Bad habits have a tendency of sneaking up on us. In some cases, we may not recognize our bad habits until they’ve already become engrained in our everyday life. The good news is that when you become aware of your bad habits, you’re better equipped to break those habits and engage in more positive behavior.

Read through the 5 bad habits below to see if you recognize any from your own relationship.

5 Habits that Can Harm Your Relationship

Keeping score. You are not in direct competition with your partner, and you certainly shouldn’t keep track of past arguments or perceived slights so that you can bring them up the next time you argue. The problem with this type of behavior is that it deflects current issues and causes the two of you to dwell on past problems. It’s also hard to have a productive dialogue when you’ve put your partner on the defensive by bringing up something from the past. Instead, address things that bother you as they come up rather than “storing them away” for future ammunition.

Avoiding conflict. Disagreements are a normal part of a healthy relationship, and sometimes you and your partner need to disagree in order to understand how the other person is feeling. Avoiding all confrontation, on the other hand, leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and passive aggressive behavior. If you need help learning how to productively address and resolve conflicts, consider meeting with an Imago certified Houston marriage counselor such as myself.

Blaming your partner for your feelings. We all have bad days sometimes, but we shouldn’t take it out on our partner by lashing out after a long day of work or saying things like, “You always make me feel so unappreciated.” Instead, talk to your partner about why you are feeling the way you are and come up with a healthy way to cope with your emotions, whether that means going out for a walk to cool down or spending an hour pursuing your favorite hobby.

Setting unrealistic expectations. Your partner is not a mind reader, or a superhero, or the protagonist from your favorite romance novel. Your partner is a complicated person with both strengths and flaws, and he or she is not always going to behave the way you think—especially if you don’t voice your wishes. Remind yourself not to put your partner on a pedestal, but to always continue dialoguing and learning more about them.

Taking your partner for granted. Relationships are not passive; they require both people to work in order to strengthen their bond. When you start taking your partner for granted and falling into a routine, you’re not giving your relationship the attention it needs. Challenge yourself to tell your partner something you appreciate about them every day, and find ways to spend time together even when your schedules feel hectic.

If you and your partner are struggling to break any of these habits, consider scheduling an appointment at Houston’s Center for Marriage and Family Relationships.