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How to Tell When Your Relationship is Out of Balance

Relational imbalance is present whenever either partner, with some pattern or regularity, tells the other… 

 
       * What the other thinks.                       * What the other wants. 

       * What the other is trying to do.          * What the other needs.
 
       * What the other meant to do.            * How the other feels, or should feel.
 
       * What the other should do.                * What the other intends.
 
       * How the other should be.                 * What the other expects.
 
       * What the other means.  
 

More serious signs of imbalance include patterns or regularity of…  
 
  1. Hostile withholding of communication and affection.
     
  2. Argumentativeness; resistance to considering the partner’s point of view.
     
  3. Devaluing or trivializing the partner’s feelings or perceptions.
     
  4. Humor which comes at the partner’s expense.
     
  5. Changing the subject, withdrawing, starting a fight, or otherwise sabotaging communication when a relational challenge comes up.
     
  6. Accusations and blaming.
     
  7. Judging and criticizing.
     
  8. Making choices or interacting with partner in ways that undermine goals or activities of importance to the partner.
     
  9. Threats (anything from the threat of temporary disconnect up to and including threat of physical harm).
     
  10. Name-calling or labeling.
     
  11. Forgetfulness that results in inconvenience or hurt to the partner.
     
  12. Ordering and making demands.
     
  13. Aggressive, intimidating anger.
     
  14. Denial of any of the above that may be raised by partner as a concern.
 
You may be the partner who most often performs the above behaviors, or perhaps you are the partner who most often suffers because of them.  Either way, you are part of an unbalanced relational system; the more these patterns occur, the less opportunity there is for you and your partner to enjoy each other in an active and satisfying way.   
 
The bad news is that these patterns have undermined or destroyed many promising relationships, and are a major factor in our high divorce rate.  If you leave this untended in your relationship, it is more likely to get worse than to stay the same or improve.
 
The good news is that change is possible for many couples, and there is presently more information available to help than ever before.  If you see a number of items on this page that pertain to your relationship, your best strategy is to take action as soon as possible, to minimize the additional damage that will otherwise continue to accumulate over time.  The key is to learn more about this dynamic, and to learn what you need to do differently to interrupt the cycle and put your relationship permanently on healthier footing.    

  
While there is now much helpful information available on the subject of emotional/verbal abuse, the information on this page owes most heavily to Controlling People, authored by Patricia Evans, whose work has dramatically increased public awareness and understanding of the relational dynamic described above.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about how I can help, or for other useful resources if you prefer to learn more on your own. 
  
You can also check my Upcoming Events page for future dates of a free seminar on this topic called When a Relationship Hurts Your Heart.  I offer this seminar to any community or corporate group within reasonable driving distance, upon request.  Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling it for your group or workplace.
 

 

 Other articles that may be useful:    

Save Your Marriage and Keep It Strong

Self-Esteem, Part One: What Self-Esteem Means and Why Yours Matters

Self-Esteem, Part Two: Challenges to Self-Esteem as You Grow Through Life

Self-Esteem, Part Three: Common Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Self-Esteem, Part Four: Building Stronger Self-Esteem

 

  

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