Odds are, if you are in a lousy relationship then you failed at one of these three relationship phases. The good news is that there is a fix! Read on to figure out where your relationship went wrong and what you can do to get it back on track.
Caring vs. Indifference
The Phase: In the beginning of the relationship, there was no question that you cared for your partner. You went out of your way to make sure that they were happy and satisfied in the relationship. When you reached the “Caring vs. Indifference” phase, you found that you were putting a lot of effort into the relationship with little return. You needed to decide whether or not to continue caring or become indifferent to their needs.
The Solution: If you decided to keep giving and caring, you probably lost. There came a point in your relationship that you were giving but you did not feel like the relationship was reciprocal. Now, you are on a path to resentment. If you decided to become indifferent, you definitely lost. Becoming indifferent in the relationship leads to a lack of effort and meaninglessness in the relationship. The hidden answer is to continue giving while also expressing your thoughts to your partner. Bring attention to all of the effort and care that you have been putting into the relationship and have an honest conversation about what your expectations are from them as a spouse.
Ambitious vs. Comfortable
The Phase: At some point in the relationship, you were ambitious. You set goals and you put effort into achieving them (in or out of the relationship). The feeling of pursuing and accomplishing goals made you feel purpose in your life. It may have been going to work to provide financially, volunteering to help the community, chasing success, or being the ideal house mom/dad. Your partner appreciated this quality in you and you felt content with embracing this quality. Entering this phase of the relationship, you had to choose between continuing to pursue your purpose or becoming complacent with where you were. This phase may have started out of necessity (i.e. losing a job, sustaining an injury) or out of choice (i.e. retiring, not finding joy in your purpose and giving less effort).
The Solution: By choosing to become comfortable/ complacent with where you were, you gave up that quality that your partner admired in you and you admired in yourself. You are literally not the person that your partner fell in love with. Alternatively, by choosing to continue in your pursuits or finding another way to bring purpose to your life, you retain your attractive quality and zest for life. The trick here is to be grateful for what you have in your life while also fulfilling your purpose (not just letting time pass).
Assertive vs. Passive (or Aggressive)
The Phase: Assertiveness is an attractive quality in a long-term partner. When you had assertiveness you could tell your partner what you wanted without being conflictual or aggressive about it. Also, you were not passive in how you presented your needs. Your assertiveness allowed you to communicate in a straight-forward manner while having clear expectations. When coming into the “Assertive vs. Passive (Or Aggressive)” phase, you found that passivity or aggression were easier to manage.
Related Article: 5 Keys to Unlock Assertiveness in Your Relationship
The Solution: If you became passive, you decided that asserting your needs was too much of a hassle or an argument. Over time, passivity breeds resentment and your wants/needs will rarely get met. With aggression, you found that your assertiveness was not as respected as aggression. Aggression will lead to further frustration in your relationship, impulsiveness, and resentment from your partner. Choosing assertiveness, expressing your needs, and openly communicating is a win-win. Sometimes assertiveness will come and go (mainly due to “choosing your battles”) but remember that this ongoing battle should regularly be won by assertiveness.
In the Caring vs. Indifference phase, choose to continue giving and caring but also express your thoughts and expectations to your partner. While fighting between ambition and comfort, make sure to fulfill your purpose while also being grateful for what you currently have in your life. Assertiveness will always win over passivity or aggression. Openly communicate with your partner and avoid building resentment. If you failed at any of these phases, take a look at the solution and decide what changes you need to make in your relationship today!
About The Author
Chris Cummins is a couples specialist with The Marriage and Family Clinic. He focuses on working with substance abuse and couples in high conflict. Chris enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.