When you hit an emotional iceberg a relationship can quickly sink without a trace. It doesn't have to be that way. Here are some common statements that can spell relationship death - and some lifeboats you could send in that could make all the difference.
I can never forgive you.
We all make mistakes - some people make bigger mistakes than others, especially when a decision is made when we're in pain, not getting our needs met or feeling hopelessness, fear or despair. Being unwilling to forgive is a self-destructive process; it locks you in the prison with the prisoner. The lack of forgiveness keeps the other writhing on the hook, but you are right there with them. If you want to get over the pain, it is important to learn how to truly forgive. If you don't want to move on, then stop blaming the other person for your need to suffer.
Forgiveness is like WD40 for relationships; it releases jammed feelings, improves the overall flow and creates a sense of ease and well-being. It is a vital, multi-purpose item to have in your relationship tool-kit.
I can't talk to you.
If we grew up in a family environment where speaking up was challenging - due to ridicule, judgement or fear - we will subtly recreate this atmosphere in our own adult relationships. To create an environment where it's safe to confide without fear of judgment, blame or criticism we first need to address our own hidden fears of humiliation.
Sometimes that means having to release the emotional burden from the past, to address the blocks you have to being able to speak honestly about how you feel.
I just don't love you anymore.
Most relationships start for the wrong reason: most often need is mistaken for love, the Honeymoon Period is mistaken for the real relationship. We convince ourself that we are drawn to the other person for their blue eyes or their sense of humour, but actually what attracts us most is that their psychology matches ours - perfectly. We are not usually conscious of this process and are so busy backing away from the hidden aspects of ourselves we see reflected in the other, that we lose our footing, fall 'out of love' and off the cliff of the relationship.
Deep work exploring the hidden demands you had in the relationship is called for. Love is an action, not a demand. Learn to love yourself and all your hidden parts - then see how you feel about your very significant other!
I never really loved you.
Historically the basis for marriage was to provide security, stability and an appropriate environment for raising children. Whilst this is still true in many cultures around the globe, in the West values around marriage have changed and women have recognised they need no longer be in sacrifice within a relationship.
Relationship Training can provide a new map through the territory of relationship, helping couples to redefine their agreements and establish successful new environment for love and intimacy to grow.
I'm in love with someone else.
This does not have to be the death knell it sounds like. Firstly, the person to have the affair is not the first to leave the relationship. Secondly, affairs don't just happen, they are usually the result of a gaping wound in the relationship that has been left to fester for years. It is easy to be misled into feeling that true 'love' has exploded back into your life with a new person because the pleasure and excitement are addictive. However, the baggage that you brought with you to the old relationship has just been packed up and taken with you to the new one - guess what you'll start to unpack once you've settled in there?
I always tell couples I'm working with that I have no idea if their marriage will survive, but - especially if they have children - they have to heal their relationship in order to know if it is true to part or not. They are going to be in relationship with each other for the rest of their childrens' lives, so they need to find their way back to love and decide what to when they've got there.
I'm so angry with you.
Anger is like a fire blanket - we use it to smother any other feeling and thus avoid ever getting to the source of the problem. Anger can smoulder for decades, slowly eating away at the fabric of the relationship and bringing the whole thing down.
If we don't allow ourselves to feel the bad feelings, we can never access the good stuff. Learning to explore your feelings with courage and honesty is a vital part of relationship health. Empathy and compassion training are life- and relationship-saving skills.
It's too late
It's never too late - it just takes willingness, an openness to learning and emotional courage. We learn to have certain ways of relating as a result of our life experiences; sometimes the very behaviours that enabled us to surivive in one environment begin to sabotage our success in another.
You can have the relationship you want if you are willing to learn the skills needed to build it.
There's no chemistry
Life in the Dead Zone is truly that - dead. No chemistry, no spark, no fireworks. But the Dead Zone is a stage in the relationship. Admittedly its a stage where most relationships die. Mostly because people don't understand it is the stage before PARTNERSHIP - the very thing you feel is missing.
When you've got to this stage in the relationship there is some major upgrading of emotional technology to be done. If there's no chemistry - look at your own emotional laboratory first, where have you died and what needs to be done about it? Research has shown that when couples learn to deepen skills of empathy and compassion, the sensual and sexual chemistry starts running again.
You betrayed me.
10% of the pain in a relationship comes from the events and a whopping 90% is pain from childhood. Once you change your focus and first address the original source of pain, the events of the present are seen through a different lens, given a new perspective and there is a greater chance of forgiveness and reconcilliation.
When we hold someone accountable for our misery and our happiness the relationship becomes very stressful. Learning to navigate some of the more challenging relationship terrain needs special skills and resources. Time to improve your emotional technology and upgrade with forgiveness and understanding.
You're not the person I married.
One of the key elements any relationship needs in order to be resilient around change is an environment where it is safe to be vulnerable, to express parts of ourselves where we feel less than capable. If we haven't developed these skills growing up our only way of coping is to become more defended, withdrawn and distant in order to hide our vulnerability, not only from ourselves but the world at large.
It is as important to set goals in your relationship as it is in any other area of life. Learning to talk about where you are and where you want to be allows space for each person to reveal their hidden hopes and dreams, to share their vulnerabilities and to feel empowered by the process.
You'll never change.
Now we've got to the end of the list let's talk about the biggest problem in relationship, the one that covers all these death knell statements: projection.
Put simply: if you can spot it, you've got it. If you are pointing the finger at your partner you'd better be prepared to address the three fingers you're pointing at yourself. The pain that surfaces in a relationship often triggers pain we have buried from much older experiences.
Once we learn the tools needed to address this older pain, we can bring better communication skills to the present challenges, with far better results. Most of the complaints you have against your partner cannot be addressed and resolved until you are first willing to become honest and real and address the complaints you have against yourself - or significant people from your past.
Blame and criticism are often a sign that you are not happy with yourself. I often see people who believe they have to break up the marriage in order to get a life for themselves, but taking responsibility for your happiness doesn't have to be a destructive path in relationship. When done with compassion and empathy it can be empowering for everyone and lead to greater intimacy, friendship and love.