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SIGNS THAT YOUR RELATIONSHIP MAY BE IN TROUBLE, SO CHECK THEM OUT HERE

We know the big signs of relationship trouble: abuse, addictions, infidelity, deception, control, anger, etc. Many relationships don’t have these problems, but they’re still rife with other issues. They are the smaller red flags you’re not paying attention to that—when done every day—chip away the foundation of your relationship. These things happen to the best of us because we don’t think of them as that bad and we can always find a way to justify our actions. As in, I might be mean to him, but at least I don’t lie to him. He lies to me all the time. Team GEM has come up with 10 signs that your relationship might be in trouble. We don’t like to leave you wondering, so we offer our ideas on what you can do about it, too.

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1. STRANGERS GET BETTER TREATMENT THAN YOU GIVE EACH OTHER

This happens in all kinds of relationships, whether romantic or platonic. We’re nice to strangers because we only see them for a few minutes and it’s easy to be on our best behavior. It’s easy not to snap at them or nag them. But the person we see every day—who left his dirty laundry on the floor or locked her keys in the car again—doesn’t always get the best treatment because we’ve seen that person at his or her worst and, quite frankly, we’re sick of it.

What you can do about it:

Take a day to observe your own behavior. Be honest about whether you have a mean edge in your voice when you talk to your partner. If you do—don’t worry! You’re human and we all behave badly sometimes. Now that you see yourself, take another day to think before you speak to your partner. If you feel the urge to say something mean, bite your tongue (figuratively, of course). Say what you want to say without the nasty edge. Throw in a sincere compliment. Your partner may not notice or appreciate what you did, but keep doing it. Lead by example.

2. NEITHER OF YOU IS FOCUSING ON WHAT’S RIGHT

There is no way that one can be in a relationship and not have struggles or problems arise. As conflicts happen, there’s a tendency to have tunnel vision about fixing them by looking at everything that’s going wrong. You both feel like you’re doing the right thing by discussing your relationship, but you’re in the defensive mode of picking at every bad thing about it in the name of strengthening it.

What you can do about it:

Reframe your thinking about your relationship. What’s right in it? Seriously, think about the things you love, the stuff that’s going well, the last time you had a good time together. When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff. Ask for more of it and do more of it yourself. You’ll feel better and so will your partner. It doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues; it means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship.

3. YOU LIKE EACH OTHER BUT DON’T LOVE EACH OTHER

On your first date, it really was kinda cute the way your partner scraped her teeth with the fork at dinner. It wasn’t so bad the way he started every comment with, “Hey, you know what?” Now months or years have passed, and you think you’re going to lose it if you see that bad habit One.More.Time.

What you can do about it:

If love is still present, then you still have a chance to work on the “liking each other” aspect of the relationship. First of all, recognize that you yourself have habits that annoy your partner. Then, understand that there’s a good chance that your partner is not trying to annoy you! It’s impossible to hold on to the “first date façade” for months and years at a time. Let go of your annoyance and anger about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you chose.

4. YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR INTIMACY

Sex is falling to the wayside or has stopped completely. You don’t hug or kiss each other. Communication doesn’t go much beyond the topics of kids, bills, and chores. You’re not connecting physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is a dangerous place to be because one or both of you is heading toward indifference—if you’re not already there. The textbook definition of indifference is a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. It’s difficult to overcome a lack of concern for your partner

What you can do about it:

One place to start is to physically connect with your partner. For some couples, that could mean making love more often. For others, that might mean holding hands when you ordinarily wouldn’t. Human touch enhances the level of attachment we feel to others. Touch can send a powerful message of comfort, love, and security. It is a way to sympathize with people and show your care and concern. Your partner probably deserves your intimacy.

5. ONE OF YOU THINKS YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

A self-centered attitude will drag a relationship down subtly, but quickly. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who insists on always having his own way, who makes unreasonable demands, or who is unwilling to compromise. It sends the message that the other person’s needs are unimportant.

What you can do about it:

If your partner is the self-centered one, there isn’t much you can do about it since you can’t change other people. But, you have unlimited power to change your response. If he wants you to pick up the dry cleaning and it’s inconvenient for you, then communicate what you can do. You could say something like, “I can pick up the dry cleaning or pick up the kids, but I can’t do both. I can do one and you can do the other. What do you prefer?”

If you are the self-centered one, you have to ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship if your behavior is a source of unhappiness. If you want to salvage your relationship, you have to be willing to do the hard work of self-reflection and then take action to balance your partner’s needs with your own.

6. YOU HAVE NEW INTERESTS THAT DON’T INCLUDE EACH OTHER

Healthy couples should have separate interests. It’s part of what contributes to making each of you more interesting to the other. At the same time, it’s a problem if you—or your partner—have new pursuits that take the time you used to spend together or you have some of the same hobbies, but you no longer do them together. Of course, it may not mean anything to pick up a hobby, but beware if the hobby is leading either of you to spend more time with other people.

What you can do about it:

Bring your partner into what you’re doing and ask to join in what he’s doing. If you don’t enjoy golf, you don’t need to play 18 holes. Take a quick trip to the driving range instead. He may not want to join your theater company, but invite him to a rehearsal or show. The point is to find opportunities to come together sometimes.

7. YOU DON’T MAKE THE EFFORT TO IMPRESS EACH OTHER

Remember the days when you used to impress each other? You used to plan how you were going to look, think, and act when you were together. You put a lot of thought and effort into your appearance and behavior. Maybe now you don’t even bother to throw on lipstick and you no longer feel the need to stay abreast of issues your partner cares about. Impressing your partner in word and deed shows your investment in the relationship. If you do not impress each other, you’re losing your investment.

What you can do about it:

Time to start investing in impressing. Take a look at what you can do to pique your partner’s interest. It really won’t take much effort to look like you made an effort. If your usual date attire consists of sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt, switch to nice jeans, a colorful blouse, and heels. You haven’t changed much, but it will look like you did. If your partner likes football and you only pretended to like it to seal the deal, then wow him with a nugget of information that you can easily get from watching ESPN on TV or online. There’s no need to be phony; you don’t have to learn the rules of football. But, you can talk about a human-interest story like the death of Adrian Peterson’s son.

 8. YOU ARE TURNING AWAY FROM EACH OTHER

Very little hurts more than your partner approaching you about something—anything—and your response is to literally and/or figuratively turn away. No matter how you feel, it shows a lack of care and concern not to respond—even if that’s not the message you intended to send. If your partner is turning away from you, then you know the pain.

What you can do about it:

Sometimes the problem is that the person doing the turning away is angry and doesn’t want to say something hurtful. Sometimes you—or your partner—don’t know what to say, so you figure it’s best to walk away without saying a word. You can prevent a bigger problem by acknowledging your partner as a person in a relationship with you. It could be as simple as saying, “I don’t know what to say right now. Let me think about it.” Or allow your partner some time to process his thoughts. You could say, “I know you need to think about this, but I do need to hear from you, too. Can we talk tonight?”

By doing so, you’re acknowledging that you understand your partner’s needs as well as your own.

9. YOU’RE TALKING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP

There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from friends and family about certain things. The point of having people in your life is that they help you on your journeys. The caveat here is that friends and family may not be very helpful when it comes to your relationship. Even if your aunt and uncle have been married for 50 years, even if your college roommate is a licensed marriage and family therapist, your connection with them is too close to look at your relationship objectively.

What you can do about it:

Stop talking about your relationship with friends and family. One member of TEAM GEM got this piece of great advice from her mother when she was a newlywed: “If you want me to love your husband as a son, then you can’t tell me all the things he has done to hurt you. You will forgive him and move on, but I won’t be so quick to forgive because you are my daughter and I love you more.” Your relationship will be better off if you talk to your partner first, then take your problems—individually and as a couple—to a licensed therapist. Can’t afford it? See if any colleges around you offer a degree program in therapy. You may be able to use the services of supervised graduate students and the fees are usually on a very reasonable sliding scale.

10. YOU’RE NOT SURE IF YOU SHOULD STAY OR GO

You’ve talked about all your issues, you’ve fought, and you’ve cycled through good and bad times. But, you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking that maybe your relationship is over.

What you can do about it:

Whether you stay or go is a decision that only you and your partner can make with some pretty deep soul-searching. If you choose to work things out, give it your all. Bring out your best self and treat your partner respectfully. Fully engage with your partner and really listen when he speaks. Avoid fighting. Wait at least three months have passed to evaluate whether your relationship has a future.

rsAfter two decades as a television news anchor, including four years on CBS’ The Early Show, Rene decided it was time for a change. Tired of reading from a teleprompter, René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself – juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result is René’s missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website www.goodenoughmother.com.

As the daughter of two, breast cancer survivors, René underwent a preventive mastectomy in 2007 and now works tirelessly to promote early detection.

Rene is a regular guest on CNN, BET, Anderson, The Bill Cunningham Show, The Today Show and The Doctors and is an in-demand speaker. She is a proud wife to Buff Parham and parent to Casey and Cole.

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