When it comes to habits you can bet that change is going to require an act of the will. Habits are the attitudes and behaviors that generally work for us in some way. They're so effective that we come to rely on them. Some habits are harmless, like leaving your keys in the basket on the baker's rack in the kitchen. Or, the ceiling fan running in the lanai.

Leaving your keys in the basket likely establishes a place for them so that you know where to find them when you need them. Not a bad habit. Leaving the ceiling fan going indiscriminately can contribute to a higher energy bill or simply waste energy unnecessarily.

Neither of these habits pose any real threat to your relationship. Some habits pose no threat and can actually be great. Others, can not only threaten your relationship, but really cause distress. Avoidance as a strategy for coping with difficulty is an example of this.

Avoidance is the attempt to get away, stay away, or even escape from what we view as uncomfortable, objectionable, or otherwise displeasing. While this is a pretty normal reaction, if it's your response to your partner's undesirable behavior it could create more problems than it solves.

Let's say your partner becomes critical or grumpy when stressed. And because you dislike the behavior you respond by ignoring it. Using small talk you change or redirect the conversation to what you believe is more acceptable. Your tone is upbeat and casual. Your partner responds with more grumpiness. Determined, you either increase your efforts to redirect the conversation or find a way to leave the room.

For the moment you have successfully avoided having to be with a grumpy partner. Let's say this has become a habit for you. You find a way to avoid dealing with him when he becomes nitpicky as a reaction to stress. You know him, and you know its coming. You cope by escaping or avoiding.

Here's what you may not know...

1. Avoiding eliminates the possibility of any discussion

2. Avoiding without a plan to discuss the issue is disengagement

3. Avoiding without a plan to discuss the issue may mistakenly
lead your partner to think that you don't care

4. Avoiding helps to create a pattern between you of avoidance.

5. Avoiding may trigger anger because it hurts to feel
discounted; again, your partner may interpret your avoidance
as a discounting of his struggle or difficulty.

6. Avoiding without a plan to discuss the issue means accepting
behavior that is problematic for your relationship.

7. Avoiding voluntarily gives up the opportunity to voice your
displeasure, concern, or objection--information your partner
may need to shift to more effective ways of coping with

8. Avoiding robs you and your partner of the emotional closeness
that results from openly facing the challenges that arise
between you.

Here are some questions for you to privately reflect on:
How does it benefit you to avoid sensitive issues with your partner? What has it cost you? What will it take for you to eliminate unproductive or unhealthy patterns of avoidance?

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Author's Bio: 

Relational Success Coach Crystal Hernandez offers tips and resources for transforming and enhancing the quality of your marriage and family life through her website, www.RelatingToday.com, and for additional information for strengthening your marriage through her blog, www.InterpersonalExcellence.net