4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

trouble

4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

Most of the time people enter relationships with a feeling that everything has excellent potential.  They’re not anticipating an end to their love.  The truth is, that’s often the case.  Relationships do end.  Often, warning signs are missed, but they do exist.  John Gottman, Ph.D., is a leading psychologist in the area of marriage and relationships.  He has four warning signs and adjustments that can be made:

  1. Criticism - It’s not the same as complaining, when you’re attacking one particular problem or the behavior of your partner.  You’re actually attacking their character.  A criticism might include, “You are such a slob”.  A complaint, on the other hand, would sound more like, “I’m tired of picking up after you”.   You can’t say anything constructive when a person is criticizing, or, it would be more difficult.  If someone complains, it’s easier to address the concern.  To fix this, make it a point to complain and not criticize.  And, if your partner is guilty of the latter, have a discussion about it and see if they’ll commit to not criticizing.
  2. Contempt - This is really criticism, magnified.  When you’re attacking your partner as a person, it’s demeaning and insulting.  You’re looking down on them, possibly calling them names, mocking them and being sarcastic.  To fix this, increase your tolerance.  Learn to communicate with your partner and appreciate each other.  Couples therapy is often necessary for relationships involving contempt.
  3. Defensiveness - This is when you’re attacked and then attack in defense.  This typically involves playing the victim, ignoring your partner, making excuses and disagreeing.  To fix this, listen to the complaint and try to empathize.  Then, take responsibility, or some of it.  After truly listening and showing compassion, tell your side of the story.
  4. Stonewalling - Checking out of a conversation to protect oneself from being hurt is stonewalling.  A person will stop following the conversation or actually leave.  They may seem apathetic, but are actually overwhelmed.  To fix this, try to discuss the issue together and find out when the person stonewalling is becoming overwhelmed. Make plans to give space if needed and eventually come back to discussing the problem.  Identify these issues early on.  The longer they last, the more it hurts your relationship.  If you’re trying your best to fix things and there’s no cooperation, and situations are repeated, you might try counseling together. Also try reading the book, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman, Ph.D.

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

ENGAGEMENT-RING

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

The price on weddings has risen significantly in recent years. So-called “normal” couples today incorporate detailed websites, photo booths and giant ice sculptures into their marriages, and even throw weekend-long events. The industry likes to marry the idea of love and commitment with how much is spent. But although most of us scour the plan looking for ways of saving a few dollars, some wish money was no object. They secretly drool over celebrity-style affairs in exotic locales, taking place in lavish venues where so many luxuries abound their guests’ heads spin. We dream of becoming a part of what looks like modern day royalty. But be careful what you wish for. All of that style may be hiding a lack of substance, according to a study out of Emory University. You would think those who shell out the most mean it the most. But this study found the opposite to be true. The most expensive weddings lead to the shortest marriages. Two economics professors came to this conclusion. They also found that the higher the price-tag for the engagement ring, the greater the likelihood of divorce.

3,000 participants, married only one time, took part in this study. They found that those men who spent $500 to $2,000 were 1.3 times less likely to get divorced than those who spent $2,000 and $4,000. Those who spent $5,000 to $10,000 on the wedding were 3.5 times less likely to get divorced than those who shelled out over $20,000. In an email to Big Think researchers wrote, “Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful.” Though they’ve found a correlation, determining causation is far trickier. The economists surmise that such a big event inflates the expectations of the marriage. The couple is enchanted into the notion that things are going to be easy from here on out. Both parties have unrealistic expectations which undermine reconciliation when the couple hits a stumbling block. Those who have a more moderately priced affair have a level-headed view and so are ready when the inevitable difficulties arise.

No matter how much you plunk down for your wedding, there are some qualities that can be sustained by both parties to give the marriage the best chance of success. The first is to focus on the positive rather than the negative. There are little things that will inevitably drive you crazy. But if you can remember how supportive and understanding they are, you can perhaps overlook the hair they leave in the shower drain or that they are never once on-time. Invest in your relationship. This could be time, energy or thoughtfulness. But you get out of a marriage what you put into it. Communicate clearly and make sure you understand what your spouse has said or is saying. Lots of fights boil down to miscommunication. Fight smart. If you hurt your partner but win the argument, have you really won? Learn to let the little things go. And find ways to increase your closeness and strengthen your bond. For more on how to achieve marital success read, Strong Marriage, Happy Life: The Core Principles of a Successful Marriage and How to Make Your Marriage Work by Sonya Dawson.

The Rules of Engagement for Fighting Fair

fightfair

The Rules of Engagement for Fighting Fair

Arguing in a relationship is eventual, even necessary. From fighting, boundaries are found, deep seeded issues are exposed and can be dealt with, and development and healing really have their roots in conflict. What breaks people up is fighting unfairly. You need to learn the rules of engagement for fighting fair. The first one is focus on the goal. In the heat of an argument all of a sudden lovers become adversaries who throw down their gauntlets and will do whatever it takes to win. But this mindset is poisonous for a relationship.

Instead, focus on tackling a problem cooperatively instead of competitively. If you are used to fighting a certain way explain to your partner before your next squabble that you don’t want to do this anymore. That you love them and don’t want to fight like this with them but want to find a way to work together instead. If they are yelling at you or goading you into a fight, don’t take the bait. Instead, walk away. Or tell them “I don’t want to do this with you.” Or “I hate it when we hurt each other.” That will stop them cold. Focus on the crux of the conflict. Do the two of you interpret the same set of events in different ways? Interpretation is everything.

If you think something is no big deal but your sweetie flips their lid, and you act like it’s no big deal instead of validating their feelings, you are essentially saying that they are no big deal, since they care about it. Then they will go on and on to prove to you why it’s important, and if you dig in on your side to protect your ego, whammy, you have a fight on your hands. Instead, try listening actively. Listen to what your lover says and repeat it back to them. See if you’ve got it right. It might sound silly at first. But if you can figure out how the two of you interpret something you can plan a way of dealing with the situation that suits both of you. Oftentimes fights are more over miscommunication than anything else. Usually both sides mean well but misunderstand one another, and so a fight ensues.

Tell the person how you feel when they say certain things that upset you. Don’t throw past arguments or issues in your partner’s face. That isn’t fair. It isn’t helpful and they will resent you for it. Don’t call each other names. You will regret it and they will be hurt. Sarcasm doesn’t move anything forward, it only slows the process down. If you feel yourself getting heated or your lover is, suggest that you two couch the problem and discuss it at another time. Be sure to mention when so that your lover doesn’t feel like you are blowing them off. Don’t insult or give a low blow. Show respect when fighting. Think of arguments as the pruning that helps your relationship develop and grow. For more advice read, The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy & Validation by Alan E. Fruzzetti, Ph.D. and Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D.

Reasons for Divorce Nobody Thinks About

movingout

Reasons for Divorce Nobody Thinks About

Some people are in denial of course. But for many couples divorce doesn’t come straight out of the blue. It was a buildup, a confluence of negative elements that suddenly builds into a deluge. Either there is an enormous blow up fight, or one person or both just decide they need to get out. But the roots of these negative behaviors have their seed in the past. Here are some reasons for divorce nobody thinks about as a big deal but can snowball over time and cause havoc. Do you feel better than your spouse or that you deserve better? Some people make jokes about this early in the relationship, or the other says they are too good for you and you believe them. Either way, that feeling is going to encroach on the relationship later on. Take a good look at your spouse and remember what tremendous qualities they have.

If you feel too constrained in a relationship don’t think about getting married. And if you do feel confided in your marriage you will probably look for any reason to cheat, or even get out of it. Explore those feelings and see where they lead. Lack of communication in any relationship is a serious issue. The best relationships are the ones where not only does our partner understand us but we understand them perfectly. But it takes a lot of hoops to get there. If you can’t communicate over little things your marriage won’t last. Marriages are rocked by serious problems in life. So if you can’t get over little things what happens when a big one comes along?

Watch your expectations. Some people have really high expectations early on and it starts to weigh on the marriage later. You will both have expectations that the other will not meet. Learn to mitigate these and remember your spouse’s positive qualities. Really it’s up to you and your spouse to invest in your marriage. You need to talk a lot and really investigate what goes on when you have a fight. Talk not only about issues but about your patterns. What sets one person off? What makes the other ignore subjects or leave, escaping the issue? You need to create a space where the two of you feel comfortable to discuss anything, without it being used against them later. Make your relationship more cooperative and less adversarial. See in which topic such as money or chores, or what issues such as one always feeling blamed or the other not feeling listened to, come up the most often. Why are these such touchy subjects in your marriage? What baggage does each person bring that contributes to your fights? Learn how to analyze your marriage and put positive patterns in place to supplant negative ones. For more advice read, The 11 Reasons Why Marriages Go Wrong and How to Make Yours Succeed by Richard Chesser.

Advice that can save you from Divorce

Divorce,problems - Young couple angry at each other sitting back

Advice that can save you from Divorce

Lots of people have unrealistic expectations on what marriage is and what it takes to make one healthy and satisfying. Often when they start to realize where they and their spouse went wrong it’s too late to fix the marriage. The damage has been done and the differences remain irreconcilable. If you are thinking of tying the knot, have been there before and want to avoid the same mistakes, or are curious to see what exists in marriage that you haven’t considered, read on my friend. Here is advice that can save you from divorce.

Most couples know that the key to a successful relationship is communication. But that is far too simplistic and harder than it sounds. People communicate in different ways. Some people are direct, others subtle. But if a marriage is comprised of these two different styles, how can they communicate and get over the difficult problems that they inevitably come in to contact with? The answer is patience, listening actively, cooperating on problems instead of becoming opponents and blaming one another. Couples should talk about how they communicate. What are the different patterns that come up? What does one person do and then the other that leads to a fight? How can that be counteracted or overcome? Sometimes communicating using other means such as text, notes, a checklist, and email can help too. It gets messages across without there being any chance of an argument. Also, talk for 10 minutes a day about things other than chores, work or children.

Fights are going to happen. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. But there should be some ground rules. Don’t insult one another or call each other names. If it gets too heated allow your spouse to have a time out. You can, after they’ve cooled, schedule a time to revisit the issue. If you start a fight in front of the children, resolve it in front of them too. That way they learn how to end an argument constructively. Otherwise they’ll know how to fight but won’t know how to resolve. Realize that if you are in a rut in a marriage, it won’t resolve itself. Instead, you have to work hard to renew the spark. Don’t ignore it or else it may grow into too big a problem to address.

Understand what your attachment style is and what your spouse’s is and accommodate one another. Attachment style is how we show affection. Some people are naturally very affectionate. Others are quite reserved. But when a reserved person marries someone who is outwardly affectionate one person can feel starved for affection, the other overwhelmed by it. Discuss this and find ways to show your love that fits with the way your spouse would receive it, and have them adjust to your attachment style as well. As we grow older our priorities shift. This has to be discussed and planned for when something is coming or when it occurs. If you are moving in different directions it’ll be hard to stay together. For more advice read, How Not to Get Divorced: Powerful Principals to Help You Prevent Divorce and Have a Happier Marriage by Michael Caputo.