Love can blind us to signs of a dysfunctional relationship.
So, before making a plan to form a permanent relationship and a family with the person you see as your future spouse, it’s important to analyze some particular aspects of your relationship, to be sure there aren’t any red flags. If you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, the first thing you have to do is recognize that fact, so you can either repair it or get out of it.
Let’s look at some symptoms that can let you know if you’re in an unhealthy relationship …
It’s very common for there to be constant power struggles in dysfunctional romantic relationships. When one of the (potential or actual) spouses has feelings of inferiority with respect to the other spouse, he or she will fight every conflict as if it were the final battle with which the “war” can be won. This will happen unconsciously as a way of compensating for a lack of self-esteem. In the short term, “victories” might feel like vindication of self-worth, but in the long run, the person’s self-esteem will continue to weaken, and the relationship will obviously suffer for it.
These power struggles, where both partners try to be dominant in the relationship, can manifest themselves in different ways: wanting to be right, not recognizing your mistakes, being incapable of asking forgiveness when you mess up, not listening to your partner, not letting the other express his or her opinion freely, and imposing your own opinion are all symptoms of a power struggle.
Lack of respect
One of the basic ingredients in a couple’s relationship is respect. It’s the foundation on which the columns of the relationship must be built, and consequently, there are behaviors that should not be accepted. These include: hostile and mocking humor, contempt, shouting, recurrent lies, infidelities, violent arguments, and constant aggression. If you feel that, as hard as you try to avoid it, you always end up in hostile arguments, that communication is nonexistent, and that it’s impossible for you both to agree on anything, then you’re in a bad situation. This can lead you to feel anger, sadness, and/or resentment, which can end up undermining your relationship as a couple.
Loss of identity and self-esteem
Another fundamental part of any relationship, closely related to respect, is that the two people love each other for who they are. If that relationship becomes one-sided, it creates a dangerous and unhealthy dynamic. Your relationship is in trouble …
- If every day that passes, you feel worse about yourself;
- If you’ve stopped being yourself because you fear your partner’s reaction;
- If you think that if you are yourself, your partner might reject you;
- If you think that your partner could never fall in love with someone like you, and so you have changed, taking on a submissive role;
- If you ignore your own needs, prioritizing only those of your partner;
- If you feel emotionally worse and worse each day;
- If before meeting your partner, you were a happy person, but now you are depressed;
- If you have allowed your personality to be extinguished little by little;
- If you look at yourself in the mirror, and don’t recognize yourself.
If every time you have a major argument or problem, your partner threatens to leave you, or even actually goes through with it temporarily, it will create feelings of insecurity regarding your bond, and make you feel like you are on a continuous emotional roller coaster. This is clearly manipulative and dysfunctional. In an established relationship, breaking up should only be on the table for truly serious reasons where there is no other remedy.
Open and permanent conflicts
There’s nothing more unpleasant than living in constant open conflict. It wears people out and robs them of the energy they need for their projects and plans. Both parties need to learn to give and take, to express their needs clearly, and to listen to their partner and strive to understand them in turn. Otherwise, constant conflicts are inevitable, creating a sensation of malaise, frustration, and uncertainty for both of the partners. In order to be psychologically healthy, the couple must come to agreements and learn to communicate more effectively.
If you are in a relationship and experience any of the above, don’t consider marriage until you have resolved the issues and have well-founded reasons to believe that the change is permanent. Since major change in someone’s personality is difficult to achieve, as much as you love that person, you should probably look elsewhere for a spouse. If you are already married, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help from a marriage counselor, although some issues involved can only be solved through additional individual psychological and spiritual assistance.
For the development of a stable relationship, it’s essential that both partners feel secure regarding their mutual love, respect, and commitment as a couple. Keep this in mind when you choose the person with whom to build a future, and don’t let feelings blind you to red flags. Sentiments are only part of a relationship. Beginning this thrilling adventure and vocation requires prudence; you should only give your heart to a person who truly deserves it.
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