An Insightful Guide On When Your Relationship Is Falling Apart

I hope you'll excuse the oblique title, and I sincerely hope your relationship isn't crumbling, but if you've ever found yourself in a bad relationship situation (as we all do), chances are it can be traced back to one or more of these issues. If your relationship is filled with rainbows and sunshine dust, that's wonderful—this list will simply provide some food for thought.

1. You're not paying attention

I'm not talking about you staring at the TV while your partner expresses his/her feelings. If that is the case, there should be no doubt that there is a problem.

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Many of us believe we are listening when, in fact, we are anxiously and impatiently awaiting our turn to speak. When we “listen” from this perspective, we are not truly listening: we are resisting the anger, despair, anxiety, fear, and other emotions that are present within us.

True listening necessitates being aware of what is going on inside. We can only truly hear another person if we are aware of our own inner workings.

When you're listening to your partner, whether in an argument or not, see if you can notice what you're feeling and thinking in response without having to speak right away. Check to see if you can truly hear your significant other. Then, regardless of the thought or emotion, accept what is going on inside you. From there, you can speak rationally and calmly, which brings me to my next point.

2. You don't speak up

Many of us carry small grievances and grudges with us for the rest of our lives. We frequently believe that acknowledging the pain is more trouble than it is worth, and while this may appear to be true in the moment, over time, those minor annoyances pile up and morph into a mound of resentment. And that is risky.

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Maybe there's something about your partner that really bothers you. Why aren't you speaking up? Are you concerned that they will become enraged? What does it matter if they do? Perhaps they'll have a temper tantrum. Perhaps they will apologize. Who can say? Would you rather deal with it constructively now, or bury it and wait for it to erupt in a fit of rage? Allow it to be a learning experience regardless of the outcome. You'll be glad you did it later.

Look inward, just as you would when listening. Accept the situation as it is. If something needs to be said, it should be said. Understand that this does not imply attacking the other person verbally. Declare what you're feeling calmly and don't let it devolve into accusations, which brings us to number three.

3. You're engaging in the blame game

We frequently think to ourselves, “If only he/she were this way, everything would be fine.” When we think in this manner, we impose an impossible ideal on our partners while avoiding the real issue: what is going on inside of us, the individual; the one who assigns blame.

Keep in mind that your significant other is not you. They are a complex being with thoughts, insecurities, dreams, and fears just like you. Don't be so quick to abdicate your responsibilities.

When you begin to blame mentally or verbally, consider whether you are avoiding responsibility. Consider whether you are being unreasonable. Be truthful. Then, if neither of these options works, don't be afraid to speak up, and be ready to listen. Unless you fall into the next category, you're on your way to a productive conversation.

4. You will not make any concessions

This is common in relationships where one or both parties are convinced that they are always correct. “My way or the highway” is no longer acceptable in a relationship (not that it ever really did).

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If you believe you are always correct, you will never allow someone else's opinion or point of view to enter your mind. You dismiss it as absurd before investigating it further. As a result, learning to compromise is a direct result of active listening, speaking, and avoiding blame.

We can develop a true understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of our partner when we learn to listen and speak without fear. The compromise that follows is mutually beneficial. For the sake of our relationship, we learn to live with or without certain things, and our partners learn to do the same. As a result, both individuals feel loved and valued.

Listening, speaking, not blaming, and compromising; sounds simple, doesn't it? So, why don't we just do them? Number five is the correct answer.

5. You aren't present

I don't mean physically, once again. This is the line that connects all of the previous items. Presence is complete awareness or consciousness—it is impossible to listen, speak, compromise, or avoid the blame game if you do not have some level of presence.

You may have noticed that the advice for dealing with each point so far has been to look inward, see, and accept. THAT is presence: learning to be with yourself, to see the cogs turning, to embrace what is present, and to create space around destructive thought and feeling.

The idea is that before you can effectively communicate with or help another person, you must first attend to yourself. We lay the groundwork for dealing with all of the aforementioned issues when we learn to cultivate awareness. Not only that, but relationship problems can be a gold mine for this type of work.

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Meditation is an excellent way to practice being present. I recommend it to everyone, but if you aren't interested or it isn't possible for you, this can be as simple as a few or multiple “breath check-ins” per day. All you have to do is sit quietly for however long you want. See what happens if you can focus your entire attention on the breath.

Don't pass judgment on or oppose your inner workings. Just accept it. If you do this a few times a day, it will soon become a great habit. When you are in the midst of a painful experience with your significant other, you can access that presence and listen without judgment or impatience, speak clearly, dispel the desire to blame, and learn to compromise.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that it all comes down to personal preference. Get in touch with yourself, be present, and you will notice a shift in the dynamic of the relationship.

Finally, these “reasons” do not always apply to a physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive relationship: if the pain in the relationship has reached that level, I would recommend seeking immediate professional help.

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