8 Signs Your Relationship May Be In Trouble

 

ang couple

Do you know when your relationship is in serious trouble?

Whether your significant relationship/marriage is new or old, chances are it has gone through its fair share of highs and lows. While the traditional notion of “falling in love” may seem a tad euphoric and short-lived, growing in love, according to scientific research, is still a very real and explainable occurrence. Which brings me to the focus of this article.

What happens when our relationships seem to have reached a growth stalemate? Do we even recognize that things have come to a screeching halt in the growth department? Are we even aware of the signals which might suggest that our relationship may be in serious trouble? Do we even know what we can do to turn things around? The following list, though not exhaustive, represents some of the common warning signals which suggest that our relationship may be in serious trouble.

1. You no longer relish your partner’s company. While there is nothing wrong with some alone time or a girls’ or guys’ night out, if consistently, you would rather spend time alone or with others, instead  of your partner, then this may be a signal that something is not quite right in your relationship. The reason you chose your partner, is because you preferred him or her over all others. When this preference changes, it may indicate that hidden or unresolved issues have begun to take their toll on the relationship. This may also suggest that relationship neglect has occurred which fosters a sense of distance or “tiredness” between partners.

2You negatively compare your partner to other people. Yes; you may have had a physical ideal when it came to a life-partner, or they may have been a set of personality traits which you prefer; if you  have chosen  your partner in spite of the fact that he/she may have fallen short of your ideals, then you owe it to him/her to love completely; flaws, foibles, warts and all; learn to honour your choice and don’t do your partner a disservice by constantly comparing him/her to someone else; real or imagined

3You regularly “forget” special dates like birthdays, valentines or anniversaries or treat them like regular days. Very often a seemingly convenient lapse in memory is our way of deliberately communicating several things to our partner, without actually saying. Among them is our own feeling of neglect (so we do a tit for tat), a latent underlying anger or unforgiveness over some issue, our preoccupation with someone else or a blatant loss of interest in our partner leading to a disregard of their feelings. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially for women who place great stock and sentimentality into celebrating milestones.

4. There is an absence of meaningful conversation between you and your partner. When your relationship goes silent or if the only things you ever talk about are the kids, the bills or your horrible boss at work, then this may be a sign that your communication channels may need some work. Yes; some talk is better than none at all but special couple-time should also be allocated to sharing about your relationship, your individual or couple goals, your disappointments and of course the communication of how much you love and appreciate your partner.  An absence of meaningful conversation usually means that your partner is being taken for granted.

5. You are flirtatious with others or over-step emotional or sexual boundaries. There is no greater sign of relationship neglect than treading into an area which should be exclusive to your spouse. Being sexual with someone of the opposite sex does not have to include the actual sex act. We are usually sexual long before the penis and vagina interface; so inappropriate behavior can include anything from lustful ogling or undressing with the eyes  to staring deeply into the eyes of another to communicate desire, touching, caressing, sexting, grabbing private parts, kissing, suggestive talking and  the like. Such behaviour is inherently disrespectful to the one you should be committed to.

6. You never see yourself as being at fault in any couple-disputes and so you never apologize. If you can never, ever say sorry or you think you are always right, then this points to emotional under-development and is likely to retard the progress of the relationship. This is especially so since the last time your partner checked, they were probably no perfect people around (so where exactly did you come from?)

7. There is an absence of touch or physical displays of affection. Touch is the barometer that gauges the temperature of the relationship. So the absence of hand-holding, hugs, affectionate squeezes, affirming pats on the back, kisses, playful tickles or even the biggie; sexual intimacy, spells that your relationship is likely to be in some pretty big trouble. Who wants to be close or intimate with a spouse they really can’t stand?

8. You no longer say “I love you”, ever; nor do you attempt to demonstrate love in ways that are meaningful to your partner. This needs no further explanation; love is an action not a lofty ideal which exists in the thoughts; to be felt it must be demonstrated in a love-language or preferred way that is understood and desired by our loved ones.

If your relationship is plagued by one or more of these characteristics and nothing seems to be changing, then this may indicate a need for intervention through counselling, relationship coaching, or through serious dialogue and confrontation with your partner. If you choose to work through this on your own, the emphasis should be on communicating your concerns in a firm but loving way which ultimately conveys your concern for the life and longevity of the relationship.

What a Man Wants

I know that some of you, especially males, are going to think that it’s decidedly presumptuous of me to even think that I know what a man wants. But I’m no Johnny or Jane come lately. Having been married to the same man for over twenty-five years and the fact that I live in a house with four males, gives me the distinct advantage of getting up close and personal with this enigma called the male-species.

Men I believe have their own peculiar set of needs. While much time and energy is spent on deciphering how to make a woman happy and how to keep her satisfied, I think the brothers may have been somewhat hard done by. Because men try so hard to come across as happy go-lucky creatures who are not emotionally needy, we may have become convinced that all a guy needs is a full stomach and some good sex to send him on his way rejoicing. In fact, men thrive on perpetuating this myth that they are in fact one-dimensional creatures.

I recently heard a radio program where a husband admitted that while his wife needed friendship, intimacy, romance and emotional support, all he needed was plenty food and lots of sex. He admitted, to the roaring laughter of his audience, that he could think of nothing else. Of course the flippant response of his listeners confirmed that they had bought his lie; hook, line and sinker. Men, from my own observation, however, need a whole lot more.

The humanity in all of us, whether male or female, cries out for love, attention, a sense of security and affirmation. This is what sets us apart from the animals. Of course socialization and global concepts of maleness and femaleness have to a large degree influenced how we even perceive or articulate our relationship needs. While I don’t intend to make the huge mistake of lumping all males together in the same mold, I believe that males generally pass through three basic stages of emotional and sexual development. These stages, to some degree, do shape or determine the emphasis on specific needs. For instance, trying to navigate a relationship with a guy while he is not yet in his “relationship/settling stage” could prove disastrous to the lady who is hoping to make an honest man out of her guy.

It is imperative therefore that we women understand the male psyche if we are to experience any peace of mind in our relationships with them. Of course there are no absolutes and some guys will by-pass stages or not dwell there long simply because of their own emotional/spiritual development or because of rapid personal growth. Regardless, these frames are perhaps useful terms of reference for assisting us in deciphering the peculiarities of the male species.

Primal Male

This is man on the prowl. Basically he is hunting and hoping to gather a mate to satisfy his cravings for sex. He is usually enamored by the panacea of choice before him. In other words, he can’t decide from the vast array of women he sees. Whether short, tall, black, white, big or small, Primal Male loves women and sometimes wishes there was a way for him to have them all, of course without losing life or limb. If Primal Male is smart, however, reality eventually sets in and he grows to recognize that he can’t very well have his cake and eat it too. This usually happens when one woman enters the picture and effectively convinces him that she is all he really needs. If this “love-of-a-lifetime” experience never happens for Primal Male, he may spend his years on a constant quest for a variety of sexual encounters. On another take, he may come into an experience of emotional development or enlightenment where he becomes tired of his own behavior and yearns for change. The woman, who however, tries to tame this man before he has brought his own savage beast under control, is in for the ride of her life. Primal men at their rawest levels can’t be forced to commit because they are ruled by their desire for sexual conquest. If a Primal Male does marry while still in his prowling stage, then his wife is likely to be confronted by a series of infidelities over which she will have little control.

Settling Male

If Primal Male thrives from the thrill of the chase, then Settling Male has chased, grown tired and wants to pause long enough to put down roots. No seriously, quite a lot is said about the maternal instinct and a woman’s biological clock. Precious little is discussed about the fathering instinct and a man’s desire to proliferate his genes in a secure environment where he can actually influence how his son is allowed to grow into a better version of himself. Yes, despite their reputation, not all men are canine in their activity and just content to spray their sperm around for target practice.

There comes a distinct time in every discerning male’s development when he does recognize that life is not all about him and that he must make active preparation for the next generation and the continuation of his legacy. And of course you will not find men sitting around in packs or groups discussing these things as women do on a regular basis in coffee shops (if you ask a man about his biological clock he’ll probably ask you where he can buy one). To admit this need is an almost unspoken code in the school of masculine initiation but I do believe that it is deeply embedded at the level of the sub-conscious. Remember, men are not prone to admit to any needs unless pure sex is involved. Nonetheless, my experience and observation tells me that the need to father is a distinct male need that more often than not, goes unmentioned.

This need then influences how males do go about selecting a mate or a life partner to facilitate their instinct for fathering. Maybe this explains (not excuses) why some men will run around with a particular woman or women for years and then “select” an entirely different woman to marry and mother the children he wants to father (and this is not a judgement call or an aspersion on women; just a fact of male sexual behavior).

Companioning Male

Now I do believe that every man is terrified of growing old alone with no one around to clip his toe nails. As men come into their own (which admittedly does take some of them a very long time) they grow to recognize that self-exposure and  vulnerability to one woman is not such a bad thing after all. Am I suggesting a diminishing interest in sex or competitiveness or in any of the things that make a man identifiably male? Of course not! There are some core behaviors that will not change even as males mature. Nonetheless, as a man exposes his bad behavior over time to one woman who will often tolerate it (leaving the toilet seat up, socks on the floor, farting loudly, ogling other women) he grows to appreciate how close to God most women are in their behavior. You know what I mean; we’re forgiving, gracious and merciful and our men appreciate that we do put up with their idiosyncrasies even if they never admit it. And how are we rewarded?

We become the companion to whom they begin to expose their thoughts; their deep fears, hopes and unfulfilled dreams. It is perhaps a fact of human nature that it takes several instances of trial and error, foul-ups, bleeps and blunders before we can really reach the potential that has been lying dormant inside of us for so long. This is particularly true of men and their relationships. In other words, the learning that takes place as a result of early relationship mistakes serves a purpose. Very often it causes the true prince to finally emerge from the frog that many are sure they really married.

All Men?

Am I suggesting that all men will navigate their lives in these three distinct stages? Of course not! And yes there is a fair amount of generalization here. But those who have lived with, researched or observed men know that they can be as predictable or as complicated as the next girl. The fun part comes when some aspects of these stages are actually experienced simultaneously. For those of us who choose to love them regardless, it is important to note that reciprocal forgiveness, on-going self-exposure and the lessons learned, do serve to cement the bond. And oh yes, the sex does get better.