Does it feel like you and your partner are always at each other’s throats? Learn the three signs your relationship may be going through a rough patch, and find out how you can put it back on track again.
Falling in love with your partner may have been easy, but staying happy together isn’t always as simple. Most relationships have their ups and downs, and it’s quite common for them to go through rough patches – especially with the strain of young children thrown into the mix.
Divorce lawyers in York Colgan & Associates believe that the key to protecting your relationship from divorce is knowing the signs that it may be unhealthy – and being alert for them.
Just because you’re going through a difficult time doesn’t mean you will inevitably split up. By learning to recognise the signs of trouble, you can take steps to repair any damage and get your relationship happily back on track again.
Three signs your relationship may be in trouble
To help you do this, we identify three common signs that your relationship may be in trouble, and give you tips on how to work on it.
1) You’re not communicating (or you’re not communicating effectively)
One piece of relationship advice you often hear is to keep communicating with each other. And it’s often offered because it’s true – you can’t have a healthy relationship without healthy, open (respectful) communication!
So make sure you express your needs to your partner. These can be minor things, like asking them to turn the light in the bathroom off when they’ve finished, or telling them that when they spend too much time with their friends you feel neglected.
It’s important to let your partner know (in a non-aggressive or confrontational way) how you feel. If you don’t express your needs, your emotions become bottled up inside you. And instead of getting them out and letting them go, they grow inside you, breeding resentment.
They can grow until they reach the point where you feel irrationally angry or hurt by your partner and find yourself lashing out against them.
It doesn’t matter if your feelings or worries are unreasonable or unfounded. If they’re out there, you can talk about them, and your partner can explain how they feel too. You give them a chance to change their behaviour, if appropriate, or reassure you that everything is okay.
If you feel your partner doesn’t understand you or even properly listen when you talk with them, consider a different strategy. Maybe talk face-to-face rather than over text message or email. Try bringing topics up when they’re not distracted or stressed. Or communicate with actions rather than words.
Try to find a communication style and opportunity that works for you both and allows both of you to fully express yourself and be understood. Also choose your language carefully. Rather than stating situations as accusations or facts, present them as feelings. For example, instead of saying:
- I hate it when you go out with your friends after work.
- It’s selfish of you to leave me with the children every Saturday when you play golf.
- You shouldn’t spend money on expensive suits.
Try expressing your feelings this way:
- When you choose to go out after work with your friends I feel neglected.
- I feel abandoned and resentful when you leave me with the children every Saturday.
- I feel like you’re being irresponsible and selfish when you spend money we don’t have on suits.
By telling your partner how you feel, you take the sting out of a direct accusation, and allow them to explain how they feel, while enabling them to acknowledge and manage your feelings.
Rather than having a black and white scenario in which the only solution is all or nothing (giving up drinks with friends, Saturdays at golf and expensive suits), you can come to a mutually acceptable comprise in which everyone’s needs are met.
2) You aren’t intimate any more
Sex is a part of a healthy marriage or long term romantic relationship. And barring medical conditions, a lack of a sex life is often a symptom of a bigger problem in a couple’s relationship.
This goes back to the issue of communication — talk to your partner about any problems you are having. If you are not having sex because one or both of you is perpetually exhausted from work or other obligations, it’s time to reorganise how you spend your time and an effort to be intimate.
Intimacy is more than just sex – it’s the bond you have with each other that you show through affection and consideration for each other. If you feel that it’s waned in your relationship, don’t be afraid to make the first move to restore it.
You don’t need to impress with grand gestures – simply show your partner that you are there for them and that you care. If you can find the time go for a walk together (without children!) or spend a long weekend morning in bed, enjoying each other’s company.
Or make a point of spending at least one evening together, enjoying a lovely dinner, chatting or watching a movie – think of it as a date night at home.
It doesn’t matter what you do. What IS important is that you’re spending time together, just the two of you, enjoying being a couple.
3) You are considering having an affair
If you’re thinking of having an affair, or even just feel drawn to someone outside your relationship, stop right there. If you value your relationship, seek counselling from a licensed professional as soon as possible.
If you are considering having an affair or you are already involved in one, your marriage or relationship is in the fast lane toward a divorce or break up. If you want to preserve it, it’s important to stop your affair or potential affair in its tracks and start working on ways to repair your relationship.
Not all affairs are sexual; some are merely for emotional support. These are known as emotional affairs, and while they do not come with obvious risks like sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, they can be just as disastrous for relationships.
Affairs often arise when people don’t get the intimacy that they need from their partner. So try not to become complacent with your current situation, or allow yourself to believe that your moment, whether sexual or not, with the person you’re drawn to is a one-time thing.
Although it may very well not happen again, it is an indicator that something is not right in your relationship. Be honest with your partner about how you feel, and suggest that you attend counselling sessions.
It is possible to save a relationships after an affair if you and your partner are both willing to work past it and fix what was wrong with your relationship in the first place. But first, you need to be honest with yourself. If you really want to save your marriage, you need to work hard.
Need to revive your relationship? Read five ways you can put the spark back into it.
Need more relationship advice?
You can read more relationship advice in these articles:
- Are you in an abusive relationship? How to tell and what to do.
- How to build healthy relationships with positive people.
- 10 things you need to think about before divorce.
- The secret to an amicable divorce or separation.
- How to get back on your feet after divorce.
- 10 tips to help you enjoy better relationships with everyone.
Colgan & Associates are a law firm of trusted advisors whose goal and focus is to help their clients preserve, restore and move forward with their lives. They offer a team of six attorneys and support staff to work with clients in family law matters (divorce, child custody, alimony and support), traffic matters (driver licensing, traffic tickets and driver record issues) and criminal defense.Hannah Martin