No relationship is perfect, and everyone faces issues when married, dating, or living together. But what if things have taken a turn for the worst for you and your partner? Do you feel like you are at your wits end trying to make the relationship work? If so, couples therapy may benefit your relationship, and help conquer some of the challenges that have caused you emotional pain and suffering between you and your significant other.
1. Inability to Handle Criticism:
Communication is the basis of every kind of relationship, and that includes being able to take criticism from your partner. Some signs that you (or your partner) may have a difficult time accepting criticism include defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.
- Defensiveness: Defensiveness is when you get upset or feel attacked because someone gives you negative feedback. You could become defensive by a variety of things, for example, if your partner wants you to try and change a certain behavior that is detrimental to your relationship. When you become defensive, it appears to your partner that you are playing the victim, which could make them become irritated and less open with you in the future.
- Stonewalling: Stonewalling (or avoidance) is a response to stress or anxiety, and it causes you to pull away or shut down when faced with criticism. If you do not handle criticism well, you may try to avoid discussing issues with your partner by stonewalling. When you stonewall, you end all possibilities for a conversation before you even have a chance to listen to your partner (which can cause your partner to become frustrated and feel defeated).
- Contempt: You and your partner are meant to act as a union, but when it seems that you are at war with your significant other, it can cause a lot of disorder within your relationship. You may be acting with contempt if you have little respect for your partner, disregard their opinions, or see them as an enemy in your relationship.
2. Repetitive Arguing:
According to The Gottman Institute, all couples experience some type of conflict throughout their relationship. The problem arises when you are experiencing more negative interactions than positive ones. An example is repetitive arguing, which is arguing about the same things repeatedly or simply being unable to agree with your partner under any circumstances. When you argue constantly, you may reconsider your compatibility with your partner, or forget how things once were.
- Compatibility: To feel compatible with your partner is to feel like you compliment each other, and that you belong together. When there is constant arguing in your relationship, you may wonder if you two are really right for each other. You may feel like you are falling out of love, or that you just don’t see eye to eye anymore.
- Rewriting History: When arguing becomes the most common type of conversation in your relationship, you may forget the times that you and your partner actually enjoyed each other’s company. When that happens, you convince yourself that your relationship was always bad, which makes you wonder if you should stay together.
3. No Longer Laughing:
When you are in a romantic relationship, you expect you and your partner to act as best friends. This includes having fun together, laughing, and being yourselves around each other. When you feel like laughter and happiness have gone from the relationship, it can have you feeling uncomfortable and hopeless.
- Security: Being able to make light of a situation or laugh with your partner shows that you are secure and confident enough with each other to joke around. When that is lost, it may be a sign that you no longer feel safe in being silly or cheerful with your partner; instead, it makes you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, and you avoid laughing altogether.
4. Stress Causes Distance:
Sometimes your relationship is doing just fine, but stress and life events can cause you and your partner to retract from each other (when you should be supporting each other). Many events in life cause stress, and it could benefit you to get counseling to be proactive in dealing with those events.
- Head Start: If you are a newer couple, or planning on getting married, it is common to invest time into couples’ therapy. By building a strong foundation of communication, trust, and intimacy, it can lead to positive long-term outcomes between you and your partner.
- Life Changes: When people are in long-term relationships, they experience life together, including all the changes. Significant changes you experience together (having children or experiencing death) can add stress to a relationship. Learning how to manage the effects of life events within your relationship can have positive lasting effects for you and your partner.
If you are struggling with any of the above issues in your relationship, just know there are options to overcome these problems. Therapy is a big step, but with both partners willing, it can lead to a happier, healthier relationship. Don’t allow a toxic relationship to hold you back; try couples therapy, and you can discover the possibilities of healing with your partner.
Watch The Video
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My Partner and I Don’t Talk Any More – It Feels as If We’ve Drifted Apart.” Relate: the relationship people, www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/communication/my-partner-and-i-dont-talk-any-more-it-feels-if-weve-drifted-apart.
Sommerfeldt, S. (2019, February 09). Reasons Behind Lack of Affection in a Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.lovingrootsproject.com/allblogposts/2019/2/9/reasons-behind-lack-of-affection-in-a-relationship
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Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.