• Susie Carr

What causes a relationship crisis?

Updated: Jun 22

A relationship crisis can occur for any reason and at any time. A relationship crisis can feel like you have unsolvable problems too complex to deal with or a catastrophe too devastating to recover from.

A relationship crisis can be brought about by external events which puts great pressure on relationships. It can either be experienced as a relationship call to arms or a time to act as a team to protect the relationship from outside forces. Infidelity, job loss, financial failure, death, trauma, illness, addiction, environmental disasters, political and world events are all examples of external events which can bring relationships into crisis.

Relationship stress is made worse if your partner refuses to come to the table and discuss the issues with you.

Over time feelings of frustration and hopelessness bring the relationship to a crisis point. In a relationship crisis couples who doubt their own ability to fix or manage complex problems may try to deal with their issues in dysfunctional ways. Ignoring the existence of any problems insisting everything is ok. Withdrawing and shutting down from your partner may seem like a good idea particularly to avoid conflict, but it only adds fuel to the fire. Constantly pursuing your partner to talk about problems will only serve to push your partner further away and increase the potential for conflict. Blaming and criticising your partner without taking responsibility for your part in the relationship problems increases the likelihood of disrespectful behaviour. Insisting on immediate solutions, taking reckless actions, making unilateral or impulsive decisions will undermine the trust in a relationship even further.

When a couple are in a relationship crisis, the cause is not always about an external event. Often a relationship crisis can be found within the habitual patterns of negative communication and behavior. If those patterns continue, the relationship becomes gridlocked in problems and breaks down in crisis. Couples in crisis often feel their relationship has gone off track and are unable to manage or resolve their problems. Becoming aware that there are ongoing unresolved problems in your relationship can cause feelings of deep distress. On a positive note, awareness can also lead you to a work on understanding and resolving your problems with your partner or with the help of a relationship therapist.