Many men do not recognise the warning signs that their relationship is in trouble, or ignore these signs in the hope that things will get better.
Sometimes relationship trouble and separation comes as a complete surprise when initiated by a partner.
The experience of separation or family breakdown is distressing for all concerned. It is particularly devastating if you are taken by surprise and are not the one who initiates the separation – the person who initiates the break-up will usually experience greater distress beforehand leading up to the decision.
Each relationship is as unique as the people involved. There is no sure way to predict whether a relationship will end. What one couple will put up with, can drive another apart. However, there are always clear signals that all is not well. Watching for and recognising these signs, and acting promptly, is vitally important for the health of your relationship.
Relationship trouble: Some common signs
- Communication is minimal and often negative
- Differences are criticised rather than enjoyed
- You are spending less time together
- One partner indicates the relationship is in trouble
- One partner is rarely prepared to listen
- Conflict leads to resentment, not resolution
- There are fewer fun moments
- Put-downs are more common than compliments
- Humour is often at other’s expense
If you recognise any of these warning signs, have you been:
- Burying your head in the sand and acting like nothing is wrong?
- Blaming your partner for what is happening, hoping the problems go away or expecting your partner them to do something about it?
Problems don’t usually go away on their own if they’re not talked about. It is often during this time that someone makes the decision to leave. Responsibility for the health and wellbeing of a relationship rests with both you and your partner.
Relationship trouble: Tips for getting things back on track
- Make time to talk and connect on a regular basis
- If your partner says they feel things are not OK, listen to them
- Take responsibility for past behaviours and make changes, where appropriate
- Pay attention to what is not said, as well as to what is said
- Use “I” statements like: “I feel hurt when you say that”
- Show interest in the other’s life; know what’s important to them
- Be clear, but realistic, about what you need and want from them
- Do something kind: the favour is often returned
Sharing a good friendship, enjoying one another’s company and having more positive moments than negative ones are signs of a good relationship. The tips above are about how to change the balance by maximising the positive moments and minimising the negative ones. It’s not fighting that damages a relationship, but how we fight.
Further information on relationship trouble can be found in the latest Relationships Australia booklet:
Renovate your Relationship (PDF: 8.46MB)
Renovate your Relationship is a booklet about men maintaining their relationships and is designed to get men to think about the practical side of relationship maintenance and how to do it. This resource has been created and updated by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) and MensLine Australia. RAV has over 70 years’ experience providing family and relationship support services across Melbourne and Victoria and is committed to inclusivity, providing safe, inclusive and accessible services for all people.
MensLine Australia has professional counsellors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing confidential and anonymous information and support for all relationship issues.