Relationships are not easy and they never will be. That’s why we spend so much time thinking and worrying about them. The major signs of trouble are easy to identify. But what about the smaller signs, those that are hard to spot but over the years combine to work away to damage and often destroy the relationship.
Here are some of those signs and how to deal with them:
You make no time for physical intimacy
We are not just talking about sex here but all the other little physical demonstrations of love and desire. If sex has declined or stopped completely and you don’t hug or even touch each other then the relationship is probably under stress.
With a lack of intimacy comes a lack of real communication. Conversations become solely about the children and the mundane but essential details of domestic life. The slide to boredom and indifference may well already be underway.
Getting back to a situation where physical intimacy comes naturally often requires looking at the problems beneath the surface which have led to this lack of intimacy. This is not easy to do so having relationship counselling is usually the best way to start the process. Physical desire for your partner or the lack of it can be the bellwether of the quality of your relationship.
It’s easy to get out of the habit of showing you care but a lot more difficult to get back into it. No touching can soon become the norm. Start by holding hands more and try to work slowly towards being more physically relaxed. This is not easy and the longer you have neglected each other the more difficult it will be to re-establish a physical closeness. If you think you need help then don’t feel bad about that. You have not failed thousands of couples have had relationship counselling and it has proved to be a great help in their relationship.
You can’t be bothered to impress each other anymore
Why would I want to impress someone I have slept in the same bed with for the past twenty years? Why not? Remember when you used to plan how you were going to look when you went out together. A lot of thought and effort went into getting ready, you looked after yourself and you wanted to make an impression. It was important to both of you in the early stages of your relationship so why not now?
When did you last buy flowers on the way home from work or spring a surprise meal in the pub on him? Just because you’ve been married for years that does not mean that these treats should not be an important part of your life now. However, there’s more to it than that. You need to demonstrate to your partner that you are a strong, reliable and devoted lover, friend and partner worthy of their love and trust. Being taken for granted can lead to low self-esteem and boredom and they are the early signs of a relationship in difficulty.
Remember it’s a partnership not a dictatorship, not even a benign one
As obvious as it might seem good and healthy relationships are partnerships not dictatorships. Someone who always insists on having his/her own way, who makes unreasonable demands, or who always believes they are right is sending a terrible message to their partner. They are saying that their partner’s needs are not important and can be largely disregarded. They are saying that he or she doesn’t matter. This is so deeply damaging that the effect of this abuse can corrode a relationship and scar the victim for the rest of their life.
Dictatorships don’t just happen; they develop slowly and arrive in full flower before you know it. If this is how you behave ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship. Does this appalling behaviour make you happy? Does belittling your partner make you feel good? Hopefully not. Dictatorial marriages may last for years but when they collapse they make for the most hard fought and destructive divorces.
To rebalance your relationship you need to take on the difficult task of reflecting upon why you need to dominate the relationship and disregard your partner’s needs. This is potentially very destructive. The first thing that must be done is to acknowledge that the situation exists. Then work together to find a way to agree some common ground and begin the tough task of brining some balance back to your relationship. If your behaviour is worrying you (or your partner) you probably need some help from relationship counselling. This does not mean your are a failure, it’s just a helping hand so that the two of you can get your relationship back to where you want it to be.