The first blush of romance can make you feel invincible – but as time marches on, love can be hard work. Is your relationship broken? If so, can you fix it?
When you and your partner are going through a bad patch, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. That’s quite an extreme response to what might be a matter of simple communication problems. How do you know when to keep plugging away or when to call it a day?
Our aim with this article is to help you to discern when your relationship is entering troubled waters – and to help you to see solutions.
Relationship status: warning flags
1. Communication breakdown
If you don’t feel as though you can talk to your partner, you may need to ponder the strength of your relationship. Good communication is the foundation upon which lasting partnerships are built.
The support of your partner – from understanding you to nurturing you – is key. How can you tell if the communication between you isn’t up to scratch? If your words fall on deaf ears and there’s no sustained eye contact when you’re speaking to each other, it’s not looking good. When you can’t establish an open and meaningful dialogue, you’re unlikely to be able to resolve any issues that arise.
Perhaps, you do talk…or, more accurately, shout. If even the most innocent topics tend to descend into dispute, you may want to find ways to communicate more effectively. You can’t be expected to form a lasting union if you never speak to each other. The distance will just increase.
Do think long and hard about this subject. It’s sometimes easy to focus on the negative rather than the positive. In other words, it may feel as though you’re always either fighting or indifferent. Maybe, however, these episodes only really occur during stressful periods.
Work might be getting on top of you, demanding too much time of your time – and leaving you precious little energy for anything else. Try to bear this in mind before you jump to conclusions and scrap a perfectly good partnership.
2. Not feeling the future
Were you two inseparable when you first met? Six months later, the enthusiasm has vanished. Why don’t you plan weekends away or meals out? Where’s the excitement gone? Again, this may be more an illusion than reality.
There may be so much going on that commitments to anything else seem impractical. You’ll only know if you are honest with yourself and your mate. If there aren’t extenuating circumstances, propose an activity and see how your partner reacts.
If you’re met with something that feels like a brick wall, examine the situation. Be bold. Ask your partner if something has changed. If the spark of interest has dimmed, don’t ignore it. See it as an opportunity to mend, bend or let go.
3. Tears and fears
Life. It’s a strange and wonderful thing. Sadness mingles with joy and nobody is happy every second of the day. Love is complicated. It requires concession and negotiation – but not necessarily constantly!
As we’ve been recommending all along, it’s time for some soul searching. Be as objective as you can be in matters of the heart. If you really are feeling melancholy or dejection more often than not, your emotional health will suffer. It’s important that you pay attention.
Some couples love each other very much, but just aren’t good for each other. If you’ve made every sensible effort to salvage your relationship and help it to thrive, you should see shoots of hope springing up at your feet. If you don’t – or if your partner isn’t willing to make the same effort – it’s time for tough love.
The burden of a successful relationship shouldn’t rest only on your shoulders and in your heart. Love’s a two-way road.
4. Where’s the trust?
Here’s another biggie – and if it it’s lacking, your relationship is on shaky ground. Can you tell your partner about your innermost fears or feelings? Does your partner confide in you?
If you’re finding it difficult to broach subjects that are emotionally weighty, you’ve got a problem, Houston. The person you love should be more than a dinner date or sex mate. You’ll want to build a life with that person. If trust isn’t present, that’s going to be an impossible ask.
5. Where are you on the list of priorities?
There’s a reason that it’s called a relationship. That’s because it requires both participants to make the other a priority. Your concerns should be their concerns. Their welfare should be important to you. If you begin to suspect that you are no longer on your partner’s ‘to do’ list, it’s time for action.
In partnerships, other things are – unavoidably – factors. Work, personal time and extracurricular activities all play their roles in a fulfilled life…but the person we love should be considered above all.
If you’re finding that you put work or hobbies before your mate, ask yourself why? If the answer is that you prefer them over the company of your lover, you’ve got thinking to do. Problems will result if you ignore this for too long. It won’t go away.
Now, this isn’t all doom and gloom. Whenever you’re able to identify a warning sign, it’s an opportunity for healing. If you think that you’ve a broken relationship, all is not lost.
Talk, talk, talk. Open up those channels of communication. Remember, too, to consider present situations. There may be external forces at work and these can be addressed or resolved. Even the healthiest and happiest couples experience work and economic strains from time to time. With love and trust, you can use adversity to create a stronger team.
We hope that we’ve helped you to be a better partner – and to find a better partner. Best of luck and love to you!