As a marriage counselor, I often hear people say they have fallen out of love. However, typically, what happened is they stopped tending to their marriage. When you avoid conflicts the issues don’t magically disappear. They remain, they grow, and that’s when resentment begins to pile up. Resentment is toxic to all relationships.
Two types of relationship issues
You need to bring up any relationship issue that prevents you from feeling loved and cared for. More often these are easy problems to solve once the lines of communication are opened.
But, there are other equally important problems that are even harder to bring up. These are deeper conflicts that can be hard to bring up because reach they pull at the core of who you are.
If there is something in your relationship that keeps you from meeting your personal values that means something needs to change. It is impossible to have a healthy marriage if you believe the marriage is keeping you from being the best version of yourself.
It’s up to us to address issues, not ignore them and hope they will magically go away.
We need a partner who is willing to hear us out and wants to work through issues together. If you are in a relationship with someone who will not hear you and will not make agreements with you about what needs to be changed, forgiven, or negotiated, you may need to rethink being in that relationship. If you don’t have the emotional safety to bring up important concerns, I guarantee resentment will fester.
Conflict is okay
Many of us don’t like to bring issues up because we don’t want conflict. However, while we may benefit in the short term from a lack of conflict, we are inadvertently doing our relationship a huge disservice. The bottom line is, if you pretend that you have a conflict-free relationship, the issues won’t go away. Instead, they go underground and begin to pollute the very foundation that your relationship is built on.
Resentment is the silent killer
Eventually, a gap of resentment will come between you and your partner and an easily resolved issue is now something that is poisoning your relationship and the feelings of love and care you have for your partner.
Not only will your relationship suffer, your likely to harm your mental health and understanding of who you are because you’ve stopped trusting yourself to address important conflicts. You may not even feel entitled to bring issues up, and that is something that you are going to need to do if you want your relationships to work.
Mature relationships thrive on open lines of communication. You don’t wake up one day and realize you don’t like your partner anymore. It’s not about falling out of love. What’s actually happened has been a slow rot due to railed communication.
If you feel that you can’t bring up issues on your own, or you try, and your partner doesn’t hear you, seek out a licensed marriage and family therapist who can provide marriage counseling. Here’s a resource from Gottman Institute to help you navigate the process of finding a marriage counselor.
Again, if your partner won’t participate in this important work, the marriage counselor may also help you realize that living according to your personal integrity is crucial and that it may be time to leave the relationship. If that happens, it’s not a failure but path forward towards a happy and healthy life.