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  • Holly Sullivan

5 Signs Your Relationship Needs Help

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Do you feel distant from your partner? Does your relationship feel strained? Maybe you can’t pinpoint the exact problem. But you wonder if your relationship might be in trouble. Even the strongest relationships have rough patches. A rough patch doesn’t have to be catastrophic and can be an opportunity to intervene and address issues with your partner. Here are some key indicators that might mean it’s time to work on your relationship:

  1. Communication Breakdown. When basic communication breaks down, simple misunderstandings can escalate into larger conflicts. For example, you and your partner may be talking about a seemingly small issue, like who is going to do dishes tonight. The conversation begins to feel triggering–perhaps it’s your partner’s tone of voice or facial expression that sparks upset within you. Somehow, you both end up in a quarrel, then maybe not speaking to each other. You wonder, "What happened? How did we go from talking about the dishes to feeling like we are enemies?" When simple conversations go south and trigger crispy conflict, this is indication of your relationship needing attention. 

  2. Criticism and Contempt. Behaviors like eye rolling or sarcasm might feel harmless, but they can erode your relationship over time. Criticism and contempt can become part of a negative cycle with your mate, where you both feel disconnected from each other and hurt. Try to catch yourself in this negative cycle and be curious, asking yourself, “When I showed my partner frustration, what was I really feeling underneath? Was I sad or hurt? Am I needing something from my partner that I’m not getting?” When needs go unmet, we might show our significant other anger, but underneath, we are feeling sad and alone. When these feelings aren’t communicated clearly and vulnerably, your partner can’t respond appropriately and meet your needs. The negative cycle between you continues. 

  3. Growing Apart. Over time, it’s natural for people to change and develop different interests. However, if you find that you and your mate seem to be drifting apart with diverging interests, goals or values, it may indicate deeper disconnect. Perhaps there are unresolved emotional wounds creating a divide between you. You also may be struggling with how to discuss the disconnect with your partner. Maybe you’re worried that approaching the topic might trigger conflict, making issues worse, so you avoid the conversation. This is normal. After all, your partner is probably one of the most important people in your life, if not the most important, so you naturally would be worried about stirring up conflict. However, by avoiding issues, you both are unable to improve your marriage or relationship.

  4. Feeling Unsupported. Do you feel alone in your relationship? Are you wanting more support or encouragement, but feel your partner just isn’t there for you? If you consistently feel unsupported or emotionally neglected in your relationship, it may be time to address this issue. Otherwise, feelings of loneliness and isolation will build and strain your partnership. And guess what? If you’re feeling the relationship disconnect, chances are that your partner is too. 

  5. Persistent Gut Feeling. Is your gut feeling trying to tell you something? Intuition is a powerful indicator that something isn’t right in your relationship. Maybe you can’t identify the exact issue, but your gut knows something is off. Listen to your gut. Trust your instincts and pay attention to your unease. These feelings may be indicating that your relationship requires attention and effort to address underlying issues. Consider talking with your partner about your worry that something is off between you. The conversation can open the door to addressing issues that may be disconnecting you both. 

If your relationship is experiencing one or more of these signs, your relationship is NOT doomed–it just needs TLC. Better marriage communication and connectedness requires ongoing effort and willingness to address challenges together. If you want to learn ways to improve your relationship, consider seeking help from a qualified couples therapist. Ultimately, being proactive and committed to working through issues can strengthen your bond and create a happier relationship.

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