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  • How can you tell whether a relationship is going to last the course - or whether it's

  • doomed to founder? What's the difference between fragile and solid couples? Here are

  • some of the things to look out for:

  • Over-optimism about Relationships Fragile couples tend, paradoxically, to be

  • very hopeful about love. They associate happiness with conflict-free unions. They do not expect,

  • once they have found the person they unwisely see as The One, ever to need to squabble,

  • storm out of a room or feel unhappy for the afternoon. When trouble emerges, as it inevitably

  • does, they do not greet it as a sign that love is progressing as it should; rather as

  • alarming evidence that their relationship may be illegitimate and fundamentally flawed.

  • Their hopes tire them for the patient tasks of diplomatic negotiation and routine maintenance.

  • Out of touch with Pain Fragile couples tend not to be good detectives

  • of their own sufferings. They may be both unhappy and yet unsure as to the actual causes

  • of their dissatisfactions; they know that something is wrong in their unions, but they

  • can't easily trace the catalysts. They can't zero in on the way that it was the lack of

  • trust in them around money that rankles or that it has been their behaviour towards a

  • demanding youngest child that has been hurting. They lash out in vague or inaccurate directions,

  • their attacks either unfairly general or unconvincingly specific.

  • Shame A shamed person has fundamental doubts about

  • their right to exist: somewhere in the past, they have been imbued with an impression that

  • they do not matter very much, that their feelings should be ignored, that their happiness is

  • not a priority, that their words do not count. Once they are in a couple, shamed people hurt

  • like anyone else, but their capacity to turn their hurt into something another person can

  • understand, and be touched by, is recklessly weak. Shamed people will sulk rather than

  • speak, hide rather than divulge, feel secretly wretched rather than candidly complain. It

  • is frequently very late, far too late, by the time shamed people finally let their lover

  • know more about the nature of their desperation.

  • Excessive Anxiety Complaining well requires an impression that

  • not everything depends on the complaint being heard perfectly. Were the lesson to go wrong,

  • were the other to prove intransigent, one could survive and take one's love elsewhere.

  • Not everything is at stake in an argument. The other hasn't ruined one's life. One

  • therefore doesn't need to scream, hector, insist or nag. One can deliver a complaint

  • with some of the nonchalance of a calm teacher who wants an audience to learn but can bear

  • it if they don't; one could always say what one has on one's minds tomorrow, or the

  • next day.

  • Excessive Pride It takes an inner dignity not to mind too

  • much about having to level complaints around things that could sound laughably 'small'

  • or that leave one open to being described as petty or needy. With too much pride and

  • fear, it can become unbearable to admit that one has been upset since lunch because they

  • didn't take one's hand on a walk, or that one wishes so much that they would be readier

  • to hug one last thing at night. One has to feel quite grown up inside not to be offended

  • by one's own more childlike appetites for reassurance and comfort. It is an achievement

  • to know how to be strong about one's vulnerability. One may have said, rather too many times,

  • from behind a slammed door, in a defensive tone, 'No, nothing is wrong whatsoever.

  • Go away', when secretly longing to be comforted and understood like a weepy, upset child.

  • Hopelessness about Dialogue Fragile couples often come together with few

  • positive childhood memories of conversations working out: early role models may simply

  • have screamed and then despaired of one another. They may never have witnessed disagreements

  • eventually morphing into mutual understanding and sympathy. They would deeply love to be

  • understood, but they can bring precious few resources to the task of making themselves

  • so.

  • None of these factors mean a couple will split up, but they are generators of the states

  • of emotional disconnection that can eventually break two people apart. Outwardly, things

  • may seemingly be well. A couple may have an interesting social life, some lovely children,

  • a new apartment. But a more judicious analysis will reveal an unexpected degree of risk.

  • The good news is that knowing a little about the risk factors can help us identify them

  • in good time - and, with the help of good advice, for example, from the School of Life, fix them

  • while there is still time.

How can you tell whether a relationship is going to last the course - or whether it's

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How to Keep a Relationship Going

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/05
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