Every relationship is filled with ups and downs, hills and mountains that are a natural part of the difficult but worthwhile journey of finding and keeping a life partner. Every couple gets a little miffed at each other in certain moments. However, there are some curves and quirks that may come up along the way that prove to be more troublesome than they’re worth. Often, irritation within a partner caused by a particular habit or activity can develop slowly over time, without the other partner even realizing.
Given the immense amount of fun, love, and kindness we try to pour into relationships to keep them stable, it can be easy to miss the signs of constant annoyance, many of which are often lost in a flux of words and missed glances. If not properly addressed, the rage may spill over and leave things worse for wear. Buried frustration in a relationship can seem like the end of the romance, but it can also be a sign of something to work on to bring your relationship more strength, according to professionals and experts in the field. Keep an eye out for these 7 veils your partner may be using to hide their frustration, and for good measure, we’ve got tips on how to help you address the problems.
It is quite normal for long-term couples not to engage in frequent and excessively lovey-dovey behavior. According to Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistic, most couples prefer to find a healthy and happy middle ground for both partners instead. An imbalance can occur when your partner becomes less affectionate and less receptive to affection from you. The instinctive reaction, particularly over a prolonged period of time, is to recoil in hurt and shortly thereafter confront your partner.
However, it is important at times like these to take a moment to look at your own words, actions, and emotions to fully understand your role in this sudden lack of affection, and to avoid drawing an unnecessarily painful and possibly false conclusion. When you do approach your partner regarding this concern, it should be with a calm mind and a readiness to understand and forgive.
Life can be extremely preoccupying between work, trying to stay healthy, and maintaining a variety of relationships. But it can often feel like your partner seems to be excessively preoccupied during the time that is supposed to be spent together focusing on each other. They might have their noses buried in their phone or laptop, and may often seem distracted while talking to you. Instinctively, you may presume the problem is with you or your relationship and confrontation may seem like the best option.
Despite your initial instincts, a gentle approach is preferable in situations like this because it is highly likely that your partner's preoccupations are unrelated to you, and they may be unaware of the underlying cause themselves. It’s important to first create a safe space to share and discuss any possible issues that have arisen in your partner's life. You may very well discover that the problem was only temporary in nature and that your relationship has grown stronger by allowing room for healthy, blame-free conversations.
Everyone needs a little space in a relationship, and it is vital for both partners to spend as much time focused on themselves as they do with each other. When your partner is asking for “alone time” on a more regular basis, it could be a sign of an underlying annoyance in the relationship, or it could have arisen from other overwhelming circumstances that life is only too keen to offer. Regardless of the reason, the best thing you can do when a partner needs space is to give it to them, and lend an ear if and when they need it. This can be difficult, especially if separation may be a cause of anxiety for you.
Nonetheless, it’s important to look at these situations as an opportunity to spend more time by yourself and gain a greater sense of independence. Equally important, though, is establishing the baseline for communication. When your partner is pulling away, it’s fair to ask if your actions played any role in it, while at the same time honoring their request. The more room you have to understand your partner's perspective, the more room there is for growth.
Given the high value of communication in relationships, which has been emphasized in the last few paragraphs, we can categorize the different essential forms of communication that arise. In extreme situations of conflict or hurt feelings, it's necessary to pave the way for clear and judgment-free conversations that allow both partners to raise their concerns. However, less intricate but more regular conversation, like day-to-day texts and phone calls are essential for creating the main roads of the relationship, establishing an initial bond, and allowing both partners to exchange information and a mutual sense of affection.
A key element of this basic form of communication is reciprocity, a constant give and take that requires maintenance. Over time, you may find that your partner's responses become more infrequent and the number of calls received per day reducing. While it could be a sign of your partner’s frustration it's important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Given the value of reciprocating each other's feelings, the best option in these situations may be to pull back yourself, to an extent that is comfortable for you. When and if you find yourself struggling to maintain regular communication with your partner, it may be time to raise a discussion on their phone habits.
Laughing can be a great way to lower the tension of any difficult situation, but it can also be a way to mask feelings of irritation. A partner that is beginning to become frustrated and annoyed in a relationship may be tempted to lash out. Jokes provide a means of doing so while underplaying the true frustration behind the issue. These types of quips, coming from an underlying irritation, are usually critical and attempt to point out flaws in your behavior. For example, an observation from you regarding the need to make the bed may give rise to a statement from your partner about your sub-par cleaning skills, disguised behind a chuckle.
In these situations, it's important to address the issues and criticisms as soon as possible before any further critiques and resentments arise. Now this one can be tricky because many things are said in jest between partners that are not meant to be construed in a hurtful or disrespectful way. As someone who knows the person, you will have to determine whether your partner's words were playful banter or hurtful critiques.
Much like critique-heavy jokes, frequent defensive responses usually act as a thin wall between you and your partner's irritation. Defensiveness is simply a way for your partner to avoid taking responsibility for any issues that may be arising, and summarily put the blame on anything else in the vicinity, with “anything else” being you, more often than not. This doesn’t always come from a place of anger, and can also be an indicator of your partner's frustration with themselves, as much as their frustration with you.
If your relationship is heavily loaded with criticism and defensive behavior, there is definitely a need to address the problems. It's important to remember that defensiveness is a form of communication that many pick up as a result of past struggles with the intention of protecting themselves. So in situations like this, approach your partner by first asking them what they need from you and trying to understand what has caused them to feel the need to protect themselves. It's better to steer clear from requests, demands, or criticisms, such as chastising them for not spending enough time with you, as this will likely cause further defensive outbursts.
Minor irritations can be ironed out by clarity, honesty, and openness. Unfortunately, some irritation can spur frustrated partners to sabotage the relationship, whether unwittingly or intentionally. They will often refuse to deal with any conflict, address any issue or problem, and prefer to run away when faced with a serious discussion or a fight. This can be extremely harmful to the relationship and according to Dr. Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist and author, “…is a sure pathway to a collapse in the relationship”.
In situations like this, there are usually only two options, the first of which is to simply let your partner's inner saboteur succeed in its attempted endeavor. The second option is to give the relationship a fighting chance and to somehow get your partner to have a real conversation. At these times, actively listening can be of equal or greater importance as communicating the issues. Ensuring that your partner doesn’t feel like any opinions are being forced on them and that they feel respected, validated, and loved is just the first step to rebuilding any broken bridges.