In Summary
  • Avoid blame that shuns responsibility.
  • Being overly defensive will create a tense environment.
  • We need to guard our environment and be clear about what is allowable and not.

We need to guard our environment and be clear about what is permissible and what is not in our relationships.

Each relationship needs an environment where one feels safe and secure to express their real self. First, there should be no criticism because it puts one down. For instance, you should never use phrases like, “You are never satisfied,” or “You never do anything right,” when addressing your spouse.


When tempted to use such derogatory words, first ask yourself whether you mean it or whether you are fair in your accusation.

It also could be that you’re speaking from past disappointment.

Second, avoid blame that shuns responsibility. For example, when things fail to go the way they should or as planned, some people tend to heap the blame on each other. “It’s your fault,” they will say, self-righteously.

Third, being overly defensive will create a tense environment. You have probably told your spouse, “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “I didn’t say that!” This does not solve any problem. It becomes worse when you use judgmental words such as, “You act as though I have no say here,” when the fact is that you actually have a say, but because you’re being emotional, you assume that you are being disrespected.


A better way would be to put across your misgivings differently. For example, you could say, “I hear you perfectly, however, I see things differently …”

Establish clear principles of association:

This boils down to what you are willing to tolerate in your relationship. And what you are not.

It includes the people you associate with, the places you meet them, their kind of value system and the impact they have on your relationship.

How do they treat each other and how do they talk to each other? I have discovered that when we allow garbage to be thrown into our garden, one day, we will have no garden to talk of.

I say again, we need to guard our environment and be clear about what is allowable and not.


Association should be based on the right convictions and desires. In many cases, couples pair wrongly because they based their relationship on the wrong premise. Some got married because of external pressure, say from friends and family, others from money, a number because they got pregnant. None of these reasons are based on principle, yet they are what draws us many of us to our partners and keeps us committed to them.

Unfortunately, two cannot walk together unless they share common principles.

In addition, I read somewhere that bad company ruins good morals. Show me your friends, they say, and I will tell you who you are.

Build a predictable environment:

Some relationships are so unpredictable, that one or both spouses feel as if they are walking on eggshells, or in extreme cases, live next to a volcano that could erupt anytime. Relationships need to be predictable in some areas.

To achieve this, it demands that a couple establish limits on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, spelling out freedoms that can be enjoyed within the limits provided. In addition, couples must agree on the consequences that one must bear when one strays from agreed on objectives.

A thriving relationship does not just break down, especially if both of you honoured the promises you made to each other, however, once a relationship starts to break down, a certain predictable sequence of events tends to occur. It starts with distance growing between the couple.


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