Top 9 danger signs of a relationship in trouble…and what you can do about them

Is your relationship headed for disaster?

John Gottman, PhD, is a leading psychologist in the area of marriage and relationships. Over the years, he has researched countless couples and has been able to predict with surprising accuracy which relationships survive and which fail.

I know you are busy and may not have time to read his books, so I want to give you a little summary of the red flags that he’s found so that you can see if you are dealing with them in your relationship. By the way – if you do have time, I highly recommend his book “The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” – it’s a quick and easy read and offers some great information.

First off, if you are experiencing any of these ‘symptoms’ of a relationship headed toward disaster, fear not. You have time to reverse your path. Awareness is key – so talk to your partner about your concerns and see if you can do something about it.

The Warning Signs
1.) Negativity significantly outweighs positivity

Let’s face it – all couples, happy and otherwise, have negative feelings in their relationships. There is a place in every relationship for anger, hurt and disgust. After all, we’re only human and we all screw up and do things that piss each other off. What counts is how much negativity there is in relation to positivity. The goal is to keep the scale in favor of how positive we can be.

Gottman and his colleagues found that in stable relationships, the ratio of positive to negative during conflict is 5:1, which means there is 5 times as much positive interactions than negative ones in stable couples when they are in conflict. That ratio in couples who get divorced is much less – 0.8:1 or less, so there is greater negativity than positivity in similar conflicts.

What this means is that couples in happy relationships tend to be much more forgiving and understanding of each other, even during conflict, significantly moreso than those couples headed for break-up. This may be obvious, but I think the fact that Dr. Gottman is able to pin down exactly how much negativity a relationship can tolerate before heading into the danger zone is pretty amazing – and helpful.

The take home message is to keep your positivity 5X or greater than your negativity when you are arguing with your partner. This helps keep your relationship in the safe zone. In other words – when you are arguing with your partner, instead of telling him how stupid he is, try to throw in an “I can see what you’re saying,” or, “ok, that makes sense.” If you share a sense of humor, hopefully you can be more playful with each other and maybe joke with her about the issue (as long as it’s not condescending or only funny to you). Hopefully the favor will be returned by your partner and you’ll both survive these conflicts with much more ease and keep your relationship out of the danger zone.

This information may not save your relationship or may not even be possible to implement without more help if you are deep into a hostile pattern with each other, but I think it’s interesting and can be useful.

2.) “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse”

The second warning sign is actually a set of behaviors that Gottman has referred to as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” These 4 interactions have consistently predicted failure in marriages and so are to be avoided and eliminated at all cost in your relationship.

What are these four horsemen? Basically, these four markers can arise in escalating negative interactions. All couples get hostile with each other, but when the negativity escalates and is marked by the following four “horsemen,” it is a sign that your relationship is in trouble:

    1. Criticism – partners who criticize each other and take personal attack on each other are in trouble. While it may be tempting to let your partner know how stupid they are at times, it is very damaging to your relationship. The best way around this is to complain, but don’t criticize. So, if your partner forgot to pick up that important grocery item, instead of letting them know how much of an idiot they are, let them know how you feel (disappointed? angry?) and feel free to complain about this mistake. It may not go over well, but it’s much better than calling them a stupid asshole. None of us like to be personally attacked, especially by the person who knows us better than anyone and is supposed to have our backs.
    2. Defensiveness – look, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. I’m guilty as charged and hate admitting when I’m wrong because it’s so rare (haha), but it’s something I’ve worked on. Let your guard down and be real with your partner. Take the wall down and don’t be so defensive.
    3. Contempt – even the word itself is scary, it’s such an ugly feeling. This one is probably the trickiest of them all – how do you not feel contempt for someone if the contempt is there? There’s no easy solution here and contempt has been shown to be one of the most dangerous feelings in a relationship. If you are experiencing this in your relationship, this may be one sign to get help fast.
    4. Stonewalling – this is when the wall goes up for one of you and you can’t reach the other person. When someone stonewalls you, it is agonizing. You can’t get in there and it feels like they don’t care. Stonewalling is really a way that your partner might be protecting himself. Granted, it’s not the best for your relationship, but just because you are getting a blank stare doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. In fact, Gottman and his colleagues have physiologically measured stonewalling partners who don’t let on that they’re feeling anything, and consistently found that despite appearing like they have no cares in the world, these partners have elevated blood pressure and pulses.

Chances are, if there is stonewalling in your relationship, your partner cares more than you realize. If your partner is stonewalling you, you may feel yourself escalating to try to get a reaction from him. My advice: slow down. I know – you are frustrated, angry, maybe desperate and scared – you just want to get a reaction from him. But let me tell you, in more cases than not, if you continue to escalate and make a lot of noise, it’s going to keep him further blocked off from you. Take a step back and see what happens. I’m not guaranteeing that there will be any magic, but try another approach and see if he will come out of his shell.

If YOU are a stonewaller, I challenge you to take a step back and try something else. Instead of letting your wall go up, or instead of letting it go up all the way, see if you can show a sign to your partner that you do care, you are just feeling ________ fill in the blank (overwhelmed? Attacked? Hopeless? Accused? Something else?) Letting your partner know that your wall is just something you need right now to keep cool is great, it is much better hearing that from someone than getting a blank look or no response whatsoever.

Now you can at least identify these “four horsemen of the apocalypse” and hopefully slay these monsters if they appear in your relationship. Just because you may be experiencing them doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce. You’re obviously interested in making things better, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, so carry on and stop the criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

3.) Turning away

This is kind of like stonewalling, and is pretty self-explanatory. If your partner comes to you, particularly when trying to connect with you, and you turn away, this is not a good sign. Even if you are upset or angry, it is best to let your partner know than to turn away. Being ignored is hurtful and painful. Instead, try to turn toward your partner.

Perhaps your partner turns away from you. Again, just because you are getting no response from him, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care. Please try to remember that – it is so painful to be ignored and feel invisible or like you don’t matter. It’s most likely not that your partner doesn’t care, but that he is feeling overwhelmed himself and doesn’t know what to do. Perhaps he feels he can’t get it right with you and figures it’s best to say nothing at all. Sometimes those who turn away are actually trying to preserve the relationship by preventing an all out blow out. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on, but rest assured, something is happening other than your partner just not caring.

4.) Turning against

This one’s also self-explanatory. Instead of turning away as discussed above, some partners turn against each other. One person goes to their partner to seek support or comfort and gets barked at in response. Those who turn against are basically irritable and cranky with their partners. It’s not a good sign. If this is a problem you face, take a deep breath before responding. Watch yourself. If you are getting barked at, let your partner know the effects it has on you in an honest, non-critical way, and maybe even say that this is a warning sign for divorce! Hopefully your partner will be willing enough to take a look at this behavior and take a deep breath before responding to you when feeling irritated.

5.) Failure of repair attempts

All couples argue and get into it with each other. The healthiest of couples argue with the best of them. The difference is that stable couples know how to make up, or “repair,” when things go wrong. This is such an important skill in relationships, and a warning sign if it’s absent. Humor, honest apologies and not taking yourselves too seriously can go a long way in this regard. You don’t need to avoid fighting or hurting each other – let’s face it, it’s going to happen. Simply make sure you both can make up when things get rocky and you will be on the right track.

6.) Flooding of negative feelings & attributions about one’s partner

Unfortunately I see this all the time couples who come to therapy. Basically, what this means is that in distressed relationships, neutral or ambiguous signals from one partner are interpreted as negative by the other. What’s really common is that one partner will say something to the other – without any feeling positive or negative – and the partner who hears this will assume it is negative. Couples in stable relationships will either hear this same thing as neutral or even positive. So – watch yourself. When you are with your partner and feel like they are being hostile or especially negative, is there any chance that you are simply flooded with negativity that might not actually be present in that very interaction? Take a step back and try to be more objective in each instance and see what you find. Talk to your partner about this phenomenon and encourage them to do the same and start giving you the benefit of the doubt.

7.) Heightened & maintained physiological arousal

I think we all know what it’s like to be in a blood boiling fight. We call it blood boiling because physiologically we are aroused – our sympathetic nervous system is activated, we may be in “fight or flight” mode, our pulse is racing, breathing may be difficult, and we could be sweating bullets and hot as hell. If you and your partner go here and stay here in this blood boiling zone, you are stuck in the danger zone. No good will come of this, so get out!! Take a break from each other and cool off. When we are physiologically activated like this, our brain is foggy and we can’t be rational. Before you’re going to see any resolution, you have got to calm down, so get out of there. Create a sign that you and your partner share, whether it’s a stop sign, a time out, or whatever, that signals to the other that you are activated and need to cool off. I know this can be frustrating if you just want to hash it out, but if your blood is literally on fire, chances are it’s not going to work. Hash it out when you’re both breathing a bit easier.

8.) Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA)

This is a phenomenon that is bad for our health, whether we are in a relationship or not. Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA) is when we have a higher baseline of physiological activation than is ideal. It is adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint in that an increased level of vigilance translates to better preparedness for surrounding danger, but in this day and age, most of us do not live in an environment in which we need to be on our toes to stave off danger (I recognize that some of us do, unfortunately).

People with DPA, in addition to other chronic physiological states, have higher heart rates, more constricted arteries, more blood volume with less concentrations of oxygen in the blood, increased stress hormones like cortisol (which has been associated with all kinds of health problems), increased activation of the amygdala in the brain (the amygdala is the emotional arousal center and is highly involved in signaling danger), and less activation of the part of the brain that is responsible for judgment and planning (the frontal lobe).

In relationships, DPA can have a serious negative impact. For example, with decreased ability to plan and judge, those with DPA have a harder time taking in information and have less flexible views of things. Flexibility is really important in relationships. It’s also harder for someone with DPA to be humorous and affectionate when things are difficult. Similarly, someone with DPA may be more likely to continually state their position on something and think that their partner will suddenly understand them after hearing them repeat themselves ten times. You can see how this is a problem.

If you or your partner have DPA, it’s really not your fault. Remember, this physiological arousal is something that has helped us survive as a species over the years. Stress management can be helpful – think about exercise, mindfulness meditation, yoga, or whatever works for you.

9.) In heterosexual relationships, when men can’t accept influence from their female partners

Gottman and his colleagues discovered 2 classic problematic patterns when men reject influence from their female partners:

  1. When men emotionally disengage (eventually their partners do too)
  2. When men escalate with negativity in response to their female partner’s feedback, even if it’s just her mild complaining

Heterosexual men who are in more harmonious relationships are open to influence and feedback from their ladies – big surprise, right?

Quick story to illustrate this point: I was at a comedy show one time when they played some “how well do you know your partner” kind of game. There were the newlyweds, the 5-10 year married couple and the veteran couple with 35 years strong. They asked the veteran couple the advice they had to the younger couples and the big guy said, without even thinking, “Keep Mama happy.” Well, there you have it!

So, keep an eye out for these 9 danger signs. Please remember, all of these warning signs appear in relationships from time to time and when you notice them, it doesn’t mean that you are destined for failure. However, if you notice that your relationship is overwhelmingly suffering from any of the above warning signs, sit down with your partner and have a serious chat about your plan to get them under control.

Even better? Check out my workbook to finally get love right.

Cheers to your best relationship,




  1. Solomon 5 years ago

    My relationship has taken a turn for the worst and I don’t know what to do anymore? Is there any limit of time for stonewalling or ignoring your partner because I’ve only gone 24 hers without trying to talk to her and its driving me insane

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      That sounds very difficult. In terms of limit of time for ignoring your partner – I imagine that would depend on the two of you and your relationship. I’m very sorry to hear your relationship has taken a turn for the worst and I’d strongly recommend that you seek out a good couples counselor! You can find one here: Good luck with everything!

    • Robin 1 year ago

      My husband goes weeks just by texting . If I get in the phone he sits for joes without saying a word. Even tho he does a lot of below the belt comments and is very hurtful I always try. Now I don’t try anymore cause when it do it only makes the situation worse for me . He also does the silent treatment. I can’t do all the running after and get the worst comebacks ever . Won’t do it.

  2. Carlos 5 years ago

    My girlfriend and I started off great. But then when we got angry at each other we hurt each other by throwing each others past in the others face. I wanna save thus relationship because it has more good than bad. I myself have learned to forgive and forget and move forward with my GF. But she has trust issues that have affected her til today. I don’t know how to remedy this. I’m trying but she is on the defensive so it’s hard to tell if she is really wanting to save the relationship. She says I love you very much but when I tell her we need to start doing things as a couple to save our relationship she is hesitant and it feels like she’s just going through the motions. But yet always makes little comments that play on my insecurities as well. I need advice please. I love this girl and I wanna save this relationship

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Hi Carlos, thanks for your comment. I think it could be powerful to let your girlfriend know what you wrote right here – including how much you love her and want to save the relationship, and own the hurtful things you have said to her in the past. It’s wonderful that you have been able to forgive her for what she’s said to you, but it might take some time to heal and consistent efforts to rebuild the trust. Really recognizing how much hurt there has been should also help her feel like you understand her. To make the process much easier, you may want to consider getting a 3rd party facilitator involved whether it’s a therapist or a relationship coach so that you can repair this together with greater ease and potentially a lot faster. This could be something you propose to her, letting her know how much you care about her and love her and how much you want your relationship to be in a better place. Good luck to you – your commitment to her is very clear and will go a long way in making this work! All my best to you, Jenev

  3. Kate 5 years ago

    Hi jenev,
    In my relationship my partner and i have a 16 month old and a baby due in a month.
    We’ve had some continuing problems in our relationship around my partners inability to keep his word.
    Usually around when he’s coming home and if he’s coming home as some nights he’ll stay out till the next day, he’s a musician so that’s to be expected to a degree.
    Often he’ll say he’s coming home and just doesn’t turn up, So i wake up worried in the middle of the night.
    We’ve had other issues but slowly we seem to be getting on top of them but this breaking of the word almost daily really effects me.
    That and he can be up and down all night waking the whole house with his comings and goings.
    I really want us to be secure before the next one comes, do you have any advice?
    Kind regards,

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Hi Kate,

      First, congrats on your soon-to-be new baby! It totally makes sense to me why this is such an important issue for you, and I’m glad you reached out. Without knowing more about the two of you it’s a little hard to give advice on this one because I’m not sure what you’ve already tried to work on this, but I’ll offer you what I can. It clearly is very important for you for your partner to keep his word (who doesn’t need that?!) – so the more honestly and vulnerably that you can convey this message to him, the better. Be careful in your approach – many might come across angry or frustrated in trying to convey this message (understandably–I’m sure there is anger & frustration there), but this could just serve to push him away. Try to go a layer into your experience deeper and let him know more about your longing to be able to trust him. If you let him know how important he and his word are to you, and how much it would mean for you to be able to trust him, I would hope that the message would get through and he would honor that.

      At some point, if no matter how hard you try to convey this to him, it doesn’t get through, I would consider working with a facilitator (couples therapist, coach, etc.) to help sure up your foundation and help you create trust together, if that’s something that both of you are willing to do. If no matter what is done, he still doesn’t keep his word, then that will be a different conversation.

      I hope this is helpful. If you’d like to speak more about how working together might be able to help with this, please click the purple heart at the bottom of the screen to get a complimentary consultation set up and we can take it from there.

      Thanks for your post and best of luck with your baby and your partner!


  4. Smriti Pradhan 5 years ago

    Dear Jenev,

    My marriage life is falling apart. And all I want to do is save it. A month back we had a huge fight but things got back to normal after few days, but suddenly my husband stopped talking to me again. From what I know it’s his work and not being . Right now we are still living together but more like flat mates, he comes home late and leaves early for work. But we do eat dinner together or at least watch one movie at home and go out for lunch on Saturdays , but its only silence we share or he only answers my questions about his work or random stuff. But whenever I try to talk to him about how we should go about our relationship, let’s work on it he just says we are separating and being free from this relationship will help his career and does not want to discuss anything further. If I do ask him to work on our marriage and give one more chance to each other he ends up not caring or blocking his ears. He does not share his feeling with anyone. Now to avoid any further fights or feeling neglected I don’t talk about it at all. But I am scared few months down the line he will just leave or if we don’t go back to being a husband and wife I will give up some point of the time and end up separating. Jeneve is it too late to save my marriage? Please guide me or just let me know how do I stay positive and believe that he only needs time to heal and will someday take a step to work it out.

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      It sounds like you are in a very difficult situation. It is hard for me to tell you what to do without knowing each of your true intentions. My advice to you would be to get some personal support for yourself so that you are not struggling with this alone, and so you can determine what is best for you in this situation. Working with a relationship coach or therapist can help you determine what you truly desire from your marriage and can help you be clear with those needs. Sweeping this under the rug will not help, but it sounds like you are up against a brick wall when you try to discuss this with your husband. I wish you all the very best and if it feels like it could help to speak with me personally, please click on the purple heart at the bottom of the screen to arrange for a consultation. That might be more helpful to you.
      All my best to you,

  5. Rebecca 5 years ago

    I’ve been in a relationship for 5 years now and these past two years I’ve been in depressed mood for a long time. One day I finally snap out of it and find a job that I can talorlate, but I did it too late, he blamed me for all times I quit on something hard and getting out of the comfort zone, I’m slowly getting the hang of expanding it. Later on that same day he apologized for what he said and didn’t want to hold it against me, but he said he wanted to take a break and just be friends. But as much as I want to be my own person I can’t feel the same about this break, I want to be with him as soon as I get a job, but I just feel like we take one too many breaks like this. Is it healthy?

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Hmm….Rebecca, I’m not sure I understand the question? Is what healthy?

  6. Tim 5 years ago

    Dear all,
    I’ve been married 35 years to the love of my life…But , it has been the most frustrating life. I will soon file for divorce. You see …. It has always been a one sided love… I’ve been stone walled for 35 years , REALLY… I kid you not.
    What a fool I have been, always hoping the next day to see a change. 12,775 plus days I’ve felt the rejection. Sometimes love makes you do some pretty ridiculous things. I have lived with a woman that refuses to get or let anyone help her. So I’m telling all of you if they don’t love you enough to receive help …. get out . Some marriages are NOT worth saving .
    Please share your thoughts here.( was the reason I’m not posing a question. ) I don’t have a question….. I just hope to save others from living like I have and wasting their lives with people that are too selfish or damaged or whatever. Just because the’y damaged does not mean you have to put up with them ruining your life too. There are so many other people in this world that would give their right arm to have somebody that Loves them, warts and all.
    I don’t blame her . That’s just what she is. I’m the fool that has refused to take the responsibility for my own life. What I’m trying to say is …Don’t be afraid to give an ultimatum, and follow through with it . Divorce get’s harder and harder the longer you put it off. Everyone is entitled to a little happiness. Like I say , if your relationship with your spouse is such that they will not receive help , then it’s time to move on … REALLY.

    I don’t want to push too hard , you should really do the work of getting good help first.(not just anybody !! ) but if your S.O. isn’t responding with-in days to the counsel, then an ultimatum in in order. The truth is they would rather live the way it is than to consider you. What is Love? If it’s not a deep abiding consideration of someone more than oneself.
    I wish the best for all of you! Tim

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment and for setting this example for everyone to not settle in a relationship that is one sided or in which the other person is unwilling to look at himself/herself and make changes or work on the relationship. Congratulations on taking this brave, bold step for yourself – and I really appreciate you sharing this on my site.
      All of my best to you in this new, fresh chapter,

    • scott 5 years ago

      This was just what I needed to read right now so thank you. After years of misery I found myself in a similar position. I offered an ultimatum which was met with self righteous anger and blame. I eventually filed and now we are in a bitter struggle, living in the same home with a suffering 9 year old. I don’t hold myself blameless though. Instead of recognizing the signs and getting help early, I added fuel to the fire until it was too late. I don’t know that forcing the issue earlier would have helped as she was always self righteous. I am clear that ignoring things and hoping for it to get better was a grave mistake so I applaud people here seeking help early. I wish it had gone differently for us, and though I feel I had to file I am still having a hard time accepting that she would rather divorce than work on saving our marriage.
      It’s easy to place blame but it is not productive. We are all broken to some degree and I am guessing after 35 years you have a lot of healing to do. I know after 12 years I do. I hope you are able to get the help you need to get through this and heal.
      Best wishes,

  7. Ahsiyah 5 years ago

    My boyfriend and I have hit hard walls with eachother for a long time now.
    Throwing eachothers past in eachothers faces, not trusting eachother, Turing away….against. You name it we’ve done it!!
    We split up and i moved out and we have been on and off ever since and neither of us had seen other people.
    I just want to make things good. I really want to start building a life together! I want to support eachother, love eachother! Be there in every way for eacother.

    I told him very recently that I feel like he doesn’t support me, and that I’ve felt very very alone in our relationship. I reckon it comes from our very different backgrounds, it can cause issues.

    I really believe that it is all fear that is holding us back? Or we might not be ready? I find it really funny and laugh sometimes because he says that he believes that he loves me more then I love him, but I believe that I love him more then he loves me (que hysterical laughter!)

    I honestly have no clue what in earth to do any more! Do I let it go and if it’s ment to be let it be? Or do I stick it out, grow stronger and believe that things will get to where we want them?

    I really don’t know. What I do know is that I can not stand to feel alone and I can not stand to fight anymore.

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Hi Ahsiyah,
      First I want to apologize for my late reply — somehow I missed your comment.
      Because you said you cannot stand to feel alone, it can be helpful to get some support around this from a coach or someone who can help you get clear on your true desires. Perhaps what could actually serve you really well would be to spend some time alone, meditating or journaling or doing what feels right for you can also help you get that kind of clarity. Once you know what you truly desire, whether it is to work on this relationship or not, I would be upfront about that. If it means speaking to your ex honestly and saying you really want to work on things productively and make things good, make sure to do it from an honest and open place — not telling him what he’s doing wrong but what you desire and what you’re willing to do to work on that. It will require his work too, and you will have to be willing to accept his response, regardless of what it might be. I would strongly suggest that the two of you get some help in re-establishing and strengthening your connection if that’s what you decide to do. An Emotionally Focused Therapist or relationship coach familiar with that model of helping couples connect can help save you time and agony if you’re both committed to working on things. I wish you the best of luck! It sounds like you are in an extremely painful and difficult situation.
      All my best,

  8. patricia 5 years ago

    Hi jenev! I am totally in pain right now. I had a 2 years and 7 months relationship with a good guy. We’ve been doing great for those times but now, yesterday to be exact, he asked me for a “cool off”- that term of finding himself while I’m here waiting and dunno if he’ll be back. He said he’ll just find himself and try to regain that lost feeling to me. I don’t know what to do. Please give me an advise. Thank you so much

    • Jenev Caddell 5 years ago

      Hi Patricia,
      Apologies for my late reply- this somehow wound up in my spam. I’m so sorry to hear this has happened – nothing can be more painful than relationships not working out the way we want them to. My advice to you at this time would be to take really good care of yourself and surround yourself with people you love and who love you. Remember – we are born to connect – so even if you feel like isolating yourself at this time, reaching out to others and doing what feels good to you would be 2 things I recommend doing the most.
      Thanks for reaching out and good luck getting through this,

  9. kourtnei 4 years ago

    Hey my boyfriend and I fight over the littlest stuff. He works out of town which makes it harder and has two kids from past relationship. I have really bad trust issues. Me and him have been together for a year and I really love him but I feel like all we do is fight over stupid stuff and I feel like I have to beg for his attention and he hardly tells me how much I mean to him or how he feel. Can you please help me

    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Kourtnei,
      I think the best way to address this would be an honest, open conversation about how you feel. I’m sure the distance just makes things harder. I’d really recommend you check out the book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love,” by Dr. Sue Johnson, or my book which you can find here – both address how partners get into bad cycles of disconnection with each other and how you can work on this.
      Thanks for reaching out and good luck!

  10. Eumi 4 years ago

    Hello Ms Jenev!

    My BF and I just broke up last night. We had problems regarding one-sided love that he felt I am not appreciating all his efforts and investment in our relationship. That I am not posting our pictures on Facebook anymore and making FB status how grateful I am to be with him. He kept on telling me to be selfish and not observing the Give and Take Rule in a relationship. Im finding it hard to figure it out how he had not appreciated my gifts within our 4 and 1/2 years.

    We kept on trying to fix our relationship and I kept on changing for the better to be selfless. I tried but there are times my problems with myself came back that I cAnnot control my negative side. I told him ‘I am trying’ but he kept on telling me ‘the change is not enough that its progress is slow.’ Because of this I felt so helpless in saving the relationship. He said he had done all the ways he cAn to sustain the relationship and he had given enough. He said he is not happy anymore and he wanted to end our rel. At first, i was hesitant to accept the breakup and I get off the car and walked out with tears.

    The next day I texted him that I already accepted the breakup and I said sorry and thank him for everything.
    He had not responded as I expected.

    Now I am ready to move on. I am sorry to myself for being possessive sometimes and being the toxic one. I feel that it is too late for me to change just to save us.

    I keep asking myself if we can have a second chance if only I change and he realized I changed. What do you think Ms Jeneve? If it is reparable or not. I would appreciate much your response.

    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Eumi,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether a second chance is possible for you two. That would be up to him (and you, of course, but it sounds like you’d like to try again). A book that many couples find helpful is called “The 5 Love Languages.” It basically speaks to the fact that we receive and give love to each other in different ways. That could be helpful moving forward so that you can best understand how you & your partner both receive and give love so that you can try to speak each other’s language.

      Best of luck & I’m very sorry to hear about your breakup.

      • Eumi 4 years ago

        Thank you Ms Jenev. I just found it.

  11. Anne 4 years ago

    Hey. I am in love with this guy and we have been together seven months. I was serious about him and he was too so we were looking to commit for a long term thing. So as normal couples do we started arguing a lot over petty things and at that time i was really going through a lot in my life but he just seemed to distance himself so it would really frustrate me because i needed him there for me. He decided to leave me without a word. I begged until i couldnt anymore and i knew he wouldnt come after me because of his pride. Even during our fights he never once apologized. So its been five months but he occasionally attacks me on social media putting up posts that will hurt me. Making me look like this bad person but i dont think i deserved tht since he didnt want to try n understand me during my rough times. Its getting extremely hard to move on esp with his attacks. Its been five months of no contact And i still love him but i cant deal with his pride. What do i do

    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Anne, That sounds rough. I wish I had an easy solution for you – might be best to talk this through with a therapist or coach? I think forgiveness (for ourselves and others) is a wonderful thing that helps us let go and move on, but I also realize it’s not like a light switch that we can turn on and off. Best of luck to you, Jenev

  12. Nancy 4 years ago

    Hi there,
    My spouse and I are coming up on our 22 anniversary. My question is how to forgive him when he isn’t sorry. Whenever he has a problem with me or something I’ve done, i apologize and mean it. I work on it. My spouse though gets very defensive and stonewalls. Then when HE decides he’s ready to talk we usually do. But by then, I’m so angry at the stonewalling that it becomes the main issue. I’ve definately learned not to attack when being stonewalled but NOW I’m so angry and hurt that I’M STONEWALLING HIM! It’s especially easy to do when he’s never asked for forgiveness anyway. He just likes to have things go back to normal. But I’m still very hurt, if I bring it up again, we’ll start the cycle all over again. I’ve never used sex as a weapon, like withholding but it’s difficult to be open intimately with someone who has hurt your feelings so many times.
    So my question, how do I forgive, when he isn’t sorry?

    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Nancy & thanks for writing — first, congrats on the 22 years. But…in terms of forgiving someone who isn’t sorry…that you’re married to…that’s tough.

      Sue Johnson wrote a beautiful chapter in her book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love on forgiving “attachment injuries,” but to do this most effectively, it’s about connecting and having your partner own his part in the injury. My own take on this is that if you are hurt in some way, for the best outcome in your relationship, you will have to heal together with this. I would strongly recommend that you check out Sue’s book and/or a Hold Me Tight workshop and/or get the help of a 3rd party couples therapist/counselor/coach to help you work through this together if every time you try, it doesn’t work.

      This can be so hard, but once you resolve this, your relationship will be stronger than ever.

      Best of luck — and feel free to “contact me” if you feel called to do that.


      • Nancy 4 years ago

        Than you! I just copied my question and your response and set up a time to talk to him tomorrow about it. I told him that I’m having some serious issues and would like to discuss them, (I’ve read its best to do that especially with a person prone to stonewalling) He acted caught off guard, dumb, he asked is this a current issue or past? I said continuous.

        I’ll let you know how it goes and thank you again!


        • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

          Awesome, Nancy — just awesome!! Thanks for letting me know. Good luck. And…one more thing, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go well. Just trust that you’re planting seeds of a deeper connection and continue to come back to the conversation. Definitely check out that book, it will help for sure. Thank you for keeping me posted — sending you good vibes of love & connection 🙂 Jenev

  13. Trista 4 years ago

    Hi, I am experiencing some really rough spots with my boyfriend. He is truly amazing and I’ve never tried so hard in a relationship before. We have both been married before and I can definitely see myself marrying him some day. Meaning, I would love to. However, he doesn’t want to. We live together with my two kids. He is fantastic w them. He just bought a big house for us all to live in together, however he can’t talk about a future with me because he says he doesn’t think about it. He shows me love quite often and is very kind… But some of my most basic needs aren’t being met. One of those needs is just to feel secure and the strong desire to build a strong and healthy relationship with him. He doesn’t really have any friends, except a couple that he rarely talks to. He can’t say I’m his best friend, and said tonight that he doesn’t know that I will ever be that for him. Yet he is thoughtful and still very sweet. Here’s my most current issue, I do not require marriage, although it feels very scary that he can’t talk about a future and has moved us in with him. I know that communication is very important, and I have voiced my concerns as kindly as possible, making sure to point out all the wonderful things he does and how much I appreciate him. But he gets defensive anyway and says that he sucks at relationships. I asked the question tonight as to where he sees us in 5 yrs, or 10 years. He couldn’t answer that. He said he holds back a lot because he doesn’t wants give me false hope, however, he says he loves me and the kids, and is in this for the long haul. I am at a cross roads right now, having to make a very important decision and being stable and secure in a relationship is paramount. But, I have no idea where this is going, and I don’t know how to talk to him about it because he assumes he’s not doing good enough even if I praise him for his amazing efforts. Please help me understand all of this. I am completely lost. I want this to work and I am willing to put years of blood sweat and tears into this as I already have invested so much, but I also need to protect myself am my kids from being hurt by investing more time into something that is so shaky. Please help me with this.


    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Trista,
      Sorry to hear you are in this very difficult situation. Maybe re-read your post as if you were your best friend and try to give yourself advice from that place. You have the answers you need.

      I will just reflect to you that you said here, “some of my most basic needs are not being met.” Your needs are VERY important, and are not going anywhere. This doesn’t mean you need to give up on the relationship necessarily, but I would encourage you to take a stand for your needs, make it very clear about what your non-negotiable needs are, and if that means getting a 3rd party to help the 2 of you figure it out, so be it. You deserve to be with someone who is willing to get uncomfortable to make it work, if that’s what it comes to.

      Sending you all my best,

      • Trista 4 years ago

        Thank you. I truly love him very deeply, he says he loves me and is in this for the long haul, but he also says that he’s not in love… It’s all so confusing. I don’t want to end this because we have really become a family and the kids love him like a dad. What am I doing wrong as far as communication goes? He is good about answering, but sometimes his answers are unclear, and in my desperation to understand, I ask more questions. He gets upset and usually goes to bed and sleeps. The basic needs, he is working on. He has put a lot of effort into it, however… I feel as though discussing further improvement and growth in our relationship actually causes more grief. He supports us right now and has never asked for a dime. I assume all the wifely duties… And it works. But commitment is not for him, however he says he is. he shows affection and we have a good time together. He is not good at romance but is trying so hard at it lately. I agree on the counseling, I have mentioned it in the past. He said “sure, if you want to see us fall apart real fast.” I’m not sure what other options I have anymore and he is confusing. Yet, so loving toward us.

  14. Katie 4 years ago

    There is no romance and I’m a beautiful woman and he turns me down all the time and we barely see each other. I’m writing tonight because I felt like we needed some time so my parents have the kids and I drove to where he works and I was there twenty minutes and turned around. I asked him if we could go get something to eat and have a couple drinks, all I wanted was to see him and when I got to his hotel room, I felt like I was not welcome there, even though this was planned and he knew when I would arrive. Well he told me to go by myself because he just had a drink before I got there and he just wanted to chill in his room. I’m home with kids all the time all I wanted was some company and to interact and connect. I must be crazy. I know how I’m talked to and treated isn’t right. Is this is phase? I don’t know it seems to be last longer than a phase and getting worse. I feel like crap. Like I’m with a man who doesn’t want me but won’t leave me but won’t even listen to how I feel. I don’t nag or bitch. I see him maybe one day a week and he sleeps because apparently while he is gone all week he isn’t sleeping enough then. I’m starting to be numb to not care. I grabbed my bag and I left he made clear he won’t do anything until he’s ready to eat and easy to go. He cussed at me. I left the kids and drove over an hour to be with him and in twenty minutes was on my way home. I say how can u love me and treat me this way and he says he doesn’t treat me anyway. I am lost and hoping someone can say something that might help in some way

    • Jenev Caddell 4 years ago

      Hi Katie,
      Sounds like things are really rough for you right now and I’m so sorry to hear it. Obviously something is keeping you in the relationship even though it is not meeting your needs. I think talking this out with a professional could be the most helpful.
      I wish you all my best,

  15. Chelsea Martin 3 years ago

    hi i need help!! im 23 years old and my boyfriend is 211 we are pregnant. this will be my second child and his first.. he works 64 hours a week to save up for us to get an apartment and to have things for the babys.. he only had saturdays and sundays off and he just wants me to tag along with him and his friends while i watch all of them party and stuff.. when i say dont like him doing certain things he just says he has earned it! and he doesnt try to make an effort to be alone with me.. just me an dhim for more than an hour unlike when we first found out, he was great, he wanted to talk to me alot and be there for me and see me all the time. now he barely texts me and says he loves me but when im around him he looks so sad. i argue with him about him doing things he shouldnt be doing on the weekends and he gets mad at me and is just like i dont know if this is working and he says hes tired of it and he just sounds like hes up to no good when were not around eachother.. just so many things.. i dont know if its becaus eim pregnant and a ball of emotions or if there is a serious problem!! PLEASE HELP!!

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Chelsea,
      It’s hard for me to say what’s really going on here other than I can see why it’s so hard and confusing for you. Here are a few suggestions:
      1.) Read this post and see if it makes sense to you, let me know if it helps or not.

      2.) Maybe try letting him know how you really feel. Likely scared, yes? Because you care about him so much and feel him pulling away? Does he ever see that side of you? Then, if you really want to hear how he feels, ask him. Let him know how important it is to you to know where he’s coming from.

      3.) Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a professional to talk to about this. A few conversations can go a long way. Go here and click on “find a therapist” in your area, and you’ll likely find some great ones:

      I hope this helps. Keep us posted. And good luck with everything (and congratulations on your pregnancy!)


  16. Deeana 3 years ago

    Hi my marriage is in trouble he is from a diffrent country diffrent values. My partner has a problem that even if his words hurt me n he knows it he will say it and I hold a grudge on that. And right now I am being hurt emotionaly I have 3 kids all under 10 one has mental delay plus club feet and adhd. And thw other two sever anger agreshion and me n my daughter and one son and husband live together and the other son with my mom cause of the problums I was having and now I want to get everyone together under the same roof and he tells me he doset want to help and my kids are goin to all fail if they r together that hurts. Are we done

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Deeana,
      Thank you for your comment. It sounds like you have a lot going on and are under a ton of stress. My best advice would be to get some 1:1 support from counseling or therapy to help you figure all of this out. I can assure you that a conversation about all of this with a professional will help you sort it out and feel stronger about the situation.
      I wish you the best of luck. I also wish I had an easy answer for you but I strongly encourage you to get some 1:1 support, it can go a long way!

  17. MARYM bash 3 years ago

    First sorry for my poor languge ,Hey i am married and i have a 2 yrs son and according to where i am from and where i live marriage is forever and it’s offensive if I wanted to leave my husband so, me and my husband keeps hurting each other we criticize each other like there is no love left , so I take lot of breaks and I go to my parents home but that doesn’t affect him, he likes to be alone and doesn’t miss us at all but I have to get back to him again I have no place else to go and I can’t live with my parents forever, he told me that marriage and family life isn’t his style, and that appears in his behavior he isn’t into any sexual activites , we didn’t have sex for months and it’s killing me that he didn’t miss me because we married for love , I thought a lot to suicide but I am not selfish I have a son. I don’t know what to do especially he has a big position in our church so I can’t offence him , any advice????

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi — so sorry to hear you are going through this. My best advice is to speak with someone just for you – a therapist, counselor, a pastoral counselor who is not involved with your church in particular – it is very important that you get some help.

      I also strongly encourage you to call 1-800-273-8255 — are you in the states? They have trained counselors there to support 24/7, to help prevent suicides. I know you said you have a son and wouldn’t end your life but even so, if you are thinking about that even as a distant option, you should really reach out to speak with someone.

      Good luck.
      Please find someone to connect with about this so you can feel better soon,

  18. Stephan S 3 years ago

    Hello. So essentially I have no idea where my relationship with this girl is going. We started dating recently and sometimes I don’t feel good about it, whenever we fight about things. I always get stone-walled. She refuses to talk to me until SHE is ready to talk. This stone-walking can be about the tinniest of things. Also whenever we fight she ALWAYS thinks about breaking up. Idk if this due me being her first serious relationship or any other factor. But recently she went on vacay for 2 weeks. Within the two weeks, we ran into an issue due to my big mouth. And I got stone-walled again. I thought we overcame this but I just feel like rn she has lost interest in me. What were once long texts and long talks on the phone are now reality dry answers and excuses to cover up phone calls. I just feel like she has distanced herself and I have no idea what to do. Also whenever we talk I tend to always feel tension (talk through text). We are both in college and we live a good distance appart. Im always afraid that one little fight could lead to a break up. I truly love this girl and to me I feel like I would become mentally unstable if we were to break up. The past two weeks without her have been hard so Idk what it would be like if she was out of my life.

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Stephan, I would suggest you head over to your college counseling center if you have one (do you?) It sounds like you really like her, but sometimes it can be easy to get attached to the IDEA of someone that we forget what’s actually happening – how that person is really treating us. I think that by talking this out with someone supportive, you’ll be able to get more perspective, and won’t be in so much fear about what would happen if she was no longer in your life. I want you to know that you’ll be OK no matter what, whether you stay together or not, even if it feels scary to lose her. Connecting with someone supportive to talk about this with will help a lot. You deserve a relationship that feels easy. Good luck!

  19. Letti 3 years ago

    I love love my husband dearly he has helped me raise my two children since they where 8 months old. We separated when they were 4 yes old and we decided to try and make it work again (after 3+ years with no communication) now the kids are 8/9 yrs old. We decided to have a baby this is his first child, and it seems I am unable to care for the baby correctly according to my husband’s comments. I have tried my hardest to talk about my concerns with him and he seems receptive but a few days later it’s back to the same old habits. I understand that with a new baby the marriage takes the back seat for a while. But I don’t want my husband to lose me again, and I don’t want to leave him but I also don’t want to be unhappy in my marriage. I am to the point where I want to take a break and not for me but hopefully for him, maybe that way he will appreciate all of us more? I work, I do the chores I cook I make sure he is very well taken care of and he does too but the emotional connection is lacking and I hate to think this Is a legitimate reason to take a break. What can I do if talking is not working, I have also increased stress I have the shingles to prove it. He is an amazing husband I just need advice on how to tell him to take it down a notch. He grew up with no Western medicine so usually any thing I say that has any scientific fact/relation is in one ear out the other. Maybe if I tell him it’s an old wives tale he will take it to heart.

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Letti, I don’t think emotional disconnection is a good reason to take a break, personally. That is a symptom that your relationship needs some help. Check out this site to find a good couples therapist near you: In the long run, despite being so busy and having a new baby (and the shingles, so sorry!) – dealing with this disconnection now will help ALL of you in the long run. Best of luck to you!

  20. meg 3 years ago

    We have been on and off for 5 years. we were 18 when we started dating so we were very young and had a lot of growing to do and finding our ways. This is our third true time of trying things again and after experience different relationships with seemingly truly wonderful other men I constantly found myself still wanting to be with him. I loved him. Lately when he drinks we argue and he’s not very kind. He gets annoyed when we speak on the phone but he will text me all day. He doesn’t do the little things like showing up at my work or going to lunch with me. He gets annoyed very easily. I never ever criticize him or what he does all day or for a living but when he hurts my feelings I tell him and he constantly responds with “see, we always fight” or ” you’re always telling me what I do wrong” Hes so very passive and I like to address things. Is this a hopeless partnership?

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Meg — I recorded this video with my take on your question and a few others – I hope this is helpful? Best of luck to you — Jenev

  21. RACHEL M PAPILLION 3 years ago

    Hi I’ve been married to my husband for going on 18 yrs…he’s done alot of stuff that I forgave and I’m still forgiving, but just recently we had an argument and I told him I felt like I’m someone that he’s just settling for at this point… His response to me was well if you feel that way then leave. Then he responded again saying if you truly feel like that why you sticking around. So with that my respond was I’m not sure been asking myself that question for 19 years and the only answer I can come up with is that I love you… He had no response after that and we’re still not talking. How should I feel about the response he gave me because I’m feeling that I really should leave, do you think that is something out of anger for him to respond that way or I’m just overreacting?

    • Jenev Caddell 3 years ago

      Hi Rachel — thank you for your comment. I hope you have reconnected. I would suggest getting some help together to continue to forgive and open up to each other. is a great resource to find highly qualified couples counselors, hopefully you can find someone near you.

      I also recorded a quick video with some of my thoughts about your situation as this sort of thing comes up a lot – I’m not sure if it is helpful or gives you a different way of looking at things, but what I shared is what comes to mind (this is not professional psychological advice as I don’t know your situation well enough to offer any and we are not in a professional relationship together). I’d love to hear if any of this resonated or helped.

  22. Kelly Levandowski 2 years ago

    Im starting to feel depressed in my relationship with this girl ive been with for 4 years. We live with her grandma but started off living with her mom, who kicked me out 4 times, but she stayed with me even when she had a place stay each time. I feel like i owe her my life, but its getting hard in this relationship. I feel like she doesnt emotionally understand me and my needs as a partner. We’ve been LIVING together for 3 years though. But today, and recently, i have been feeling very irritated with her, less patient, just blowing up when she does something that i hate with a burning passion. She does things she knows bothers me and ive told her countless times before that it pisses me off but she continues and tells me that she forgot, but i know she doesn’t. I am so worried that im going to soon have resentment towards her. I really dont want that to happen but idk what else to do right now, i feel like im losing her in this relationship 🙁 please help! Idk if i sound desperate or needy, but i want this relationship to thrive, not die. Could you please help me?!

    • DrJenev 2 years ago

      Hi Kelly,
      I think it’s great you have such awareness of your own experience here and that you’re even worried about getting resentful…it shows how much you truly care!

      I would imagine that you get so irritated with her when she does stuff that you’ve told her bothers you because you get the message your needs/desires aren’t very important to her? When, clearly, you feel that she is very important to you? So you lose it on her?

      I have a few recommendations in terms of resources but before I offer those, I would just suggest that you consider the possibility that she is only seeing one side of your experience — the angry, disappointed side. Maybe she feels she can never get things right by you. I have no idea if that is the case based on your description above, but it’s something that I see come up a lot…so — if you haven’t already — I would make sure that she knows how much you truly care about her and appreciate her, even though you get so disappointed/upset sometimes.

      In terms of resources/recommendations:

      1.) Couples therapy – find a couples therapist who uses Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and strengthen things together with this short-term, focused and effective approach. You can find an EFT therapist HERE.

      2.) Read Dr. Sue Johnson’s book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. It’s super helpful and describes patterns couples find themselves in that you can read about on THIS BLOG POST.

      I’m sharing the post on patterns so that if it resonates, you’ll know Hold Me Tight is a great book for you.

      3.) Check out my book too 🙂 It’s a workbook you can do together or on your own. You can find that HERE.

      4.) Consider joining us in My Best Relationship Society – it’s my community program with relationship education, training and laser coaching. We have monthly Masterclasses, monthly group calls (with questions/answers) and the best community around.

      You can read more about our community and the program here and if you want to check it out, you can join us for just $1! (You’ll also get my ebook, free, just for joining). There’s no obligation to stay beyond the first month if you wish to cancel, but if you like what you see, you’ll be billed a low rate monthly.

      If you do any of the 4 above steps (honestly I think the first option will be the most powerful for you both, but I also realize it will take the greatest investment of your time/money/energy), I believe you’ll be headed in the right direction, especially if you are clear with her about how much you care about her even though you lose it on her sometimes. (Does she know why you get so angry?)

      Hope that’s helpful. Let me know?

      All my best,

  23. Naj 2 years ago

    Hello Dr. Jenev, I’m going through a very rough time.. I’ve been married for almost ten years now, I got married when I was 23. I’ve known my husband since we were in jr high but we didn’t get together till I was 22. He was a great guy, but when we argue he is a completely different person. He makes mountains out of hills. If I complain about anything he gets defensive and angry. I can’t form an opinion or complaint otherwise it turns into a huge argument . We both have strong personalities, I admit we don’t like to admit when we’re wrong… but he turns a quarrel into a full-blown fight . He has punched a mirror before , yell at the top of his lungs in my face … there’s no stopping him once he starts. Then he will complain that it’s my fault he acts this way.. When we get in fights we yell at each other, then leave each other alone.
    Many times We won’t speak the rest of the day, then he will try to talk to me… but sometimes I need more time and I don’t feel like talking .. but if I tell him that, he gets more angry and flips out again, it’s a lose/lose situation for me. We have one son together, I try my best not to let a fight escalate when he’s around. If I tell my husband I need time apart, he gets angry and tells me not to threaten him that I’m leaving and just go and don’t contact him or my son again. I feel like I’m in a relationship with a teenager . I honestly don’t know if I even love him any more or I’m just staying because I have nowhere else to go. I don’t really feel that he loves me anymore, everything seems forced. Any advice would help.

    • DrJenev 2 years ago

      Hi Naj,
      This sounds like an awful situation to be in. My best advice would be to get some professional help – either together as a couple or minimally for yourself, so you can figure out what’s best for you. The International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy has a listing of names of therapists – hopefully you can find someone near you.
      All my best,

  24. Me 2 years ago

    What you have posted about the 9 danger signs is identical to my new marriage. A person thinks that by getting married things will change. Sometimes it gets worse. I know I’m in it. What does a person do if this article matches their marriage completely by when we both do calm down he will find a way only by words to change what’s hurting me. My husband lusts and its breaking my heart. I’ve known him for a year. Even when I tell him “because this is what we agreed on the last argument” there is something ahead he will bluntly do it anyway. He will look through rearview mirrors, find a way in church( women don’t always dress the way they should in church), I’ve been to his house to help him clean it up and have yard sales and I find a book that teaches a person how to draw nude some. He will make reasons and lies to do this. I feel like I’m being cheated on.He will do this then expect me not to react and keep my mouth shut and then continue doing it even while we are having a beautiful day. When we go to a counselor he will tell them he has a staring problem at everything not just people. If this were the case then I would be asking him “” are you gay?” He doesn’t stare at men. Sorry so long and detailed but my heart is hurting. Thank you

    • DrJenev 2 years ago

      Hi there,
      It sounds like your marriage is distressed and I think it’s great you are going to counseling. I would encourage you to continue going and think about getting some personal counseling/therapy for yourself as well so you can get some support as you decide what to do.
      All my best,

  25. Sally 2 years ago

    My partner of 3.5 years broke up with me almost two weeks ago. I cancelled our movie date, and he was angry about that. He said I’ve been pushing him away for the past month or so. If I had been doing that it wasn’t intentional. I’ve been overwhelmed with life lately, and told him so. He then said he’d been thinking about breaking up with me for at least two months. However, over the Christmas holidays he gave me a lot of gifts, very special gifts that only I would like. He also got tickets to a show that is 6 months in the future. Those don’t seem like gifts you get for someone you’re planning on breaking up with.

    When he broke up with me he basically shut me out, and went total no contact with no explanation or anything. We had a huge argument about me cancelling our plans, and that’s where he told me he had been planning it for at least 2 months. He told me I was mean to him and yelled too often. He then went silent, and shut me out. I emailed him a few times looking for an explanation and asking for a second chance. He ended up attending a couples therapy session with me the day after he broke up with me. There was really no talking between us there.

    The day after he broke up with me I found the book “Hold Me Tight” by Dr. Sue Johnson, and it spoke to me. I saw my partner and I in almost every single scenario described in that book. I did yell at him, but only out of frustration from his silence and when he withdrew from me. I realized all of our fighting was due to being stuck in all of these negative patterns we have, and that most of the time we were fighting for the same things, but instead of agreeing with each other we were going against each other unintentionally. I cried so many times reading that book.

    I sent one final email to my partner to apologize, say goodbye and I explained what I learned from the book. I also sent him a digital copy of the book to read. That email resulted in him contacting me again after a week of silence from him. Me emailing him numerous times over the week he was silent is just a bigger version of the negative patterns we tend to fall into when we fight. Anyways, the emails emded up turning into a phone call that he initiated. It ended up being a 6 hour call. I talked about the book a lot. He tried to provoke me a lot, but I didn’t jump into yelling at him like I normally would. I really tried to keep the conversations of “Hold Me Tight” in the back of my mind while we were talking. During the conversation I could hear it in his voice that he was holding back and still had a wall up. But then something changed in his voice when I thanked him for the nice conversation that was mostly respectful. I was honest with him and told him I felt something had changed during the call. He immediately closed up again and put his wall back up. Finally, at the end of the conversation he said he wasn’t sure if he made the right choice in break up with me, but still doesn’t trust me enough to invite me over to his place, he’s afraid I’ll yell at him again. We’ve gone no contact again, this time with me agreeing to it. I asked him to read the book and to call me when he’s ready. I love him more than anything and I know we can have the peaceful loving relationship back that we had before getting stuck in these negative patterns of me yelling and him shutting me out over every little thing we disagree about. If he gets something out of the book like I did, and we continue onto in person EFT couples counselling is there any real hope for our relationship? Or are we doomed? He told me he doesn’t love me anymore, but when we were talking on the phone he was almost ready to say we’re back together. He said that would be the easy thing to do. I told him we’re not getting back together without a plan to get some real help in getting us out of the negative rut we’ve found ourselves stuck in for so long. I think he was scared to tell me he still loves me because it would be painful again if we come to the conclusion that this really is the end of our relationship.

    • DrJenev 2 years ago

      Hi Sally,
      I’m so glad you found “Hold Me Tight” and Sue’s amazing work. It is a game changer for so many couples. I am entirely confident that EFT can help you given what you’ve written here. Find someone to work with that you both feel comfortable with and give the process a few months of consistent effort. Regardless of what happens with your relationship (and I am confident it will help), it can be an amazing process for each of you as individuals.

      Here is the main website where you can find a certified EFT therapist near you:
      Good luck!!
      Be sure to write back in a few months and let us know where things are 🙂
      All my best,

  26. Samantha Jewels 1 year ago


    I am having a very difficult time categorizing myself or my relationship. I had just been out of a long term relationship with a master manipulator, repetitive liar and controller who had caught me off of all friends and family. He was my first relationship and after seeing him cheat multiple times, I finally moved on. During this delicate time I met my husband. My husband and I met as college students and early in the courtship, he was always the one that wanted me. I was not looking and had not fully recovered from my past relationship and I would often share about my ex during our dating. During our initial dating, I didn’t think it would be serious but after sometime it did became serious. He proposed and we were married. He was full time student and we were living in a small flat in New York by this time I had a career and so I paid for everything. Once kids can and his career kicked in, he took over the bulls. However, this was not an easy transition. My husband did not grow up with a lot of money and has deep sentimental connections to money. He started being bitter about me not working and instead home with the kids and did not want “all” of his income coming straight to bills and covering home cost. I eventually went back to work but it continued to be one issue after another. On a number of occasions, I reminded him that I never loved him and that he came into my life during a vulnerable time and had it not been that I would have never considered him the way I did. He has said very similar below the belt things. He has filed for divorce once (which he mentioned to me he did it only to scare me) and we have both Said verbally that things will end at one point or another. I have invested so must in this marriage and now in my mid-40s I can’t see myself starting over. I can’t tell whether we stay together because deep down there is something there or because of habit and to uphold this marriage plus kids life.
    This has caused me a lot of sleepless nights and I continue to drown in this chaos of a marriage. We have done therapy and it is almost always filed with resent and contempt. He has suggested that we do a separation but I (in my mind) once we separate it is over. I can’t see myself returning. I am just so frustrated as to why he just won’t try harder. Please advice, as I am unsure of what to do. My older brother is a mental heath doctor and he is worried for my mental health and says our relationship Is very toxic and bad for our 3 kids. Please adice Jenev.

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      This sounds very difficult, Samantha,

      I would strongly recommend you try therapy again.

      Minimally, find a therapist for yourself, and hopefully you can find a good couple’s therapist to work with together.
      Couple’s therapy is an extremely specialized skill.

      Please go to The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to find a qualified therapist to help you.

      Emotionally Focused Therapy is the gold standard when it comes to couple therapy and makes a huge difference for couples and individuals. I imagine it can do the same for you.

      All my best to you,

  27. Cindy 1 year ago

    My boyfriend and I have been together for over 6 years. We have a daughter together and I also have 2 girls from my previous boyfriend and he has 3 kids from his previous girlfriend. We have done couple therapy and things got really good after that, but now I think we are even worst then before. We have sex maybe 2x a month, we also stop sleeping in the same room, and now we argue alllllll them time for everything. I am 29 years old and he is 42 years old. I don’t know but I feel like my life is always moving and always want to do bigger and better things, but if I try to get him to do better he acts as if I am bossing him around. I guess being the boss in his job didn’t help but it isn’t my fault that I always want to get ahead in life. Also, I find myself attracting other men all the time. I don’t want to sound conceited but I don’t think I am a bad looking women, so for that reason I don’t understand why he doesn’t look for me more often, I don’t want to sound like a broken record and to be honest sometimes I am tempted by all the other men because I don’t get attention by him at home. I have cheated on him 2x with two other men and I keep telling my boyfriend to pay more attention to me but it seems as he doesn’t care. I frankly don’t want want to start over but I feel like I shouldn’t stay either. What do you think should I stay or go!

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      Hi — I would suggest you go back to a good couple’s therapist to work out the distance in your relationship and then you will be better able to determine whether you would like to remain in your relationship. Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples is extremely effective — you can find someone trained in this approach by going to this site: Good luck to you — it sounds like it’s really hard right now but seems like couple therapy helped in the past. It can again, and for lasting changes.
      All my best,

  28. Jenna 1 year ago

    Hi, I’ve been a beautiful and quite healthy relationship for 15 years. I recently felt the need to go through his phone (something I did about 13 years ago), but never since until now. He caught on and asked me about it. My instinct was to lie and say I didn’t. Later that day I came clean and said I had. This immediately broke his heart, I could hear it in his voice (over the phone). Since he has stonewalled me, has sent one text and said, he’s not mad but hurt. He says it’s bc our rule is that we don’t lie to one another, he’s right, we don’t. Aside from this recent incident and the other from 13 years ago, we have NO issues. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. We never fight, we laugh all the time, we’re always friends first, we love each other tremendously. I feel I have broken us. I’m trying so hard to give him space, but it’s killing me. Bc he won’t even look at me, I’ve sent one text to say how I feel and respect his need for space. I’m so scared that he’ll decide to move on and leave “us” behind bc this is so hurtful to him. It’s been about 3-4 days.

    I’m sure it’s difficult to say or know, but if the positives FAR outweigh what has just happened what’s the likelihood he’ll want to call it quits now, or when or how he might come around.

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      I wish I had an answer for you – this sounds very hard! It does sound like you have such a strong relationship, and forgiveness is in order…hopefully he will come around soon and you both will be able to repair and move on together, stronger as a result. All my best to you and good luck — Jenev

  29. Brittany 1 year ago


    I am struggling with my “relationship” because we can’t seem to figure out how to fight with each other productively. He makes me feel unsafe to bring up any issue, no matter how little or small because his immediate response is that he “doesn’t want to deal with this right now” or “all you ever do is complain” or that I need to grow up because I get heated when he treats me unfairly and I ask him why he just acted a certain way toward me. I don’t feel like I am the one that needs to grow up. I know everyone can learn and grow always, and I am by no means saying that I am unwilling to look at myself, but that’s all I have been doing because he keeps telling me I need to change. He keeps telling me I am not a good partner because his spite and flight and ignoring me makes me feel unloved and unheard, so I tend to get go the point of telling. I have never been this way with anyone, because no other boyfriend of mine has ever treated me so coldly. He says he shuts down because he cares, but shouldn’t adults use that supposed care when approaching their partner and saying more positive things like “I just need a few minutes to collect myself” or “I don’t want to break up but I don’t want to fight either”? He frequently will say things like, “You’re being crazy, why would I want to be with someone like this? Go away. Get out. Leave. Byeeee.” And all I want to do is know where he is coming from and why he treats me a certain way. But then he will tell me he loves me and is sorry, but it doesn’t feel like it. I could never ignore someone I love or make them feel insecure or unsafe like I am going to leave every time I don’t like something that is being said to me. He never seems to want to hear about my feelings or deal with them because I “am too emotional” and tells me I am ruining his days and nights because I don’t bring him peace. But he doesn’t bring ME peace when he takes things out on me or blames me for him not going to the gym because I didn’t wake him up because I fell asleep. I feel alone in this. And I feel like this is a very one sided relationship. Common sense and all my friends tell me I deserve better and should leave. But is there something I am not seeing about my own behavior? I try so hard to not pick fights about every little thing, but it just seems like we are great when there is no issue, but the second I have something to say about the way he speaks to me or some spiteful thing he says, he stonewalls and tells me to leave and that he is done. I don’t think it is fair, and it is killing me.

    • Brittany 1 year ago

      I get to the point of telling….that was supposed to say “yelling”.
      And no matter how BIG or small and issue is….

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      Hi Brittany,

      This sounds awful and I’m so sorry for such a late reply.

      If this is killing you, and he really cares, I strongly suggest that you get some help for this, together. There could be something you are not seeing about this that a therapist could help you both with. I honestly don’t know if that’s the case, but here are my recommendations:

      1.) Read the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversation for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson
      2.) Find a couples therapist on this website: The International Centre for Excellence in EFT

      At least find someone for yourself.

      Good luck and sorry again for such a late response,

  30. Ann G 1 year ago

    In my situation, My boyfriend and i have been together 6 years. I know most of our issue’s is probably my fault because of my own insecurities. It has gotten to the point where we have not had sex for 12 months today. When i ask for intimacy he simply states he is tired. When i ask him if he wants me to pack my bags and leave or if he wants this relationship he states of course because he has not invested 6 years in this relationship for nothing. I am 32 have no children, we have not worked on children for 12 months, and I want to be married and have a family. Not even a ring! I feel like we have both wasted our time. At the same time I am still in love with him because he has truly been there for me through thick and thin. It is hard to walk away from someone who has been so good to me. Guilty conscience!

  31. Meenakshi 1 year ago

    Hii..Iam in a longdistance relationship with my fiance and we are getting married in 80days..We hv cultural differences as we are from different countries..Iam not cool with certain things he does and I hv told it openly..But instead of adjusting from his point,he ignores it and to make the relationship stable..I tried my best to act cool but i found it difficult to fake it..So,to not get hurt by him disrespecting my feeling..Iam stonewalling him,to protect myself..its been 4 days,and there is no response from him..I guess i hv no option but to continue..situation sucks as we r nearing to our weddimg and he cannot accept the difference and work on it..

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      I would strongly suggest you both get some help for your relationship so that you can decide whether this makes sense for you both to move forward with and if so, to resolve these issues so you are both getting your needs met.

      The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy has a listing of global therapists. Depending upon where everyone lives, you may be able to find someone who can do virtual work with you if you are living apart.

      Good luck!

  32. Geraldine 1 year ago

    Hi Jenev,
    My husband and I have had problems within our relationship for sometime now. We have 3 kids together and he has 1 son from a previous relationship. There has been several issues in regards to his son that has put a toll on our relationship. Aboit a year ago I decided to change my step parent roll and my involvement with him and his sons mom. Before he would ask me for advise for things which got me involved. I decided to pull away since my involvement did nothing good for me instead it had a negative effect on me. We have 2 toddlers so life is busy. I have complained to him that he doesn’t stop to give me kisses when he gets home or hugs he says it’s cuz we are busy. He has mentioned feeling trapped. I think he no longer wants this and is just here to stay for our kids. When I started feeling this way I assumed he was cheating. I could never find anything when I searched his phone. The only thing I found was him looking up different women on Facebook. I could never prove anything. Of course when I accused him he never admitted to anything. I have gone to counseling for myself since I thought that might help me which it has to a certain extent. My counselor recommends we make time each month but that impossible cuz of the kids. What should I do? Is this marriage over cuz it’s really feeling that way?

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      Hi Geraldine,

      I’m glad you’re seeing a counselor for yourself. My advice would be to see someone together as well. The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy has a listing of therapists trained in a specialized form of couples therapy that works (Emotionally Focused Therapy).

      I know it’s hard because of the kids. Reframe your thinking – it’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just difficult logistically, but I imagine you could figure something out. Can you get a sitter? Any family to help? Your marriage is important and it sounds like you could both use some help.

      Good luck and I wish you all my best,

  33. Lis 1 year ago


    I am in a serious relationship for 11 mos. My boyfriend and I get a long great, laugh a lot, like the same music, he cooks for me daily, runs my bath, attends church with me, buys me unexpected cute gifts, likes my friends both male and female. Caveat: sometimes when he drinks he gets belligerent. Not every time just some times. The belligerence seems to be getting slightly worse. Some times he can drink wine with dinner, and be fine. A day later he can drink the same amount and turn into a nightmare. He is in the wine industry and we live in the wine country I might add. So, he’s tried cutting way back 2-3 glasses to 1 glass with dinner. He’s tried cutting off red wines as that appeared to be the culprit. But recently he had some white wine and it was equally as bad. We don’t drink daily and but almost daily due to where we live. He’s often said he was SO sorry after he’s acted horribly, and that give him some time to “show”’me he can be the man for me only to have a slip up. We are now at the point where in order for me to feel like I can let my guard down he’ll have to quit all together, problem is, I don’t believe him. I’m scared he’ll give it a few months and we’ll always live with if he “tries” to have a glass we’ll be on a downward spiral. I don’t know what to do. We were imminently talking engagement. I’ve told my friends and family etc he’s the “one” then suddenly this behavior became more obvious and frequent after the most recent drunken episode I broke it off. Do I keep giving him chances? I just don’t know.

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      Hi Lis,
      This must be so difficult. Have you considered working together with someone (such as a couples therapist) to help you come to an understanding on what’s going on here, or has he been willing to get some assistance with this? One idea would be for him to give up drinking completely but I’m sensing that the alcohol is being a catalyst for something…(I don’t know what and it may have zero to do with you)

      If you truly love each other, which it sounds like you do, this “situation” may be presenting itself in a very bizarre way as a gift of some kind if you just go for the treasure hunt with it. It sounds like it’s been hurtful and painful, yet if you could both get really curious together about what is going on here, and get some help for it to dive deeper and explore, you may both be transformed as a result and your relationship strengthened.

      I wish you all the best and good luck in the journey. I’m not sure where you’re located but I imagine an excellent couple therapist can help you find your way together and do some exploring with you (or hopefully he can get some assistance for himself to find out where this is coming from).

      The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy is one resource with a global listing of trained therapists in EFT — you may wish to check that out.

      Good luck in this difficult situation and all my best to you both,

  34. CaTxRn 1 year ago

    My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. We are very serious about each other and see a future together. We have the best time when we are with each other in person. We laugh, act silly, watch movies, play video games, go out on dates, cook dinner and breakfast together, etc. We are having to live in two different cities due to our college education. We stay in contact with each other every day through FaceTime, texting and snap chatting one another. Last night we were arguing and when we do argue it can get heated. He calls me hurtful names when he gets really angry and frustrated with me and calls me annoying. I asked him if he is in love with me or just loves and cares about me since he tells me the things he does when we argue. He said he’s in love with me and cannot be with anyone else. I mentioned to him that if he’s so in love with me why does he need to say those hurtful things to me? He then raised his voice and said that he doesn’t say those things out of no where, it’s because I piss him off with some of the things I say when we try to fix the argument and come to a solution. Is their anything I/he can do to prevent or stop this name calling from happening when we argue?

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      There are definitely things you can both do to stop the name calling from happening when you argue.

      Sue Johnson would call this the “Find The Bad Guy” pattern you guys are caught in — for starters, you could check out her book together: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love which explains more about this pattern you’re caught in (and so much more).

      You could also both practice mindfulness — a daily practice of just sitting quietly for even a few minutes a day and just breathing and being self-aware — there are books and books written on this topic alone but it is extremely effective in stress reduction and can help you both catch yourselves and be more responsive instead of reactive to each other.

      When you feel your blood starting to boil or whatever it is that you feel prior to lashing out — you can use this as a signal to STOP the conversation and take a time out. Cool off, and then come back to it. I believe John Gottman recommends giving it at least 20 minutes but not more than 24 hours. When you’re both heated and angry, it’s almost a guarantee that you won’t be able to have a productive conversation until you’re able to cool off a little.

      Lastly — breathe!! Take deep breaths – this signals to your body that it’s ok to relax, you’re not in danger…the reality is that when we argue or have conflicts with our significant others it can sometimes feel life or death or that we are in danger. By breathing and calming yourself down you will be able to call on more sophisticated cognitive abilities involved with listening and responding in a more flexible and productive way — and you won’t be as likely to lash out at each other and call names.

      You can also try to slow down your conversations especially when they start to feel like they are heated.

      Make a commitment to do this together. Long distance relationships can be very challenging because it’s so easy to misread things, especially now that so much is communicated via text, etc. I hope you are also setting aside quality time just to be with each other regularly even if it’s online.

      Thanks for writing in and I wish you all the best!

  35. AMR 1 year ago

    I have been with my significant other for around 4 years. I have never, ever, been in a relationship similar to this one. We argue too much, we feel like we’re not hearing each other, and we go round and round and round. I have reached the point where if an argument is erupting, I put my hands up and ask him to stop, and give me space to collect myself before the conversation goes sour. He refuses. He says he wants a resolution right then and there, but he refuses to listen to me. I literally have begged him to leave me alone, and when he doesn’t, I try to remove myself. He will block doorways and corner me. I will have a meltdown. He will apologize, but then do the same thing the next inevitable argument. How can I reach someone like this?

    • DrJenev 1 year ago

      AMR –
      Your post sounds concerning. Blocking doorways? I would encourage you both to get some professional assistance — maybe for you to talk to someone yourself, as this sounds borderline abusive?

      If there are not other tell tell signs of abuse — find a couples therapist to assist you both in getting to the root of the emotional distress. Clearly better emotional regulation on his part is in order.

      Emotionally Focused Therapists are the pros at doing this. You can find one near you (hopefully) by clicking here.

      Good luck!

  36. charlotte 11 months ago

    Heres mine.. my relationship with my boyfriend was FINALLY going smoothly.. after a year and a half where I tolerated abuse verbally and one time physically, some counselling and a couple of short break ups we made it through and moved out together and became comfortable until I found out I was pregnant and told him.. thinking it would be a good thing he changed back to his old ways, drinking alcohol every night, smoking cigarettes a lot more when in fact he said he was going to quit the week before and not wanting to talk about it.. I gave him a week to think about it but with the drinking and smoking and lack of any phyc=sical affection I started an argument saying I wasn’t happy and hes done nothing to show me any kind of support or commitment and that I hate the fact hes been smoking and drinking so much.. he ended up calling me a sook and saying that im controlling and he was goiong to ask me to marry him the weekend and now he wont bother.. im about 6 weeks now and im seriously having to consider not only what to do about the pregnancy but my whole relationship

    • DrJenev 11 months ago

      It’s interesting to me that he’s coming at this as though him asking you to marry him would be redemptive in some way?? Charlotte — I hope you are getting some great support to help you do what’s right for you. <3

  37. Diane 9 months ago

    I found your article insightful and thought provoking. I was looking for a somewhat diagnosis for this personality. I’ll keep it as blunt/short as possible. My 58yr old CEO boyfriend and I (48yr old stylist) were picking up my 77yr old mom for her birthday dinner in rented pickup truck. Our first time visiting her in her state. While walking from her door to the truck I got in the drivers seat, he was getting in passenger and my mom behind him. I’d gotten in already and looked noticing he wasn’t going to open her door…he had one foot in and I gave a quick kind head tilt to open her door. Now dinner is over. I go to get the truck from the parking lot to pull up in front of restaurant to pick them up. He would have gone but I needed some fresh air from my mom actually. HA! So…I’m in the drivers seat already and he does the exact same thing again. I had no reaction. He’s done this before. I think it falls under narcissistic behavior. They’ve created an identity of themselves and if anyone questions it – it causes them to question it – they don’t like that – so they actually want to then hurt you back. Unfortunately while wanting to hurt me – my mother wasn’t treated like a lady. Whether you question him lovingly or harshly – his reaction is the same. You’ve questioned his integrity = you’re criticizing him – and he shuts down and sometimes punishes you. I’m not sure a 58yr old CEO (gets validated daily through work) can change in this category. Do you?

    • DrJenev 9 months ago

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for your comment and question. I have seen people make changes when they want to, when they are invested, when they come to realize the impact their behavior has on you and how much they matter to you. So I see a possibility of change, yes.

      Here’s what I suggest:
      1.) Check out the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson. It might change your perspective on things.

      2.) I also started a Facebook group yesterday for high achievers/performers to discuss this sort of thing and improve their relationships. We’d love to have you (and him!) if you feel so called to join:

      Thanks for your comment and keep me posted on how things are going.

  38. Lisa 7 months ago

    Within the last year, I have dated a few men who vary in personality/temperament, yet share the SAME likeness for stonewalling..It goes without being said, anyone who is on the receiving end of this behavior, will eventually face some degree of frustration, anger, helplessness; but when it comes to me, this is my HOT button. HOT HOT HOT. I am well-versed on attachment disorders and defense mechanisms, and I really do empathize and can relate to that fear-driven instinct to protect the ego…Still, I personally believe more often than not, stonewalling is merely a form of manipulation and control…a deliberate act of disrespect and regard for me as a person, more specifically as a woman. It’s honestly a constant battle in my mind on the reasons behind it…anyways, I make my best attempts to remain open-minded and remain kind when I reach out… I do not name-call nor do I use critical/accusatory language…The content of the messages I send are what you would expect: asking why they are ignoring me, what the issue is, showing frustration, pleading, etc…Fairly standard. What is not, is when I start to go full throttle in regards to the quantity, repetition and rate at which I send messages…THIS is where I lose myself down a rabbit hole; where now I am also failing to communicate properly and behaving in a way that also is damaging to the level of trust, feelings of safety and vulnerability it takes for someone to be more communicative…SO this brings me to my dilemma/question…I am torn between my desire to apologize, bc I do feel sincere guilt and regret, for bombarding another’s space and losing my self-control, bc ultimately I am solely responsible for my actions …while on other hand, he was terribly rude to me and any reply was a snapback, showing no concern or understanding for my feelings, only saying “youre acting crazy’ or shut up…I need outside perspective, Why do I still feel guilty and regret for my actions, while I also know this was brought on by him wouldnt even be a thing if he just bucked up…and if I apologize, will he just think “See, told you, this is all on you, you’re crazy and now you’re admitting it too..I knew I wasn’t wrong” I guess I want to reassure myself I have not fallen into manipulative trap….I am bright woman, but even the most intelligent people can fall under the thumb of a master manipulator. Should I apologize given how he treated me? Even reading all of this, I feel like I should know the answer, but like I said, stonewalling is the one thing that just GETS TO ME and messes with my head and self-control…A work in progress…so hard! Hope to hear some wise insight, thank you.

    • DrJenev 7 months ago

      Hi Lisa, it’s quite the conundrum — but there’s definitely a way out. I hear you saying you regret the way you behave/react at times — yet also in some ways you don’t want him to think that by OWNING that and taking responsibility for that, you are taking all of the responsibility for the problem in the relationship.

      The problem is actually sounds to me like negative cycle you are caught in. Stonewalling could be an outright manipulative conscious behavior on his part as you mention — or — in MOST cases (from my experience) — it’s a physiological freeze response that many don’t know how to stop on their own. Obviously I don’t know your situation in particular or your partner, but the question is either way….HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS NEGATIVE CYCLE STOP?? Right?

      Check out this book and tell me if it resonates — I hope he will read it too — it is called Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love — by Dr. Sue Johnson- you can find it here:

      This may be the game changer you are looking for!

      I wish you all the best and thank you for writing in,

  39. Kris 5 months ago

    Me & My husband get along good but when it’s bad, IT’S BAD! He is very hurtful with his words and actions. I am the type of person that does not like arguing or fighting and he will (in the heat of the moment) say things that are unforgiving and typically I let it go. Well, this time I can’t and beyond the banter and bad mouthed things he says, he keeps telling me, ” This is what I am stuck with” He tells me to file for divorce and this time, I let him have it and told him YOU FILE!

    I am sick of being in a relationship that always seems one sided. I am truly hurt this time and I am going to now “Stonewall” which is SO hard to do but I am always the one that tries to make it right when 99% of the times, I am not wrong. He doesn’t know how to say “SORRY” and I am always apologizing if I feel I have done something wrong.

    I am hurting and I just feel numb, upset & crying!! Words hurt!! I am not less than and I need for him to realize this but I don’t think he will ever change and now I am stuck on what I need to do next! PS. He wont go to therapy either!

  40. Sandra 4 months ago

    Dear Dr Jenev,

    I have been in a relationship with this man for 7 years. Over the last 3 years we learned that we want different things in life (I don’t want kids and he does, I don’t want to move to his country and he won’t consider a middle ground), but still it’s been impossible to break up. We tried a couple of times, but it was too painful and eventually we continued. On top of this, the problem is that during these last years, I started to notice that I am more and more intolerant to him, I see the good things in him, but I can’t suffer his negative sides, I feel he’s changed so much, so absorbed by his career and his life that he won’t care, support, nor respect my choices or ambitions.
    Nonetheless, given that we’ve been together for so long, I pushed him to marry me. I don’t even know why…I thought: if not with him, with whom? Plus I’m 38 and I’m afraid of not getting another chance. We are now planning our wedding and I’m having nightmares every night and we fight more than ever (I would say that we are at 2:1).

    I’d love/I’m kinda afraid to know your opinion on this..

    • DrJenev 4 months ago

      Hi Sandra,

      I wish I had a crystal ball to give you the answer about what your best move is in this situation but I’m afraid I do not. I would suggest you connect with someone to talk further — a professional — therapist / coach / healer of some kind — to help you find your truth and live by it.

      I wish you all my best,

  41. Jean 3 months ago

    Hi, I am running scared. I always worked fulltime. He has been lucky not having too. We bought a house in different town. He partied a lot and had friends that were female. He has always been faithful. But the way he started treating me changed.

    Now, the problem is I became disabled and home 24/7. He is wonderful taking care of me, shops, cooks,etc. Before, I lost my job, he has not touched me then for 9 months. I asked him why?!! I never got an answer. I asked him will he ever, he told me he did not want relationship anymore.

    So here I am stuck, I love him very much. I seem to do everything wrong. He his critical on what I say, do etc. He got tired of his so call friends (they were using him). I am an independent person now stuck in these 4 walls. I got to heal leg before I can have surgery. Been so slow. He will kiss me if I kiss him. Has not told me he loves me in 16 months. I am heartbroken. He watches porn and takes care of himself when I am in bed. He made this decision and I am to just deal with it. I cannot live a loveless life. I have told him. He ignores all my personal questions. Just let it ride until I forget about it.

    I want him back. But I think he doesn’t. I cannot just walk out and leave. Our communication sucks. We have little money to go to counseling. Do I accept a loveless relationship? I need to know I am loved and even though I am almost 60, I enjoy sex and I need it. It makes me feel happy and makes me feel loved.

    I feel I am just security. Been together 36 years in two weeks. Not married. Acts fine in front of our daughter when we get together. I am so lost and stressed.

    I need advice

    • DrJenev 3 months ago


      Your situation sounds very difficult. Hypothetically if you had money to go to counseling, would you go? Are there schools or universities near you? There are often training institutions that can offer very low fees for people in need.

      I hope you can get some support at least for yourself, so you can take a stand for yourself and what you need, and express that to him.

      Also, check out the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. If you cannot afford to buy it, your library may have it available.

      Good luck with all of this!!

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