without Forcing or controling her or digging a hole?

Sera Watson 11 years ago

NT, Thanks for sharing your insight and position, albeit it a hard one to face and deal with. My situation is similar, a few differences though. There is a time when I have to face up to reality, discern what is best (with son involved), and face the future with courage. I never believed my husband would become involved with someone on a train ride, and then following up on face book with her (what's with that web site?) It's been taumatizing for me, and then for our son. Even though he no longer contacts her, he decided he wanted out of our relationship after years of difficulties. I've been checking out the Strong Marriage Now, and it has given me some freedom from my overwhelming fears and putting a label on some of the things I thought I experienced alone. While I don't think it's a good thing to hear others' pain, at least I know I'm not alone and support helps. I don't know what to expect, if he would ever change his mind and put his heart back into our marriage, but even given that he admitted his involvement with her was wrong, he never apologized for the hurt it caused me, and the affects it has had on our son. There are no easy answers. Thanks for sharing.

Michael 11 years ago

My brother, I can feel your pain as I was in a similar situation. It may very well be true that during the two weeks she did not sleep with him, but she slept with you. Listen carefully, the lady might be with you for some material reason, but she prefers him to you - her affection is for him even though she had sex with you. And by the way, I doubt she did not sleep with him. Her actions says to me that she has no respect or regard for you. For me, when a wife is determined to defend keeping a contact with an old flame then that is the signal for me to go, irrespective of how much I love her and will hurt. You are hurting now and will continue to hurt as long as she keeps contact with this guy, For whatever reason she thinks she should keep contact with you, there is another lady who will value you for that and be respectful of your emotional needs. Remember you cannot make anyone do anything and even more remote do it from the heart. The other person has to chose to be gracious and kind to you. Nevertheless, it is your life so think carefully before acting

That man 11 years ago

Me and my wife have been married for going on 21 years. The last 3 years we have lived in the same house, but separated. She told me she wants a divorce, but she stays so my two sons will be able to build a relationship with me, and so me and her can work on our friendship. So far it's been just ugly almost every day, though we do have our good days. I'm struggeling with the lack of affection, intemacy, and connection. She spends most her time while Im home locked away in what should be our bedroom. But it is now just her room. My boys are older, and even they feel it would be best for us to divorce. I refuse to accept that. We don't communicate very well, in fact it's almost painful at times. It ends up in an argument, especially when I bring up the fact we are married. She is a very loving, wonderful woman, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her... but can't seem to break down the barriers we have between us. Communication is a major factor... and even then...I don't know that she will want to stay even if we did make it passed that. I am always feeling heart broken, and tired. So much so, I think I sabbatoge myself when I get a chance to talk with her. It's killing me inside... and I don't know what to do.

Becky 11 years ago

I wish someone would do this for me and give my soon to be ex a wake up call, he is 36 and has been married 4 times.

deb 11 years ago

I to feel like there is no hope. For over 20 years I have been neglected, but stayed for the kids. He had an affair and has done fraudulent things that I have had to pay for financially. I believe he is passive agressive, but he refuses to get help in the marriage and mentally. He has yelled at me in public, had an affair of which he brought over her christmas gifts and showed them to me(seriously, can you say put the salt in the wound), he told me how great she was in bed, told his bosses and co-workeers it was because i ignored him(of course he did not tell them about pushing me and shoving me). he is always blaming me for everything that has gone wrong, he has not even tried, of course he tries to say he is, or he leaves messages that he will not do this or that again, yet it continues to happen. His father was the same way with his mother. Abusive(verbally, mentally) he has been physically abusive and blames me, yet he did not have marks, but I did. I gave up, my mothers inheritance to pay bills, because he refused to bring money into the house, now I have nothing to get my life happy. so I am a prisoner with him in this house due to financial reasons. He treats me like he owns me. He always has to have things his way. he refuses to talk about the issues and/or take them seriously. he laughs when i tell him, I am hurt and need love, etc. He thinks it all a big joke He refuses to go to marriage counsling. He talks out of both sides of his mouth, I actually have recordings of him saying he has a problem, then not even 3 minutes later saying he does not have a problem. This is some of the symtoms of passive agressive. he needs to go to church and let god into his sould and heart. he has a very cold heart. DJF

ray larder 11 years ago

After i learned of HER 5yr affair after 5yrs of marriage i would NEVER get MARRIED again, was that clear enough, NEVER , EVER again. SHE knew where the DOORS were.

melanie 11 years ago

my husband left and we been married 5 years and i have tried to find him and cant call he has me blocked. so i dont know what to do.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 11 years ago

Melanie, I am very sorry to hear your husband has left you. Hopefully you will find some help in this video, "How To Save Your Marriage On Your Own."

Shane 10 years ago

My wife of 14 years moved out into our other house in 18 Nov. She has been gone now for 6 weeks.When she moved, she said it was for her to work on herself, for her to fix herself. We have been seeing a marriage counselor for over a year. She has had sever mental health problems in the past, but she has grown tremendously over the last two years. She is still attending Alanon and ACA meetings, and is a full time student in a graduate program for MSW. I also feel like many of these people that she meets with are influencing her and her relationship with me in negative ways.We have been together actually 15.5 years as we lived together for 1.5 years before getting married. We have had a rocky marriage, but, it has grown unhealthy and toxic..according to her. She says she wants to stay married, and I want to as well because I do love her, but I developed my own set of issues over the years and became extremely codependent. I am working on those issues now through CODA but I feel that the communication has just came to a screeching halt. She has told me to give her time and space, but due to my codependency, continued to pursue, call, text and email. She just yesterday blocked me on Facebook. Now I am completely hurt and lost. She has been attending marriage counseling with me, even after moving, we also attend a 1hr a week session via Skype with a relationship specialist in Indianapolis, to help us both try to communicate and deal with our childhood wounds. I don't want to give up. I am truly committed to her and love her, but I feel that her level of commitment is not the same, before she left, she kept saying "i'm Done" but still continues to go to sessions with me. So I am an emotional wreck right now and have decided to just leave her be, not call, text of e-mail, because she has told me over and over that I do not respect her boundaries. So I have order this system in hopes of learning some new skills to better communicate and put some immediate steps into action, so she will be able to see that I am making the changes that she has asked of me. Any advice at this point would be greatly appreciated.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Shane, I am glad to hear that you are both recognizing the areas that need to be addressed in both of your lives. Here is an article on ways to succeed in saving your marriage: I wish you the best!

Loststarfish 10 years ago

I have been married for 13 years, my husband said he no longer loves me, he feels nothing. We have had our issues with communication and fighting and he has just given up. Apparently, he said alot of it is his fault because he would just try and please me instead of telling me what he really felt and that his mood always depended on my mood. Then why does our relationship have to end? I want him to be himself and we work together 50/50, get both of our needs met. I am committed to doing whatever it takes. We just started counseling not sure if it will help and I am working thru this program alone. He said he feels awkward around me because of his lack of feelings and feels guilty, He is still living with us but shows me no affection and doesn't really hang out with me. We talk about our issues and he said it does nothing. I don't know what to do. I am trying to better myself but I really want him to invest the time and effort for us to reconnect. I am struggling every day, I can't eat or sleep. He doesn't sleep either. He said he may want to seperate but not sure what to do. What do I do? I try to stay positive and give him space but I just really want to work this out.

Shane 10 years ago

Please remove my post from the website. Thank you...Shane Hall Thank you..please remove my post..from the site...we are talking again and she has agreed to look at the system...don't want to sabotage the progress..

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Loststarfish, I am sorry to hear that you are going through this difficult time in your life, but the marriage can still be saved. Please take a few moments to watch this video on "How To Save Your Marriage On Your Own."

vj 10 years ago

Wow, your story is almost EXACTLY like mine. We have been married for just about 20 yeas too and my husband had an affair recently and boasted about it just like yours.I know the first instinct is to get away from such a terrible relationship but when I think of how it will effect our college bound son and family finances it makes one stop and think. I feel my husband is just using me in every sense of the word.He is physically, mentally and verbally abusive to me and my son. He too is a Jekyll and Hyde type. People say to let go of the past and look to future but the affair just happened two months ago and I am not even sure he stopped it because in his own words he has 'put it on back burner". To me it sounds like I better act like the other "slut" that he has found or he will go back to her immediately. For my own peace of mind I sometimes think it is best to trust God and His ways. Some people suggest that if all the wives who are suffering all this and who feel trapped due to financial reasons, if we can all come together and find a way to work together to create a business and have our own income, we might have a chance to make our life better. What do you think?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

VJ, Thanks for sharing your story. It saddens me to hear how you are treated. Here is a video you may find helpful, if you are trying to work on your relationship:

Mimi 10 years ago

Let him think there is another man and watch how quick his attitude changes