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Relationship crisis - does our partnership still have a chance?

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Relationship crisis - does our partnership still have a chance?

You have found your dream partner and you are sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. You are floating on cloud nine, everything is wonderful. Your partner's quirks are seen as endearing and nothing can tarnish your young happiness. But at some point the butterflies in your stomach are gone and the rose-colored glasses are taken off. The aforementioned quirks suddenly get on your nerves, the arguments pile up, and you have the feeling that you are moving further and further away from your partner. This is unsettling and stressful. Is this just a phase or are you already in a relationship crisis?

How to recognize a relationship crisis

A relationship crisis usually creeps into a partnership on the quiet. It is the result of conflicts that have existed for some time, but to which both of you have not paid much attention in the hectic of everyday life. If you find yourself in your Relationship If you feel alone and misunderstood, are only annoyed by your partner and even thinking about a breakup, then these are sure signs of a relationship crisis. At first, this realization comes as a shock and you probably wonder why this is happening to you of all people.

It may be little consolation, but crises are part of a relationship and occur at least once in every partnership. Even in supposedly dream couples, it's not always peace, joy and happiness. In fact, relationship crises are much more common than you might think and often occur relatively late.

Relationship crisis announces itself in several phases

This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the University of Bern in 2021, for which scientists from the Institute of Psychology surveyed more than 165,000 people in 16 countries about their relationships. The study participants, whose partnerships lasted between three months and 46 years, were aged between 20 and 75.

As it turned out, the first one drew Crisis mostly declined after about ten years. After that, the couples' relationship satisfaction rose again, only to hit a new low after about 20 years of being together. So you see, crises are quite normal in a relationship. The Life cannot be planned, and a change in the way we live of circumstances may well trigger a relationship crisis, which usually announces itself in several phases.

phases of a relationship crisis

The 5 phases of a relationship crisis

There are signals that indicate that there is a crisis in your partnership. Alarm bells should ring when you realize that you are in one of the following stages of a relationship crisis:

1. irritability

No matter what your partner does or says, you react annoyed or irritated. The reverse is also true, of course.

2. no more interest in each other

You used to take part in each other's daily lives, but now you don't care what your partner is doing and experiencing.

3. radio silence

You hardly talk to each other anymore, if at all. Yet you used to be able to talk about everything.

4. lack of respect

You no longer value yourselves and speak disparagingly of your partner to others.

5. no more desire for tenderness

Sex is just a chore or doesn't happen at all anymore. You don't even remember the last time you kissed or hugged each other.

Could you find yourself and your partner in one of these phases of a relationship crisis? Then you are probably asking yourself how it could have come to this.

master relationship crisis

Common causes of a relationship crisis

There are many triggers because everyone reacts differently to challenges that may arise in a relationship. Some of the most common causes of a relationship crisis are listed below:

1. midlife crisis

The famous midlife crisis can certainly lead to a relationship crisis. As Düsseldorf psychologist and couples therapist Carina Holthoff knows from her everyday work, it usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 55 and affects both women and men. However, the hormonal change plays only a subordinate role.

Much more serious are psychological reasons. Those affected question themselves and their entire life model. In this phase, the oft-quoted phrase often comes up: "That can't be all!" According to Holthoff, partners who came together at a relatively young age and had children quickly can fall into such a crisis more quickly than couples who had even more time for their professional and private lives before becoming parents.

2. pregnancy

Pregnancy is associated with many challenges. The woman undergoes hormonal and physical changesThese can throw your emotional and sexual life out of kilter and put your partnership to the test. A relationship crisis can occur particularly frequently when the first baby is announced - regardless of whether it was planned or not.

While women usually talk to their girlfriends, men often tend to share their concerns and Fears to keep to yourself. This can lead to misunderstandings and a relationship crisis during pregnancy. Shortly before the birth, women are often plagued by doubts about whether they are up to the challenge as a mother and may withdraw. Men may question whether they will be a good father and whether there will be enough money to support the family. If both partners don't talk to each other now, these doubts can quickly turn into a relationship crisis shortly before the birth.

3. birth

A birth is one of the most formative experiences in the life of a couple. But the great euphoria and joy about the addition to the family quickly turns into disillusionment when everyday life sets in. Especially with the first child, new parents don't really realize how much attention and care a baby needs. Stress and lack of sleep leave little or no time for togetherness. Men often feel neglected because the woman is absorbed in her role as mother and is too tired for sex and tenderness. A relationship crisis shortly after the birth is therefore not uncommon.

4. infidelity

An Side jump is a serious breach of trust. The betrayed partner is angry and hurt, often nagging Self-doubt on the psyche. The cheating partner is usually plagued by Guilt.

5. groundless jealousy leads to relationship crisis

If a partner constantly unfounded jealous he is conjuring up a relationship crisis. Knowing that your partner does not trust you hurts and burdens you.

6. money

She is too stingy, he spends the money with full hands - the dispute over finances can escalate into a tangible relationship crisis if both partners have different ideas about how to handle money.

7. quarrels over everyday things

If you're constantly getting worked up over little things like an open toothpaste tube, snoring, or socks lying around, you can unleash a relationship crisis. Because often these banalities are proxies for deeper problems.

8. relationship crisis because of Corona

The pandemic and the associated lockdown probably threw many relationships into turmoil. From one day to the next, the usual daily routine no longer existed. Work was done at home, activities were no longer possible. The partners were together day and night, which was a completely new experience for many. Such an extreme situation can be very stressful, bring smoldering conflicts to light and trigger a relationship crisis.

What to do about the relationship crisis?

If you are in a relationship crisis with your partner, it is high time to react. You should urgently sit down together now and discuss the situation. A relationship crisis doesn't have to mean the end. Try to talk it over in a honestYou should try to clarify where you both stand and what you envision for the future. Do not be hurtful in the process.

Instead of reproaching your partner, it is better to communicate your own wishes and ideas. Also try to put yourself in your partner's shoes. This will help you understand why he behaves the way he does and what he wants from you. If you both agree that you want to stay together, then you can overcome the relationship crisis, but it requires a lot of work from both sides.

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How to overcome the relationship crisis

It's not easy to overcome a relationship crisis, and it can take a long time for you to get back to some sense of normalcy. But if you are both determined, you will succeed. The following tips for overcoming the relationship crisis can help you:

1. talk with each other

Communication at eye level is the be-all and end-all for a functioning partnership and can avoid many misunderstandings. Don't wait until problems seem insurmountable, but address things that bother you right away.

2. reminder

Think back to the time when you fell in love with each other. Revel in the beautiful memories together and tell each other what fascinated you about each other back then. This will bring back the familiarity.

3. relationship crisis: more time for two

Even if everyday life is stressful, make time for each other. Set aside a day or evening each week that is just for the two of you. Grandma and Grandpa or your best friends can watch the kids while you do something fun together.

4. stay in contact

When did you last write to your partner? Exchange small messages even during the day when you are at work. This creates a new sense of connection.

5. touches you again

If the desire for physical closeness has been lost, start with small touches. Take each other in your arms again or go for a walk hand in hand. Mutual touching creates a feeling of togetherness. Gradually, sexual desire will return.

A new chance

A relationship crisis can affect any partnership and is absolutely not uncommon, especially in long-term relationships. The good news is that it doesn't have to mean that your life together is over. If you both want to, you can do a lot to overcome your relationship crisis and come out of it stronger. It can even be a whole new opportunity for your love.

But what can you do to avoid falling into a relationship crisis again at some point? Our free relationship webinar has many good tips on how to live in a happy partnership in the long term. It's worth a look.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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