Aug 182016 4 Responses

5 Signs Your Relationship Is Dying

Relationships far more often die because of a lengthy cancer than a tragic accident. Both are possible, but rare is the occurrence when a relationship is totally healthy one moment and on life-support the next. Far more often, relationships slowly unwind. With subtle signs which are often overlooked, relationships slowly erode until they quietly end.

Awareness of the signs can prevent death. When an individual or couple identifies any of these characteristics within their relationship, they can do the work necessary to get on the right path. Couples are not helpless as a relationship fades. If they are both willing to do what is necessary, they can revive the spark they once had. Sadly, if one individual is not willing to make the effort, the couple will not succeed. (See: How to Ruin a Good Relationship)

5 Characteristics of a Dying Relationship

1. Silence. Few things define the well-being of a relationship like communication. Healthy couples talk–frequently, enjoyably, and with passion. They are interested in the thoughts and opinions of one another. They look forward to sharing and hearing about the events in each other’s day. When a relationship is headed the wrong direction, communication slows. A couple loses interest in one another and stops making good communication a priority. Without the positive interaction, the partnership suffers. Most relationships don’t end with a shout, but with a whisper.

2. Skepticism. Healthy couples trust one another. They work hard to prove themselves trustworthy and they assume the best about their spouses. As a relationship goes bad, doubts creep in. Every action or word is analyzed through a negative lens. The skepticism invents problems, creates slights, and causes hurts. It can grow so bad that no matter what a person does, they are doomed. Say something and you are rude for speaking. Stay silent and you aren’t caring enough to speak. Skepticism creates an unwinnable climate.

3. Boredom. Bad relationships become boring, but the boredom is rarely understood properly. Couples assume a relationship should make them feel excited rather than understanding excitement is something they should bring to the relationship. If two individuals are fully engaged in life, they will bring that engagement into the relationship. This will create excitement. However, when a couple assumes a relationship should be exciting on its own, they are expecting something from the relationship which it can’t deliver. If you are bored with your current partner, that probably says more about you than it does them. (Key word being “probably.”)

4. Unfaithfulness. Obviously sexual infidelity can kill a couple, but mental or emotional unfaithfulness is where many relationships go wrong. When one or both partners open up their minds to considering other partners, the comparison trap is set. Once in place, it is very difficult to overcome. The best moments of others will almost always look better than the worst moments of our spouse (or ourselves). When individuals choose to be mentally unfaithful they open themselves up emotionally. Sexual unfaithfulness doesn’t trail long after emotional infidelity. If you are emotionally attaching yourself to another, you are killing your current relationship.

5. Apathy. Relationships go bad because of apathy. When you stop trying, you are dying. Effort is always part of a healthy partnership. At no point can a couple kick into auto-drive and assume everything will be okay. Through every stage, a couple much intentionally better themselves and continue to learn about their partner. Many individuals wrongly assume a good relationship should come naturally. Refusing to do the work necessary, their apathy destroys any chance of relational health.

Failing relationships are not difficult to spot, unless you are in one. Being on the inside can cloud our thinking and prevent us from recognizing what might be obvious to an outsider. With a little consideration, anyone can take account of their relationship and understand if they are headed down the wrong path.

Relationships might fail for other reasons, but these are the most common causes. If you recognize any of these aspects in your current relationship, do something about it before it is too late.

See:

13 Questions to Gauge If You Need Marital Counseling

What to Do If Your Spouse Refuses Counseling

4 Responses to 5 Signs Your Relationship Is Dying
  1. Matt Reply

    I can attest that this list is spot-on. I experienced all 5 of these as my relationship with my ex-wife died. It is 100% true that both partners need to be invested and care about the relationship in order to make it work/save it.

  2. Linda S Wientjes Reply

    In my marriage, I think I am probably more the parent type. I never knew things about my husband before I married him. He was in the Navy and far from home. He told me so many lies about his childhood and life, but I did not know they were lies until after we were married. I think he was running away from his behavior at home when he joined the Navy. I was raised in a very strict Christian home and the things he did were against my upbringing. I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant with our first child and I wanted him to be just as excited. He wasn’t. I had a just gotten a part-time job and while I was at work he quit his job and left to go back to his home in South Dakota. I had no money or insurance. I was devastated and eventually, he came back. To make a long story short, he has done this more times than I can count. He would threaten me about leaving if I did not mind him and I used to chase him after he would tell me how he was going to leave me. I prayed and asked God to please help me to stop putting myself down by begging him to stay. I finally went back to college and got a degree in education. He has said many times how I have changed. He is so right. I am not insecure anymore if he does leave. We have now been married 48 years without very many good times together because I just go and do things alone. I stopped begging. I enjoyed my 2 sons and had fun times with them and took them to church because that was not important to him. This last time that he got mad at me he has not talked to me for 8 months, but he does come home every night to bath and sleep in his room. He is a workaholic so he has never really been interested in the family life. He thinks it is only important to work and get praises from people who think he is so strong for an old man. How do I miss a man that has never really wanted to be with me? Well, that is how I feel. There is a lot more, but this is enough said for now.

  3. C. Clayton Reply

    I blamed my ex for so many things that I allowed him to do to me. In the end I had to realize that I gave my power away. It was so unattractive and weak. It was my fault for what I allowed someone to do to me. The blame game is ridiculous. I take absolute ownership for what I do or allowed in my life. I forgave myself and I forgave him. He is a really nice guy. He is flawed but so am I. We were young and too inexperienced to figure out how to handle stress. I wish him all the best. I have moved on and I’m living a joyful life. God is so good to forgive us when we fail. ❤

  4. Kathryn Reply

    Rework this a bit, and the same is true for close friendships.

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