Why relationships fail – two large reasons

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple drinking

Couple’s relationship with alcohol.
Photo courtesy of pixabay

Two major causes are responsible for the majority of failed relationships.

Most of the research in this area has been done by Marriage or Couples Counselors but the results of these insights are applicable to other relationships, particularly the relationship between boss and employee. The major reason for relationship failure turns out not to be the thing we most expect.

Conflicted relationships fail and they often end early.

We expect couples who fight a lot to have a bad relationship and for the relationship to fail. That does happen – sometimes but not as often as you would think.

Relationships with lots of negativity, constant conflict are likely to end fairly soon. Gottman has done a lot of research in this area and he tells us that these relationships commonly end in the first seven years, with an average length of just over five years. These relationships are easy to spot lots of obvious arguing and fights. Sometimes there is violence. The police in every town know where these couples live.

After a few years of non-stop conflict these couples part. Often they are still angry with each other and they may have to make the exchanges of the children at a supervised site.

Sadly what often happens is both parties get into new relationships and they discover that the second or eighth time is no better than the first. Gottman tells us based on his research that almost 70% of fights are about things for which there is no solution. She likes green tea and he wants black or it could be religion, politics, or any other area of preference. Much less often a couple disagrees about something where they might be able to work out a solution that makes them both happy.

In other relationships, like jobs and friendships, people who have these kinds of conflicts quit jobs, get fired, or don’t stay around long. Sometimes they have an employment history of lots of short-term jobs. They may also have an arrest record for domestic violence or bar fights. They are also likely to have over-close friendships followed by a complete rupture of that relationship.

Getting into hugely negative conflicts is not the same as being assertive though some people confuse getting there way and giving in with being assertive or being victimized.

As dramatic as unrestrained conflict may be it is not the major reason that marriages fail. It is also not, in my experience, the reason productive employees leave companies or that long-term friendships end. There is a bigger cause of failed relationships.

Relationships without love, friendship, or caring take longer to fail but eventually these couples pull apart.

In these couples, there is nothing positive between them. They have no fun together and often prefer to live the majority of their lives apart. Now I know that there was a time that couples like this stayed together till death do them part, but that was a long time ago.

Couples in these kinds of relationships describe themselves as feeling “dead.” There is nothing that the couple has in common and eventually, the relationship ends. In the workplace, these relationships are devoid of positive regard for the other party. The only things the employee hears from the boss are the complaints and the errors. The only time the employee seeks out the boss is when they have a grievance. Neither may enjoy coming to work anymore. They forget to ever have anything positive to say about each other or about the goal their organization is pursuing.

So often couples start out the relationship describing themselves as best friends, somewhere along the way they forget that the best of friendships require work and they require shared experiences. These couples are especially prone to the “empty nest syndrome” or the “we only stayed together for the sake of the kids.” Eventually, the kids grow up and move out on their own and this couple is stuck with each other. Sometimes they are able to recreate a positive relationship but often there are no feelings left to build on.

These are not the couples who are content with each other and who are comfortable whether alone or together. They are the couples who hate to be together. There is always tension in the air if they are both in the same room but the discomfort never erupts into overt hostilities. In these relationships, neither partner makes an effort to consider the other and you will never see one comfort the other in times of pain. These are empty and uncaring couples.

So there you have it, two kinds of relationships that end on the rocks. The openly hostile violent relationships may end first but the hidden dislike eventually takes its toll. Just avoiding fights is not a solution to relationship failure. Creating more positive experiences together than negative ones is the safest route to keeping the relationship intact and healthy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

1 thought on “Why relationships fail – two large reasons

  1. Pingback: Best of Blog Recap March 2012 | counselorssoapbox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.