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8 Relationship Problems You Just Can’t Fix
Some problems in relationships can be tackled as a couple: Not spending enough kid-free time together? Call a babysitter. Prioritizing screen-time over quality time? Kindly escort your cell phone out of the bedroom.
Other problems are a lot harder to solve. Below, marriage therapists share eight weighty relationship problems that just can’t be fixed.
1. You have contempt for each other.
Make no mistake: If left unchecked, finger-pointing, sarcasm and contempt will chip away at the foundation of your marriage, said Bonnie Ray Kennan, a psychotherapist based in Torrance, California. (Contempt is so bad, renowned marriage researcher John Gottman has identified it as the single best predicator of divorce.)
“This kind of behavior creates a culture of disconnect,” Ray Kennan explained. “If one or both partners are unwilling to soften the marital conversation and stop fighting, the problem will get worse until there is no coming back.”
2. Your partner is needlessly argumentative.
There will be times when your opinion on an issue is so starkly different from your spouse’s, you’re downright shocked. Let it be and agree to disagree. As a couple, you need to recognize that no one wins when one of you always has to be right, said relationship coach Lisa Schmidt.
“It’s a problem if one or both partners provoke arguments and then look for reasons to not forgive the other,” she said. “What makes it worse is when the inability to forgive is followed by a refusal to discuss the issue further.”
3. There’s chronic infidelity.
Being in a relationship with a serial cheater is nothing short of exhausting. The relationship can be repaired, but only if the unfaithful partner is honest about what happened and fully prepared to leave the affair behind. If not, heartbreak is inevitable, said Marcia Naomi Berger, a psychotherapist and the author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love.
“People vary in how willing they are to put up with this,” she said. “Many eventually give up on trying to fix the relationship; they simply decide they have had enough broken promises. They realize that enough is enough.”
4. Your partner is distant or secretive about where they go when you’re not around.
While time apart is essential in any relationship, what your partner does with their free time shouldn’t be some great mystery. There’s a difference between privacy and secrecy, said psychologist Susan Heitler.
“Too much secrecy can leave you feeling abandoned emotionally as well as physically, even when your partner is home,” she said. “A marriage needs sharing and openness.”
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