Is Your Relationship in Trouble?
Five Things to Look For
I know that it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to figure out if you are having problems in your relationship, but there are some problem areas in relationships that may start out small, but as time goes on and things develop in the relationship, can become “big” things. These are just a few things to be alert for to catch as concerns when they occur early in your relationship indicating there may be trouble ahead.
Money: Do you share expenses equally? Do you have a shared bank account? Do you have joint credit cards? Are you a co-signer on any accounts or purchases with your partner? Are you buying a large-ticket item, like a car or house, together? What is it about your partner’s behavior in regard to money that irritates you? What is it about your behavior in regard to money that irritates your partner?
Money problems often start small: something you observe about your partner’s behavior in regard to money that catches your attention and “hits you wrong,” some peculiarity that you have noticed, unexplained, such as discrepancies in joint bank accounts or your thought, “It seems like I end up paying most of the bills.” Or, “My partner spends so much that he/she cannot meet necessary expenses.” Each of these situations, and there are many more, provides you with a clue that money may be a problem in your relationship. You may decide to overlook it for now, but, as time goes by, it may grow in significance. Finally, for some reason, it becomes a crisis.
If you see something in the descriptions above that you find in your own relationship, it is important to address it now before it becomes a crisis and destroys the relationship. If it can be fixed now, this is the time to deal with it, and relationship counseling can help you. Financial counseling can focus on the symptoms, but psychological counseling focuses on the causes.
Change: Did you think that after you developed your relationship, your partner would change in some way to become more like your image of what he or she should be like? Does your partner keep mentioning something that you do that annoys them, telling you that you shouldn’t do that? Do you often feel disillusioned when your partner does not meet the expectations that you had for him or her when you started? Do you often think, “If he (or she) would only make a few changes in their behavior, everything would be fine? Do you often say, “I wish you’d do …differently”? Does your partner often say, “I wish you’d do…differently”?
Many people go into relationships thinking, “I like him (or her), but …. I shouldn’t worry about that now, however. After we get to know each other better, he (or she) will learn what I expect (or want), and change.”
If the word or idea of change in the future enters into any of your thinking in regard to your partner and/or relationships, you are planting the seeds for problems in the future. If you think to yourself, “I don’t like it, but that can change as the relationship develops.” Most significantly, do you think to yourself, “I can change that in him (or her) when we get closer (when we get into a real relationship) (when we get engaged) or (when we get married).” That is a warning bell for problems in the future which you and your partner need to address with relationship counseling before you get any more emotional investment into the relationship.
Jealousy: Is your partner overly watchful of who you talk to, telephone, text, and/or email? Do you notice that when you talk to someone other than your partner in the presence of the partner, he or she seems to get nervous or continually does or says things to draw your attention away from the other person you are talking to? After telephone calls you have received in the presence of your partner, does he or she ask, “Who was that?” Does your partner seem nervous or resentful of your friends at work or other personal friends?
Many people in the early stages of relationships do not understand that these are often the early warning signs for jealousy. At first, they may just seem a little annoying or bewildering. As time passes, however, they tend to intensify. As jealously advances into a relationship, you may come to feel that you no longer have a life of your own. Nothing you do in regard to other people goes unnoticed or uncommented on by the partner. Jealous partners may even take to following you around, tracking your whereabouts, reading your email, asking questions about the people you get regular mail from, actually stalking you. Anytime that you are not focused only on him or her, the partner has a suspicion that you are carrying on in some way with someone else.
People who are prone to jealousy are insecure, and often even small things seem huge threats to them as they believe inside that they are inadequate. Realize that the jealous partner will not eventually get over it when they realize (or hope) that you love and are devoted to them. The trend in jealousy is for it to increase, sometimes to the point that it becomes the only thing you have in common anymore in the relationship: the partner’s obsession with you and obsession that you are going to leave because you have found someone more desirable, richer, or better looking. The earlier that you recognize the symptoms of jealousy, the easier it will be to break up with the person. But, realize, breaking up at any stage with the jealous partner can be difficult and challenging at any state of the relationship. But, the sooner, the better. Psychological counseling can help you get over the “bumps” in this kind of a relationship.
Violence: Does your partner, when he or she gets angry, lash out? Do they throw or break things? How do they behave with their pets? Do they seem needlessly harsh, even cruel if the pet doesn’t obey or misbehaves in some way? Do they slam their hand down, advance on you physically in the course of arguments, or raise their hand to you even if they do not strike you? Have they actually struck you in some way? Have they made physical threats to you if you don’t do something their way or follow exactly their directions.
Violent behavior is like jealously, when ignored in the hopes that it will change or stop, only tends to accelerate and get worse. Violent people are quick to anger and have little impulse control. And, their patience, if they have any, runs out fast, making them go from day-to-day, incident-to-incident on an increasingly “short fuse.” Violent behavior will not diminish in and of itself. The strength of your love will not replace the proclivity to violence with love in return, but it can result in your becoming a victim.
Recognize that, like jealousy, violent behavior often starts small, but, even more than jealousy, it tends to advance rapidly. If your partner, in the heat of anger, or in some confrontation, suddenly looks at you with overtly aggressive looks, makes moves towards you as if to force you to do or say something, considers it a warning sign for potential violent behavior. Just one instance of this behavior may not really mean much, but any repetition of the behavior or acceleration of it should be a warning sign. Get out of the relationship before the violent behavior of your partner gets too advanced. Too late to do so may be too late! Psychological counseling can assist you with confronting this warning sign and dealing with it.
Verbal abuse: Does “kidding” sometimes go too far? Does your partner have some names for you or your behavior that are not too flattering or outright insulting? Do they yell at other drivers or pedestrians? Have you noticed that they swear and use uncouth language to people, strangers, or people close to them? Does the partner occasionally tell you to “Shut up!” Have they actually called you names in anger or shouted for some reason other than just to be heard? Have they said things to you in the presence of other people that made you feel ashamed or humiliated, either for yourself or for your partner?
Verbal abuse also accelerates as time goes on. Often, the better the verbal abuser knows the victim, the more likely they will be to use verbal abuse. It may start as kidding, then accelerate to teasing, and finally to verbal bullying. Often the fear of verbal abuse, like the fear of violence and physical abuse, will cause the “victim” partner to curtail their activities and to avoid saying or doing anything that may cause them to be the target for abuse.
In a relationship, this soon becomes untenable. Watch for the warning signs. When you first notice some form of verbal abuse becoming regular, that is the time to make it clear that you will not accept verbally abusive behavior. If the result of that is more verbal abuse, then you know all you need to know. But, be aware, don’t think that this behavior will decline as you grow closer together. Often, the closer you are, the more the abuser feels free to engage in the abusive behavior. Be aware of the characteristics of this type of behavior, and don’t let it go too far. Find a relationship in which you do not have to fear or be subjected to verbal abuse. Psychological counseling for both partners may be helpful in helping the abuser recognize the problem and to realize it negative effects on the relationship.
This has not been a complete list of warning signs to look for in predicting the future of your relationship. These are important, but they are not the only warning signs to watch for.
When you recognize one or more of these warning signs in your partner (or, in yourself), you have, basically, three alternatives:
1) Do nothing, wait, and watch the development of the behavior, realizing that at some point in the future, you may decide that you cannot put up with it anymore. Or, you may realize that you may be a part of the problem by facilitating and putting up with the undesirable behavior. How the behavior develops and how you feel about it should give you important clues to the endgame, which may be the termination of the relationship.
2) Recognize that you have seen enough of the behavior already, that you already know all you need to know about it. The action, then, is to terminate the relationship.
3) Seek psychological counseling. Urging your partner to seek psychological counseling is an alternative, but be prepared for resistance to this idea. More effective and acceptable for your partner may be the alternative of entering a counseling program together. Thus, pursuing this alternative, you should avoid placing the cause for the counseling solely on your partner (although that may be a fact). It should be presented to the partner as mutual problem that you both share, and the purpose of the counseling is not to “fix” the partner, but to improve the quality of your relationship.
I am experienced in personal relationship counseling, and I offer a full range of programs to assist individuals in eliminating undesirable behavior patterns and on the improvement of mutual partner relationships. I can help you to encounter and deal with any of these warning signs in your relationship. Give me a call….
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, psychological advice or therapy, nor does it establish a therapist/client relationship. You should consult a psychologist for individual advice regarding your own situation.