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As we age, dating and marriage dynamics undergo many changes. Some of these changes are for the better; many mature adults have learned better communication techniques, and most of us have come to terms with the complex give-and-take dynamic of committed relationships.
Unfortunately, relationships can come to an end at any time. Surviving in a marriage for decades, for instance, doesn't necessarily make the partnership a healthy one. Do you feel as though your relationship has gone downhill in recent years? Skim this quick list to discover ten common signs that you ought to re-evaluate your relationship.
1.) You expect every favor to be returned
It's great to do something nice for your partner. It's not so nice, however, for your partner to feel as though you're constantly expecting something in return for your generosity. You and your partner should both strive to express no-strings-attached gratitude for each other's efforts. If either of you hasn't yet learned how to be selflessly thoughtful, you may be better off going separate ways.
2.) You feel as though you no longer have a voice of your own
It's normal to have a relationship dynamic in which one partner tends to take the lead. It's unhealthy, however, to be in a relationship where one partner always has the final word. If you're afraid to speak your mind in front of your partner, you ought to separate; this is a red flag that your relationship may be emotionally abusive. No relationship should undermine your sense of self.
3.) One (or both) of you isn't willing to "put in the effort" any more
Romantic relationships naturally tend to mellow out over time. It's not uncommon to feel as though some of that lustful spark has been lost as we age. Most long-term partners experience these feelings. If, however, you feel as though you or your partner have simply given up on the relationship, it is probably better to part. Apathy, coupled with an unwillingness to try and fix things, is perhaps the greatest killer of marriages and partnerships.
4.) You engage with each other in a disrespectful manner
No one should stay in a relationship where they are disrespected, period. Though this may seem like a "no-brainer," many individuals have simply gotten used to being treated disrespectfully and no longer see it as a reason to separate. If you or your lover talk to each other in sarcastic or demeaning tones, frequently insult one another, or manage problems with passive-aggressive tactics like the "silent treatment," it is definitely time to re-evaluate the healthiness of your relationship.
5.) Your libidos are utterly incompatible
As we age, our libidos naturally mature as well. Women in particular may notice a decreased sex drive as they approach menopause. For many, a sex therapist can help address libido issues and other points of sexual conflict. Occasionally, however, the sexual gap between two partners may be too great to bridge. If one partner has a particularly low sex drive while the other requires daily encounters, a break-up may be on the horizon. Occasionally, one partner may have a fetish that totally repulses the other. Though most sexual differences can be worked through, some cannot.
6.) "Compromise" is not a word in your vocabulary
If you and your partner have not yet learned how to make fair, peaceful compromises, your relationship may be doomed. This problem often arises when one partner has lived the "single life" for a number of years, and is particularly set in their ways. If you prefer a no-negotiations lifestyle, the freedom of the single life may be best for you.
7.) You nearly always spend your free time apart
Most people have hobbies and interests that differ from those of their partner. It's healthy to spend some time apart, engaging in these activities. If, however, one of you is an avid mountaineer while the other prefers weekend TV marathons, you may ultimately find yourselves drifting apart. Having a few shared passions often makes for a much happier relationship.
8.) You or your partner's behavior is dangerous and untreated
If you or your partner engages in seriously troubling behavior such as a severe problem with drugs or alcohol, it is generally unhealthy to continue the relationship. As much as you may want to "save" your partner, he or she will eventually have to accept this problem and choose to change it on their own. If you identify troubling or dangerous behaviors in yourself, do your partner a favor, too, and leave before things become worse. These problems need to be resolved before either of you is well enough to build a life together.
9.) Neither of you can leave the past in the past
Though most of us do our best to abide by the adage "forgive and forget," many of us also struggle with leaving the past behind us. Whether your partner is hung up on an ex or continually brings up arguments from years ago, an inability to move forward will eventually stifle your relationship. In most cases, it is better to separate and plan a future on your own.
10.) You cannot reach common ground regarding the future
No matter how wonderful your relationship may seem today, your compatibility is awry if your future plans are taking you in two separate directions. Serious differences, such as one partner wanting to stay in their hometown while the other wishes to live abroad, will eventually wreak havoc on your partnership. Consider pursuing your plans separately, or with someone else whose goals are more aligned with yours.
Though none of these complications necessarily spell doom for a relationship, these problems raise red flags that ought to be addressed. Communicating openly and respectfully with your partner may help to assuage these concerns. If, however, you are struggling with a number of these aforementioned problems, it is most likely best to end your troublesome relationship. In being honest with yourself and your partner, you can better ensure your future happiness.
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