Are you and your partner unhappy in your relationship right now?
You’re fighting a lot more. Your partner is often snide or critical and you’re constantly on the defense. You’re frequently complaining about what they haven’t gotten around to doing yet. They say that things would be a lot better if you weren’t always nagging or controlling.
Because of all these fights and arguments, you’ve physically withdrawn from your partner. You don’t hug and kiss much. You barely acknowledge each other. You ask them a question and they don’t even look up from their smartphone to answer you.
You often go to bed at different times, You’re not being as intimate. You’re not even reaching for each other the way you used to when you were first together.
Maybe your partner is off doing his or her thing a lot, and you feel lonely and abandoned.
All the fighting, avoidance, and sarcasm are a wet towel over what was once a warm, loving marriage.
It just doesn’t feel like much of a partnership anymore.
You’re not even sure your partner LIKES you, and you’re beginning to wonder if maybe you’ve lost loving feelings for them, too.
You can’t be sure what all this means in the long run.
You wonder: does all this conflict mean your marriage is just going through a rocky patch, or headed for divorce?
If you relate, keep reading, because in this article, you’ll learn what 6 signs to look for that foretell trouble, and what you can do to turn things around and feel in-sync and in love with your partner again.
First of all, you’ll be happy to hear that the fact that you’re fighting and arguing doesn’t predict anything about the future of your relationship.
In fact, some couples can fight like cats and dogs, make up the next day, and then go right back to enjoying the loving, affectionate, passionate connection they had BEFORE they fought.
In other words, they can shake it off and be close again.
Arguments and disagreements can be a pressure relief valve for some couples. Once the pressure of pent-up frustrations is released, it’s back to normal, and there’s no lasting damage to the marriage.
For some couples, however, conflict has a different meaning, and it’s a warning sign.
Conflict can be a warning sign that your connection is weak.
You’re not feeling disconnected because you’re in conflict, you’re in conflict because you and your partner have disconnected—emotionally, physically, or socially.
When you’re disconnected, it can show up as not having each other’s back. It’s feeling as if you don’t trust your partner to care about you or your feelings. It’s lacking a sense of stability in the relationship.
When you’re disconnected you feel like you’re on your own instead of in a loving, supportive relationship.
That’s why when you feel disconnected, you don’t turn to your partner to work through problems, your problems become all you see.
This is how conflict goes from being a normal part of a relationship to a warning sign.
It’s a warning that things could keep getting worse until you split up, if you don’t handle the root cause—NOW.
The question is, how do you know if the conflict you’re experiencing is normal, or a symptom of your disconnect?
Here are 6 clues that will help you figure that out.
The truth is, having the occasional argument with your partner is normal. You’re not always going to see eye-to-eye on everything, so biting your tongue or stuffing down your feelings ALL the time isn’t a healthy response to disagreement.
Conflict becomes a warning sign when you start noticing these 6 things going on around your conflict:
You’re slamming doors, screaming at each other, and feeling your blood pressure skyrocket. This is not the normal disagreement over who forgot to let the dog out or who has gone a little overboard on shopping this month. This feels more like a battle.
Are you feeling angrier with your partner lately? Do your fights escalate without ever solving the issue? This can be a warning sign that you’ve disconnected from each other, not just merely stopped agreeing on things.
When you’re in conflict, you feel as if you’re always defending yourself. You bring something up and get nowhere, because they’re always on the defensive.
It’s your fault, they say.
I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t know why you’re yelling at me, you might respond.
You go through all the reasons that they’re WRONG and you’re RIGHT.
No one is taking responsibility for anything, and that’s a sign that somewhere along the way, you’ve disconnected.
Your partner often punishes you with their silence. They take off somewhere for a few hours, refusing to talk to you after your fight. You decide you’re not going to even say a word to them until they apologize.
Stonewalling, silent treatments, and withdrawing during or after a conflict are all signs that you’ve become disconnected in your relationship.
You don’t want to deal with the awful feelings that come up when you’re around your partner, so you get busy. You start a load of laundry and your partner gets to work on that sink full of dirty pots and pans, so you don’t have to talk to each other. Or, he or she gets absorbed with work while you decide to take the kids to the playground for a couple of hours.
Working late…going out with friends night after night…diving into one big household project after another… These may all be signs that you’re avoiding your partner because you don’t know how to handle a conflict with them.
And it’s a tell-tale sign that you’ve disconnected.
Do you say mean things to your partner without even thinking? Does sarcasm roll of their tongue and dig into you? Do you feel like you don’t deserve it?
Crankiness could be a sign that you aren’t speaking your truth, or you’re suppressing hidden resentments. It’s a sign that you’ve forgotten how to connect with your partner in a meaningful way.
If criticism is an issue in your relationship, you may hear these phrases a lot:
Why are you doing it that way?
I don’t get why you don’t ____.
That would have never happened if you hadn’t ___.
Why didn’t you listen to me?
Criticism can be toxic to a relationship. If you’re on the receiving end, it can really hurt. If you’re the one criticizing, you may think your partner doesn’t “get it.”
Either way, it’s just another symptom of your disconnection.
Again, if you’re experiencing these 6 dynamics in your relationship, it’s not necessarily the cause of your conflict. It’s a symptom of how disconnected you’ve become from each other over time.
But that’s good news! Why? Because you can fix your connection.
Once you fix your connection, the conflict you’re experiencing now will dissolve or become less of an issue, and you’ll be happier and much more loving toward one another again.
You’ll stop being cranky, critical, or giving each other the silent treatment. When you fix your connection, you’ll be able to give each other the benefit of the doubt, make compromises on things you don’t agree on, and talk things through instead of withdrawing.
Conflict will be an opportunity to learn more about each other, instead of being another wedge between you.
You’ll grow to love the challenges as much as the easy times, because you’ll grow closer as a couple when things go wrong than when things are always going right.
Couples who are connected know how to turn conflict into fuel for deeper understanding, devotion, and passion in their relationship.
Couples who are disconnected use conflict as an excuse as to why they’re not happy together.
That’s how important it is to know how to stay connected with your partner, no matter what.
That’s where I come in. I’ve spent the last 40 years (yes, 40!) counseling couples to create unshakable connections that build resiliency and joy in marriages…even ones that have been on the rocks for years.
I’ve partnered with Flourish to help people like you restore your connection, and fall deeply in love again. And you can get more of my advice… for FREE… when you subscribe to our relationship newsletter.
When you subscribe, you’ll get access to an accomplished community of carefully selected experts (like me!) giving you our best insights and strategies to overcome any relationship challenge. You’ll learn:
There IS a way out of the bad feelings, the tears, the anger, and the resentment. The love you have for each other now is a starting point. Let me show you how to use that love to get back to a place where you’re happier together than you are apart.
May you have an extraordinary day,