A healthy, intimate relationship is built on trust and vulnerability which involves sharing your innermost feelings, thoughts, and wishes. It’s important to remember that all couples have perpetual problems. In a healthy relationship, you can develop tools to deal with them, but not necessarily solve all of them.
However, sweeping issues under the rug only works for so long. Because when couples have deep-seated resentment, it’s one of the signs your relationship is over and can be a challenge to forgive and forget.
For instance, Carrie, 46, feels a lot of resentment toward Josh, 48, because he’s unwilling to discuss their financial problems. She feels she has to carry the burden of paying bills and making ends meet – especially since the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and he was laid off from his job as a manager of a local restaurant.
Carrie put it like this: I have so much resentment toward Josh because he never wants to talk about money and says he’s too busy. We’ve gone through our savings and I’m getting worried. Our two daughters are in high school and they have a lot of expenses.”
Here are six warning signs your relationship is in serious trouble:
- You argue about the same things and dig your heels in.
And you do it over and over (and over) again and never seem to clear the air. You both feel like you’re the loser and that you often have to defend your position.
- You feel criticized and put down.
This leaves you feeling less than “good enough,” frustrated, and angry at your partner. According to renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, criticism is one of the main reasons why marriages collapse.
- You have difficulty being vulnerable with your significant other and feel mistrust.
And when you do, your worst fears are actualized: you’re left regretting that you revealed your feelings and desires because you don’t feel heard and loved. Essentially, you don’t trust that he or she has your best interests at heart. You might even find yourself confiding in friends about how unhappy you are as a way to blow off steam.
- You have baggage that surfaces when you argue because issues were not dealt with
You may overreact to fairly innocent things your partner says or does because it triggers a memory from a past relationship or argument you had with him or her. Your anger has a tendency to be intense and they remind you of others who have let you down.
- Your needs for sexual intimacy are vastly different and/or you rarely have sex.
Relationship expert Cathy Meyer says, “Whether it is him or you that has lost interest, a lack of regular intimacy in a marriage is a bad sign. Sex is the glue that binds; it is the way adults play and enjoy each other.” You may find that you’re locked into a pursuer-distancer pattern where one of you tries to get close and the other withdraws. This pattern is a leading cause of divorce. Both partners need to compromise but can usually benefit from professional counseling to repair the hurt feelings and damage done.
- When you disagree, you seldom resolve your differences or learn to manage them.
You fall into the trap of blaming each other and fail to compromise or apologize. As a result, you experience less warmth and closeness. What are the best ways to break the negative pattern of relating that can lead to the demise of your relationship? First of all, it’s important to become conscious of your expectations.
The most effective way to keep your marriage happy is to assume the best of your partner and to practice emotional attunement. This means listening to each other and responding with interest. A good marriage requires honesty and vulnerability to thrive. Responding positively to your partner’s bids for connection will help you bring out the finer qualities in one another.
Be sure to make time every day (at least 30 minutes) to have a stress-reducing conversation where you share positive things and show appreciation for your partner. Also, make plans to discuss problems in a productive way – without anger and resentment. Making a list of concerns is always helpful and prioritize them as a couple.
Instead of trying to change your partner, ignite the change you desire by changing your mindset and your own behavior. Before criticizing your partner, remind yourself of all of the things you like about them, and examine your own part in your relationship problems. Be genuinely interested in learning about why they see or do something differently than you, and be open to respecting his or her unique perspectives on life. Keep in mind that professional counseling can be beneficial to couples who have some or most of the warning signs described in this blog, and try the approaches I have outlined.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry