There are many signs that a relationship might be in trouble and we often overlook them, as we don’t want to accept that there may be problems.
However, ignoring the signs will lead to the relationship breaking down further or possibly even ending altogether.
We often don’t notice or accept there’s a problem until it is too late to do anything about it and when it has ended we feel as though we didn’t even know there was anything wrong.
It doesn’t take much to keep a check on our relationships and if both partners are totally honest with themselves and one another, it is easy to become aware of issues before they develop into major problems.
Even if both partners aren’t open with one another, or if they don’t communicate well, it is still possible to be in tune with what’s happening within the relationship by watching out for changes and differences within ourselves and also with our partners.
We sometimes go through life with an image in our minds of the type of person we would like to spend our lives with. If we finally meet someone who matches up to our mental image, we can make the mistake of projecting all our hopes and desires onto them.
We desperately want them to live up to our mental image and expectations and then put them under a lot of pressure to keep up with all of our demands. As we progress deeper into the relationship and the initial flashes of lust wear off, we begin to see the actual person behind the illusion we created.
All of their bad habits and irritating ways slowly start to become visible and things we may have turned a blind eye to in the beginning can quickly become major issues. Fighting and arguing can leave both people angry and resentful wondering how their ideal person has turned into someone totally unrecognizable.
Unrealistic expectations will always lead to disappointment and frustration. We are all human; we all make mistakes, have undesirable traits, have our own faults and weaknesses and we will never live up to the high pedestal someone else has created within their mind for us.
To avoid these problems we have to be realistic and accept one another for who we are. It is not our place to change or fix someone else, so if we are not happy we have to change and fix our own minds and situation rather than taking our disappointment out on them.
If our relationship is in trouble, sweeping all the dust under the carpet is not beneficial for anyone as the mess won’t go away and the relationship cannot miraculously fix itself on its own. Relationships take work, from both partners or the problems will lie dormant waiting to erupt at the first trigger of opportunity.
Accepting that there are problems is the first and most important step to take in repairing and rebuilding relationships to create firm, solid and stable foundations so that the partnership can stand the test of time. Ignoring things, or our partners by remaining silent or in a mood will not deflect the problem. It will lead to further tensions and eventual destruction.
Heart-centred communication and being able to talk openly and honestly without placing blame helps not only to resolve any current or past problems, but it also is the key to closer, stronger and more bonded relationships.
When we talk deeply with one another about our problems we often find that much of it stems from our past and even as far back as our childhoods. Often things that are bothering us today are seeds that have not been addressed and acknowledged and have festered within us causing us to repeat the same patterns in adulthood.
If we had emotions and needs that were not met in our younger years they can leave us with pain, resentment, guilt and feelings of neglect and our current partners can easily trigger off underlying issues. We then feel hurt by the actions of those we are in a relationship, when all that is happening is we are prodding and poking at old wounds.
If we are able to talk to our partners about how we felt as a child it not only helps us to understand one another’s journeys better, but it also helps us to look at each other on a far deeper level and helps us to empathize and support one another with whatever we are feeling currently.
It is not possible to show one another everything that lies beneath the outer shell, when we are at the very early stages of a relationship. The longer we are together and the closer we become we start to see the true character, rather than the one we chose to see through our rose tints. It doesn’t mean we were deceived in the beginning. It just takes time for anyone to feel safe enough to be able to turn their insides out.
Trust within a relationship is vital and if we feel secure enough to open ourselves up we will see each other through a totally different light and understand how our communication weaknesses may be unintentionally causing lingering and prolonged suffering in our partner’s lives. It doesn’t mean that either of us are at fault, it just means we need to unravel with one another, peel back the layers and look at the root cause of the pain so that we can understand it, soothe it and piece it all back together.
Some areas we can take a look at are:
How often we criticize one another.
Forgetting to appreciate the thoughtful and everyday things we do for one another.
Putting one another down either when we are alone or in the company of friends, families or even strangers.
Not being respectful of one another’s individual life choices.
Being able to listen fully without any interruption.
Being completely honest and loyal to one another.
Feeling confident enough to be able to explain how we feel.
How often we are affectionate and passionate with one another.
How much quality time we spend alone together.
How much we trust one another.
How much “me time” we both have
Blaming one another rather than taking responsibility
High and unrealistic expectations.
Becoming complacent and not telling one another how much they mean to us or showing them that we love and care about them.
If we fail to act our relationships can fall so badly apart it can be difficult to put them back together again. If we see our relationship as a constantly evolving part of our lives we can nourish and care for it so that it grows and evolves at the same rate as the two people involved in it. Otherwise we may either stay together harboring resentments and bitterness or go our separate ways with neither party realizing where it went wrong.
We are responsible for our own happiness and own state of mind and it is not up to our partners to fix how we feel. Although their behavior can affect us dramatically, ultimately we are each in control of our own well-being and it is up to us whether we choose to allow other people’s words or actions to impact us negatively or positively.
If we find that every little thing our partner does or says deeply irritates us, it is a clue the relationship is on a downward spiral. Often it is because bad habits are repeated time and again and have been happening pretty much for a lifetime. Complaining about them won’t make much difference as it causes people to feel as though they need to walk on eggshells or cannot be themselves.
Issues need to be looked at and addressed properly rather than expecting that criticism will cause them to end. Antagonizing or trying to change someone will make them believe that you are not happy with who they are, rather than thinking about what areas of their life they may need to look at. People will make the change themselves and coercing or forcing someone to change will likely backfire and cause further difficulties.
We all have our faults and weaknesses and these are highlighted in committed relationships and when things aren’t going well they are magnified further. Learning to accept our partner for who they are and unconditionally loving them will be a far more productive way of solving any issues within a relationship. This is because we are then working on the partnership as a team rather than being judgmental, intolerant and expecting perfection.
When we look in the mirror and realize we aren’t exactly perfect either, we are then able to look at our partners in a much fairer and more rational way. We shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves, let alone place those demands on anyone else’s shoulders either.
Although it is natural to want to discuss things with friends or family this could cause further problems. We aren’t always completely balanced and honest when telling our side of the story and it is just that, “our side.” The people closest to us will naturally be biased towards us and they will likely judge harshly and could end up becoming resentful towards our partners and this can cause the relationship to distance further.
Just because there are disagreements and conflicts doesn’t mean the relationship cannot work. These issues can be used as an opportunity to improve communication and understanding one another on a completely new level. As long as there are resolutions and compromise there is always a way for it to work, regardless of how many disputes there may be.
When we put all the emotions to the side and think logically we can ask, “If we met our partner today with everything we now know, would we still choose them? Am I together out of a habit or do I have a genuine desire to spend my life with this person?”
A break up can be traumatic and painful, however, it can cause far more pain to drag a relationship out due to the fear of separation.
Take some time, get to know one another again, have some space, get to know our own self again, remember what it is that makes us happy and look hard at how we feel now, and also what we are aiming for in the future. We can look at our partners in a new, compassionate, understanding and non-judgmental light and whatever the decision is, communicate it straight from the heart.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Trekking Ranjani