It’s our 10th anniversary and we’ve never had a fight” — that statement is something only uttered by a couple who is either lying through their teeth or have never spent a significant amount of time together.
Relationships have a way of showing the ugliness in all of us. Gary Thomas states it perfectly in his book Sacred Marriage when he says that relationships weren’t designed to make us happy, they were meant to make us holy.
All relationships take work but how do you know when to get help because your relationship is about to take a nose dive?
Here are 9 signs that your relationship is in trouble.
- Poor communication. We all have misunderstandings sometimes, but if you are having difficulty communicating well, especially when you disagree, you’ve got yourself a real problem.
- Avoidance/withdrawal. Avoiding your partner or refraining from engaging them in conversation may seem like the solution, especially if you are doing it to stop arguing, but if one or both partners avoids and/or withdraws without a specified return time, the relationship will likely suffer greatly.
- Assumptions. When one partner believes the other partner is assuming the worst about them, connection and intimacy are highly unlikely.
- Escalation. When discussions escalate to hostile interactions, it’s nearly impossible to connect. This often happens when you don’t take time to validate what you are hearing your partner saying to you. Validation requires empathy; without it, you are shouting at each other without hearing.
- No longer a team. In a healthy relationship, it’s you and your partner against the problem. Your relationship is headed down a wrong road when you are no longer coming together to face a problem but rather you are squaring off against each other.
- Low level of commitment. Some people stick around a relationship as long as they are getting what they want. Relationships that display a low level of commitment frequently experience infidelity.
- No longer praying together. Prayer changes things! But when you and your mate are no longer praying together, this can be a sign that one or both of you have given up on the relationship.
- No resolve of past issues. “Can’t we just forget the past and start fresh?” is a question I get often from couples that I counsel. The answer is, “No, not if you don’t want that problem rearing it’s ugly head again in the future, because it will.”
- Constant criticism. This does not mean that pointing out our spouse’s flaws is off limits, but criticism breaks you down to a point where you feel like giving up. We are called to speak the truth, but to speak it in love.
If your relationship is showing signs of trouble, there is hope. Love can be rekindled and communication can become stronger than ever, but rarely without help. If your conversations escalate and you can no longer see the good in your mate, it’s time to get help. Working with a counselor is a sign of strength. A good counselor can bring healing to the past and set you on a path towards greater connection.
By Kris Reece, Counselor, Coach, Speaker