Are there signs of an unhealthy relationship? We believe there are.
And this article will look at some of the latest research and what the relationship experts say are the most important signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Purple Fence Laws
Most people are not familiar with purple fence laws. Understanding them can be valuable when you are traveling (hiking, driving, exploring) an area you are unfamiliar with.
While the laws vary from state to state, the general consensus is the same: When you see a fence post painted purple it means something for strangers. It is a sign indicating no trespassing. Or keep out.
There are unwritten purple fence laws pertaining to relationships. They may not be legally enforceable, but they are warning signs we should be aware of. They indicate pending danger.
What exactly are ‘purpose fence signs’ in marriage?
On a technical basis, there are too many indicators of an unhealthy relationship to list. And experts vary on what they consider the most dangerous signs.
However, there are a few that rise to the top of the list consistently. We will explore those in some detail.
We will also show you some of the latest research on relationship issues.
Our goal is to look at the professionals and experts to determine the biggest indicators your marriage could be in trouble.
4 Horsemen of a Marriage Apocalypse
John Gottman is considered the leading researcher in the area of marriage in relationships. His team says they can predict divorce with a 93.6% accuracy.
He coined the phrase ‘4 Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse‘ to identify the four biggest causes of relationship failure.
In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman argues that criticism destroys relationships. He states that criticism is “an attack on a person’s character or personality,” and it “is almost always destructive.” (Find the book on Amazon)
Gottman believes that criticism is one of the four horsemen of the marriage apocalypse, and it is the number one predictor of divorce. He recommends that couples avoid criticism and instead focus on constructive criticism.
Here are four reasons criticism is detrimental to your marriage:
1. Criticism creates an environment of defensiveness and contempt.
When you are constantly being criticized, you become defensive and start to resent your partner. This creates a vicious cycle of criticism and contempt.
2. Criticism destroys trust and intimacy.
If you can’t trust your partner to be accepting of your flaws, you will start to withhold parts of yourself from them. This eventually leads to a lack of intimacy and connection.
3. Criticism creates a negative spiral.
Once criticism starts, it tends to snowball. The more you criticize, the more defensive your partner becomes, and the more they withdraw. This can quickly lead to an erosion of the relationship.
4. Criticism is toxic to relationships.
It is important to remember that criticism is not the same as constructive feedback. Criticism is designed to tear down, while feedback is meant to help improve the relationship. If you want your relationship to thrive, focus on giving and receiving feedback in a way that is respectful and supportive.
John Gottman’s idea is that contempt destroys relationships because it is a form of disrespect. When we are contemptuous of our partners, we are essentially saying that we do not respect them or value their opinion. This can lead to a spiral of negative emotions and can eventually destroy the trust and communication that are essential to any healthy relationship.
Respect is the foundation upon which relationships are built; without it, relationships will crumble. Contempt is the number one predictor of divorce because it is so destructive. If you are feeling contemptuous of your partner, it is important to try to address the underlying issues and find a way to rebuild respect. Otherwise, the relationship is likely to deteriorate further.
If you feel your partner has contempt for you, it is important to communicate this to them. Gottman’s research has shown that contempt is often a sign of unresolved conflict. By addressing the issue head-on, you can begin to repair the damage and rebuild your relationship.
When we are defensive, we are not really listening to what the other person is saying. We are just trying to protect ourselves and our own egos. This kind of communication is a recipe for disaster because it creates an environment of mistrust and misunderstanding.
Gottman argues that the key to a successful relationship is being able to repair arguments and disagreements. This can only happen when both parties are truly invested in understanding each other. If we are always on the defensive, we will never be able to do this.
Three simple steps to disarm defensive behavior:
1. Be aware.
The first step is to be aware of when you are getting defensive. This means being honest with yourself and recognizing the signs that you are starting to get defensive.
2. Get a different perspective.
The second step is to take a step back and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. This can be difficult, but it is important to try to understand where the other person is coming from.
3. Watch your words.
The third step is to respond to the other person in a way that is not defensive. This means being open and willing to listen to what the other person has to say. It also means being willing to compromise and to find a solution that works for both of you.
Stonewalling happens when we emotionally withdraw from a partner or conversation. It can be a way of self-protection, but it can also be hurtful to the relationship. When stonewalling occurs, it can create a feeling of distance and disconnection. It can also make it difficult to resolve conflict.
We withdraw for several reasons:
- We may be feeling overwhelmed and need some time to calm down.
- We may be feeling defensive and need some time to process what is being said.
- We may be feeling disconnected from our partners and need some time to reconnect.
Stonewalling can have a negative impact on relationships because it can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and resentment. It can also make it difficult to communicate and resolve conflict.
If you find yourself stonewalling, it is important to take a step back and try to understand why you are withdrawing. Once you understand your reasons, you can communicate them to your partner. You can also try to find ways to manage your emotions so that you can stay connected to your partner.Stonewalling can have a negative impact on relationships because it can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and resentment. It can also make it difficult to communicate and resolve conflict. Click To Tweet
Here is a video where he explains an overview of the 4 horsemen concept.
7 Aspects of an Unhealthy Relationship
The Gottman institute’s list is a psychological overview of purple fence warning signs that will wreck your relationship.
The University of Alabama counseling center lists 10 characteristics of an unhealthy relationship.We mention seven. This is a list of behaviors couples do that jeopardize their relationship.
1) Lack of Communication
A relationship cannot be healthy if the couple cannot communicate with each other. If a couple is unable to discuss difficult topics, there will be many misunderstandings that can never be resolved.
An unhealthy relationship is full of arguments instead of discussions. This destroys unity and creates a hostile environment by constantly putting each other down.
Repeated dishonesty is not a good foundation for any relationship.
When someone is dishonest, it creates an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. Over time, this can erode the trust between people, making it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. Honesty is essential for any relationship to thrive.
Dishonesty ia a major issue in many relationships. It can be difficult to overcome and often leads to the deterioration of the relationship. If you are dishonest with your partner, it creates an element of mistrust. Your partner may begin to question your motives and wonder if you are being truthful about other things. This can lead to arguments and tension, which can be difficult to resolve.
It is important to be honest with your partner from the beginning of the relationship. This will help to build a strong foundation of trust. If you are honest, your partner will be more likely to trust you and feel comfortable sharing their own thoughts and feelings. Honesty is an important part of any healthy relationship.
Disrespect is characterized by name-calling, breaking boundaries, and questioning and criticizing another person’s choices and decisions. This behavior communicates a lack of regard for the other person.
When someone is disrespectful, they are not treating the other person with the level of respect that they deserve. This can be seen in how they speak to the person, as well as their body language and overall demeanor.
Breaking boundaries is another way that disrespect is shown. This can be done in a physical way, such as invading someone’s personal space, or in a more psychological way, such as constantly pushing someone’s buttons or trying to get under their skin.
Lastly, questioning and criticizing another person’s choices and decisions is a sign of disrespect. This is because it shows that you do not trust or respect the other person’s judgment. It can also be a way of putting the other person down or making them feel like their choices are not good enough.
There are three common areas where dependency surfaces:
- Financial Dependence
- Emotional Dependence
- Psychological Dependence
If someone is dependent on another person financially, it could indicate that the person is not able to support themselves. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as not having a job, or not having enough money to support themselves.
If a person is emotionally dependent on another person, it could mean that they are not able to cope with their emotions on their own. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as not having a support system, or not being able to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.
If a person is psychologically dependent on another person, it could mean that they are not able to think for themselves. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as not having the ability to make decisions, or not being able to think critically.
Jealousy can be a normal emotion but it can also become unhealthy when it’s constant or excessive.
If you’re always feeling jealous of your partner and worried that they will leave you or be unfaithful, it can start to take a toll on your relationship. Jealousy can also be unhealthy if it leads to possessiveness and controlling behavior.
If you’re constantly checking up on your partner or trying to control what they do, it can damage the trust and intimacy in your relationship. If you’re finding that jealousy is becoming a problem in your relationship, it’s important to talk to your partner about it and see if there’s anything you can do to change the way you’re feeling.
Manipulation is often used to control others and get them to do what they want.
It can take many forms, including mind games, convincing a partner to ignore their wants/desires/needs, and using guilt to manipulate others. Manipulation is often used in relationships to get what you want from your partner. It can be used to convince them to do things they don’t want to do or to ignore their own needs in favor of yours.
It is manipulative to make someone feel guilty for not doing what you want them to do. Guilt is a powerful emotion that can be used to control others. By making someone feel guilty, you can convince them to do what you want them to do.
Manipulation is a dangerous tool that can be used to control and hurt others. It is not a healthy way to interact with others and can lead to a cycle of abuse.
7) Controlling behavior
Like manipulation, controlling behavior is a way to try and control what others do, where they go, and what they see.
This can be done in a number of ways, such as demanding social media passwords, checking text messages, or using intimidation or coercion. Emotional, verbal, and physical abuse are also forms of control.
Controlling behavior is a way to try and control what others do, where they go, and what they see. This can be done in a number of ways, such as demanding social media passwords, checking text messages, or using intimidation or coercion. Emotional, verbal, and physical abuse are also forms of control.
Controlling behavior is often motivated by a need for power or control. The need for power may be due to low self-esteem, insecurity, or a desire to control the environment. The need for control may be due to anxiety, a need for predictability, or a desire to avoid feeling helpless.
It can have a number of negative consequences. It can damage relationships, lead to social isolation, and cause psychological distress. It can also lead to physical abuse. If you are in a relationship with someone who is controlling, it is important to get help.
1 Major Underlying Issue of Broken Relationships
Each of the items we’ve listed can be danger points for any relationship. The one underlying factor and common denominator we identify when dealing with troubled marriages is a lack of emotional safety and security.
When one partner does not feel safe, emotional problems surface.
Emotional safety doesn’t mean you fear for your life. It is the feeling you get when you feel like you can’t be yourself, or you’re not accepted for who you really are.
Emotional insecurity or lack of emotional safety is the opposite of trust. Trust happens when you know your partner always has your best interest at heart and would never do anything to intentionally hurt you.When one partner does not feel safe, emotional problems surface. Click To Tweet
When this is lacking, it produces insecurity. There is a lack of emotional safety.
A healthy marriage boils down to this environment- you feel safe, secure, and you trust your partner will always accept and love you. When these qualities are in place you have the tools you need to disarm problems in your relationship
When they are not present, you have a purple fence post. It’s a warning that danger is impending. A sign that trouble is on the horizon.
Final Thoughts On Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Purple fence post or warning signs. They indicate that if you move past them there could be trouble.
And this article we looked at a few signs of an unhealthy relationship. These serve as our purple fence post to warn us of danger.
The one underlying factor is a lack of emotional security and trust.
- 4 Horsemen of a Marriage Apocalypse
- 7 Aspects of an Unhealthy Relationship
- 1 Major Underlying Issue of Broken Relationships
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Academy
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.