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Exploring Womanhood > Relationships > Articles

Seven Warning Signs of a Troubled Relationship
By Sharon M. Rivkin, MA, MFT

When is it time to say, "My relationship is in trouble, and we need help"? How do you know when that time is?

When couples wait too long to ask for help, the relationship may be beyond repair. The sooner help is sought, the better chance there is of recovering, saving, and actually strengthening the relationship. This includes issues dealing with affairs or other types of betrayal. The longer we wait, the more entrenched we get in destructive patterns and resentment, and all hope for change is lost. At a certain point, we don't even want change . . . we just want to be done.

The 7 warning signs that a relationship is in trouble are:

  1. Fighting has become the rule rather than the exception to the rule.

  2. You find yourself looking outside the relationship for comfort, care, and understanding.

  3. You can't remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place.

  4. There is little or no sexual relationship, i.e., sleeping in different rooms or different beds, lack of interest, anger and hostility so that intimacy is out of the question.

  5. Spending very little time together - friends seem to be more important than your partner.

  6. Reactions to situations are disproportionate to the content of the disagreement (i.e., feeling your partner doesn't love you because she/he didn't like the meal you cooked).

  7. Feeling helpless and hopeless to change anything. Feeling done with the relationship, but unclear as to where to go and what to do. Feelings of anger, resentment, pain, and desperation are predominant.

If any or all of these describe you in your relationship, your relationship is in trouble and it won't be long before something more drastic happens, such as an affair, arguments get worse and inflate with intensity, increased jealousy, silence for longer and longer periods of time, and sometimes even physical and/or verbal abuse.

Before your relationship reaches that critical crisis point, look at the warning signs and do something before it's too late:

  1. Seek psychotherapy.
  2. Read books.
  3. Talk to a spiritual/religious advisor.

Without help, the relationship will never get better with time . . . once a certain level of resentment, anger and hostility hits, it will simply get worse and worse. Avoiding TOTAL crisis and saving the relationship is done by knowing when you're in trouble and taking immediate action.

About the Author:
Sharon RivkinSharon M. Rivkin, Marriage and Family Therapist, and author of The First Argument: Cutting to the Root of Intimate Conflict, has worked with couples for 27 years. Her unique insight into the first argument was featured in O: The Oprah Magazine and Reader's Digest, and has attracted people throughout the United States and abroad for consultation, workshops, and courses. For more information on Sharon Rivkin and her book, or to contact her, visit www.sharonrivkin.com.


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