A relationship requires a lot of work and commitment.

I first came across this concept whilst reading Let’s Stick Together  – a book for new parents about the potential changes in your relationship with the arrival of a child, and the importance of a balanced and healthy relationship as a foundation for a happy home- both for you and the child.

Maintaining healthy relationships, particularly with your partner, is a keystone to happiness but takes some attention and work – if you’re not careful things can fall apart and you can be left wondering what happened.

This concept, revealed early in the book, is very powerful – not least because it’s easy to “remember to STOP” and thus put into practice.

Stop, in this instance, represents

Scoring Points

Thinking the Worst

Opting out.

Putting down

This whole idea is really that of “being the bigger person” which we are all capable of but fail to do sometimes either because we simply don’t remember or we’re too consumed with the situation and convinced we are “right” that anything other than lashing out would be seen as “losing”

It’s nonsense but we all do it – me included.

Scoring Points

Let’s say your partner likes to keep a tidy house, you on the other hand have left some magazines on the sofa. They ask you to tidy the magazines away but then you notice they have left a coffee cup on the side – adding to the “Mess”. It would be too easy to “score points” and tell them to clear their coffee cup away, or to berate their hypocritical approach to tidiness…

Thinking the worst

Your partner buys you a gift, or they cook a meal for you unexpectedly. Instantly you think “what have they done?” and your mind races as to why they would be feeling guilty or why they would want to “sweeten you up” before asking for something.

The fact is, they probably did something nice for you because they love you – but by treating that action with suspicion you discount their efforts and display distrust in them which is toxic in any relationship.

Opting out

I am guilty of this. Your partner wants to cover a tricky subject, or shouts at you and you ignore them or walk away. By opting out you are avoiding conflict. But by avoiding conflict the situation perpetuates. Opting out creates “no go” topics and issues which over time will threaten the relationship.

Putting down

Rolling your eyes, sighing, tutting or berating your partner fall into this final category. If your partner does something you don’t like then discuss it and resolve it – putting down is a form of passive agression and much like opting out can be fatal to your relationship in the longer term.

By simply remembering to stop, you are taking a moment to consider your actions and can use this framework to identify the four worst offenders which can erode your relationships.

Next time you feel your mood about to change for the worst – remember to STOP and think about what to do for the best.