Five Silent Relationship “Killers”

Explosive arguments, cheating, and other major events in a relationship can damage it. However, small, overlooked behaviours can eventually break apart the strong bond of a marriage or partnership.

silent relationship killers

Here are five silent relationship killers to avoid:

1. The silent treatment - Sometimes when couples fight, one person “shuts down” and stops talking. While becoming quiet may be a temporary reprieve from frustration and arguing, refusing to communicate can hurt your bond. Silence may be deafening -- it can create anger in a partner who is trying to resolve the conflict through communication. When one partner asks a question and the other replies, “Whatever you want,” the dynamic can erode feelings of respect.

2. Living in the past - Defining your partner by their past behaviour, rather than by what they do in the present, can be harmful. Comparing past relationships to your current one is also treacherous terrain. Learning from past mistakes is a positive, but treating them as a blueprint for every other relationship is not.

3. Arguing with “never” and “always” - All couples have arguments, but the way they argue can determine if the relationship will go the distance. There are constructive ways to have disagreements. Avoid use of “never” or “always” when the conversation gets heated. Shouting, “You never listen!” “You’re always on your phone!” or “You are always late!” are pronouncements that will likely be responded to with anger. Such statements sound like accusations and blame. When a partner is put on the defense, s/he may have difficulty listening and understanding what you truly wish to say. Therapists encourage partners to have “safe conversations,” using “I” statements instead of “You” statements. For example:


  • “I feel unheard, can we talk?”

  • “I feel anxious when you don’t come on time.”

  • “I feel unloved when you don’t spend time with me.”

4. Excessive dependence or independence - If a couple has little life apart from each other, one partner may feel resentful for lack of “space” and freedom. On the other hand, if there’s too much time apart, partners can begin feel lonely. Maintaining equilibrium between dependence and independence requires a work-life balance that can be discussed with a counsellor or therapist, when your partnership is in trouble.

5. Assuming you “know” each other - Couples who have been together for years may make assumptions about their partners. They stop asking questions and learning about each other. This loss of curiosity can affect intimacy between couples. By taking the time to connect and communicate with your partner, and asking him/her something as simple as “How was your day?” is a start.

Have you experienced similar situations in your relationship? Rather than building frustration and resentment, the guidance of a caring counsellor can help you grow stronger together and reach understanding.

Understand your partner more deeply and intimately. Schedule an appointment for couples counselling in St. Albert, AB with Living Well by Design; call (780) 246-8100 or email Wendy Hart today.

Wendy Hart