All relationships require effort and some couples simply become powerless. People who do not take into account the needs of their partner or who neglect their partner, face serious problems in the relationship. The purpose of such behaviors is distraction, lack of sincerity and appreciation, lack of compromise and tolerance.

How do we identify the unhappiness in the couple?

Everyone can identify when unhappiness sets in in a couple’s life. If we give ourselves time to contemplate a little about our own life, who we are, what we want from life, we can conclude whether or not we have a feeling of happiness related to our life. Of course, in the alert life we ‚Äč‚Äčlive today, in the attempt to constantly face the demands of social life, to always keep up to date with the trends of the times, this – to contemplate on one’s own life is possible to happen less and less. But it is necessary! And it’s welcome, just like a Sunday after a week of hard work, so as not to get into a crisis of meaning.

Unhappiness sets in progressively, as a result of a succession of events. It’s not like overnight we realize that our relationship is in crisis. When we feel that the relationship is no longer deep, that a routine has been installed that is no longer to our liking, when we no longer have the feeling that our needs are met in the relationship, when we no longer find consensus, when we find it difficult to share with life partner various things related to family life, when communication becomes deficient: all these are signs that the relationship is at a standstill.

How do we recognize a dysfunctional relationship?

Unsatisfactory relationships are characterized by a lower frequency of positive interactions compared to negative interactions.

A dysfunctional couple has deficits in communication, in solving problems. In these couples, in addition to the higher frequency of conflicts, there are also behaviors through which the partners try to punish each other. Sometimes even the behaviors through which he expresses his affection or support are misinterpreted by his partner. They perceive each other negatively and tend to notice especially the things that bother each other.

Gottman identified “The Four Riders of the Apocalypse” for a relationship, these four factors are the most predictive of a couple’s breakup

  1. Criticism / reproaches – you express your disagreement or anger related to certain aspects, you blame or accuse the other.
  2. Contempt – you make fun of him, insult him, talk to or about him with disrespect and see him as incompetent or incompetent.
  3. Defense – the tendency to defend yourself from a perceived attack, denying or not taking responsibility for what you did or said.
  4. Lack of reaction – do not give any clue to the other and do not answer in any way. The partner perceives detachment, coldness, hostility, disagreement or disinterest.

Conflicts in the couple

An important feature of unhappy relationships is frequent conflicts. Conflicts arise due to different perspectives on a situation. The conflict can bring the perspective of two people closer if they express their thoughts “I understand this from your behavior.” But very often the conflict can drive them away when everyone tries to prove that they are right.

Why conflicts take you away:

Everyone sees what they want
each of the partners in the couple sees a different part of the discussion / conflict, so even though they are discussing the same thing, they each think about other aspects of the same topic. Even more, there may be a tendency to select information that is congruent with what we believe. We discussed this distortion in more detail in the article “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Understand the messages differently
messages sent in a conflict are ambiguous and have several alternatives through which they can be interpreted. What has been observed is that men tend to focus on the concrete message while women tend to interpret the message at the relationship level. In other words, if he tells her that he would like to watch the football match, she can interpret it as a sign that he does not want to spend time together. The problem is not necessarily that the interpretations are different but rather that they are not verbalized and everyone talks at their level of interpretation, in other words everyone talks about something else.

Things are not what they seem
if when you have a conflict it seems to you that you are arguing for all the things that have ever upset you, or that could upset you, it is obvious that these are not the real source of upset. It is very possible that there is a deeper dissatisfaction with the relationship – whether it is related to the need for autonomy, respect, privacy or support. Identify what you think in a conflict – it seems that what we think in a conflict is much more relevant than what we say – paying attention to what you think you can identify what the problem is – is related to the fact that leaving your clothes on the floor or the fact that you feel that your work is not respected and appreciated.

Exaggerated answers
stress and negative emotional states reduce the complexity we can think of, also if the partner is stressed or has negative emotions is more likely to react negatively to what we say or do. Emotional state also influences what we remember. For example, when we are angry, we especially remember the negative events of the past.

Conflicts do not always have negative effects if we learn to use them to develop the relationship, for example if I express my thoughts and try to understand what bothers my partner and vice versa the conflict can be a source of relationship development.
Unfortunately, many couples with communication problems reach a point where they see that the relationship is deteriorating more and more and none of the partners is willing to make an effort to save her.

Gottman identified the steps that lead to the separation of a couple:

  • the partners see the couple’s problems as serious
  • both consider that it is no longer worth trying to solve the couple’s problems
  • one of them feels overwhelmed by his partner’s reproaches
  • each develops a parallel life so that they spend as little time together as possible
  • partners isolate themselves

Because dysfunctional relationships are not healthy for us, and because it is obvious that a relationship will not work well without effort from your partners, I offer you some strategies to have a better relationship.

Strategies for a happy relationship:

  1. Do something positive for your partner
    One of the first techniques of cognitive couple therapy involves each partner making a list of behaviors that the other would like to do. If one does a behavior on the list he will be rewarded. You can do just that, set two or three things you want your loved one to do in a day and the rewards for them. Be careful, he is not obliged to do them, but if he does, he will be rewarded (and vice versa).
  2. Surprise him
    Suggest that one day you do small things for the other to show that you care – sometimes we forget to express our affection for the other. It can help you find a way to interact based on affection and respect.
  3. Be the way you want to be!
    How would you like to be in a relationship? What would you do and what wouldn’t you do? It often happens that when the relationship is in a difficult period we do not do the things we liked to do in a relationship. If you start doing them again you will both feel better.
  4. Communicate
    Express both positive and negative emotions. When it comes to negative emotions, it is important how we express them. Say the subjective opinion as your opinion not the absolute truth, speak on your behalf – do not say what you think the other thinks or feels. Express your thoughts and emotions tactfully and find the right time to be willing to listen without becoming defensive. If you do not say what bothers you, things will remain unresolved and over time more and more conflicts will break out.
  5. Listen
    Try to understand what your partner is saying, see how he understands the situation, do not interrupt him, do not interpret, do not judge him and accept that he has the right to feel or think what he feels or thinks regardless of whether or not you agree with those things. .
  6. Provide support
    When your partner is in a difficult situation, try to listen to him, understand him and offer him your support.
  7. Identify the message
    When your partner is angry or sad – you have two alternatives: see that as an attack or as a message. Obviously, if you interpret it as an attack, you will respond negatively and you will provoke a conflict. Whereas if you see it as a message, you can try to find solutions to the problem together.
  8. Remember who you have next to you
    In the most difficult times we tend to focus on the conflict over who has to win or lose. You both lose in a conflict, you are on the same side of the barricade, you are both irritated and unhappy and you have a choice between understanding that it is a problem that affects you both and you have to solve it or keep “pressing” those “buttons”. who you know irritates the other so much.
  9. Thank you and be grateful
    Maybe sometimes you feel that only you make an effort in a relationship, or that everything is on your shoulders try to notice the good things your partner does and thank him, show him that you notice and appreciate them.
    Things are very simple – do you want a happy relationship? Make sure you have more good times than bad. If something displeases you, try to do things differently, to change something yourself. What you do could lead to a change for the better in your partner and implicitly in your relationship. Sometimes it is enough for one in the relationship to put more effort and this will determine the other to change something for the better.
Couple problems … how to cure a dysfunctional relationship