How to Avoid Complacency in a Relationship

Overcoming complacency is an active part of my research to Own Your Best. The more feedback I received from my How to Stop Being Complacent article, the more I realized that that was just the tip of the iceberg. I found while complacency in relationships isn’t a direct cause for breakups, it is a silent but deadly catalyst. So while I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, I feel an urgency to share some important information and helpful tips on how to avoid complacency in a relationship.

When a person shows complacency in one aspect of their life, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are so in all areas. So there’s definitely hope, but it’s important to understand why complacency can happen. Here are some examples of what I mean about how complacent behavior can affect you in different ways:

  • A proactive member of a church congregation is complacent in their workplace.
  • An active member of the community is complacent as a parent.
  • A busy, successful office manager is complacent with social justice.
  • A loyal friend with an active social life is complacent in a love relationship.
  • A neighbor with the beautiful decorated house is complacent with their own health.
questions for couples to avoid complacency

There’s a lot of crisscross here but hoping you get the idea. Like the flu, complacency can affect anyone. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you are successful, wealthy, or even have a full, busy schedule. It can still sneak up on you and before you know it you are in over your head. But let’s take things one at a time and for now focus on how to avoid complacency in a relationship.

How to avoid complacency in relationships

Research Shows…

An article in Psychology Today written by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. cited a German study’s major and unexpected findings that showed complacency as perhaps the most significant relationship trap to avoid. It says:

“It may also be that happy couples become complacent and stop actively working to build a healthy relationship… This neglect may ultimately backfire, though, because the partners fail to work through conflicts that could later develop into larger issues.”

Ask Questions and Here’s Why…

The reason why complacency is such a significant threat is that it often disguises itself as comfort and contentment. So while you can look at your significant other and see the absence of conflict, know that there may very well also be an absence of growth and spark.

1000 questions for complacent couples

If couples simply spent some time asking each other the questions that really matter, they’d greatly increase their chances of staying together. The great thing about a “question book” is that it makes it easier to ask those difficult questions and encourages an environment to address them.

Michael Webb’s “1000 Questions For Couples” may be the right book for this. Most question books ‘beat around the bush,’ never really providing the important questions, and others simply don’t have enough questions.

On the other hand, Webb has put together the most comprehensive collection of questions, covering every single topic you’d ever want to know about – before you decide to get married or even for veteran relationships.

It includes tough subjects like money, children & child rearing, career, past and present relationships, religion, morals, convictions & beliefs, personality, and even sex.

Also, while there are many serious and tough topics to discuss, there are also many “lighter” yet just as important topics, including the car and driving, vacations, food and well being, pets, and your favorite things.

That’s one thing I really loved about this book. It covered every conceivable topic from the super serious to the light-hearted and fun, making it easy for couples to start with easy questions and build their way up to important ones.

Also, a great bonus is having the ability to deliver 3 – 5 of the questions to my email each day, making everything automatic. I just go about my day and get new questions to ask my loved one, without having to really think about it.

I highly recommend this book for everyone. NOT just couples who are thinking of getting married but also couples who just want to feel closer together, or people dating, who just want more things to talk about.

In all, there’s nothing really negative I can say about this book. It delivers exactly what it says and covers every question you would ever want to ask your loved one.

For all the details click on the book image above or follow this link to learn more.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of asking questions in his book, The Four Agreements. His message basically says that when we don’t ask questions, we make assumptions which can lead to a lot of unnecessary drama. We assume our partner knows what we are thinking and how we are feeling. Then when our partner does not respond how we think they should, drama ensues!

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. 

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

So if you do not communicate and ask both the difficult and simply clarifying questions, seemingly harmless “complacency” can lead to a fracture of relationship muscle and strength. Then usually the negative effects of complacency will rear its ugly head during times of challenge which can make the desire to work through your problems that much harder.

How to avoid complacency in a relationship

Is Your Relationship is Thriving or Just Surviving?

  • Quality Time Together: While you may live with your significant other, is the quality of the time you spend together declining?
  • Oh This Old Thing?:While there’s a comfort in knowing your S.O. loves you for who you are, have you or have they stopped caring about how they look? This may be sign of a deeper problem.
  • It’s not you, it’s me…: So you’ll have to dig deep for this one, but look inward right now. What do you see? Low self esteem is a huge factor in relationship problems. If your self worth is needs attention, don’t ignore it! You can not love or be present to anyone else if you are insecure yourself or do not believe you are worth loving.
  • Intimacy on the Level?: Sex may seem like the obvious thing to measure but it’s not always just physical attraction that you should worry about. Do you confide in each other? Is there affection? Or are you two ships passing in the night?

Best Ways to Kill Complacency in a Relationship

Partner-up with your partner on new hobbies to combat complacency in a relationship.
  • Try new things together – find something neither of you do or do well and begin a new journey together. Try hiking, golf, joining a gym, cooking. As long as you embark on something new together you will find a renewed sense of support, partnership and discovery.
  • Set shared goals – take a leap together by setting a shared goal and hold each other accountable as partners in crime. Whether you want to improve your diet, exercise more or save money to travel, you’ll be there for each other while improving your relationship and individual well-being at the time time!
  • Unexpected gestures – simple acts of kindness go a long way and they leave a lasting mark. While lately the buzz is to spread kindness and something nice for a stranger, don’t forget that sometimes we innocently neglect those we love the most. Try to be spontaneous by planning a last minute getaway or if money is tight, a simple drive away from what you see everyday. A random have a great day <3 note on the bathroom mirror says volumes!
  • Let’s keep in touch – shut down your devices and talk. We are so distracted with social media, stress at work, commitments of all kinds, that we often forget to touch base with the people who care about us and want to help lighten our burdens. Ask questions and show that you want to know the answers with your eyes straight forward gazing at your partner, not down at a cold device that will not keep you warm at night. Device addiction is so prevalent that it is suggested to combine proactive communication with setting a shared goal. Set aside a specific time, perhaps just before bedtime, to remove electronics from your immediate area to catch up with one another on your day, perhaps you’ll even talk about the first thing that comes up 😉

It Takes Two

Do what you did in the

beginning of a relationship

and there won’t be an end.

– Tony Robbins

One thing is for sure, complacency in relationships are very common. But you don’t have to be a victim to something that is preventable. The main thing is that both you and your partner need to be on board in keeping your relationship alive and kicking. Have the courage to simply ask questions, even the hard ones. Be respectful and responsible for your actions as well as your inaction. And remember that relationships are ever-changing. Both you and your partner should be growing. Just ensure that you are growing together in the same direction or that you are supporting one another’s evolving interests.

Finally it’s important to know that the problem with not knowing how to avoid complacency in a relationship isn’t that you’re doing something wrong on purpose. It’s not like you’re committing an evil or purposeful negative actions. To the contrary, the problem is that complacency allows problems to go unacknowledged and thus fester. To that point, inaction and avoidance wreak more havoc in the end.

Now that you know about this silent killer and how to avoid complacency in a relationship, begin immediately to take some positive steps. Even at your most challenging moments each partner needs to take ownership of their role in the relationship. You each must work to be the best version of yourself in order to bring out the best in one another and continue to grow as a team.

Other articles about Complacency you might find useful:

How to Stop Being Complacent

Overcoming Complacency in the Workplace – 5 Ways to Motivate Negative Employees


  1. That’s an interesting topic to choose and very well told. I really liked how you explained to overcome compleancy. All the best with your further articles 😊.

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