Why did your last relationship end? Was it a battle over money and finances? Maybe your sex life flatlined, or vanished altogether. Or maybe you just fell out of love.
These are the generally agreed-upon leading causes for crumbling coupledom, but MSN.com recently reached out to top relationship gurus and found experts universally agreed that the leading marital torpedo is bad communication. They probed some other common relationship-killers, too.
Of course, Wayne and Wanda couldn't resist weighing in, especially since the experts' observations make for thoughtful consideration for anyone in a relationship, not just the married folks. Here we go:
The experts said: The No. 1 problem in relationships is bad communication. This includes how people argue -- something that every couple does. But people should do it in a healthy way if they don't want to jeopardize their partnership.
Wanda says: Irritations and disagreements can bring out the worst in all of us -- from door-slamming to silent treatments to screaming matches. But healthy couples generally argue thoughtfully and listen deeply. Can we always keep emotions out of it? Certainly not. We all go a little crazy sometimes and later regret flash-flood responses. When you're part of a couple, strong communication includes disagreeing in a way that is mutually respectful and even productive.
Wayne says: Totally agree. Sparks and smiles might set a relationship in motion, but once the relationship is real, communication is the foundation of its long-term success. Yes, many other factors can smash a relationship, but good communication will keep most alive.
The experts said: Couples are at risk when they don't have enough fun together. They lose touch with meaningful "date nights" and don't nurture romantic and emotional connections.
Wayne says: Fun might be a stretch; I'll go with happiness. If you aren't happy in life and in love, then what's the point? I'm all for breaking away from routine and making time for each other, but I don't think you need to manufacture fun to have a great relationship.
Wanda says: Oh Wayne. It's not manufacturing; it's called planning. And men these days suck at it. To be fair, so do women. Do people even go on real dates anymore? It seems the casual "let's see where the night takes us" or "maybe we can meet up later for a drink if we're in the same area" has replaced thoughtful, intentional romance.
The experts said: Relationships suffer because people are too busy. They don't prioritize time for their marriage like they do work or exercise, for example.
Wayne says: Hey, we all deserve a little me time. And it's easy to start taking a partner for granted once a relationship is solidified. But when you start putting me time above we time, or work time over partner time, it's time to end the relationship and go solo.
Wanda says: Completely agree. A partner should be a priority. Groggily knocking back your morning coffee while barely in the same room or falling into bed together at night's end too exhausted to even have half-hearted sex does not a solid relationship make. Prioritize your partner -- and if you find yourself not wanting to or not caring about doing so, it's a sign you're either not in a space to be in a relationship, or you aren't doing it with the right person.
The experts said: We risk breaking up because we're all so sensitive. Or we're totally insensitive. Basically, when we tell our partner how we feel, the other partner feels blamed or attacked, and then it all goes south.
Wayne says: Communication is important, but it sure isn't easy. The key is respect. If you have to push buttons, go all dramatic or freak out to express how you're feeling, you should probably work on yourself for a while instead of ruining relationship time.
Wanda says: You're right, Wayne, communication isn't easy. Especially since there are two very different types out there. The first -- typically women -- sometimes share things just because they want to vent. The second -- more often men -- then feel helpless and compelled to offer solutions and root out the cause. This can make for a frustrating spin cycle of sensitivity overload, where Partner A feels unheard, Partner B feels useless, and both people feel ignored.
The experts said: Couples crumble because of codependency. In other words, you have to love yourself before you love someone else.
Wayne says: That's the old cliché, isn't it? And it wouldn't be a cliché if it wasn't overused. And it wouldn't be overused if people didn't believe it. I believe that the best relationships are the ones that balance similarities and differences between partners. I also believe that loving yourself is a lifetime pursuit that shouldn't suddenly stop when you meet someone you like or prevent you from coupling up while you're each on that journey.
Wanda says: Well said, Wayne. If we all waited until we completely understood ourselves to date, we would never date, because we are each constantly growing and evolving. So ask yourself this: Can I be happy by myself? When your answer is yes, you're ready to move from codependent to compatible, and to potentially make someone else very, very happy.
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.