As a relationship coach, I get an insider's view in a lot of relationships that are dying. Although every relationship is completely unique and no two people are the same, relationships that fail almost always have certain things in common. Being aware of the common denominators of failing relationships can help a couple, or an individual in a couple, stay on the right side of relationship bliss. The challenge is most people would consider many of the traits of a failing relationship normal, or maybe typical and although they might be typical, they are certainly not normal in any way.
Below are five common signs your relationship is in trouble. Not every relationship that fails suffers from all of these traits. However, I've never seen a relationship tank that didn’t have at least one of these running. Most failed relationships have more than one.
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1. You quit talking to each other like people who love one another. Long before a couple may realize they are in serious trouble, the tone of their communication changes. It can range anywhere from dismissive to downright cruel. When I'm talking to a couple that is simply not polite with each other I'm always concerned there is a current of resentment running through the relationship. If you are more polite to your waitress at dinner than you are to your spouse, something is going terribly wrong.
2. You aren't addressing your failing sex life. Physical intimacy between two people is one of the main things that distinguishes to people as an actual couple. Roommates and business partners don't have sex. So, when a couple quits having sex, they slip into the roommate zone very quickly. People quit sharing physical intimacy for a lot of different reasons. However, it doesn't matter what the reason is. The effects of lack of intimacy are serious. A sex life is a very accurate barometer of the health of a relationship.
3. You start hiding things from each another. Honesty is the highests form of intimacy. When intimacy fails, complete honesty is usually the first thing to go. When a partner starts hiding things from the other, no matter how small, it creates a barrier to closeness. I know a couple is real trouble when one or both of them feels justified in their dishonesty. Sometimes, the dishonesty is about something as big as fear of being accepted. Sometimes, it's about fear of being busted for something as simple as overspending. It doesn't matter what it is. It's a symptom of a relationship off the rails.
4. You don't touch. Every couple has a different level of comfort with public touch. However, show me a couple that doesn't touch each other at all as they pass during the day and I'll show you a couple that isn't connected. Nonsexual touch is a very healthy habit of happy couples. When two people quit touching one another, they lose the connection that identifies them as romantic or intimate partners.
5. Your relationship is defined by family and children. I realize it's contrary to popular wisdom in many circles, but putting your kids first is a serious mistake. Energy goes where attention flows, so if all of your energy is going to your kids, your relationship will starve and wither. It might not fail completely, but it won't be fulfilling. It's very healthy for children to bask in the warmth of a strong relationship between Mommy and Daddy. Children don't need to be the center of your universe. They need to be in a stable and loving home. The best thing you can do for your kids is take care of your marriage. When two people are focusing too much on their children, they are often masking other problems in the relationship, and if they aren't, they will be soon enough.
Lisa Hayes is a Relationship Coach and Author of How to Escape from Relationship Hell and the Passion Plan. She is also co-founder of Good Vibe Coaching Academy, specializing in LOA Coach training. To get Lisa's FREE Audio, "How to Talk to a Man" Click here.
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