Spotting relationship warning signs

Would you be able to spot the warning signs that your relationship is in trouble? Jo Lamble gives you a heads up on what to look for and how to get things back on track.

Julie is a typical client who has come for some help, but she doesn’t know where to start:

I don’t know if it’s me or him or us; Julie says. All I know is, if this is what I have to look forward to, I don’t think I’ll cope for the next 20 years.

There are two main danger points in long-term relationships – in the early years when there are young children and high levels of stress, and when the children have grown up and the couple turns their attention back to the relationship. What remains after years and years of other priorities? Are you excited to have the time to reconnect? Or do you fear that there is a massive chasm between you that seems too wide to cross?

When we are focused on our careers, children, friends and interests, the relationship can take a back seat and that’s understandable. But it’s important to recognise the signs that your relationship may be at risk.

Warning signs:

  • increasing sarcasm and eye-rolling
  • critical banter between you that makes others uncomfortable around you
  • criticisms outweigh compliments and gratitude
  • airing more and more dirty laundry about your partner in public
  • losing respect for one another
  • finding excuses to be apart
  • diminished interest in resolving arguments.


If you recognise some of these warning signs, it’s not too late to turn things around, but you have to put your relationship back on the agenda. In a way, you both need to recommit to one another and agree to work on developing a strong future together.

Here are 10 ways to strengthen your relationship:

  1. greet each other with warmth every time
  2. treat each other with the respect you’d give your most important guest
  3. reminisce with stories, photos and videos
  4. plan some day trips and holidays
  5. let your compliments outweigh your criticisms
  6. celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, milestones
  7. share your fears and dreams – let your partner see your vulnerable side
  8. take responsibility for your mistakes and apologise quickly
  9. surprise each other
  10. find ways to laugh again.


If this list of strategies makes you cringe, your relationship may be in serious trouble. Perhaps you might consider seeing a couples counsellor – one who has been highly recommended by a trusted source. Take your time to make an informed decision and if the relationship can’t be repaired, remember that it is possible to separate amicably, if you agree to treat each other with respect.

For more tips, head to

Related articles:
Just the two of us
Dealing with financial infidelity

Written by Jo Lamble

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