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Signs of Severe Relationship Problems

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to address them as soon as possible.  It is usually very difficult to address these problems on your own.  Getting help, or in certain cases getting out, if anyone is being abused by the relationship, especially children, is advisable.


  • You are afraid of your partner because you've learned to expect an angry response that comes with name-calling, crude or abusive insults, or fits of rage.

  • You no longer speak to each other beyond the very basic necessities

  • One or both of you use indirect, passive-aggressive means to "get to" the other, and you often have the feeling you've been punched in the stomach but don't know why.

  • You or your partner spend nights away fromthe home without calling to let the partner know where they are or when they'll be home.  A lesser version of this, but still damaging to the relationship, occurs when one or both partners frequently stay out partying with others without their partner until very late.

  • Any incidence of domestic violence, including throwing objects, hitting walls or doors, shoving, hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, or any other kind of physical aggression against the other person, or to anyone, including animals and especially children

  • Any incidence of threatening the other partner, suggesting they'll hurt you (or you suggesting you'll hurt them) directly or by hurting themselves.  (Some threats of suicide are thinly veiled attempts to make their partner feel so guilty that they become afraid of saying or doing anything that might upset their partner, such as leave the relationship.

  • One or both partners use and abuse recreational drugs, including alcohol, on a regular basis, to the extent that it disrupts the relationship.  This is the individual's issue - the user is in trouble - but the relationship is in trouble too because of it.  One addict / user in a system toxifies the entire system.  


         This can be a chronic situation or it might escalate due to changes in the lives of either partner.  Some challenging changes are things like:  


  • losing a job or long term unemployment

  • the first pregnancy and birth of first child

  • a new person moving into the household

  • long term depression or other illness that weighs heavily on one person to become the caregiver of the other


  • One or both partners using their children to hurt their partner, or using them to send messages back and forth to the other partner.



When a couple has this much distress in their lives, people might wonder why do they stay together?  But there are many ways a couple feels locked in, primarily because of children and finances.  Sometimes there is a real threat that if one partner makes any move to leave, the other partner will actually try to harm them, or themselves, in some way. These are highly abusive situations which are beyond the need of therapy, and a partner may need to use local resources of a safe house from domestic violence, or simply need individual counseling for help in getting out.


"The Verbally Abusive Relationship" 

by Patricia Evans



worth reading if you are struggling with any of these issues




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