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10 Indicators Your Relationship May Fail


Many people believe they need to settle down with the “right” person and have a long-lasting relationship. But, relationships and marriages do fall apart.

Every person is unique and may affect the outcome of their relationship differently. The longer a couple has been together, the more complex their relationship. The list below explores the broader causes and indicators that can break a relationship. If you feel any of these resonate with you in your relationship, you can seek professional marriage counseling with us.

Communication Issues

Communication (or lack of it) is often cited as one of the top causes for marriage counseling and a top reason for break-ups and divorces.

Following over twenty years of research, Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington, a leading authority in pair studies, found that the single greatest indicator of divorce is whether one or both spouses shows contempt during a marriage.

Rather than admiration, contempt is conveyed mostly by negative judgement, accusation, or sarcasm regarding an individual’s worth. This is known as “tough on the person, smooth on the issue” in communication studies. However, contemptuous talk can erode an intimate relationship’s safety and well-being.

Changing Expectations and Priorities

Over time, a couple often focuses less on physical attraction, sexual passion, and common interests. A relationship’s goals can vary as they continue to interpret their life plans as “what I want,” rather than “what we want”.

One reason could be if both partners can seriously commit to each other. Another reason is that your partner does not have the same priorities and expectations for the relationship. For many, they prioritize marriage and family while others may see a romantic relationship as one part of their life’s journey where other aspects like their career and finances take precedence.

Different Life Stages

This may be a source of contention when one partner is progressing rapidly in their career and the other partner is stagnating at home. They diverge, both professionally and socially, and they may grow apart.

Imbalance of Power

If one person controls all hobbies, finances, household matters, vacations and even friends habitually, the relationship can weaken or become unstable. Any outsider can tell if there are control issues such as frequently checking on the partner through texts or phone calls, name-calling, or even threatening their partner emotionally and physically. There needs to be a feeling of balance in a healthy relationship where both partners know they are equal.

Not Spending Enough Time with Each Other

Your priorities and time reveal your relationship goals. Whether you’re busy at work to get a promotion or wasting your spare time on a hobby, your partner may feel like they are no longer a priority.

Free up time in your schedule for your partner and the relationship, or both of you will suffer.

Avoidance of Tough Issues

Any hard issues are tough to discuss in any situation, but real avoidance can ruin your relationship. Your problems will not go away. Working and discussing troublesome issues can help develop and improve a relationship.


Mayo Clinic describes narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others”. Evidence shows that elevated narcissism is correlated with vulnerability to unfaithfulness. It also characterizes narcissism as a loss of genuine affection.

Financial Issues

Your financial habits of earning, spending, and saving behaviors can affect your relationship. How you support yourselves must be a serious topic of discussion as you become more serious with each other, so both partners have a voice in how to spend and save money. The goal is not to let each other be exploited or used.

Issues of Trust

Factors like jealousy, ownership, irrational rigidity, emotional cheating, and physical/sexual adultery may form trust issues. Consider whether lack of trust is based on genuine reasons or unjustified suspicions. Without trust, two of the key anchors to a powerful bond go amiss: security and safety. If you believe that trust is a major issue in your relationship (or were in your former relationship), think about if it was based on previous patterns.

Both Partners Have Grown Apart

Growing apart for you and your partner may result from the lack of commitment, conflicting aspirations, incompatibility, or the normal cycle of experimenting and getting together mistakenly. It is likely that life responsibilities (such as school, careers, and family) became obstacles in your relationship. One example is the “empty nest” syndrome when the children have grown up and moved out, and the parents are now strangers after years of not focusing on each other.

Many of these issues stem from some of our deepest needs and fears, including safety, security, power, control, and survival, that can repeat themselves in unloving relationships. For more tips on relationship and marriage counseling, visit our page. Call us at 919-647-4600 to schedule your next session.

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