What makes couples go off track, and how to bounce back
Photo by freestocks on UnsplashMost relationships that fail don’t casually explode on a Thursday afternoon.
If you were to conduct a post-mortem on 100 failed relationships, you’d notice that while the end results may seem explosive and quick, the real threat to the healthiness of the relationship happens over a much longer arc. Relationships that fail are most commonly side-tracked over time, creating small but significant hairline fractures.
These fractures often go unnoticed. They seem to be survivable and most days, the relationship may not experience any of the major negative consequences of limping along with a fracture.
But over time, under the constant strain and stress relationships often induce, those hairline fractures can become wider and deeper until the pain swells up to an all out-break.
Getting occasionally side-tracked isn’t a huge deal. It happens to everyone. But without re-alignment and re-adjustment, your relationships will head in the wrong direction and will eventually end up in at the wrong location. If you want to be on the winning side of your relationships, here are three pain points to work through to avoid being side-tracked.Entitlement
A sense of entitlement can bedefined
as “an unrealistic, unmerited, or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment of others.” In other words, thinking of yourself too highly. Entitlement creates situations where only our needs matter
, where what we wantgets morphed
into what we feel that we needor even deserve.
The difficulty with entitlement is that it is very difficult to self-diagnose. Once entitlement seeps into the soil of your heart, it is very challenging to uproot. It grows in the shadows and can sit dormant, waiting patiently for the opportunity or moment to rear up and put pressure on a relationship.
If your relationship is being plagued by a sense of entitlement, a starting point is to try discussing and evaluating expectations with your significant other. Talking through core areas of your relationship such as intimacy, time spent together, communication, and emotional needs can be a great practice to both identifying and beginning to isolate feelings of entitlement.Emotional Disconnection
Emotional disconnecting or emotional drifting
is one of the most common phenomenons in relationships that get side-tracked. There are very few things in the world that are actively working to better your emotional health in your relationships. The default is to drift further apart, not towards each other.
Emotional drifting can happen for a variety of reasons. A season of busyness with work, school, kids, or other activities can create the distance, but a failure to address the distance isone
of the leading causes of separation.
“Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman’s research identifiedeight predictors of divorce. Many of these predictors are symptoms you would expect, like poor conflict management and a high degree of negativity. Of the eight predictors, emotional distancingis the hardest to recognize.”
Emotional connection is rooted in trust which takes time to accrue. Trust is forged over time but lost in a moment, so building an emotional connection back up after there has been emotional drifting can be a challenging and labor-intensive process.
Often, building a healthy emotional connection comes from being intentional with how you spend your time with your significant other. Spending purposed, distraction-free time with each other can go a long way to fighting against getting side-tracked from emotional disconnection.Envy
Envy and its cousins, jealousy and possessiveness, are major detriments to any healthy and happy relationship. Rooted in comparison, envy is
the reaction to lacking something or perceiving that you are lacking something, according to PsychCentral.
Envy is manipulative and often introducesfeelings
of fear, insecurity, and control into a relationship. When someone in a relationship is filled with envy, boundaries are likely to be crossed from which the relationship may never recover.
Trust is central to any good relationship. It is the foundation upon which all else is built because a deep trust communicates intrinsic value, worth, and respect. The dating service EHarmony puts it this way
: “When you fully trust your partner, when there is no need for suspicion of any kind, you can have one of the greatest prizes in the world: inner peace.”
If you want to keep your relationship on track and healthy, you need to work to eliminate the roots of envy in your heart and mind. You can start by taking steps as simple as writing out a list of 10 things you are grateful for each day. While this exercise is simple, its power lies in the repetition and remembering. Curating a sense of gratitude will carry you far in dismantling an envious attitude.
No relationship is perfect and no person is perfect at relationships. If you’ve dated or pursued
marriage, you likely have a history of flaws and fractures that either you’ve done or have been done to you. Having a history isn’t the end of the world. Failing to learn from your history is.
Relationships are dynamic and ever-changing. What you did yesterday won’t always work tomorrow, but there are some inherent and core themes that can carry you closer or further from where you want to be. If you can work to avoid and eliminate entitlement, emotional disconnection, and envy from your relationships, your odds at having healthy relationships will go way up.