January and the New Year is an ideal opportunity for couples to review and reflect on their relationship: what’s working, what’s not working and what each party’s options and values are.

However, it’s important to remember that every relationship goes through ups and downs, it’s normal, especially when two unique individuals are sharing each other’s space, explains Paula Quinsee, relationship expert and author of Embracing Conflict.

“You are not going to always agree on everything all the time. You will have differences, whether that be interests, likes, dislikes, ideas or opinions,” she says.

So why do relationships fail?

Quinsee says these behaviour traits creep in over time as couples settle into their relationship and become comfortable with each other.

  •  Dishonesty
  • ? Living separate lives/interests
  • ? Lack of intimacy/connection
  • ? Not feeling heard
  • ? Not feeling understood
  • ? Not feeling acknowledged
  • ? Shutting down
  • ? Criticism
  • ? Naming, shaming and blaming
  • ? Very little communication

If 5 or more of these traits are evident, it’s a strong sign your relationship will fail.

 How do couples get to this stage in their relationship? “Over time, couples settle into a comfortable routine which, if not kept in check, can become a rut, and then complacency sets in, she explains. It’s not intentional, couples just get caught up in the busyness of life, where everything else becomes a priority and their relationship takes a back seat.”

Quinsee adds that communication equals connection. When couples stop communicating with each other, it reduces the connection between the couple. “This can leave us feeling disconnected from our partner and that’s when conflict starts setting in.”

 Conflict, she explains, usually arises when our emotional needs are not being met in some way, form or shape and it

starts showing up in various ways; for example criticism, fault finding, shaming, blaming and so much more. “If you don’t make time for your relationship, over time you won’t have a relationship.”

So how do couples prevent their relationships from getting to this point where negativity starts creeping in and their relationship heads down that rocky road to divorce or break-up?

Quinsee advises that couples make time for each other - quality time like date nights, sharing things together, whether it be sport, interests, activities, adventures, travel, couples goals or even sharing household chores. “This gives couples a sense of being on the same side, the same team, being supported and that they can trust and rely on each other,” she adds.