Everybody can agree that relationships are tricky.
When embarking on a lifelong journey alongside your significant other, there are no shortcuts, no quick tips, and no magical solutions that can guarantee smooth sailing.
Building a robust union that will withstand the test of time takes a lot of effort and dedication from both partners.
Though unpleasant, milestones such as getting over that first heated argument, replacing criticism with empathy, or sacrificing ‘me’ time for ‘we’ time are critical in strengthening your relationship or marriage. These are the kind of steps you simply cannot skip.
However, there are times when too much arguing, too little ‘me’ time, or a complete lack of constructive disputes can result in contempt, bottled-up frustrations, and undiscussed issues that threaten the integrity of your union.
Fortunately, it doesn’t happen all at once. No matter how stubborn, critical, or unreasonable two people might be, a relationship or marriage almost never turns sour overnight. There are always signs that predict a potential break-up.
The 5 Signs of a Loveless Relationship/Marriage
1. Lack of Intimacy
Intimacy is a crucial aspect of all healthy relationships. In fact, intimacy makes the difference between meaningful, romantic interactions and casual hangouts.
Most of the time, a couple’s sex life can be ‘disturbed’ by the arrival of the first child, extra-marital affairs, or the ambition to pursue a top career.
As a result, your significant other becomes nothing more than a spectator, a powerless pion in a grander play built exclusively around your selfish desires and aspirations.
And it’s not always about sex. Being intimate with your partner means sharing your ‘wildest’ dreams, being open about your biggest fears, and having the courage to be vulnerable.
Losing intimacy means losing one of the fundamental pillars of your relationship, and that will almost always result in breakup or divorce.
3. Constant Criticism
A relationship without conflicts is not an authentic relationship. If each partner retains part of their independence, it’s obvious that disputes will emerge at some point. And that’s perfectly normal.
Only through conflicts and divergences can two people ‘fuse’ their personalities and work together towards a common goal. In essence, one of the goals of any healthy and functional relationship is to stick together through thick and thin.
While occasional constructive disputes can solidify a marriage, constant criticism will eventually lead to frustration and contempt.
Criticism and reproaches that directly target the partner are among the things that can slowly but surely destroy a relationship.
There’s a difference between, “I’m hungry, and there’s nothing in the fridge” and “Why didn’t you order food?! You’re useless!”
Selfishness is one of the silent killers that can ruin your relationship from the inside out.
What’s interesting is that selfish desire can sometimes be the motivation that determines us to invest time and effort into seducing our romantic partner. However, the same selfish attitude can determine us act less interested and caring towards our partner, once we’ve reached our end goal.
Toxic selfishness – the kind of attitude that turns a relationship into a one-way street – often results from lack of communication, but especially lack of sincerity. Our needs do not always meet the needs of our partner, and that can cause a severe imbalance in the dynamic of your relationship.
While internal stimuli generate selfishness, external ones perpetuate it.
But selfishness could also arise because of frustrations; from unfulfilled old relationships, from not investing profound feelings because we’re afraid of being disappointed again.
4. Lying and Cheating
In many cases, lying and cheating are deal breakers. But if that’s the case, how come people continue to make these mistakes?
Although everyone can agree that lying is a toxic habit, we sometimes choose to hide an unpleasant truth, hoping to preserve a perfect image of our relationship.
We avoid having an open conversation with our partner about that cute colleague from work or the “harmless” flirting between you and his/her best friend. And the worst part is that we fool ourselves into thinking we do it for the right reasons.
Trust is a fragile component; it only takes one moment of infidelity to break it. And once it’s broken, the chances of rebuilding it are slim to none.
As one recent study points out, reporting lower relationship quality, and having had sex outside the relationship predicted dissolution. And this applies to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
No matter how uncomfortable it might be, have an honest conversation with your significant other, before desire turns to motivation and motivation turns to action.
5. Long Hours at Work
We live in a competitive society that places strong emphasis on results. But to achieve spectacular results and climb the corporate ladder, we need to sacrifice precious hours of our personal time.
And that’s how some of us end up spending most of our time working, while our significant other falls asleep alone, wondering how much longer the relationship will last.
The point is, spending too much time at the office results in work-family conflicts. From constant arguing and hurtful remarks to contempt and lack of intimacy, all these harmful attitudes can be the consequence of work-family imbalance.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide if sacrificing your relationship for the sake of wealth and social status is a fair bargain.
Is Marriage Counselling a Viable Option?
Current research suggests that couples therapy can generate significant improvements in relationship matters, individual mental health, and enhanced coping abilities.
Furthermore, a 2017 study on the effectiveness of group counselling based on the acceptance and commitment approach revealed this intervention could increase marital adjustment of couples.
Sitting down with your significant other and discussing your issues under the guidance of a professional who can provide an objective, unbiased opinion can help you find ways to rekindle the love and passion that once brought you together.
Reviewed by Greg Redmond, Director Counselling in Melbourne, 2018
Our blog is for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioural problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional