Relationship On The Rocks?

Relationship On The Rocks?

Admitting to yourself that your relationship might be over is rarely an easy thing, even if it’s been on the cards for a while. There are all the emotions to be worked through, possibly child custody arrangements, plus any financial changes meaning that you might have to move house and leave the family home behind.

Relationships are complex things and dissecting each strand regularly is not something that most of us do. Life gets in the way and we tend to just allow our relationships to evolve by themselves as we go along. But this isn’t the worst thing to do, by a long shot, sometimes everyday life just has to be accepted as what it is, without poking and prodding to see if there’s any, small signs of relationship distress. Who has time for a full-on counselling session with themselves every day, anyway? Most of us would rather eat supper on the sofa in front of Coronation Street (all right, insert your own TV preferences here). But sometimes, this probably isn’t the best approach to take, sometimes there are kinks that need ironing out, and identifying what they are is key to nipping them in the bud before they start to smother the relationship as a whole. Here are some of the points you might want to glance over every few months or so.

  • 1.Are you making each other happy? No one is all smiles and cheery contentment every day, but do you and your partner regularly find yourselves enjoying life together? Choosing to spend leisure time with one another, for example, or taking up a mutual hobby, or booking holidays that you both love? It doesn’t have to be all grand gestures, though, even the little things can make all the difference – your partner picking up your favourite brand of ice cream, for example, or a bunch of flowers on a Friday. If you’re often finding yourself being snappy with each other, or just not engaging, then it might be time to take a closer look as to what is going on.
  • 2.Are you both as committed to the relationship as each other? If there are problems afoot, then both parties need to be on the same page. Things are not going to work out for the best if the commitment is lacking on someone’s behalf, it needs to be a joint effort. And if you’re feeling that isn’t there, then it’s going to be a long, potentially ruthless, struggle to get things back on the right track.
  • 3.Are you listening to each other properly? There are so many little things that get ignored in the course of day to day life, which then stack up to become bigger problems that they just don’t need to be. Sometimes things aren’t said directly, sometimes they need to be picked up on to form the bigger picture so you can get some of your answers that way. Really listen to what emotions and feelings are being conveyed – this is by far a most important skill in a relationship.
  • 4.Do you have the courage to face your fears? If you’re afraid that the ship is sinking, possibly the worst thing you could do is to try and ignore things and hope they go away on their own. A relationship can be strengthened by one person or the other just being open and honest about how they feel things are going. Addressing problems early on means that there’s a better chance of them being mended. Ways you can do this involve some counselling (either separately or together), or reading some self-help books, things which make speaking out about your unhappiness that little bit easier. If you know that your feelings are valid, it becomes far easier to voice them.
  • 5.Are you physically close? That doesn’t have to be a fabulous sex life with regular swinging from the proverbial chandeliers, just a sense of having a physically close relationship of the sort that only exists between partners? Daily kissing, a cheeky pat on the bum, sending saucy text messages alluding to what might come later are all great ways to rev up that naughtier side.

If you recognise some, or all, of those points being an issue for you, then you have options which are largely deciding whether you want to give this a proper go, or whether separation might be the best decision. But it’s vitally important to remember that separation doesn’t have to be the answer, no matter how bad things are. You are allowed to say – you know what, things are really crap and we’re on the tipping point of choosing not to make things better (whether this is actual, or perceived), but I don’t want to split so I’m going to give this my best shot. Divorce isn’t always the answer, so have the courage in your convictions to make the best decision for your relationship. 

Stuart Brown
Doctor of Sexual Health at the NHS Royal London Hospital & Relationship Expert. Columnist at An advocate of safe sex. Avid Arsenal fan.

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