Relationships: Early warning signs that your relationship is in trouble
Every troubled relationship gives warning signs that things are going poorly. A spouse or partner will act discontent, or they will become resentful, angry, distant or withdrawn. Pay close attention to these signs; they need to be addressed immediately. You can do that by asking questions about how your partner is feeling about you and about the relationship. Questions such as “Are you getting your needs met in our relationship? If not what would you like different?” Or “What could I do that would make our relationship better for you?” Or simply “What’s wrong?”
Here are some of the early warning signs that your relationship is headed for trouble:
If either of you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells for fear of your partner’s reaction.
One of you is controlling, expecting the other person to honor your wishes or to meet your needs, and acting angry, disrespectful or cold if they don’t. This includes checking up on them, asking where they were or whom they talked to, or other ways of being controlling.
If either of you regard your needs and feelings to be more important than your partners.
Being uncompromising. The more flexibility, the greater your chances are in being able to work through conflicts successfully.
If either of you are emotionally unpredictable, volatile, grouchy, mean or difficult to be around. Often this gets worse when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
When one of you routinely feels belittled, criticized, judged or found to be inadequate. Are you made to feel you are defective and no one else would want you? Does your partner attack you with insulting remarks, shame you or otherwise attempt to make you feel worthless? Do you feel verbally degraded? Are things said in order to hurt you?
If sex has become a major battleground in your relationship, or one person is sexually rejecting or feels forced to have sex.
If either partner acts intimidating (yelling, raging, breaking or throwing things, slamming doors, physical force) in order to get their way. This includes threatening to leave or threatening to find someone else.
Being defensive. If you are defensive, your partner will grow fearful of saying how they feel, or of giving their opinion for fear of your reaction.
When you don’t have a voice in the relationship. That’s when you feel that your concerns, wishes, preferences and requests are not heard or treated with respect.
Infidelity, dishonesty or deceitfulness. It means that one of you will not trust the other, which is a tortuous way to live because it creates so much distance between the two of you.
If either of you becomes disconnected, preoccupied or emotionally withdrawn.
If you don’t feel that you’re a priority to your partner. Receiving poor treatment from the other. This corrodes trust, good will and holding your partner in high esteem.
When either of you are not using good communication, conflict-resolution, compromising and negotiating skills. This is ground zero for being able to get along harmoniously.
Not keeping agreements. This erodes trust over time.
Not being responsive to the other. When one of you identifies that something is important to you, but the other person ignores it or doesn’t treat it as important.
When you cease having fun together. Fun is like glue that keeps people feeling close.
The loss of affectionate touch. The loss of affection is a telltale sign that something is wrong.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 23rd year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777 or email him through his website, http://www.heartrelationships.com. He is the author of the new book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Keeping the Flame Alive.”
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