A worrying trend that I have witnessed is how many people stay in unsatisfactory relationships. They do this because they would rather be in a sub-par relationship than be alone. In this day and age where people are a lot more open minded and being single is less frowned upon than in was 50 years ago, the stigma of being single still seems to be going strong.
It would seem that many people prefer to live miserably with someone rather than to face the fear of being alone or being judged by others. Why is it that we favour coupled to single them even when the relationship brings out the worst in us? Relationships offer a false sense of security. No one can save you but yourself and I believe it is important to maintain independence. Happy relationships are great when they offer support, companionship and a solid foundation. People in unhappy and unhealthy relationships often find that they are becoming a shell of their former selves. They begin to doubt themselves, their confidence deteriorates and they begin to lose a sense of independence.
Are you an unhealthy relationship?
1) Do you miss your partner when you’re not with them? if your relationship is one that is “out of sight, out of mind” it may indicate that you are not as emotionally connected as you could be. If you relish time apart this could also be a sign of trouble.
2) Does your partner constantly criticise and belittle you? Are you for ever being questioned about why you have done something in a certain way? This line of questioning suggests that you are not measuring up according to your partner, and it is a negative way of communicating towards you. Over time this kind of communication will wear you down and erode your confidence.
3) Are you still connected as a couple? can you still have interesting and lively conversations about things? If you find that you are leading separate lives and functioning well on the surface whilst feeling that you’re not really has a couple, it might be time to find ways to reconnect. This is one of the most common scenarios that I come across in my work. Couples who are great at functioning well together-sorting out the kids, maintaining the house, socialising etc but when it comes down to how well these two people know each other, the gap has widened and there is very little empathy and love left.
4) Who is the first person that you want to talk to when you have good news or bad news? If it is your partner it indicates that you are doing well with regard to friendship, companionship and closeness. If you never feel that you can talk to your partner as you used to and prefer to discuss things in your life with others it could suggest that you are growing apart.
5) Physical intimacy: sex can wane but if sex has become non-existent this is another indication of possible issues. If both your happy with the status quo that of course it is not a problem.
There is no such thing as normal in relationships and each relationship is as unique as a fingerprint. If both partners are happy then there is no problem. If one partner is unhappy, the situation needs to be reassessed. Relationships take work and constant compromise.
Compromise… Communication… Consideration: three key elements to a happy healthy relationship.
What constitutes a healthy relationship?
There five major elements that contribute to a healthy relationship. The two most important foundation elements are:
1) Shared commitment
Do you both want the same things? If one of you once marriage whilst the other one prefers a casual relationship this will fundamentally cause issues. You both have to want to be in the relationship equally and for the same reasons.
2) Shared values
Do you share similar values? Culturally, religiously, general life views… How you raise your children, your attitude to life. All of these need to be considered and if you are poles apart it will create future issues.
The next three elements are important and build upon the first two:
3) Intellectual compatibility
Are you similar in education levels? If you aren’t it can be worked around but it is worth considering whether the relationship can last long-term.
4) Emotional compatibility
Are you able to empathise with each other and connect on an emotional level? Couples who are able to see each other’s points of view easily tend to fare better in the long run. Do you understand your partner well?
5) Physical compatibility
Is there chemistry between the two of you? Settling for someone that you do not fancy is never a good idea. The end result is often infidelity and resentment on some level.
Having the above five elements is similar to owning the keys to a car. You can start up the engine and begin driving but how well you drive depends upon how good your negotiation skills are as a couple. Driving well means good communication, trust, a sense of fun, tolerance, compromise and a good friendship. Who said it was easy?
Unhealthy relationships can colour the rest of your life and make everything seem sub standard. If you are in relationship that does not bring out the best in you and leaves you feeling sad, lonely or disconnected it might be worth considering couple counselling before it gets worse. Many of the couples that come to see me choose couple counselling as a last resort. By the time I see them, so much resentment has built up and has been buried under years of pent-up anger and annoyance.n-Nip it in the bud before it gets worse and you may be able to save the relationship and restored to its former glory.
Photo by PoYang_博仰