Dr. Bonnie Jacobson is the author of the book Choose to be Happily Married. She talks about the three common mistakes that couples make, among other topics, in a recent interview in The Bulletin.
The three most common mistakes couples make:
1) Blaming the other instead of taking personal responsibility. When you blame someone else, you give up your personal power and make your happiness dependent on another person’s behavior rather than looking at what you are doing to make yourself miserable
2) Knowing the difference between being responsive and being reactive. As an example, he leaves the dishes in the sink 50 times and you scream at him 50 times and you haven’t understood why he did it. Another turning point that is being represented in this example is knowing the difference between control and influence as well as control and controlling. Influencing might be to move the dishes to the dishwasher with the hope that eventually he will get the idea. Controlling would be to feel anxious over the sink full of dishes and to yell at the other to clean up, again and again. Taking control in this case may be to sit down and discuss what his idea is related to cleanliness and the kitchen and then to come to some consensus over what he agrees to and what you agree to in terms of household tasks.
3) What leads to divorce is not knowing the difference between surrendering and submitting. What we mean by surrender comes from the tango. It means choosing to give yourself over to a love relationship just as in the dance when two people move together (called surrendering) to the steps of the tango and to the music. People confuse this with submitting, which is master-slave. In submitting we are no longer owning our own fate. This causes us to feel depressed and defeated and we imagine the only way to get our lives back is to leave the one we are with.