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mazingerz88's avatar

What are the factors in a relationship that really makes it tough to make it last?

Asked by mazingerz88 (19058points) August 14th, 2012

Say for example 10 years. I met a 34 year old woman who just separated from her husband and she stated that if only they went over 10 years, they could have lasted much longer.

If you don’t mind, I’m not too interested with how people make a relationship work or last. I’m more curious about the things that make most relationships tough to handle. The challenges I guess. Thank you.

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21 Answers

snapdragon24's avatar

Ingredience of a tough relationship: difference in religion, tradition, when the surroundings of the person you like dont approve of you (friends and family)... most importantly falling for someone with emotional baggage from their previous relationship… trying to build their trust and empathy for you can take months to years…and also, when the intimate part of a relationship is so strong when the overall picture of the relationship is a disaster…it becomes an addiction and thus makes things alot more conplicated for you… in terms of moving on.

King_Pariah's avatar

Distance can be a biggie.

Kardamom's avatar


When one or both people is very self centered.

If one person is a neatnik and the other is a slob.

If one person is lazy or or not easily motivated while the other person is high energy dynamic go-getter.

If one person is needs a lot of physical and emotional romance and cuddling and holding hands and the other person doesn’t need or like that kind of romance.

If one or both people use sex as a weapon and withhold it to punish the other person.

If one of the people loses his/her sex drive and the other person needs to have a little or a lot of sex to be happy.

If one of the people does all or most of the household chores, while the other one does not.

If one of the people constantly whines and complains, but never does anything to actually solve any of the problems, or worse yet, gets angry at the other person for suggesting solutions to some of the problems.

Resentment from one or both of the people in the relationship, for just about any reason.

Not being willing to go into counseling when serious marital problems arise.

When one person is irrationally jealous.

When one person is actually doing iffy kinds of things that would make most rational people jealous with good reason.

If one person has some type of addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, porn, video games, or whatever, and the other person is unhappy with the addiction and wants the other person to stop engaging in the activity or to get help with overcoming the addiction, but the other person refuses.

When one or both people refuse to talk about important issues like money management and child-rearing and how often to have company over with each other, then proceed to go about those tasks in ways that seem wrong/bad/inconsistent/dangerous to the other person.

When people find out that their ideas about money management and child-rearing or how often to have family over, differ wildly.

When one person becomes sick or disabled and the other person is not willing or able to take care of their partner.

When one of the people treats the other person as less than equal.

When one or both of the people often say mean or degrading things outright, or if they say those things and then try to suggest that it was “only a joke” or that the other person has no sense of humor.

Passive agressive behavior from one or both people.

Outright agressive behavior from one or both people.

When one of the people regularly acts like a boor in public.

If one of the people regularly ignores the other person, whether by not listening to them when they talk or going against any ideas or suggestions the other person makes, or not being interested in what is important to the other person.

When one of the people regularly stares blatantly or flirts with people, or has inappropriate conversations online or at work, even after the other person has told him/her how un-comfortable it makes them.

When one or both people treat the other person’s friends and family members like enemies.

When lots of other people tell you that your partner is a real douche bag.

stardust's avatar

^^My relationship is doomed

geeky_mama's avatar

@mazingerz88 ..I wonder why she mentioned 10 years. I’ve heard of the proverbial 7 year itch..and that makes more sense to me…because really, by 7 years together you’ve already figured out the strength/weaknesses and the things are just really never gonna change about your partner.
I’m coming up on my 12 year wedding anniversary in less than a month (and we were together a couple of years before marrying) ...and honestly the dumb stuff we fight about and the issues we deal with chronically are unchanged in nearly a decade.

It comes down to fundamentals I think..(and I guess that’s what @Kardamom has detailed—every possible fundamental deal breaker).
My example – if your communication style is to avoid conflict at all costs and your partner would rather have arguments to air it all out and then move on..well, you may have diametrically opposed ways of dealing with disagreement.
If neither of you can change that fundamental style of communication – then you have to decide if the other wonderful things about your mate are worth dealing with the fundamental failure to communicate – permanently.

But going back to what I was saying above…Why would it take 10 years to figure out if someone was fundamentally honorable or not? A cheater or not? Why would it take 10 years to figure out any of these deal breakers?

I think unless you married someone without enough time to know them well, or for the wrong reasons (i.e. oops, we’re pregnant) or thinking you could change something about them (“Sure he drinks too much…but he’ll settle down once we have kids.”) probably know waaaay sooner than 10 years whether you’ve married the right person.

In my humble opinion & personal experience the things that make it last (10 years and beyond):

- When your respect for your mate doesn’t waver. That is, s/he can piss you off or annoy you momentarily..but you still, deep down, respect them.
– When you can absolutely trust that person. You know they won’t ever intentionally hurt you..and that their loyalty to you/your family together is unquestionable.
– When you have mutual interests. (Beyond just raising the kids together). You sure don’t have to do everything together – but you need to do SOME things together.
– When you make a great team… The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
– When you are family. When that person become more than just your best friend, lover, mate..but they are HOME to you..

Thammuz's avatar

Huge differences in libido can damage a relationship, even severely.

Differences beyond a tolerable threshold in political, religious or otherwise important beliefs.

Lack of respect for the other person’s personal space, and i don’t mean “don’t get close to me if i don’t wanna” i mean not appointing yourself judge of what is the place of thing X that doesn’t belong to you. Respecting the other person’s organizational method and not forcing yours on them.

Excessive reactions, in any direction (panic attacks, rage outbursts, utter depression, etcetera), when faced with an issue can be very hard to handle, especially if they’re unpredictable, but a good relationship will compensate (I.E. i will go into fits of rage for things for which my partner is unshaken by, she will panic for things i give no shits about).

And, and i will never stress this enough, insincerity when it comes to the bedroom. You shouldn’t be afraid of making your kinks known to your partner, for one simple reason: we follow the first rule of Bridge, when it comes to sex lives, which is “it’s always the partner’s fault”. You don’t divulge, the partner doesn’t telepathically read it from your mind, you don’t satisfy eachother and before you know it you’re off looking ofr someone who can satisfy you and isn’t as chicken-shit as you about what he/she really wants in bed.

Kardamom's avatar

@stardust Oh dear, say it isn’t so : (

mazingerz88's avatar

@stardust After reading all that, mine too!

Kardamom's avatar

I just realized that I should have numbered them, so we could discuss which ones apply to you.

I hope you guys are just joshing. I would hate to think that any of those things were going on in either of your marriages.

Thammuz's avatar

@Kardamom Is there any relationship that doesn’t have at least a couple of those things going? Because i never saw one.

Kardamom's avatar

@Thammuz Yes, I think at least some of those things go in in every marriage. But some of them are deal breakers and others are not. And some people would see some of the things on my list as not that big of a deal, so for them their marriages could work just fine with those items. For instance, in some cultures, it’s not only considered OK, but correct to have the man treat his wife as un-equal. Or in some relationships where one person is doing all of the household chores, but they prefer to do it themselves rather than to have their spouse muck it up, then that wouldn’t be a problem for those folks. Or in the case of the spouse who treats his spouse’s friends and family as enemies, some people would rather keep peace in their own home and would simply not allow his/her own family or friends to come over and they’d be OK with that arrangement. I know I wouldn’t.

All of the things on the list were my personal deal breakers, but they might not be for everyone.

I would think that if you have more than 5 of the things from my list going on, because most of them are about lack of respect, you are bound to be very unhappy whether you stay in the relationship or not.

Thammuz's avatar

@Kardamom On that i agree. Too many of those things are inevitably going to be fatal at some point, but there’s degrees of severity to them.

For instance. I can be a huge asshole sometimes. I know i can be, i’m constantly aware of it and try not to be. But if my GF does something that gets on my nerves, i can sometimes be an asshole to her. She knows, she doesn’t like it, but the fact is that i don’t like it either, and try my best to be better than that, and accept what would ordinarily make me mad, in order not to be an asshole. Which means that sometimes i manage to accept her, and sometimes she has to accept me. I think this kind of stuff is pretty much inevitable, nobody is perfectly in control of their emotions and no couple is able to never get on eachother’s nerves.

Kardamom's avatar

@Thammuz It would only take one time of my SO being an asshole for me to exit the relationship. Everybody has their little mood swings now and then, so I get it that no one has a perfect personality and no one has a perfect life, but what you are describing sounds like mean-ness.

When I was younger, I wasn’t so willing to just walk away. But after having been shit on and humiliated one too many times, I realized that it doesn’t have to be that way, not everybody will be an asshole and now I try to surround myself with non-assholes.

Do you know why you act like an asshole to your GF? Are there triggers that set you off? Have you considered going into counseling alone or as a couple? If not, why not?

Thammuz's avatar

@Kardamom what you are describing sounds like mean-ness.

Well, to be honest, it’s more like going around yelling for 15 minutes about boundaries, respect or personal space using swears as punctuation, or telling her to fuck off and leave me alone. The whole “being an asshole” thing by now is history. The only time i really exploded in the last six months is a time when we actually had a serious argument going on, not petty shit, and it wasn’t a one-way thing.

Do you know why you act like an asshole to your GF? Are there triggers that set you off?
Some persistent things, like rearranging my shit without telling me, asking me to do her thinking for her, asking me to do stuff instead of just doing it herself when she’s clearly doing nothing and i’m doing something else, stuff like this.

Have you considered going into counseling alone or as a couple? If not, why not?
Considered it, yes, as an individual. She’s been in therapy a lot already and i wouldn’t ask her to go through it again. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because, in all honesty, i’m much too lazy to take that up. I’m currently attending a university course and i’m already two years behind, the university is a good hour of time away from my home and i barely get me-time as it is, without having to add other stuff to the mix.

I am serious about doing this once we move in together, though. By then i won’t have to change schedule every six months, and hopefully i won’t have a one hour commute, but even if i did, i would have to suck it up, because without me keeping these outbursts in check living together is not an option.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When one gives much more than the other…then finally quits because it isn’t fair, so everything just starts drifting apart.

Kardamom's avatar

Oh Dear @Thammuz Please don’t even consider moving in with your GF (I assumed wrongly that you already lived together) until you have worked out all of these problems, hopefully with pre-marital or couples counseling.

And read This Question especially my long winded response if you scroll down a bit.

And then read This Related Question to find out what happened when the advise to go to couples counseling was not heeded.

It sounds like you guys have a lot of stuff going on. I wish you luck and congratulations on trying to get a handle on all of it.

Ponderer983's avatar

The bountifulness of available and willing genitalia.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Communication, trust, and respect. Those are the three fundamentals in any relationship. The rest is just variations of those three. If you’re lacking or don’t have one of those three, then your relationship is in deep trouble/over.

As for ten years, hard to say without more information. Some people cling to ideals about their lives/relationships based on their own past, whether their personal experience or that of family members. That could make the difference between bailing after a couple of years or ten or twenty. It’s also possible some sort of tipping point was reached; a particular crisis or incident that becomes a wake-up call long after one would normally expect to “wake up.”

I don’t think there’s some magical number of years that will guarantee a marriage, or end it, but I do think there comes a point where some people give up and just settle, for whatever reasons they may have. It’s possible your friend, at 34, felt that both could have just “settled” into it and made it work by slogging on. Plenty of people do that, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Yes, it’s unsatisfying, and both parties can be unhappy yet still stay in the marriage, but that’s fairly common.

As for your question about “things that make relationships tough to handle,” many commenters have offered good examples, but it varies from person to person. What is tough for one person to handle is a snap for another. The real challenge is how two people from different families, different childhoods, and different formative experiences (despite what they may or may not have in common) are able to mesh together for decades. The secret to doing so, again, are these three factors: communication, trust, and respect.

That’s just me, though. Feel free to disagree.

snapdragon24's avatar

Yepp, Im skrewed.

Thammuz's avatar

@Kardamom Done, and thanks.

Kardamom's avatar

@snapdragon24 You too? Say it isn’t so!

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