Warning signs

Relationship Issues –
Are there signs that your relationship is in Trouble? 

      Look for the Relationship Warning Signs (WINE signs)

Relationships in general can have some ups and downs.  Research has shown that there are four indicators that can show if the relationship is at risk of ending.  The following four behavior patterns can indicate if a relationship might be in trouble and need help to bring it back to a loving and healthy relationship.  You can create a more loving and healthier relationship one word at a time.  Good communication and problem solving skills and techniques are key to making your relationship work well and be more fulfilling overall.  Our website is here to help with over 400 pages of free information.   

How often do these WINE signs happen in your relationship?

  1. Withdrawal and avoidancethis is when one partner shows an unwillingness to get into or stay with important discussions. Withdrawal can be as obvious as getting up and leaving the room or as subtle as “turning off” or “shutting down” during an argument. Avoidance reflects the same reluctance to participate in certain discussions, with more emphasis on preventing the conversation from happening in the first place.

  2. Invalidation is a pattern in which one partner subtly or directly puts down the thoughts, feelings or character of the other. Sometimes such comments, intentionally or unintentionally, lower the self-esteem of the targeted person. Invalidation can take many forms. One partner says to the other that their feelings (for example: sadness and frustration) are inappropriate. Invalidation hurts. It leads naturally to covering up who you are and what you think, because it becomes just too risky to do otherwise. People naturally cover up their innermost feelings when they believe that they will be “put down.

  3. Negative interpretationsoccur when one partner consistently believes that the motives of the other are more negative than is really the case. The actions of one partner are interpreted negatively and unfairly. Research tells us that people tend to see what they expect to see in others and in situations. In fact, we have a very strong tendency toward “confirmation bias” which consist of looking for evidence that confirms what we already think is true about a person or situation. In distressed relationships, the partners tend to discount the positive things they see, attributing to causes such as chance rather than to any positive characteristics of the partner.  

  4. Escalation occurs when partners negatively respond back and forth to each other, continually upping the ante so conditions get worse and worse. Partners tend to say things that threaten the very lifeblood of their relationship. Partners often try to hurt each other by hurling verbal (and sometimes physical) weapons. When escalation includes the use of intimate knowledge as a weapon, the threat to the future likelihood of tender moments is great. Who’s going to share deep feelings if the information may be used later when conflict is out of control in the relationship?

The bad news is that the presence of these behaviors in a relationship can indicate that the relationship could end if they are not acknowledged and corrected.  Try the Relationship Dynamics Scale to find out how you’re doing with these warning signs…then learn what you can do about it with the following:

The Good News is that relationships can be saved and enriched by communication, problem solving skills, and enrichment training. We  recommend Talk to Me as a good place to start if you would like to read about how to create a better relationship based on positive communication.   Also visit the links page for recommendations for other qualified skills training programs including the PREP web site that has a listing of other workshops around the world.

Diane Vaughan who is a sociologist says: “I’m interested in the dark side of organizations : how things go wrong -mistakes, misconduct, disaster. Research indicates that troubles came not only from individual failures but also from organizational failures. The end of a relationship is an example of this, because a relationship is the smallest organization we can set-up. From that research, I traced, using interviews, how relationships came apart. It was a gradual transition, not a sudden break, where one person begins leaving the relationship socially and psychologically before the other. By the time the person being left behind realizes something is seriously wrong, the first person is already gone in so many ways that the relationship is difficult to save.”