5 red flags you shouldn’t ignore
In every relationship that’s troubled, there’s a point of no return that, unfortunately, can only be seen in hindsight. Following are some completely anecdotal tips drawn from my own experience and those of others; I am neither a therapist nor a psychologist. Again, working with a counselor needs to happen sooner rather than later.
1. You or your partner evade each other
This can be either literal or metaphorical—such as making sure you’re never in a position to have a private conversation, pulling out a cell phone or remembering an errand you have to run when your partner wants to talk, changing your schedule so there’s little time face-to-face. You or your partner may rationalize this as “turning down the heat” or “keeping the peace” but, if you actually hope to salvage the relationship, you need to call it out.
2. Every conversation and interaction escalates
Walking on eggshells is unhealthy and when the petty begins to dominate—who filled up the car last, who didn’t flag the fact that we’re out of eggs—you’re in trouble as are your children if you have them. When you find yourself irritated by your partner’s familiar habits, the relationship is in deep waters.
3. One or both of you stop discussing major decisions or choices
A woman I know finally realized how bad things had gotten when she learned her husband of six years had applied for a job in another city without telling her; he had, however, mentioned to a neighbor with whom he commuted. Beginning to think of yourself as single isn’t a sign of independence in this context.
4. You or your partner display shifts in behavior
If you or your partner have difficulty talking about your feelings directly or even identifying them, the depth of someone’s unhappiness is sometimes communicated non-verbally through shifts in behaviors. Are you distracted most of the time and pretty much ignoring your spouse, focusing on personal goals that have nothing to do with your marriage? Does your partner seem distant and preoccupied? Are either or both of you avoiding physical contact?
5. You or your partner make it clear that you’re “done” talking
This is both manipulative and a power-play, and it could equally be called the “gauntlet” moment: You take it or leave it. No matter how hopeful you are for a resolution, you actually need to take your partner at his or her word because it’s really a declaration that he or she has absolutely no intention of changing. Period.
Whether a relationship can be salvaged depends on both partners as well as timing.