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5 Reasons Your Relationship is Falling Apart

5 Reasons Your Relationship is Falling Apart

I hope you’ll excuse the pointed title, and I sincerely hope your relationship is not falling apart, but if you have ever found yourself in dire straits in a relationship (as we all do), chances are that the trouble can be traced back to one or a few of these issues. If your relationship is all rainbows and sunshine dust, fantastic—this list will just be some good food for thought.

1. You’re not listening

I’m not talking about you being glued to the TV while your partner is pouring his/her heart out. If that’s the case, it should be pretty obvious there is a problem.

Many of us believe we are listening when what we’re actually doing is anxiously and impatiently waiting for our turn to speak. When we “listen” from this perspective, we are not truly listening: we are resisting the anger, despair, anxiety, fear etc. inside of us.

True listening requires awareness of what is going on inside. Only when we are conscious of our inner-workings can we truly hear another person.

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The next time you find yourself listening to your partner, whether in an argument or otherwise, see if you can notice what you’re feeling and thinking in response without having to speak immediately. See if you can allow your significant other to really be heard. Then, accept what’s going on inside you, no matter what the thought or emotion. From there you can speak with rational and relative calm, which brings me to my next point.

2. You’re not speaking up

Many of us carry around little hurts and grudges all our lives. Often, we believe that acknowledging the pain is generally more trouble than it’s worth, and while it may seem like that in the moment, over the years those little indignities pile on top of each other and morph into a mound of resentment. And that is dangerous.

Perhaps there’s something that really bothers you about your partner. Why aren’t you saying anything? Are you afraid they’ll get upset? So what if they do? Maybe they’ll throw a tantrum. Maybe they’ll apologize. Who knows? Would you rather try to deal with it constructively now, or bury it and wait for it to explode out of you in a fit of rage? Let it be a learning process regardless of the outcome. You will thank yourself down the road.

As with listening, look inward. Accept what is there. If there is something that needs to be said, then say it. Understand that this does not mean verbally attack the other person. Calmly state what you’re experiencing in the moment, and don’t let it devolve into accusations, which takes us to number 3.

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3. You’re playing the blame game

We often think, “if only he/she were this way, everything would be fine.” When we think this way, we are imposing an impossible ideal on our partners and we are avoiding the issue at hand: what is going on inside of us, the individual; the one who casts blame.

Remember, your significant other is not you. They are a complex being with their own thoughts, insecurities, dreams, and fears… just like you. Do not be so quick to eschew responsibility.

When you start to blame mentally or verbally, ask yourself if you are avoiding responsibility. Ask yourself if you are being unreasonable. Be honest.  Then, if neither of these gels, don’t be afraid to speak up, and then be prepared to listen. Then, you’re on your way to constructive conversation, unless you fall into the next category.

4. You won’t compromise

This usually occurs in a relationship wherein one or both parties always think they are right. “My way or the highway” won’t fly in a relationship these days (not that it ever really did).

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If you believe you are always right, then you never allow for someone else’s opinion or perspective to enter your mind. You label it preposterous before taking the time to examine it. As such, learning to compromise is a direct result of true listening, speaking, and side-stepping the blame game.

When we learn to listen and speak without fear, then we can develop a real understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of our partner. What follows is mutually beneficial compromise. We learn to live with or without some things for the sake of our relationship, and our partners learn to do the same. In turn, both people feel loved and valued.

Listening, speaking, not blaming, compromising; sounds easy, right? So why don’t we just DO these things? The answer rests with number five.

5. You’re not present

Once again, I do not mean physically. This is the line that ties all of the prior items together. Presence is complete awareness, or consciousness—if you do not find at least some amount of presence, it is impossible to listen, speak, compromise, and avoid the blame game.

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You may have noticed that the suggestions for dealing with each point thus far have been to look inward, see, and accept. THAT is presence: learning how to be with yourself, see the cogs turning, embrace what’s there, and thereby put space around destructive thought and feeling.

The idea is that you must first attend to yourself before you can effectively communicate with or help another person. When we learn to cultivate awareness, we are laying the groundwork to deal with all of the aforementioned issues. Not only that, but difficulties in a relationship can be a gold-mine for this type of work.

One of the best ways to practice being present is meditation. I recommend it to all, however, if you’re not interested in that, or it’s not possible for you, this can be as simple as a few or multiple “breath check-ins” a day. All you need to do is sit quietly for as long as you desire. See if you can put all of your attention on the breath, and see what arises. Don’t judge or resist your inner-workings. Simply accept. Practice this a few times a day, and it will start to become a great habit. This way, when you are in the thick of some painful experience with your significant other, you can access that presence and listen without judgment or impatience, speak with clarity, disperse the urge to blame, and learn to compromise.

Final thoughts

The bottom line is that it all comes down to the individual. Get right with yourself, be present, and you will begin to change the dynamic in the relationship.

Finally, these “reasons” do not necessarily apply to a physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive relationship: If the pain in the relationship has reached that level, I would advise seeking immediate professional help.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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