Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Repairing Relationship Rips

Mend your relationship RIPS and experience deeper intimacy.

Perfect relationships exist at the tip of a romance writer's pen. In this magical world, love is great. The world is right. You can only wear rose-colored glasses. However, a perpetually perfect relationship doesn't exist. Conflicts are inevitable, and so the potential for relationship RIPS is inevitable.

Sooner or later practically everyone has relationship interference provoking strains (RIPS). For example, magnify minutia about what your mate does, and you can bushwhack intimacy, sabotage sex, and capsize your dreams for a quality relationship. Avoid them, repair them, and you strengthen your emotional bond with the one that you love. Be forewarned, growing your relationship takes ongoing work. There is no one time fix.

What Causes RIPS?

Because of normal human faults, RIPS can occur at any time, under different conditions, for different reasons, and in varied degree. Even small RIPS can grow into big nightmares.

Couples, whose love matures healthily, tend to ignore the small stuff. They put effort into what matters, such as building the relationship. But for some, a relationship is like walking on the hot coals of illusions, false expectations, and blame. When this happens, welcome to the land of RIPS. It's here where damaged relationships flourish. It is also a place where small positive changes can lead to great gains.

Psychological illusions feed RIPS. These illusions are something you believe are real and true. They may reflect a partial truth, but are generally self-deceiving. You expect your mate to be a love god or love goddess and permanently stay in a good mood for you. This illusion can fuel a battle when your mate veers from this path. You'll avoid needless disappointment when you stop deceiving yourself into thinking that your mate must change. You'll have more intimate joys with your beloved.

Blame is a way of assigning accountability and for taking responsibility for your actions. That definition of blame has social value. Blame also has extensions, such as villainizing your mate for mistakes or for violating your expectations. That needless form of blame is a relationship buster. Drop extensions of blame from your relationship, and you eliminate what may be the biggest reason for relationship RIPS.

Remedies for RIPS

Once past the oxytocin effect (love chemical) your lover will come across as his or her usual imperfect self. That is often the tipping point for strife. It doesn't have to be that way.

If you want both to preserve and improve your relationship, let's look at six sample RIPS and how to mend them. (For convenience, I use the second person tense, you, to refer to all parties in a RIPS dispute.)

1. False Freedom. Think of yourself as able to do whatever you please and you may call this freedom. Think again. How is this freedom different from self-indulgence? For example, ignore your mate's interests and do whatever you want, and don't be surprised when RIPS appear. To mend the RIPS, consider that you may have misinterpreted the meaning of freedom. Place prudent restraints on what you do. Step on a self-control path and enjoy the freedom to choose acting responsibly over self-indulgence.

2. ESP Illusions. Act like your partner has extra sensory perception. Whenever your mate does not anticipate what you want, complain bitterly. Start by saying "You should know how to make me happy without my telling you." The solution is laughingly simple. Ask for what you want, and you may get it. Make a quid-pro-quo deal. Give your mate something in return for what you want.

3. Emotional Blackmail. If you fume when you don't get your way, you can threaten something drastic. Say you will walk out, get a divorce, or have an affair. Pause. Figure it out. What do you gain by blackmailing? What do you lose? If you don't like future backlashes from your blackmailing tactics, try a different way.

4. Parent your Mate. You see your mate as a reform school project. As your mate heads for the refrigerator, you say, "Be careful not to drop anything on the floor." You mate misplaces a set of keys. Say, "Can't you do anything right?" Your awareness of the origins for this relationship fouling scripting may help. Are you repeating your parent's outbursts? Are you getting back at your mate? Do you need to feel in control? Whatever the cause, it is your responsibility to act better. For example, spills on the floor are easier to mop than it is to repair RIPS.

5. Perfect Person Trap. Expect your mate to act according to your secret book of rules, and you've put yourself on the path to exasperation. When you mate doesn't comply with the rules, you can add a tear or two to RIPS by playing the outrage game. You can start the game by saying, "How could you do this to me?" Now, your mate is on the defensive. However, this is not a war, so what's the gain? To change course, quit expecting your mate to act according to your definition of perfect. That won't happen! Instead, balance things out. What do you like about your mate? What do you dislike? How do the positive and negative sides of this ledger add up? Is there more to your relationship than a list of pros and cons?

6. Accusation, Escalation, Justification You accuse your mate of any fiendish thing that comes to mind. There are food-encrusted dishes in the sink. Your mate is inconsiderate. Your child did poorly on a test. Your mate is too lazy to help. These accusations can put your mate on the defensive. If your mate tries to rebut your accusation, escalate: "You never listen. You don't understand me." How do you stop this escallating form of RIPS? Bite your tongue. Wait. Spontaneous accusations are likely to be more false than true. Moods change. Perspectives change.

When you get distance from an urge to accuse, you've prevented a RIPS situation from escalating into a relationship crisis. Give yourself a deserved pat on the back each time you delay a RIPS creating impulse.

Work at ending your part of RIPS and you put yourself in a healthy position to influence your mate to reciprocate. If you prefer to see more of that person's better side, talk about what you like. Although your mate doesn't have to take steps to do more of what you'd like, nevertheless, by clearly stating reasonable preferences for growing your relationship, your mate may collaborate with you in preventing and mending RIPS and in doing more of what you both enjoy.

To build a quality, compatible, relationship, see ten secrets of compatible couples at:

Dr. Bill Knaus