Relationships are the lifeblood of human society. While we may sometimes crave our own space, generally speaking, human beings are sociable and it's important for us to form close bonds with those to whom we are attracted.
That's why it's so sad when relationships break down. And with statistics showing that slightly under half of all UK marriages are predicted to end in divorce, it's clear this is no small problem. But from all negative situations lessons can be learned, which is why it may be useful to list the most common relationship killers that we have come across in our experience as emotional resilience coaches here at My Internal World.
While we are talking here specifically about marriage and romantic relationships, some of these themes can also be adapted to professional relationships and their problems too.
Of all things that go wrong in relationships, this is probably the most common. What do we mean by poor communication? Not communicating properly spans a wide range of issues from not talking at all, to not addressing problems. While it's true that many of us can get less communicative as we get older, it's very important to keep talking to your partner. A phone call on the way home from work to let your other half know when you'll be arriving through the door is an excellent, thoughtful, place to start - but sitting down together and having proper conversations, asking each other about your day, this is the stuff on which good, lasting relationships are built. Become lazy in this area at your peril.
Belittling a partner is never, ever OK. It makes no-one feel better about themselves. It is not acceptable to get a cheap laugh by humiliating the person who has promised to spend their life with you. This also includes online interaction; making petty comments about each other on public social media forums, with pictures to back them up. Belittling, cheapening remarks, whether in company or not, just makes the other person feel terrible and leads to a rapid build up of resentment. If it's done to you, tell your partner honestly how it made you feel. If you've done it yourself, apologise and never do it again.
A marriage ceremony involves making vows. The traditional promises are really rather beautiful if you take time to consider them - for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness, and in health...
Wow. Just think about those. You're saying that no matter how much money you'll have, and no matter what problems befall you, you'll love each other and stay together. It's worth remembering that when difficulties do occur, which they inevitably will. Broken promises clearly include things like being unfaithful, but they would also cover not being supportive during other issues such as mental health problems, or decisions to take a big pay cut by quitting that well-paid job in favour of following a dream, for example.
Loss of intimacy
Intimacy between couples should be strictly private, but many people cite the decline in intimacy as a reason for filing for divorce. There are lots of reasons why the desire for intimacy can fade over time, but often one partner is in fact very unhappy about it, yet doesn't say so. It all really stems back to communication, and being brave enough to admit when something is making us miserable. Proper, honest communication is always the first step to healing.
Feeling 'taken for granted' or 'ignored'
Relationships get more complicated when children appear, especially if there has been poor communication to start with. A marriage that once involved cooking, cleaning and remembering to take out the rubbish for two people gets a whole lot busier when all of these things need to be remembered for children, too. Many couples who get to the stage of seeing a divorce lawyer will feature one person complaining they felt totally "taken for granted" by the other. Assumptions over who is putting the children to bed, washing the children's clothes, helping the children with their homework, cooking, cleaning up after eating, keeping an eye on what the children are watching on their screens, having difficult conversations when the children cross boundaries; all of those things are a massive, time-consuming part of bringing up a family. If one person finds themselves doing all of these things, perhaps affecting their working life as a result, it will rapidly become a problem. They quickly start to feel as though their own needs are becoming swept aside, and that when they try to ask for help, they are ignored.
Since we've given you our five relationship killers, to cheers us all up here are our five pieces of advice for a long and happy relationship:
- Put your partner before yourself.
- Ask about their day.
- Know how they like you to show love and try to do it - flowers, praise, listening, surprises - we all have our own 'language' of love.
- Don't be afraid to say when your other half has upset you. It takes courage to be vulnerable.
- Don't let the sun go down on your anger. If you argue, try to make it up before the day is through.
Go on then, here's one more...
Bonus tip: Don't let money become a problem. Spend within your limits. Few things corrode trust in a relationship like one person hiding money (or debt) from the other.