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Tip for Couples: If You Want to Stay Together, Avoid Hopeless Talk
Here is something obvious that is still worth saying: If you want your relationship to succeed, stay away from doing or saying anything that would leave you or your partner feeling hopeless about being together. By definition, hopelessness is the end—right? There is no where to go from hopeless—except out. Nevertheless, a lot of couples push each other toward hopelessness. Do they know what they’re doing?
For example, you are flirting with hopelessness if you chronically complain about things that can’t be changed, especially about your partner’s character or personality or things your partner did long ago that hurt or infuriated you. You want hopeless? Complain to your wife that you should have married the other girl and not her. Complain to your husband that you should never have let him buy that condo, and when he says, “What can we do to make up for it now?” say “Nothing.”
Complaining is not the problem. The problem is complaining when you offer no remedy—i.e., you leave your partner nowhere to go but into hopeless—or indifference, which is definitely not good either.
If you need to complain about his old affair, do so in terms of something that could be helped, e.g., the insecurity about his love that you still feel occasionally. And if he says, “What can I do to help?” have something in mind—not deadly nothing. Instead you could say, “Be very loving to me today; it helps.”
When you provide a remedy, you help your partner—and yourself—feel hopeful: We can forgive each other; we can go forward; we have reason to stay together.