When normally forgiving and accepting partners start to pick at one another, it is a cause for concern, especially if the behaviors in question were once easily endured. As people grow to know one another better, they often do feel free to challenge behaviors when they might have let them go before, and they should.
If, however, new critiques begin to consistently emerge, the partner on the other end of those critical comments or behaviors might feel threatened and dangerously overreact.
It is important to pay attention to the frequency, duration, and increasing of those challenges. Escalation in any of those three areas should sound a powerful alarm, especially when the challenges are delivered with irritation or blame.
The Healing Response:
It is crucial that both partners pay close attention early in the relationship to what the other says about prior relationship partners. If, for instance, one partner talks about them in consistently derogatory ways, he or she is giving a clear message that the current partner had better not make the same mistakes.
Many new lovers bask in the glow of expected exemption from the problems that either may have described in their past relationships. They truly believe they will not be affected by prior disappointments with other partners, because the current relationship is so good. That is simply never true.
Challenges that are fair and compassionately delivered are part and parcel of every good relationship, and the way that partners respond to critiques or challenges can define their relationship resiliency.
Barring occasional moodiness or legitimate distress external to the relationship, partners who begin to feel more critical or those on the other end must be willing to listen to what the other is feeling without defensiveness and to help him or her work through it.
3. Unexplained Disappearing
New lovers often feel insecure about where the other is or what they are doing, until they experience the security that ongoing trustworthy patterns engender.
Eventually, as they get to know each other better and can predict thoughts, feeling, and behaviors, they become more secure. If those beliefs are not undermined, both partners no longer require constant reassurance that absence is not a sign of disinterest.
However, if, over time, one partner begins to seem more out of touch or preoccupied without keeping the other informed, that trust can waffle. This is exacerbated if the newly disappearing partner becomes defensive when questioned.
The Healing Response:
If either partner feels that something is awry, and the disappearing behaviors don’t add up, it is crucial that gentle questioning be met with honest explanations. Partners who have nothing to hide are quick to realize that their actions may have unearthed the other partner’s concern and willingly re-invite them to be central to their lives.
Some increased desire for separation is absolutely natural after the intensity of us-only time. From the base of more trusted love, either partner may need time with prior friends or just for personal regeneration.
But those kinds of innocent “disconnects” are not threats to the relationship when they are shared and supported, and when the temporarily more-absent partner joyfully returns to the relationship.
4. Ebbing Resiliency
New lovers seem to have infinite patience with each other’s errors. They are quick to forgive and to focus on what they find positive about their relationship.
The first indication that patience is no longer guaranteed is a lack of bounce-back. Where once there was a reliance on a comfortable margin of error, one or both partners now find themselves more on the defensive.
Those quicker-to-harm and longer-to-heal interactions signal that the relationship is losing its elasticity and may appear to have lost its ability to weather emotional stretching.
The Healing Response:
These quicker-to-irritation reactions sometimes surface gradually, and at other times seem to be all-of-a-sudden changes. They often are first noticed during conflict as resolution takes longer to happen.
As soon as either partner recognizes that resiliency is waning, he or she must bring it to light. The couple must search together for the underlying cause of the quickness-to-impatience and what is behind its emergence.
When intimate partners stay up to date with their love and their uneasiness, they can catch these new irritations early enough to soothe them.