Signs Your Relationship is Failing

The Signs Your Relationship is Failing

Do you know the signs your relationship is failing? “Is this just a fight? Or are we really in trouble?” Those are questions that we’ve all wondered about after a yucky-feeling argument with our partners. The truth is that all relationships have conflict and “rough patches.” Relationships grow and evolve, and when couples work through their differences constructively, it brings them closer together. That’s our couples counseling philosophy here at Growing Self. 

As a marriage counselor myself, I genuinely believe that weathering tough times IS the path to greater intimacy and emotional depth in a relationship, and every conflict is an opportunity for connection. Really (I’m saying that as both a marriage counselor and as a person who’s been married for practically 20 years).

However,

There are some kinds of interactions and patterns that, when present in a marriage, must absolutely be snuffed out…and fast. If you don’t attend to negative relationship patterns early on, they can take over a relationship and turn it into a seething toxic nest of anxiety, resentment, hurt feelings, anger, and disconnection. You can either grow together or grow apart. If not remedied, the last stop on this sad train is divorce (or bitter, lonely cohabitation).

You don’t want that. 

Signs Your Relationship is Failing and How to Turn Things Around

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast, I’m talking about telltale signs your relationship is failing (or is getting into the trouble zone) and things that you can do to pull it back from the brink.

I sincerely hope that this advice helps you.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Signs Your Relationship is Failing

Free, Expert Advice — For You.

Subscribe To The Love, Happiness, and Success Podcast

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Let’s Talk: Start With a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

Marriage Counseling Questions | Couples Therapy Questions

If you’re considering getting involved in marriage counseling, couples therapy, or relationship coaching you probably have questions! Get your marriage counseling questions answered, right here.

38 Comments

  1. I need to figure out how to stop shutting down, because it’s leaking into my relationship in a negative way. Could you help?

    1. Hi Me’Leeza. Great question you bring up, and I think it’s one that a lot of people struggle with. Often when people find themselves “shutting down” it’s because they have had intense feelings triggered by things. They shut down or withdraw as a way of coping with the big emotions. The good news is that it is absolutely possible to overcome these patterns through a combination of cognitive techniques and emotion regulation skills. These are included in the skills I teach in my online “Happiness Class.” I hope you check it out. All the best, LMB

  2. I need to find a way to help my husband be more open & communicate with me instead of him instantly getting angry, defensive and ultimately shutting down. When I try to talk to him about something that is bothering me, he gets mad at me, he gets extremely defensive and finds things irrelevant to the topic to throw in my fave to try and turn it on me, and then he shuts down, no more communication. Its frustrating, exhausting and has left me feeling that my feelings don’t matter to him and I no longer want to open up to him because I know how its going to end. I love my husband more than anything in this world, 7 years we’ve been together and this is honestly our #1 biggest issue. Please, please help us.

    1. Karah, what a tough situation! Thank you for your question. I’m preparing a follow up episode to my “How to Communicate” podcast series, and I’ll address your question. Stay tuned! LMB

    2. I told my husband that he doesn’t spend end enough time with his family nor does he spend time with his son (from a previous relationship). Told him he needs to stop hanging out a be a father and he has not talk to me in a week. I also meationed to him that he puts his friends before our relationship. Since that day he has slept in the spare room and has not said a word to me I reached out but he won’t respond at all. How do I turn this around or is he just over he relationship? He will not communicate with me at all he gets defensive and iterated when ever I ask him questions… I don’t know how to proceed… she we just let it go?

  3. We have not had sex in one year he has no interest in sex but I have found him having webcam sex what is our problem I’m not feeling like I can trust him anymore

    1. Tammie, thanks for getting in touch with this concern. I can understand how this would feel terrible for you, and how your partner’s behavior would damage your trust in him and negatively impact many aspects of your relationship. I did a podcast a while back entitled, “What To Do When Your Partner Has a Problem” that may resonate with you, and provide some direction. My ultimate hope for you is that your partner might be open to attending couples counseling with you in order to address this issue directly. If he’s not open to it, you might consider meeting with someone individually, ideally a counselor with a background in sex therapy who is “AASECT Certified.” (That means they have had years of specialized training, supervision and experience specifically in sex therapy.) Good luck with things… LMB

  4. It is both a relief and a very sad realization to hear that : it really feels like you’ve described my relationship and that has made me feel less lonely and less like a failure. Thank you for your insight, your knowledge and your voice are very soothing ! =)

  5. My fiancee and I have known each other for 21 years. Before we actually started dating we would talk about anything and everything. Then I found out 6 months into our relationship that in the very beginning him and a female had exchanged nude photos back and forth. They had never met in person. Ever since then he has shutdown. He won’t talk about anything but family and work. I need some major advice.

    1. Hi April, thank you for reaching out. My advice to you is to get some professional relationship help, in the form of premarital counseling or relationship coaching in order to figure out 1) what the heck is going on and 2) if it can be resolved and 3) whether or not you should continue planning a life with this person or not. I know that it can be so hard to consider ending a relationship that is moving towards marriage, but it would be much, much better for you to figure this out now rather than later. If you’re finance is refusing to communicate with you, and who has a history of cheating on you it’s bad… but having your husband, the father of your children, and the person you co-own real-estate and retirement accounts refusing to communicate with you and possibly cheating on you is worse.

      Not trying to scare you here, I do not know what is going on underneath the hood of this particular relationship. But it sounds like, neither do you. And you must, before you get married. If you are interested in continuing a relationship with this person, please start premarital counseling. Here is the link if you’d like to have a free consultation with one of the premarital counselors on our team here at Growing Self. But whether or not you do this work here, I really hope you do. All the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

  6. Hi Dr. Bobby
    This has been an absolute saver for me! I have never heard my experience explained so succinctly. I am definitely a pursuer and have really tried my best to communicate in a loving way to my husband. I have been so vulnerable about my loneliness and pain, but it seems to fall on deaf ears – or the penny doesn’t seem to drop. My question is where to from here? I feel myself slipping into the stage of ‘vilifying’ /perceive myself partner as being incapable of loving. Although we seem to resolve it with each incident it adds up. As you say, it becomes the norm.
    We’ve been together for 11 years, married for 2, and have a 1,5 year old son. I have hope we can resolve this but just don’t know how. Is marriage counseling the only way to go? How do I convince my partner that this is necessary? He seems to not think it necessary when things go ‘back to normal.’

    1. Thank you for reaching out with your question. What I’m hearing is that you have good awareness about the patterns in your relationship, which is great… but that those patterns seem entrenched, are damaging your relationship, and that nothing seems to help. I know from my experience as a marriage counselor and couples therapist that these patterns do not get better without effort, but they often get worse.

      For the sake of not just your marriage but your family and your son, I would strongly encourage you to make the first appointment for couples therapy and start the work. (Whether or not your husband is 100% in love with the idea.) If you connect with a good, professional, qualified couples therapist who uses an evidence-based approach to marriage counseling, he or she can help him see the value in this. It’s not going to be you two just rehashing the same old things: There will be a coherent plan, and activities that lead to progress and improvement. Also, meeting with a professional couples counselor can also help him feel heard, understood, and respected, and clear that the path of change involves both of you – not just him.

      Here are some more resources for you:

      “What to Do When Your Partner Refuses Marriage Counseling”

      and

      “How To Find a Marriage Counselor.”

      I hope these help you. If you decide that you’d like to pursue online couples therapy or online marriage counseling with one of the experts on our team here at Growing Self, the first step would be to schedule your free consultation meeting to discuss your goals and make sure it’s a good fit. (That in itself might be an easier thing for your husband to agree to. Then if he feels comfortable with it, you can move forward).

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  7. I need to figure out how to stop shutting down, because it’s leaking into my relationship in a negative way. Could you help?

  8. Hi Me’Leeza. Great question you bring up, and I think it’s one that a lot of people struggle with. Often when people find themselves “shutting down” it’s because they have had intense feelings triggered by things. They shut down or withdraw as a way of coping with the big emotions. The good news is that it is absolutely possible to overcome these patterns through a combination of cognitive techniques and emotion regulation skills. These are included in the skills I teach in my online “Happiness Class.” I hope you check it out. All the best, LMB

  9. I need to find a way to help my husband be more open & communicate with me instead of him instantly getting angry, defensive and ultimately shutting down. When I try to talk to him about something that is bothering me, he gets mad at me, he gets extremely defensive and finds things irrelevant to the topic to throw in my fave to try and turn it on me, and then he shuts down, no more communication. Its frustrating, exhausting and has left me feeling that my feelings don’t matter to him and I no longer want to open up to him because I know how its going to end. I love my husband more than anything in this world, 7 years we’ve been together and this is honestly our #1 biggest issue. Please, please help us.

  10. Karah, what a tough situation! Thank you for your question. I’m preparing a follow up episode to my “How to Communicate” podcast series, and I’ll address your question. Stay tuned! LMB

  11. I told my husband that he doesn’t spend end enough time with his family nor does he spend time with his son (from a previous relationship). Told him he needs to stop hanging out a be a father and he has not talk to me in a week. I also meationed to him that he puts his friends before our relationship. Since that day he has slept in the spare room and has not said a word to me I reached out but he won’t respond at all. How do I turn this around or is he just over he relationship? He will not communicate with me at all he gets defensive and iterated when ever I ask him questions… I don’t know how to proceed… she we just let it go?

  12. We have not had sex in one year he has no interest in sex but I have found him having webcam sex what is our problem I’m not feeling like I can trust him anymore

  13. I appreciate all these wonderful questions, and look forward to addressing them on my upcoming “relationship questions” podcast. Stay tuned!

  14. Tammie, thanks for getting in touch with this concern. I can understand how this would feel terrible for you, and how your partner’s behavior would damage your trust in him and negatively impact many aspects of your relationship. I did a podcast a while back entitled, “What To Do When Your Partner Has a Problem” that may resonate with you, and provide some direction. My ultimate hope for you is that your partner might be open to attending couples counseling with you in order to address this issue directly. If he’s not open to it, you might consider meeting with someone individually, ideally a counselor with a background in sex therapy who is “AASECT Certified.” (That means they have had years of specialized training, supervision and experience specifically in sex therapy.) Good luck with things… LMB

  15. you choose some awesome music for your podcasts- you should make a soundtrack…I’d buy it!

  16. It is both a relief and a very sad realization to hear that : it really feels like you’ve described my relationship and that has made me feel less lonely and less like a failure. Thank you for your insight, your knowledge and your voice are very soothing ! =)

  17. My fiancee and I have known each other for 21 years. Before we actually started dating we would talk about anything and everything. Then I found out 6 months into our relationship that in the very beginning him and a female had exchanged nude photos back and forth. They had never met in person. Ever since then he has shutdown. He won’t talk about anything but family and work. I need some major advice.

  18. Hi April, thank you for reaching out. My advice to you is to get some professional relationship help, in the form of premarital counseling or relationship coaching in order to figure out 1) what the heck is going on and 2) if it can be resolved and 3) whether or not you should continue planning a life with this person or not. I know that it can be so hard to consider ending a relationship that is moving towards marriage, but it would be much, much better for you to figure this out now rather than later. If you’re finance is refusing to communicate with you, and who has a history of cheating on you it’s bad… but having your husband, the father of your children, and the person you co-own real-estate and retirement accounts refusing to communicate with you and possibly cheating on you is worse.

    Not trying to scare you here, I do not know what is going on underneath the hood of this particular relationship. But it sounds like, neither do you. And you must, before you get married. If you are interested in continuing a relationship with this person, please start premarital counseling. Here is the link if you’d like to have a free consultation with one of the premarital counselors on our team here at Growing Self. But whether or not you do this work here, I really hope you do. All the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

  19. Hi Dr. Bobby
    This has been an absolute saver for me! I have never heard my experience explained so succinctly. I am definitely a pursuer and have really tried my best to communicate in a loving way to my husband. I have been so vulnerable about my loneliness and pain, but it seems to fall on deaf ears – or the penny doesn’t seem to drop. My question is where to from here? I feel myself slipping into the stage of ‘vilifying’ /perceive myself partner as being incapable of loving. Although we seem to resolve it with each incident it adds up. As you say, it becomes the norm.
    We’ve been together for 11 years, married for 2, and have a 1,5 year old son. I have hope we can resolve this but just don’t know how. Is marriage counseling the only way to go? How do I convince my partner that this is necessary? He seems to not think it necessary when things go ‘back to normal.’

  20. Thank you for reaching out with your question. What I’m hearing is that you have good awareness about the patterns in your relationship, which is great… but that those patterns seem entrenched, are damaging your relationship, and that nothing seems to help. I know from my experience as a marriage counselor and couples therapist that these patterns do not get better without effort, but they often get worse.

    For the sake of not just your marriage but your family and your son, I would strongly encourage you to make the first appointment for couples therapy and start the work. (Whether or not your husband is 100% in love with the idea.) If you connect with a good, professional, qualified couples therapist who uses an evidence-based approach to marriage counseling, he or she can help him see the value in this. It’s not going to be you two just rehashing the same old things: There will be a coherent plan, and activities that lead to progress and improvement. Also, meeting with a professional couples counselor can also help him feel heard, understood, and respected, and clear that the path of change involves both of you – not just him.

    Here are some more resources for you:

    “What to Do When Your Partner Refuses Marriage Counseling”

    and

    “How To Find a Marriage Counselor.”

    I hope these help you. If you decide that you’d like to pursue online couples therapy or online marriage counseling with one of the experts on our team here at Growing Self, the first step would be to schedule your free consultation meeting to discuss your goals and make sure it’s a good fit. (That in itself might be an easier thing for your husband to agree to. Then if he feels comfortable with it, you can move forward).

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  21. Greetings from TX,

    I just listened to your postcast and with tears rolling down my face, I can say you were preaching to the choir. Thecisdueci am going through with the love of my life, is that I recently suddenly lost my mother, a day after we both video chatted with her. She was well and the next day gone. I am just now feeling her absence and I am just sad and one would say grieving. It helps me heal when I talk about my feelings, but he flat out told me I need to get it together as he doesn’t like me talking about it. He says he’s trying to respect my feelings but me talking about it, isn’t helping. I found myself apologizing as I thought he had been here before, he too lost his mother dome 4yrs ago and I though he could be strong for me, but instead I felt dismissed, shut down and really he just didn’t show me love. It’s been 5 days now that we haven’t spoken or seen each other. I am sad, angry, hurt not only with the death of my dear mother, but now this too with him. He doesn’t like to talk things over, instead he just says I don’t want to talk about it and that’s how things are fixed. I don’t know that I want to continue dealing with the non existing communication. I don’t feel safe or loved. I’m hurting and he gould careless. I traveled to put mom to rest have been back 2wks now and I only saw him once since I’ve been back.
    He sent me a text to ask if I got some rest, when I responded with ” not really, I’m missing mom, I thought I had closure, but I can’t help but long for her, I don’t have much of an appetite “. He shut me down with ” oh youvteally need to get it together, I don’t like hearing this, i’m sure you have noticed that I ignore you when you bring these things up “. That was the last time we ever had dialog.
    Where did I go wrong? I feel alone grieving for my mom, and the man I thought loved me as much as I love him, is not present. I need him more now than ever but instead he’s just shut down. I don’t understand.
    I am angry, hurt, sad & so disappointed.

  22. I have a question… I feel my relationship is failing due to communication failure.. one issue is respect.. when we’re out he is always looking at other women… I’ve brought it up, calmly, and he explodes…denies it, the whole bit. I’ve explained to him it’s not out of jealousy or insecurity, rather than respect.. when I’m out with him I’d like to feel like I’m the woman who has his attention.. not the fool holding his hand as we stroll around and he’s looking at others. I don’t care if he’s looking when I’m not around.. I look too, But not when we’re out together, out of respect to him. This whole issue just infuriates me.

  23. I want to have a conversation with my husband when an issue arises but he won’t have a conversation. He immediately says i didn’t do anything wrong, if I try to talk to him he yells, doesn’t listen and won’t agree any issues at all. Not even if you wait an hour,a day or a week. The issue of not having a conversation is huge. Even for the simple normal conversations he doesn’t let me finish my sentences and when I am talking to him ( maybe sharing my day) he interrupts in the middle of my sentence about something completely different. I ask if he heard me and he says he did but I truly feel it’s rude to interrupt and not even respond like it doesn’t matter what I have to say. I need help because I can’t keep a marriage together by self. If we have a disagreement, he won’t talk about it, he just pretends nothing happened and won’t address any issue. Help feeling very one sided.

  24. Hi Sherri, this sounds so difficult. In a healthy relationship, there is safety, respect, and trust. These are the foundations of communication. I think you’ll get a lot of validation and insight from “10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship Everyone Should Know,” “Unhealthy Relationships,” and “Signs of a Healthy Relationship.” I wish I could help more, here, but think you would get a lot out of meeting with a therapist who could give you more one-on-one support. xoxo, Lisa

  25. Oh Nina, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom, but also for the double-trauma you experienced: Her traumatic passing, and also the trauma of feeling abandoned and rejected by the person you were counting on to be there for you in your time of greatest need. I am so sorry. Here is a podcast that really helped me when I lost my mom a couple of years ago, on “Life After Loss.”

    I will also say that it takes a long time to get to know people, and it’s only by going through life for awhile with a person that you get a close-up view of who they are and how they operate. You learned that the person you were with is callous, emotionally rejecting, and not a safe person to have in your life. I know it’s disappointing and hurtful to realize this, but I can assure you that this is actually who he is — not something you created. I know it’s hurtful, but trust me: This is a really, really good thing to know before you start buying real-estate and having babies together. I am glad you found out, so that you were prevented from continuing to move forward with a person who would have been a terrible life partner long term. Maybe your angel was looking out for you there Nina. 🙂 xoxo

  26. Christine, thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry that this is happening, and I can understand how it would feel really upsetting. I think most people would feel the same in your position. Here are a couple of resources for you: Is Jealousy Healthy in a Relationship? (Short answer, frequently yes). I will also add that sometimes there is an even greater sensitivity to these kinds of behaviors if you’ve had bad experiences with people in the past. I don’t know if that may or may not be true for you, but you might also listen to this podcast I have about “trust issues,” just to see if any of it resonates with you.

    But either way, the issue here is not the looking. The issue is that your partner is invalidating your feelings in a way that feels really hurtful to you. I hope that if you listen to this podcast about “Feeling Invalidated in Your Relationship” it may help him develop increased understanding of the damage being caused by defensiveness.

    Thanks for reaching out Christine. I hope these resources help you, and I hope this turns into a “growth moment” for your relationship.

    Best,
    Dr. Lisa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *