4 Warning Signs Couples Should Look Out For in a Relationship
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While every relationship has its own unique challenges, there are four common red flags that may signal your relationship is approaching a crossroads. The good news is: it is still salvageable. Read on to find out how you can patch back your relationship if you agree with any of these four points.
It may have started from a very small incident, but doubt soon grew to suspicion and then to feeling betrayed. When your partner said they’d meet you at 6pm, they turned up an hour late, and you soon found yourself arranging your schedule behind time because you didn’t want to be disappointed.
Then, they didn’t want to tell you where they were when you asked because it’s “not important”. When they said, “You know I love you,” you began to wonder if it was really true.
Trust is easy to tear down and difficult to restore— but not impossible. With effort and understanding, you can take these steps to rebuild trust in your relationship:
- Be open and honest. Tell your partner how you truly feel. Explain the incident from your perspective without criticising, and as best as you can, try to listen to what they have to say without becoming defensive. It helps if you keep your mind open to seeing at least some truth in what they say. And if you need to, be the first to say “sorry”.
- Accept differences. The way your partner says and does things may not have met your expectations, and that may have led to doubt, but it’s these differences that make both of you unique individuals. You can still disagree, but once you recognise those differences, you can both see what each can do to reconcile them.
- Deal with past issues. You may have had experiences in your own family relationships and a cynicism that shapes the way you view your partner. Be aware of this and consciously work towards personal emotional closure. If you are ready and feel the need for it, you may go for counselling therapy to help you get back on your feet.
- Take baby steps. Slowly start spending more time with one another again. Be quick to keep your word and slow to talk back. Agree to be on time for your appointments. If you’re going to be late, call to let your partner know. Respect that your partner needs time off to explore their own hobbies too.
Is every other sentence you say met with a disapproving side-eye or retort? Or do you find yourself having to hold your tongue whenever your partner speaks?
Often, it’s matters of household and family management or different expectations in the relationship that cause conflict. While it’s only natural to have differing opinions, it can be damaging when the conflict turns into hurt and resentment.
To work towards a resolution that will benefit both and maintain peace in the relationship, both will first have to want this common goal.
- You’re in this together. Remember that you’re on the same side. Your relationship is not a battle. Remind yourself why you love your partner in the first place— you are both more than the sum of your opinions.
- Listen with your heart. Listen with your ears, but also with your heart. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and think about how their perspective and past experiences would affect their feelings and actions.
- Find your common ground. Sort through the issue at hand until you reach a basepoint you can agree on— for example, despite having different ideas of how much time you should spend together and varying levels of energy you have when you are together, you can both agree that spending time together is important.
- Work forward together. From that common understanding, brainstorm solutions that will best meet both your expectations, bearing in mind that compromise has to be made— perhaps setting aside time to spend together and to recharge on your own or finding a way to do your own things while being together will meet both your expectations midway.
Especially after years of being together, you may feel that that exciting attraction you had at the start has begun to fade. You may find your mind wandering off when your partner is speaking or that more of your time is spent with friends than with your partner.
Pretty soon, keeping up the relationship feels like a “duty” and something you’ve just fallen into the habit of doing.
There are several things you can do to reignite that spark, depending on where you currently are in your relationship:
- Start dating again. Set aside time to spend together again— actually go on a date— just the two of you. Explore a new place, try a new hobby, revisit your favourite restaurant, attend a class you’ll both enjoy.
- Make space to reconnect. Sometimes, what you need is to take a breather— we’re not talking about an “indefinite break to escape boredom” or a “pause in your relationship to seek comfort in someone else”. We mean giving each other room to find yourself again; rediscover your own passions and start your own projects. Then, you can come back together feeling refreshed and ready to start again.
- Appreciate one another. A simple “thank you”, spoken or written, can go a long way. But beyond that, show your partner you care by really focusing on them when they’re speaking and nodding along. Find out your partner’s love language and show your appreciation the way they receive it.
- Learn more about each other. One would think they’d already know everything there is to know about their partner, but there’s still much more to learn about each other! Do you know what your partner’s greatest dream is? How about their greatest fear? Or what their day was like yesterday in detail? Try building a Love Map together.
It’s important to have life goals, but when they don’t quite align with your partner’s or you feel like you’re pursuing different lifestyles, it can feel like you’re going in separate ways.
This may come in the form of setting other priorities over your relationship or discussing long-term plans less frequently. The fact is that life goals change, but you can get back on the same path again.
- Talk about it. Share with your partner what your goals are and how you hope to achieve them, and listen to theirs. Be prepared to accept your partner for who they are now rather than dwelling on the past.
- Be realistic. Sometimes, you have to take a step back and see if your goal really fits into your relationship’s current circumstances. It’s going to be difficult to fulfil your dream of travelling the world when you’re expecting a baby, or returning to full-time studies when family savings are running low.
- Get to where your paths meet. Look for ways your goals can complement each other. If one wants to be a travel photographer and the other a teacher, you can travel together and teach through an online platform.
- Plan forward together. When you’ve found your shared dream again, you can outline how you’ll work towards it together, including the challenges you may face along the way, the milestones that will mark your journey and your bottom-line: that you’ll stick together through it all.
Seeking help in your relationship? Book an appointment with our experienced therapists at TherapySG Couples Counselling
Sorting out issues before getting hitched? Join our 4-session marriage preparation course: Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Programme (PREP 8.0)