It’s no secret that in a struggling relationship, you feel the psychological and physical burdens of it. There are many reasons why a relationship can be struggling.
No guidebook could be applied to all relationships, but there are ways you can try to salvage and improve them. What is going to be helpful depends on the personality of both partners, the nature of the fights, and the root causes behind the issues.
Why does one struggle with relationships?
All relationships hit bumps on the road and experience ups and downs. Being in a partnership with someone requires both parties to learn to compromise, have productive arguments, and overcome conflicts.
Therefore, it is no surprise that at one point or another, the relationship struggles while becoming better in those things.
The reasons for struggling relationships can be many, starting from evolutionary aspects and the high demands of the contemporary mating context where we each are responsible for finding our own mate.
Furthermore, communication issues are often to blame for the demise of relationships. When two people stop discussing problems and working on overcoming them as a team, the bonds that once tied them get loosened.
We could also talk about the lack of commitment as one of the key factors for struggling relationships.
Research has identified that if perceived perceptions of partner commitment fluctuate over time, those relationships were more likely to struggle and end, compared to relationships of individuals whose perceptions remained relatively steady.
If we look closely, we will be able to find the reasons why one struggles in a relationship. Those might not be obvious at first, and they will vary from couple to couple.
However, it comes down to lack of or miscommunication, mismatch of personal values and goals, and lack of work on overcoming the problems and repairing relationships.
10 warning signs of a struggling relationship
How do you recognize that you are struggling in a relationship?
Surely you have noticed signs your relationship is in trouble, but the question is, did you attribute them to your relationship or write them off to stress, timing, or some other factor.
If you are to fix relationship problems, you need to recognize first that you are in a struggling relationship.
1. Problems are not getting solved
One of the key signs of struggling relationships are issues that keep recurring without reaching a solution. The fight ends, but the problem persists.
In healthy relationships, arguments happen too, but couples are working through relationship problems and figuring out a solution together.
2. Decreased intimacy
Every couple goes through periods of decreased emotional and physical intimacy. However, if you are seeing a pattern that persists, you might be in a struggling relationship.
3. Emotional support is lacking
Do you find yourself not going for support to your partner for fear of rejection, criticism, or plain disinterest?
If yes, you are experiencing signs of a troubled partnership.
If you’d rather see friends or be alone, you might be experiencing symptoms of a struggling relationship that needs to be addressed.
5. Frequent criticism and defensiveness
In a struggling relationship, one of the reasons why partners withdraw and do not spend so much time together is constant criticism and the need to defend themselves.
6. Feelings of apathy and indifference
When people have given up on fighting for one another and the relationship, indifference takes the place of anger. This is a key indicator of a distressed relationship.
7. You don’t talk or confide as much
After a while, when you stop sharing your thoughts and feelings, emotional disengagement starts taking place, and you drift further apart.
8. You don’t make time for each other
When your relationship is no longer a priority, you don’t organize your activities around it. This further shakes the foundations of the relationship.
9. Walking on eggshells
As a way to prevent fights or come back to unresolved arguments, you try to anticipate potential conflicts and avoid them. This points to a lack of security and trust in the relationship.
10. You don’t need each other anymore
In a healthy relationship, partners need each other but can be independent. Too much reliance leads to codependency, while too little leads to disengagement and loss of closeness.
10 ways to strengthen struggling relationships
1. Accept that problems are a part of any relationship
What are your expectations and vision of a relationship you want to be in?
If it is too ideal, the reality will keep letting you down. Disagreements, fights, and conflicts are a part of healthy relationships, and everyone needs help with relationships at some point. Not to say they should happen all the time, rather their existence doesn’t mean the relationship is not worthy.
2. Talk about problems in a calm state
When you only touch on core issues when things are heated, you miss out on a chance to hear each other when things are calm. Make it a point to come back to a conversation when things are more peaceful.
3. Set aside time to talk about the relationship
A relationship is a work in progress and needs more than merely co-existing amicably. You need to invest time, effort, and energy, even when things are going well, to prevent problems from happening. Organize weekly or monthly check-ins to evaluate what is going well and improve what isn’t.
4. Make it a point to spend time together regularly
Not spending quality time together can lead to a drop in intimacy. Research confirms that leisure activities are closely tied to marital satisfaction.
Furthermore, the quality of a couple’s leisure involvement is much more important compared to the amount of time spent together or the amount and level of leisure involvement itself.
5. Never turn to insults and belittling
Respect is core to a healthy relationship. If you see you are losing control and you may turn to verbal accusations or mocking, leave the conversation and come back. Words hurt and are hard to forget.
6. Avoid keeping score
The only scoreboard you need in the relationship is the one for board games. If you keep score about who made a mistake or is guilty, you’re missing to focus on solving the problem.
7. Commit to gratitude and daily appreciation
It’s not enough to only have a good mastery of resolving conflicts and know how to deal with relationship problems. Another set of skills you need are appreciation and validation skills. Feeling cherished is the key to happiness.
Provide support and recognition to each other any chance you get. Love is the only thing that multiplies when divided.
8. Learn what makes the other feel loved
We all need different things to feel loved and accepted. If you direct your energy into things that your partner regards as affection, you are going to accomplish more with less effort.
9. Identify the damaging cycle
When we fight, we rarely stop to observe the process itself. We are in it to make a point or resolve the situation and miss to see the damage that’s happening due to the way we are communicating and resolving the issue.
Identify what triggers the fight to escalate and become unproductive so you can seize control over the damage that happens.
10. Consider counseling
No one knows everything. Therefore, if you feel like you are hitting a wall, turn to a professional. Their job is to help you move past problems that seem insurmountable and assist you in increasing connection and intimacy.
How to be a better partner in a struggling relationship
If you wonder how to strengthen a relationship, you can start by focusing on your behavior and your partner will follow. The famous phrase applies – Be the chances you want to see.
Besides the items listed above, we share some other relationship issues advice you can apply on your own:
Commit to becoming more attentive
Speak less, ask more, and listen more intently. Your partner will share if you are open and interested to hear.
From blame game onto accountability
Even if they play the blame game, you can decide not to. Instead, take accountability for your actions and lead by example. When you do this, your partner won’t need to point out your mistakes, and the blaming will decrease.
Work through your relationship issues
Our interpersonal ties are affected by our inner conflicts. If you wish your marriage to progress, you can start by working on understanding yourself better- your needs, toxic patterns, and areas for improvement. After some time, you might even introduce the idea of couple’s counseling.
In the video below, coach Natalie discusses tips to discuss relationship problems. She starts with an important tip that one must discuss problems at opportune times. Know more:
Focus on self-care
If you wish to keep investing in your relationship, you must take care of yourself first. When you are drained, any relationship issue has a bigger impact. To cope with problems better, take care of yourself regularly.
Working through your relationship challenges
Although you may recognize some of the signs of a struggling relationship, don’t fret. You can overcome them if you are persistent and you both commit to working on issues. The change you want to see can start from you.
Keep in mind that relationships require work both when you are struggling and when things are going well. Accepting struggles as a part of being in a committed partnership helps you overcome them.
Every relationship has its ups and downs, and when the partners are willing to work through the troubles, the relationship is sure to prosper.
Make sure you do not stay ignorant of your partner’s needs and strive continuously together as a team.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.