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relationship is in trouble

Relationship is in Trouble?

“I had no idea we were so unhappy!” This is commonly said by the partner who had no idea their relationship was in trouble… until their partner marched them off to relationship counselling.

So you may be wondering what will warn you when your relationship is in trouble. Is there a distress flare to signal when you can ignore a relationship glitch and when it requires your undivided attention?

What ever you and your partner tangle about, it’s the way you do your disagreeing that tells you how deep a hole your relationship is in.

American relationships researcher John Gottman can predict which couples will split up. He’s right over 90% of the time. And it’s not the topic of dispute that tips him off, it’s the way you talk to each other.

How to know if your relationship is in trouble

When you argue, what sort of a build up do you have? Going for the jugular early isn’t a good sign. It stymies the chances of working anything out.  Your partner will probably will get the idea that you don’t believe that having a conversation will make a difference. And if you’re not trying to make it work, why would they?

If your partner feels like you’re getting at them that’s not so good either. If you are continually being critical, finding fault or just plain insulting them, your partner will probably either shut you out or try to get even.

Either way you’re unlikely to get the response you want.

Warning signs of a troubled relationship

So if it’s warning signs you’re after then research tells you that becoming hurtful quickly, sneering, getting your back up and shutting down are the things to watch out for. You might do all of these sometimes and not worry too much. Whatever you fight about, if your typical pattern of fighting includes some of these then you can take them as a sign that your relationship needs help to get it back on track.

You’re human, so you probably do things which annoy your partner now and then. However, the more you become careless with your actions, the easier it becomes to find fault with each other. Maybe you find your emotions escalating and next thing you know you’re telling your partner they never do this or they always do that.

When scornful dismissal enters a relationship, it’s definitely a sign that your relationship is in trouble and you need to take specific action to get it back on track.

When your partner sneers at you do you bristle and sneer right back? Maybe you switch off instead and act like you don’t notice and don’t care. Refusing to engage is another indication that your relationship is in trouble and needs some serious attention.

What to Do to Ease the Trouble in Your Relationship

When you say what you don’t like make sure you be specific. Focusing on the behaviour without getting personal is also a good idea.  “You didn’t do the dishes last night, do you think you could help with the washing up more often?” is a very different proposition from “You’re a lazy slob and you never lift a finger to help out around here!”

Avoid using the terms: Always and Never as they are untrue and will most surely get you into more serious relationship trouble.

The real question is what you do with the warning. The same research that identified the warning signs shows that what makes a relationship work is noticing and appreciating and building the good times you have together.

Warnings have their place. But if you really want to safeguard your relationship focus on what makes it worth having. You’ll have a lot of fun plus you’ll have a reason to bite your tongue before you say something you’ll regret.

Don’t wait for a warning before you attend to your relationship. Unlimited happiness can be gained by being aware of the effects your words and actions have on your partner, and knowing how to modify them toward the best outcomes.

16 Comments Posted

  1. Hi My Daughter and Son in law are going through a rocky patch at the mo and he’s asked me to find a marriage counsellor. Can you help

  2. Hi, my boyfriend of 4.5 years has just returned back from a holiday in the UK and he has decided after living in NZ for 8 years he wants to move back to UK within next 6 months. He has asked me if I want to go. So I don’t know where our relationship is at. I’m also having to sell the property we bought together. I’m feeling hurt and confused.

    • Hi Rebecca, relationship is about compromise and both of you need to come to some sort of arrangement, as in your case it’s you that will be giving up a lot in order to be with your boyfriend. Decide if your relationship is worth so much sacrifice and hardship if it is then by all means but make sure to have a backup plan if everything doesn’t workout as planned. It always helps if you talk to family and friends and get their advice and see where they stand, but remember at the end it will be your choice. Try talking to your boyfriend and tell him how you truly feel about the move and see how he feels about it..

  3. I mistyped above I was meant to say my boyfriend hasn’t asked me to go with him. That is why I’m hurt. If he had asked me I would have considered it. Thanks, Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca, have you told your boyfriend how you feel about this and asked him why he is not willing to take you with him? Ask him and you will get your answer. It’s better to find out his full intentions now then to find out when it’s too late.

  4. Help! My partner and I have our own children from our past marriages. In total there are 6 children ranging from 7 years to 15 years. We only have them every second weekend in our small house. I have brought up my children on routine and structure, he wants to let the children do whatever they want when they stay with us. It doesn’t sit well with me. He prefers to be their friend rather than their father. I would like to compromise and have one night in the weekend where the kids can do whatever – tv, movies, late night etc. He becomes very defensive of his kids when we talk, despite the fact I don’t attack them at all. It’s so hard to compromise with someone that won’t compromise back! What else can I suggest to him?

    • Hi thanks for sharing your problem with us. All the kids are above 6 years and you will be surprised to see how much understanding they have. Explain to them why you want routine and structure in their life and how this will benefit them in future. Tell them that the only reason that you are doing this to set them up for future happiness and stability. Give them the choice and they will come around to your understanding. Make sure you don’t force them, give them the choice to make decisions but be there to guide them.

  5. Hi, I’m looking for someone for my partner and I to help us in Christchurch. Would you be able to recommend someone? Thank you.

  6. Hi
    My partner and I have been together for nearly 20 months. we have known each other for 7-8 years. We live together and have his 2 x sons on the weekend who are under 5. One is a step son and one is his own biological son from the same woman. We have been argueing alot and it doesnt feel like we are connected. His sister died last year and i have had a relapse in my anxiety and depression midway through last year, which i am on treatment for. As of last week, my partner has said he is having second thoughts about our relationship as we have been aruging over having kids and he is not sure now that he wants more. We both decided to have some space while we wait for a appt with a therapist (seperately).he says he needs to see a independent person to get a different perspective. Note he has been very hurt from women in the past. I am missing him and his boys like crazy. My question is, do i put a timeline on how long i should wait for him to make up his mind?

  7. Hi there, me and my partner are going through a rough patch at the moment we are starting to argue more frequently and arguments are not getting resolved and are constantly getting bought back up in conversations which starts more fighting. She claims she is just talking to me but I feel like she is not… I also have trouble letting things go and things get brought up again. I go all day thinking about what we talk about and it tears me apart to the point where I feel trapped and just want to give up… please do you have any advice? We love each other so much and do not want to end things.

  8. Hi I am 19 years old, please no judgement!!! and in a relationship with my boyfriend. Things haven’t been the same, we have been together for 2 years. We have a 6 year age gap, doesn’t appear to affect our relationship but it’s been hard as its been consistent arguments weekly over the stupidest things. I feel like we have lost the spark we had when we first got together, I hate feeling like I’m in the relationship for comfort and routine.. also I have anxiety that plays a part in the way I feel about my body etc. Please need advice!

    • Hi, apologies for the late reply. This is a common issue among couples. The way we deal with emotions plays a big role in our ability to relate with confidence and ease and whether or not we feel heard and understood. In the early stages of relationship we try to show our partner the best version of ourselves and carefully repress the things which annoy us. This eventually leads to a state of mental and emotional resistance, usually because each other’s unwanted habits conflict with our own needs or desires. These needs, need to be communicated.

      However, when you feel “triggered” neither partner can think clearly or clearly articulate what needs to be said. This is definitely something we can help you with, as we specialise in helping men and women resolve their emotional triggers and empower their thinking processes. Please click here to book a complimentary strategy session so we can set you on the right track:

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