Relationships are a big part of our lives. They can offer fun, love, happiness and support. However, they can also be complicated, creating feelings of anguish particularly if they don’t go to plan. There are many reasons why relationship difficulties can arise, and we’ll cover some of them here.
Do you give your relationship as much emphasis and time as you would like? Do you feel happy and comfortable in your relationship or concerned that things may not be working or going in the wrong direction?
Or have you suffered a relationship breakdown, and struggling to deal with your current situation?
When problems develop in a relationship, it can be the cause of great distress. Most of us wish to have committed and fulfilling relationships and the breaking down of an important relationship can create feelings of anger, sadness, grief and isolation. People going through a relationship breakdown are more likely to experience mental health problems (especially in the form of anxiety or depression), poor physical health, and reduced productivity at work
John, 39, works for a large construction company. John found out that his wife was having an affair.
Even though I know the affair is not my fault, I think about ways I could have prevented this. My life is completely different; my wife has decided after 45 days of me finding out, and not seeing or speaking to me about anything, that she wants a divorce. Needless to say, I was absolutely crushed. My family is destroyed or feels that way. We have two children of our own and my nephew who we are guardians for. Our son is seven and our daughter is 18 months old. All of a sudden, the dream I thought we both were striving to is over. I am torn inside in a way that I have never felt before. The shame I feel is overwhelming and my work has suffered.
Help with separation and divorce
It's something that no one wants to happen but sadly marriages and relationships can end in divorce or separation and couples have to go their separate ways.
It can be more difficult if you have children and it is therefore important to try and ensure your break-up goes as smoothly and as amicably as possible to have as little impact on them as you can manage. Even if you don’t have kids, any relationship breakdown can affect all other areas of your life.
Here you'll find support and guidance to help you make this difficult transition easier for you and your family.
Becoming a single parent
Generally, most of us in a relationship, do not ever foresee a time in our lives where we could be in the position of having to raise our children by ourselves without any support from our partner. Unfortunately not all relationships succeed and breakdowns in the relationship beyond repair can occur and circumstances in the family life changes.
Becoming a single parent can be a very overwhelming and stressful time in your life as you face having to raise your children on your own. As well as trying to keep up with day to day family routine and chores, you are also coming to terms with a recent family breakdown and a loss of a partner.
This link provides advice on becoming a single parent and tips on parenting alone, as well as useful information on help that is available to single parent families.
How would you handle the pressure of a relationship breakdown?
(For example, would you talk with friends and family, keep to yourself, or discuss it with your supervisor?)
1. Accept your sadness and be kind to yourself.
Do not put undue pressure on yourself. Take time off from work if necessary.
2. Formalise a farewell to end the relationship.
When someone dies, we have formal funerals but when a loved one leaves, we have no such comforting ritual. If you can, let go of things that remind you of what is no more.
3. Treat and indulge yourself.
All the books and experts tell you that indulging yourself from time to time is good for you – but it is particularly good to do when you are feeling emotionally unstable or vulnerable.
4. Ask yourself each day what you have to be grateful for.
It is very healing to give thanks for all that is good and wonderful in our lives – a roof over your head, a job or friends and family that love you. It allows you to focus on what is possible and not on what is no longer.
5. Make a list of all the things that are great about you and tell yourself those things.
Say to yourself: “What I like about me is …”
Surround yourself with people who give you hope rather than who drag you back into the past or drag you down.
Do you know someone going through a relationship breakdown?
The Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) ensures that those who are going through a relationship breakdown are getting the support they need to overcome overwhelming situations by offering vital support services.
When problems develop in a relationship, especially when domestic abuse occurs, it can be the cause of great distress and can have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Relationship abuse can take many different forms. It involves more than physical violence. It can be when someone puts you down and makes you feel worthless and useless, telling you that you are mad or ill or making false allegations and accusations.
An abusive or unhealthy relationship often leads to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression which can result in poor physical health and reduced productivity at work as well as loss of employment. This is why it is critical to seek help when problems arise.
What are controlling Behaviours?
Abusive power and control (also controlling behaviour, coercive control and sharp power) is the way that an abusive person gains and maintains power and control over another person, as a victim, in order to subject that person to psychological, physical, sexual, or financial abuse.
What causes a person to be controlling?
A person full of insecurities must exact a positive sense of self from other people because their self-esteem is too low to do it for themselves. Maybe people control because they are afraid of being abandoned. ... The simplest reason is that you're a good, admirable person.
Controlling behaviour - do you recognize your partner or yourself doing this?
1. Isolating you from friends and family.
It may start subtly, but this is often a first step for a controlling person. Maybe they complain about how often you talk to your brother on the phone or say they don't like your best friend and don't think you should hang out with her anymore. Their goal is to strip you of your support network, and thus your strength.
2. Chronic criticism
Even if it's 'small' things. Criticism, like isolation, is also something that can start small. If every little thing you do could use improvement in your partner's eyes, then how are you being valued as a true equal, let alone loved unconditionally?
3. Veiled or overt threats, against you or them.
Some people think that threats must be physical in nature to be problematic. But threats of leaving, cutting off "privileges," or even threats by the controlling person to harm herself or himself can be every bit as emotionally manipulative.
4. Making acceptance/caring/attraction conditional.
"If you can't even be bothered to make dinner, I don't even know what I'm getting from this relationship." "You'd be hot if only you spent more time on your hair." "If you'd actually finished college, you'd have something to talk about with my friends and wouldn't feel so left out." The message in these examples is the same: you, right now, are not good enough. It's the common-denominator theme of many a controlling relationship.
5. An overactive scorecard.
If your partner is forever keeping tally of every interaction within your relationship—whether to hold a grudge, demand a favour in return or be patted on the back—it could very well be their way of having the upper hand. And it can be downright exhausting to be on the other side of.
6. Using guilt as a tool.
If they can manipulate their partners into feeling a steady stream of guilt about everyday goings-on, then a lot of the controlling person's work is done for them—their partners will gradually try to do whatever they can to not have to feel guilty. Often this means relenting and giving up power.
7. Creating a debt, you're beholden to.
Controlling people may come on very strongly in the beginning with seemingly romantic gestures. They create an expectation of you giving something in return, or a sense that you feel beholden to that person because of all they've given you. This can make it more emotionally and logistically difficult to escape when further warning bells go off.
8. Spying, snooping, or requiring constant disclosure.
A controlling partner typically feels that they have the right to know more than they actually do. Whether they keep their snooping secret or openly demand that you must share everything with them, it is a violation of boundaries from the get-go.
9. Overactive jealousy, accusations, or paranoia.
A partner's jealousy can be flattering in the beginning, when it becomes more intense, however, it can be scary and possessive. A partner who views every interaction you have as being flirtatious, is suspicious or threatened by multiple people you encounter may be insecure, anxious, competitive or even paranoid.
10. Not respecting your need for time alone.
It's another way of sapping your strength: making you feel guilty for time you need on your own to recharge, or making you feel like you don't love them enough.
11. Making you "earn" trust or other good treatment.
If trust or even civil treatment is viewed as something you need to work up to rather than the default setting of the relationship, the power dynamic in your relationship is off-kilter.
12. Presuming you guilty until proven innocent.
Again, a controlling person is often very skilled at making you feel that you've done something wrong even before you realize what you did. Why do they do this? To use it as justification for punishing you in some way, or pre-emptively trying to keep you from making that "error" again—to keep you acting in ways they want you to.
13. Getting you so tired of arguing that you'll relent.
Most often when the partner is more passive and the controlling person is likely to triumph in every disagreement that comes up, just because the partner being controlled is more conflict-avoidant in nature or simply exhausted from the fighting that they've done.
14. Making you feel belittled for long-held beliefs.
It is not great when they make you feel small, silly, or stupid, or they consistently try to change your mind about something important to you that you believe in. A controlling partner doesn't see it as a two-way street, and only wants you to be and think more like they do.
15. Making you feel as though you don't "measure up" or are unworthy of them.
Controlling people often want you to feel grateful that you are in a relationship with them. This creates a dynamic where you will be more willing to work harder and harder to keep them and make them happy—a dream for someone who wants to dominate a relationship.
16. Teasing or ridicule that has an uncomfortable undercurrent.
In many controlling relationships, emotional abuse can be thinly veiled as "I was just playing with you; you shouldn't take it personally." And in one fell swoop, not only does the original criticism stand, but now an additional criticism of you having the "wrong" reaction has been levied. And you're basically being told that you don't have a right to your own feelings—a classic move by controlling people everywhere.
17. Sexual interactions that feel upsetting afterwards.
When you feel consistently unsettled about goings-on within your sexual relationship, it's a sign that something is wrong.
18. Inability or unwillingness to ever hear your point of view.
You may notice that you are constantly interrupted, or that opinions you express have been quickly forgotten or never been acknowledged in the first place.
19. Pressuring you toward unhealthy behaviours, like substance abuse.
Undermining your fitness goals, constantly tempting you with cigarettes when you've quit, these are all ways that controlling people can try to thwart your attempts to be a healthier and stronger person.
20. Thwarting your professional or educational goals by making you doubt yourself.
Often a controlling partner has a way of using you as a weapon against yourself, by planting seeds of doubt about whether you're talented or smart or hard-working enough to make good things happen in your life. This is another way they can take away your autonomy, making you more beholden to them.