Question: "All couples have problems, right?. How will I know if my relationship is truly headed for disaster?"
The saying is true that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I can provide 3 tested and true indicators that your relationship may be going up in flames:
1. If you or your partner is conflict avoidant.
All relationships encounter some form of conflict between partners along the way. If you and your partner fall into a pattern of shutting down or escalating to fights that lead to bouts of separation or giving each other the silent treatment when you try to address conflict then your relationship is in critical condition. Couples have to create a safe environment to work through problems to ultimately reach a resolution that they can both live with. If you get stalled before a conversation can even get off the ground it’s time to seek help.
2. If you can’t agree on any ground rules about how you manage outside relationships. I teach couples all the time about the importance of “brand management” in a relationship. Brand management is the way partners present their relationship to outsiders. If you and your partner can’t agree on things like how you communicate (or not) with your ex-lovers, if flirting or chatting with others is allowed, or not sleeping around then one or both of you will never feel safe and secure enough to relax in the relationship. A relationship without trust is a rollercoaster ride you won’t want to stay on long term.
3. If you don’t believe your partner will lend you financial support when you truly need it.
The most resentful partners I’ve encounters are those who feel unsupported financially in their relationship. If your partner is unwilling to loan or share their resources with you at a time when you really need it the most, this will continue to be a problem for you. It’s easy to find someone who will share in the good times with you. Finding a companion to walk with you through financial hardships is just as important. If your partner is untrusting or unwilling to share when you’re down and out it will be difficult for you to keep an open heart (and bank account) toward them.
If you are currently experiencing any of these relationship symptoms don’t panic. Instead, seek help. There is still a chance that with work, you and your partner can reach a new level of understanding with each other. However these are 3 of the more challenging issues to resolve without professional or spiritual help. Individual and couples therapy are powerful tools that address these specific issues and more, by helping you and your partner learn ways to develop solutions that both of you can live with. Before you abandon the relationship, grab a trusty extinguisher (therapist) and safely put out the flames. You just may salvage your relationship.