4 Signs You May Need a Couple’s Reboot

Avoid these common traps and get your relationship back on track.

Posted Sep 30, 2020

Alekon Pictures/unsplash
Source: Alekon Pictures/unsplash

Healthy, long-lasting partnerships often lose sight of the glue that holds the relationship together. Even the most civil and mature people snap from the pressure of living together 24-7. In trying times, it can be difficult to differentiate between a rut or cracks in the foundation. Here are four signs it may be time to address your relationship stressors:

1. You’re starting to hit below the belt during arguments. A common pitfall of relationships is the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality. It creates an atmosphere of resistance, resentment, criticism, and contempt. Women may feel unvalidated and dismissed and men may complain of being hounded and nagged.

Solution: View conflict as an opportunity for growth. Disputes are not bad for relationships. Certainly, some conflict is toxic, particularly when it devolves into harassment, abuse, or violence. These destructive behaviors can substantially undermine the health and well-being of individuals and couples. But conflict is not the problem. A healthy reframe for dealing with disagreements is recognizing that you’re not understanding one another and your needs are not being met. Experiment with discussing problems when things are going well. The may sound counterintuitive, but scrambling for solutions when the heat is on rarely works.

2. Your sex life is stale and inconsistent. Sex can be a lot of work. Besides grooming, there’s scheduling concerns, diminished libido, stress, and kids, etc. It can be tempting to turn to porn or sex toys for reaching a quick orgasm.

Solution: Get back to basics. “To reclaim that space, you need to make a concerted effort to find time out together every week. Make sure there’s plenty of kissing, touching, and hand-holding; but most of all, look at each other and tell your partner how attractive you find them. This kind of con­nection is the basic glue of any relationship. If that goes, everything else goes, too.” — Brett McCann, senior lecturer in sexual health at Sydney University.

3. The past has slowly crept back in. Nothing will kill a chance to problem-solve faster than reminding her of the time she left the therapist’s office mid-session. Or when he got drunk and passed out at your sister’s wedding.

Solution: Leave the past in the past. Regurgitating wrongdoings only serves to make you both feel trapped and helpless. Mindful attention to the argument at hand is key. Communicate your needs in clear language and refrain from complaining or bringing other people into the conflict. If you can’t articulate what you want, stick to “I” messages: “I feel confused when we keep having the same argument. I do know I need more attention.”

4. Neither of you takes time to pursue your own friendships and hobbies. Spending too much time together leads to cabin fever, codependence, boredom, and amplified annoyances.

Solution: Possess an identity outside of the relationship to maintain balance. A healthy partnership involves two independent individuals connecting, not one person giving up their identity to appease the other. Time away from one another offers a fresh perspective and may increase the mystique present when you began dating.

Waiting it out and hoping time heals your relationship wounds is always an option, but why leave it up to fate? When the going gets tough ask: Which do I value more, being right or being in a relationship?

© 2020 Linda Esposito, LCSW