So you’ve been working hard on your relationship because it feels the honeymoon period is over. You find that the harder you work on your relationship, the more you tend to get sore with hurt and frustration. Just like at the start of any workout, your body responds with aches, pains, tightness and even tension, especially if you haven’t worked out in a long time. Similarly, you will go through aches and pains in your relationship. But if these aspects are well-managed, you will emerge stronger and healthier than before.
Unhealthy relationships emerge when they stands on an uneven and unequal footing. Just like a stack of cards, any movement at the base will cause the cards to come tumbling down. Recognize the unhealthy signs and continue to work on your relationship until an amicable solution is found.
1. Lack of Communication
Arguably, the chief reason for a breakdown in many relationships is the lack of proper communication. You are either yelling at each other or giving your partner the cold, silent treatment. Both are not effective in building trust and maintaining respect in a relationship. A bond is strengthened when a couple feels comfortable expressing their needs, fears and desires without judgment. Some couples get stuck in a state of peaceful coexistence without being able to truly relate to each other. While it may seem stable on the surface, the absence of effective communication drives a wedge into the relationship, creating distance.
Tip: Face your problems head on
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but to keep a relationship strong, a couple needs to resolve the conflict openly and fairly.
• Fight Fair – listen to each others’ frustrations without interruption. Acknowledge any misgivings and seek to better your response in subsequent squabbles.
• Avoid dragging old resentments into the argument. It doesn’t help to resolve current issues at all.
• Respect your partner at all times. You know which button to push to trigger his reaction so be the first to avoid taking that route.
Active listening is an art. No one is taught how to listen without interruption. Couples are either in an offensive or defensive mode. No one is at neutral. There’s always a come-back line that can trigger more outbursts. There’s little wonder that some fights are never-ending.
The next time you find yourself loading up more ammunition for a fight, resolve instead to verbalize the hurt that you feel in the form of a question. For example, “That really hurts. Why did you say that?”
Often, couples are better at making assertions than seeking clarification. But with that statement, your partner will be left searching for a proper response. Sometimes, non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching your partner’s arm communicate much more than words.
2. Lack of intimacy
An absence of physical intimacy also ranks high among reasons for a perfectly healthy relationship to move south. In our harried and stress-filled society, partners tend to take their focus away from physical intimacy. These days, both partners tend to pound away at their work commitments, even after office hours. The first and the last things couples reach for before going to bed or upon waking up are their BlackBerries or laptops. Good night kisses, cuddling and reaching for each others’ embrace has become optional. When these aspects are no longer high on a couples’ priority list, they become emotionally and physically disconnected and detached.
Tip: Keep the flame alive
Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies have shown that affectionate touch actually boosts the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment. Sometimes you have to work hard to keep that flame alive, so take the time to do something creative. Regular, affectionate touch —holding hands, hugging, or kissing— is equally important. Mutually agree to put your gadgets away, no matter how difficult it is to keep them under your pillows. If you’re not going to fight for what’s good in your relationship, no one will.
3. Taking Your Partner For Granted
When a partner feels that they’ve been taken for granted, it is a warning sign that your relationship needs a major workout. Just like you feel bloated, flabby or un-energized when you don’t pay attention to your body, your relationship will suffer if ignored. Often, couples are more fun and playful in the early days of their relationship. However, this playful attitude is relegated to the backburner as the tough challenges of life start getting in the way. Disharmony, discord and discontent will seep in if you take your eyes off the prize.
Tip: Quality Time Together
Show your partner that you appreciate him/her. Commit to a day in the week where you can schedule time to be with each other. You have set countless appointments with your staff, your vendors, your clients and your boss… so why should you not set an appointment with someone who truly matters to you? Find an activity that appeals to your partner — be it bowling, karaoke, cycling, painting, walking etc — and try to pick it up. If you’re learning a new skill, you’re certainly gaining something from this activity and not just wasting time. Attend a comedy club and have a good laugh. That should raises the level of good vibration between you. Watch a play, head to the movies… the choices are limitless. You just have to commit to a time and stick to the plan.
4. Lack of Support in Each Other’s Personal Development
At some point in your lives, there comes a time when your partner wishes to pursue a course, a hobby, an interest, further education or simply taking a detour from the ordinary. You might show displeasure or be indifferent because you could see a potential shift from your comfort zone. He may want to climb Kilimanjaro, but all you can see are the potential dangers or hazards to his health and safety. Putting a lid on someone’s ambitions or goals will only result in a pressure cooker situation where it doesn’t take very much to blow.
Tip: Be Your Partner’s #1 Fan
Learn how to support each other as a couple as well as individually. You are each other’s biggest fans, and there’s nothing more gratifying to a partner than seeing their hopes and dreams realized because they had the love, support and understanding of their partner. Giving your partner the space to pursue his interests and playing your part as cheerleader can only raise your relationship to another level. Speaking positively about your partner’s pursuits and being proud of their talents, skills and achievements shows that your partner has enriched your life.
5. Lack of Trust
You go through your partner’s messages and outbound calls from their cell phone. You try to secretly read their emails and you rummaged through their handbag/wallet for restaurant receipts. These is not the stuff that healthy relationships are built on. The moment you start to distrust your partner is the moment you believe that the end is near.
If you put your partner into a corner, you’ll soon find yourself getting entangled in a web of anger, deceit and drama.
Tip: Be Honest and Address Concerns Right Away
You don’t have to play detective or hire a private investigator. This is your relationship and only you can resolve it. It is between two people and nobody else needs to be involved. Wear your heart on your sleeve if you feel there’s a need to. Honestly raise concerns or doubts to your partner and get the full picture. No matter what, remember that both of you are playing for the same team and you are on your partner’s side first. Some people may want to stoke the fires, but trust your instincts. This goes back to the first tip — constant, honest and open communication is the key to an enriching and enduring relationship.