There are countless self help books full of advice, tips and insights for ‘the best relationship of your life’. But sometimes, the best advice is an example of how not to do it.
That’s why psychotherapist Jay Haley decided to write the only essay on love that didn’t exist yet: ‘How to have an awful marriage’. In a humorous way, he shares the keys to ‘unhappily ever after’. In case you do have plans for the future with your love, you might see his hilarious list as a reverse advice on love.
Step 1: start a relationship with the wrong person, or for the wrong reason
This step is probably the best guarantee for an unhappy life together. The best (meaning, in fact, the worst) reason to hurry into a relationship is because you want to avoid something else – loneliness, social pressure or your biological clock. Wanting the wrong person is a great one too – like the kind of person you want to change during the course of the relationship.
Of course, your partner doesn’t have to be a copy of you, but sharing the same values and having the same plans for the futures turns out to be an important key to success.
Step 2: have impossible expectations from your lover
Another catapult towards a breakup: expecting your partner to fulfill all your hopes and dreams, being your lover, teacher, father figure, best friend and personal cheerleader at the same time. Admit it: if your partner would expect all that from you, you would be scared, too.
Jay Haley’s advice? Remember happiness is always your own responsibility. You can’t expect anyone else to ‘complete’ you and your life. Get rid of the ideal picture, and you’ve avoided yet another boobytrap.
Step 3: don’t communicate
Bad communication is key to every failed relationship. Not sharing your feelings and thoughts or asking about your partner’s, is a perfect love killer.
In the first phase of a relationship, being in love, we think the other person understands every aspect of us, in a way no one ever could. If you’re lucky, your partner is actually good at this – but it’s unlikely they’re a mind reader. It means you’ll have to let them know what’s going on inside your head, even if they’re your soul mate.
Step 4: Look for conflict (and never admit your mistakes)
Do you have the talent to turn every little quarrel into a conflict that lasts for days? Congratulations! You have exactly the right qualities to make your relationship end miserably. Jay Haley’s point is: not every disagreement is worth a big discussion. It might be a good idea to look for the middle ground sometimes.
If you’re really furious, and yelled some horrible remarks at your significant other, you can keep acting like the victim and refusing to admit you were wrong – to really destroy things. Or, just an option: apologize.
Step 5: use sex as a means to an end
Intimacy is like love glue. It doesn’t mean you have to tear eachother’s clothes off all day, but it does mean making love is holy. A great way to dissolve the glue is by using it as a weapon or leverage.
Do you aim for a breakup? Initiate sex at the most impossible times. For instance, when your partner is obviously not into it. Or do the opposite: focus on the ceiling, the TV or twittering birds while doing it – and not on your partner. A more passive way to do it: watching 28 old episodes of Friends late at night, long after your lover has gone to bed.
A better approach for long term love: keep investing in your love and your intimacy. Let mindful sex inspire you, or find other ways to keep your sex life interesting.
Step 6: Make a (financial) mess
According to research, 39 percent of conflicts in a relationship is about money. Financial infidelity offers a great chance of divorce.
If your partner is extremely cheap, take on the role of big spender and spend lots of money on things you really don’t need (using, of course, your shared account). This strategy works even better if you keep the purchases hidden for as long as possible, making the credit card bill a hell of a surprise.
Step 7: Have an affair with your mobile phone
Always being connected to your phone and feeling little connection to your partner was never this easy. In the information era you can escape your partner without even leaving the house.
So if you guys finally have time for each other, spend it on social media and texting, and you’ll never have to talk to eachother again. Sure, you can communicate with texts during the day, as long as you avoid real contact.
Text: Alies Verstegen - Photo: Kristina Litvjak