There are some relationships which seem to be headed towards disaster, and yet the couple involved seems blind to this possibility until it’s all over. Often, these relationships have early warning signs, but those involved, just can’t see the signs until it’s too late. How can you recognise these signs and protect yourself and the ones you love from getting caught up in a destructive relationship?

Why Do People Ignore the Signs?

There are many reasons why you might ignore the signs which tell you that you are in a relationship which you should avoid. Sometimes, you could literally be blinded by love. The emotions and the chemistry you and your partner feel are so overwhelming that they drown out all the other aspects of your relationship. Sometimes, both of you might feel that you have invested too much in the relationship, been together too long and that you might as well go through with the wedding despite your doubts. In extreme cases, either you or your partner might feel insecure or undeserving about finding a better relationship, and so you both hang on to each other even though you feel that you are not quite as happy as you should be.

However, you owe it to yourself and your future spouse, to be honest about the situation and to pay attention to the signs that are telling both of you that you are not meant for each other. It is far better and less hurtful to call off a wedding than to unravel a marriage.  

Top Warning Signs You Need to Recognise

1. Controlling Behaviour
This aspect of a relationship may creep up on you without you recognising it. Initially, you might feel flattered that your partner is so interested in everything you do and concerned enough to let you know what he or she thinks you should do. However, there is a point when the behaviour moves from concern to control.

Are you finding your partner dictating where you should go, what you should do, how you should dress or whom you should spend time with? It might be overt or it might be couched in needy and manipulative behaviours, but if you feel afraid or hesitant of making everyday decisions that you’ve always made on your own, and if you find you need to seek “permission” from your partner, then you may have a problem.

2. Addiction or Abuse
There is no such thing as a “little habit” when it comes to drugs, addiction, gambling or abuse, physical or otherwise. If your partner is always losing money on horses, 4D, mah jong, or frequently blacks out after drinking all night, is taking drugs or has hit or hurt you, you need to get out of the relationship fast. Until and unless your partner has the commitment to seek treatment and really come out of the addictive and abusive behaviours, you cannot have a healthy, positive relationship together. Your partner has no space for an “us” if they cannot be personally responsible for the choices they make for themselves.

3. Broken Promises
It’s true that there will be times when either one of you cannot keep a promise, but this should be an exception and not the rule. It should also be accompanied by an explanation, an advance notice and arrangements to ensure that no-one suffers because of the inability to fulfil the promise. If your partner is constantly breaking promises, then there is a deeper issue around responsibility, reliability and respect for the relationship which you both share. 

4. Infidelity
There are couples who move beyond infidelity but this is usually due to extreme commitment on both sides, a shared desire to protect the children in the marriage, perhaps an affair that was one time and under unusual circumstances, and much counselling and forgiveness. However, it is fairly common for most people who are unfaithful to be repeat offenders. So, if your partner has “friends with benefits”, or if you’ve found them to be unfaithful, you should take some time to seriously reconsider your relationship. If your partner cannot make an exclusive commitment to you, your partner is not ready to marry you. 

5. Financial Irresponsibility
Like it or not, after you get married, you will share financial responsibilities with your partner. If your partner does not have the same financial attitudes as you do, this will lead to many disagreements in your marriage. If you have children or buy a home or make any other significant investments, you will want to make sure that you are on the same page in terms of the financial sacrifices and priorities which you will both want to keep to. Pay attention to financial red flags such as: your partner is often out of work, runs up large credit card bills and goes into debt, borrows money for non-investment spend, often spends money on personal “toys” which are expensive and unnecessary and you find yourself always paying the bills for your dates together. 

6. You Can’t Stand Your Future In-Laws
Yes, we are talking about a marriage between 2 wonderful people. But you need to know that after marriage, you will have to get along with your future in-laws. If you don’t, your future spouse will always be stuck between you and them and the stress and strain on the marriage will be significant. If you can’t stand your future in-laws and your partner does not understand why you cannot get along, you may need to re-evaluate your ability to become a part of your partner’s life. 

7. You Can’t Agree on the Same Values
This is huge. You need to ensure that before committing to a life together that you and your future spouse share the same values. You need to have discussed and agreed on issues such as what your financial goals are, how you want to manage your finances in the future, whether or not you expect your spouse to always work and support the family, whether or not you want to have children, who will be responsible for caring and raising your kids, where you will live, what culture, religion, moral codes you plan to live by. If you haven’t had this discussion, the best way to get through it is to attend a marriage preparation course together. If you have gone through a marriage preparation course, and still haven’t been able to agree on the values you want to live by, then you may need to give yourselves more time to decide if you can work towards a successful marriage together. 

8. You are Isolated
This happens when your partner always plans things “just for the 2 of you”. In the beginning you feel flattered because you are the centre of attention, but after a while you realise that you are increasingly being kept apart from your friends and family. This is a big sign that something is not right. When someone isolates you from everyone else who has supported you in your life, they make you vulnerable to them and easier to control and influence. They take away your support system and that can never be a healthy thing. If you love someone, you will want to make sure that they are protected and cared for by people who love them as much as you do. If your future spouse isn’t willing to do this, you need to know that they may not care for you as much as you think they do. 

9. You Feel Unimportant
If you feel that you are always last in line, that there always seem to be priorities ahead of you – your partner’s job, their family, friends or hobbies, then you need to try to understand why this is so. Chances are, you are last because you are not that important to your future spouse. If this is the case, you really need to leave the relationship and seek one where your future spouse values you and sees you as important.

10. Your Partner Treats Others Poorly
Actions speak louder than words. Observe how your partner treats the people he or she interacts with – whether they are strangers, relatives, acquaintances or friends. Seeing how they behave from a distance will give you a better idea of whether or not your future spouse is the person that you think they are. 

11. You Fight All the Time
Conflict and the ability to resolve it successfully is a part of all relationships. However, you should not be in a state of constant conflict with your future spouse. If you find that you are:

  • Always having the same argument.

  • Constantly bringing up past hurts and grievances.

  • Name calling which is accompanied by other abusive or hurtful behaviours.

  • Getting stuck in a cycle of resentment and mutual blame.

  • Seem never quite able to forgive each other.

You might be in a toxic relationship with a high conflict partner. In this case, clearly the chemistry is negative and your relationship is unlikely to thrive or be able to weather the difficulties and conflicts that you will face as your build a family and fight for a future together.