In a distressed relationship, you do your best each day…to put the hurt away…hoping things will be better tomorrow.
When times are tough, you braille your way through the difficult terrain – sometimes with the advice of co-workers or girlfriends…but mostly…it’s a solitary journey and folks go it alone.
Distressed couples rarely seek help with their relationship. The courageous few who do…usually wait 6 years or more before seeking an intervention!
Distressed relationships are painful…yet easy to identify…and it takes enormous courage to look inside.
There are 3 sure signs that identify a distressed relationship…
1. You spiral into recurring arguments about the same unresolved issue(s).
Let’s be clear – happy couples argue and have disagreements. They even have recurring arguments. But distressed couples – have a pattern of arguing that always spirals downhill.
“Here we go again” is the common refrain as couples tumble into the dreaded argument.
If you see it coming, you try to side step the argument…and that works…sometimes.
Most of the time, it’s too late and the arguments’ sheer emotional power would draw Superman and Superwoman into its vortex.
2. You feel lonely or distant from your partner.
Couples in healthy, happy relationships tend to get closer over time.
Neuroscience reveals what we all know in our hearts – humans are hard wired for closeness and… we all need at least one precious person to connect with. Try as we might to deny it, that need – never leaves us.
Distressed couples drift apart while wondering, “How did this happen?” or “How did we get here?”
The disagreements that seem earth-shattering-important in the moment can seem ridiculous the next day.
You do your best to forgive, forget and move on…. but hurt feelings fester or get swept under the rug.
For weeks, you measure your words or keep your distance but humans can only do that for so long. Sooner or later you’ll want to talk about things but it doesn’t help.
In fact, talking about things usually makes matters worse. So you say nothing and try to refocus your energy.
You might even distract yourself with activities that are highly rewarded in our culture.
- Focus on the kids
- Stay cool, calm and collected.
- Work longer hours.
- Vow to never make yourself vulnerable again.
- Dive into all-consuming projects.
Anything to distract you.
Over time, the gulf gets wider and relationship tensions build. Then…without warning…the argument pops up again and you’re left feeling frustrated and misunderstood.
“I’d rather be alone.” echoes in your head…and your heart.
I want to add a footnote here: Sometimes the verbal argument is averted and the negative cycle distances you silently – to separate rooms on the opposite side of the house – for example.
3. Things are getting worse.
Even the most loving relationships deteriorate when partners get trapped in a negative cycle.
It seems absurd that smart, talented, well-educated, high functioning people can’t step out of this downward spiral. But it’s true… It seems to be the one thing that separates happy couples from distressed couples.
Happy couples can step out of their cycle and grow closer over time. Distressed couples can’t. It’s that simple.
For a distressed couple, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, where you went to school, what zip code you live in or what you do for a living, the results are the same; the relationship deteriorates and things get worse. Frustration, anger and lonliness are sure to set in over time.
Patterns that are overlooked, ignored… even embraced… early in the relationship, turn negative.
“He’s fashionably late” becomes, “Next time, I’m leaving without you!”
“She’s awesome and understands me” or “She completes my sentences” becomes, “Stop interrupting me!”
Fortunately, there is a solution and, at Wellness, we know how to help couples recognize their unique patterns and step out of their negative cycle.
If you are like most folks, you aren’t looking for perfection. You just want to know you can disagree, make mistakes and that your partner still has your back…
…that you can love each other and stay connected though it all.
Working with an advanced trained EFT couples therapist takes a distressed couple from despair to hopeful in a reasonably short period of time.
It’s not easy, but it works for most couples.
Take a few minutes and review these three signals with your partner. If they don’t apply…that’s awesome and we are thrilled for you.
However, if they do…. and you want to step out of your negative cycle… we can help and we would love to hear from you.