Below are a few very common ways that relationships can become vulnerable, some are obvious and many are not and couples fall foul of these situations without knowing.
This list is in no particular order…
1. Couples with children about or have left home
It’s easy for couples to spend their entire life together focused on everything but feeding the relationship what it really needs.
The prioritisation of work, children, friends, hobbies external family lead to the relationship dying.
It’s likely one person may have complained historically it wasn’t working, but they brushed it to one side, fingers crossed they would be ok.
You see once the children leave home if there is no emotional connection then the point of the relationship dies.
2. Affairs: Physical and emotional
This may seem obvious however the vulnerability for the couple in this space is not understanding an affair is a symptom of a hidden challenge.
The affair can very often become the focus of all involved, but the real problem can go unexplored and so many couples end up with an outcome that won’t keep them safe in the future.
3. Loss of sexual connection
When couples lose a sexual connection the reason is rarely a physical problem. For most couples in this space the problem is emotional and will be connected to deeper challenges either for that person or in the foundation of the relationship.
A good sexual connection is critical for the couples health. The moment this goes the couple simply become friends not lovers.
The problem couples face in this space is they focus on the lack of sexual connection rather than the cause of it.
When a person detaches from their partner in a relationship this can cause significant problems. It’s likely they have tried to get through to their partner historically without success. To detach a person has to believe the problems in the relationship are impossible to solve.
The person in this space can move to emotionally protect themselves from the pain their relationship creates and can result in numbing themselves emotionally.
This is where sentences like “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” are communicated.
Conflict is a sign of two totally different models of the world are trying to get through to each other. Both making being right the most important goal.
The problem with conflict is the couple miss the real opportunity of how to redirect their passion positively into their connection and their future. If the couple do this for too long the couple will become empty and the couple are vulnerable to being filled up outside of the relationship.
6. We never fight
Some couples with significant problems proudly give me this information. I see this as an inability to be honest with each other. This lack of trust in each other will affect the couples ability to connect on other levels. The relationship can become transactional and the biggest problem these couples can face is loss of passion and sexual connection.
I very often find myself working with couples who openly communicate by telling their partner what they are thinking and feeling.
Any kind of mind reading will put the couple in danger because the mind reading will always be wrong and will heighten the feeling of being misunderstood.
And if I’m misunderstood how can I be loved.
8. Loss of trust
Small acts that lead to a loss of trust can escalate into to far bigger problems as the couple start to go on red-alert. A loss of trust always leads to one or both people losing a desire to meet each others needs.
9. Transactional relationships
Couples that don’t understand how to connect emotionally end up in transactional relationships. They usually have emotional needs met outside the relationship. Couples can sustain this state for the duration of their lives, however they never really get to a level of connection that they deserve.
These relationship are vulnerable because anything can trigger the gap between where they are today and feelings they thought were dead forever.
One lady told me how during a walk in the woods she was befriended by a man walking his dog. Before this meeting she would have said she was happy. The reality was she had accepted the death of parts of her with her husband.
This man had connected her to these parts and suddenly she felt alive again. She didn’t want an affair, but she did want to feel this way with her husband again.
10. I don’t know who I am anymore
It’s very common for relationships and situations to bring out different parts of us. We all have the ability to change to adapt to our environments. The problems comes when the way we translate what’s happening in the relationship results in a person becoming stuck in these coping versions of themselves.
In these versions we can become tired, forgetful, less creative. We can live in our heads struggling to cope with day-to-day life.
A person who lands in this space can make decisions that don’t serve them long-term.
These are a few of the common problems I see in my sessions. All of which can seem impossible to solve, but can be overcome with the right strategy.