It is normal for all couples to have problems and argue from time to time. Money, children, work, how time is spent, and many other life challenges may strain even the strong relationships. Experts agree that arguments and conflict themselves are not necessarily harmful. What is important is how a couple argues and how quickly they can resolve conflict and restore good will. Respect, empathy, trust and love can sustain a relationship throughout the lifecycle.
Signs of relationship stress and/or unhealthy conflict resolution:
- Attempts at conversation are often met with silence, or disagreements are avoided altogether
- Conversations often end in an argument or with hurt feelings
- Frequent arguments about raising the children, money, and other common challenges
- Frequent arguments about alcohol consumption
- Hurt feelings from the past are brought up during an argument
- Disregard, criticism, or insensitivity toward partner’s feelings and needs
- Little time is spent relaxing, being playful or romantic
Separation and Divorce
There are times when couples decide to separate or seek divorce, which is often a painful process, both emotionally and financially. If you are going through a separation or divorce, it may be helpful to talk through some of the issues for yourself, your children andyour partner. The Faculty Staff Assistance Office can provide consultation and brief therapy for couples and referrals to community-based resources.
Any of the above signs of relationship stress can be a warning sign of a potentially abusive relationship. Some additional warning signs of abuse include:
- Threatened or actual physical harm to partner or children
- Intimidation or threats
- Isolation from family and friends
- Sexual assault
- Withholding/controlling money or other basic needs
- Interfering with partner’s work, school, or access to health care
If any of these warning signs exist in your relationship, or if either partner is afraid, being controlled, or has been hurt by the other, these may be signs of an abusive relationship. You may need to reach out for information and support.