Recognize the warning signs of a fragile relationship

A married couple faces some of the greatest highs and lows revolving around a relationship. The initial blush of love can leave twosomes giddy with happiness, while the breakdown of that relationship can be heartbreaking.

Those couples who feel that their relationship is tenuous or problematic may not understand why it is happening and may not even recognize the signs. There are, however, signs that marriage therapists identify as red flags.

4 signs of danger

Each relationship is unique, but some common symptoms of troubling behavior that couples can recognize in themselves and their spouse include:

  • Attacking the person, not their behavior: Couples are prone to criticizing each other to a certain level, and it is generally harmless – this was called bickering in our grandparents’ time. But be mindful of an accusatory generalization like “you always interrupt me when….” This can lead to defensive responses, which leads to a downward spiral.
  • Treat a spouse with contempt: Verbal or non-verbal behavior that elevates one spouse over the other is unhealthy. It could be hurtful sarcasm, name-calling, eye-rolling, or disgust. A partner may do this because of low self-esteem, but it is never okay to allow disrespectful behavior.
  • Being defensive: Spouses that exhibit defense mechanism like “it’s not my fault,” “I didn’t mean that…,” “yes, but….” Spouses may not even realize they do this, or they are acutely aware that they always feel like the spouse attacks them. This all leads to defensive behavior.
  • Stonewalling dialog: This happens when one refuses to acknowledge a point, avoids dialog that could cause conflict, or walks away while interacting with the spouse. Even leaving to calm down means that the couple’s relationship is not one where they can problem-solve or work together.

It may be time to move on

Being in a relationship with these kinds of issues can lead to problems in other areas and may even affect the children. Couples can seek professional help, but often the hurt is so deep that it is too late for one or both of them to resurrect the marriage. Once one or both has this realization, it is best to start thinking about changes and how they want their divorce to look. Speaking with a knowledgeable family law attorney is a step toward a better and healthier future.

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