We think we know what kills a relationship:
Poor communication, clinginess, insecurity, cheating, incompatibility, the inability to commit…
But research shows that there are 3 even bigger relationship killers that hardly anyone talks about.
People don’t talk about them because they’re a lot harder to solve than normal relationship problems.
If communication is a problem, you can work on communicating better. If you feel suffocated, you can work on balancing your me-time and we-time.
But these problems go well beyond you and the one you’re with.
They stem from the environment you live in as a couple.
Relationship Problems are Contagious
Relationships don’t exist in a bubble.
They’re influenced by 1001 invisible factors we’re not even aware of.
For example, did you know that if you have a close friend who gets divorced, your own risk of divorce goes up 75%? Your risk of divorce even goes up if a sibling or a co-worker gets divorced.
Obviously, you can’t help if your best friend gets divorced. That’s what makes these relationship killers so uncomfortable to look at. We don’t have control over them in the same way we have control over other things.
But knowledge is power.
When you’re aware that your relationship can be affected by a divorce or separation in your circle of friends, you can make sure to talk about it with your partner. You can make an extra effort to be loving and caring and spend more time together.
Even though you can’t snap your fingers and make all your risk factors disappear, you can take steps to mitigate their impact.
And that’s what matters here. I’m not sharing these risk factors to scare you, but tolet you know when you might need to take preventative measures.
So what other invisible risk factors are affecting your relationship?
Here are three you need to know about.
Relationship Killer #1.
You probably already know that the thing couples fight about more than anything else, more than sex, more than the in-laws, is money.
Money is a huge source of tension in relationships.
And when you don’t have enough of it, that financial struggle makes the fights even worse. You can’t survive on love alone, no matter what the songs say. You’ve got to have somewhere to live and something to eat. And if your guy isn’t working, or he keeps losing his job, you start to think twice about your future.
Being low income increases your risk of divorce, not just because of the stress that financial insecurity puts on your family, but also because now more than ever we have the expectation that relationships should be 50:50.
If one person isn’t pulling their weight financially, and there’s already not enough money to live on, it’s hard not to wonder if your life would be better with someone else.
Is that uncomfortable to think about? Absolutely. That’s why you don’t hear about this very much. But you need to be aware of it, especially during these tough economic times.
Relationship Killer #2.
Have you been in a relationship where one of you was going through a rough patch at work? Your partner was stressed and grouchy all the time. It probably felt really unfair that he brought his bad moods home.
Although it would be great if we all knew how to manage our stress and keep it from coming home with us, that’s a big ask. Stress does affect us. It affects us a lot.
When you’re under a huge amount of stress, you start to become withdrawn and irritable. You notice every little annoying thing your partner does. You snap at him before you can catch yourself. You just don’t have any patience anymore.
You’re also less affectionate. You don’t want to go out and do fun things like you used to.
It’s important to talk to your partner when you’re going through stress and make sure he knows that he’s not the cause. Apologize for pushing him away. The people who love us will forgive us, as long as they know we’re trying and things will get better.
Relationship Killer #3.
Uncertainty about the future
One of the things that holds relationships together is a belief in the future.
You believe you’ll be happier together than apart. You have the same vision about what you want from life. You feel confident you’ll get there together.
But when the world is uncertain, and you have no idea what the future will hold, it’s hard to stay positive. When the rough times come—as they do—you wonder if this tough stretch will pass or whether it’s the “new normal” in your relationship.
Couples split when they don’t think things are going to get any better. They’ve lost hope in their shared future.
That’s why it’s so important to keep working at your relationship if you’re stuck. Talk about the future. Talk about what you both want. Maybe you don’t know how you’ll ever get there, but that shared vision can give you hope when the world is dark.