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Signs Your Relationship Issues Are Probably Terminal

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Signs Your Relationship Issues Are Probably Terminal

Relationship issues – the danger signs

Many of you have read about, or personally experienced the signs that your relationship is in serious trouble. Here’s a few relationship issues to jog your memory:

1. When your partner emotionally distances from you for an inordinate period of time

2. When he/she starts fights or becomes agitated over relatively minor issues

3. When the fighting goes from 0 to 60 in a few seconds

4. When the fighting becomes chronic

5. When your partner begins to make excuse after excuse not to have sex with you

6.When he/she moves into another bedroom or requests a trial separation. “You know honey, I’m not saying I want a divorce…yet…but I just think we need a little time apart to sort things out.” When I hear these words in my clinical practice I shudder because it brings to mind that infamous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke: “You got your mind right, Luke?”

Indeed, some of these relationship issues  are “lame ducks.” The initiating partner either isn’t quite ready to pull the plug, or is too concerned about hurting your feelings; some think you’ll go ballistic and would rather avoid violent fallout. Even with signs, however, it’s hard to tell for certain what the true prognosis of the relationship actually is.

Most marriage counselors are reluctant to push a relationship one way or the other—preferring to let them run their course all the while clarifying and interpreting threatening comments. It’s the least we can do for the non-initiating spouse to help prevent shock if and when the hammer comes down.

In my opinion, however, there are words other than, “I’m done with you and I want a divorce,” that are an excellent indicator that your relationship may be truly over. I hope you’ve never heard—and never will hear this: “I love you, but I’m just not in love with you,” or some facsimile of. To me “loving someone” can be entirely different than “being in love” with them. You can love someone and cheat on them; you can even separate or divorce and love simultaneously: “I love you but I just can’t live with you.” Or, “I love you but I just can’t be married to you.” And one of my personal favorites: “Of course I love you…well…I don’t want anything to happen to you.” Ah, what’s the difference?

Anyway, in my experience when the words “I’m not in love with you” are uttered, particularly by a woman, it’s pretty much a done deal. In over 35 years of marriage counseling I’ve never seen a woman come back from this point—which I call “over the hump.” Men aren’t that easy to retrieve at this point but it’s been my experience than women are much more ominous at this stage. Yes, once a partner is over the hump, it seems almost impossible to bring him/her back into the relationship. Some people try to hang in there. I admire their loyalty and tenacity but it’s a very difficult process. I’m not recommending that people at this stage stop trying to do everything they can to save their relationship, but…

On the upside, it’s not that easy to reach the hump stage in a relationship—it takes a lot of dysfunctional work. I believe it was Balzac who once said something like “in every relationship there is a non-communicative partner and one who cannot read between the lines.” I’ve found this to be true. The initiator tends to simmer rather than clearly express his/her thoughts and feelings. By the hump stage, the initiator usually has so much angerand resentment built up that little if anything can be salvaged. The so-called non-initiating partner appears blind to the initiator’s hurt and rage, even if hints of such have been dropped in his/her lap.

What to do? Well, I believe a case can be made for consistent nurturing and early intervention. Too many couples treat marriage counseling as a last resort. By this time the initiator may have at least one foot out the door. Partners must pay attention to their relationships and get help as soon as they even get a sniff of trouble. The objective is to keep your partner as far away from the hump as possible…always and forever. Don’t be too proud to tackle your relationship issues, or one day you could be told that you’re loved on par with your pet beagle…maybe less.

Author’s Books and Kindle – Click for Amazon Reviews

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Dr. Stephen J. Betchen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a critically acclaimed author and regular contributor to the popular Ladies’ Home Journal column, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” He currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University. For more than 25 years, Dr. Betchen has helped couples repair their relationships and reach new levels of happiness, whether they’re battling about in-laws, sex, parenting, infidelity, money, careers—or anything in between. (Case in point: He once treated folks who were at odds over the wife’s weight and the husband’s constant criticisms!) Dr. Betchen’s approach to couples therapy is refreshingly simple: He offers no gimmicks, slogans or quick fixes to nagging problems. Instead, Dr. Betchen believes that individuals change only when they discover what’s really driving their behavior—and that relationships change only when couples develop empathy for their partners and understand what really drew them together. (Turns out that physical attraction is just part of it.) Dr. Betchen provides in-depth analysis of couples’ attitudes and behavior, enabling them to see themselves and each other in a new light. And from there, he delivers real-world advice that teaches couples how to change themselves—and their relationship. Dr. Betchen is the author of numerous professional articles on relationships and makes frequent media appearances. His expert opinions often appear in national publications, including Family Circle and Men’s Health. In addition to Magnetic Partners, Dr. Betchen is the author of Intrusive Partners-Elusive Mates.

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