The snowball effect
The decay of a relationship tends not to be a one-time blow-up; rather, it is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The red flags begin with how partners talk to each other, then the inability to repair leads to repeated instances of flooding and finally a negative perspective of the marriage.
Dr. Gottman’s research has proven that with a habitual use of criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling it takes about six years for a marriage to end.
There are also couples who are not nasty and have very little negativity. These conflict avoiders can have healthy marriages if they have a lot of positive interactions, but if there is very little responsiveness or affection, that type of relationship will die within 16,2 years.
These are years of interactions gone wrong, not days.
What to do now
If you recognise your relationship in any of these stages, you are not alone. A lot of couples struggle between steps one to four.
My intended purpose for sharing how love dies is to give you some insight into the cascade that ends relationships, so you can take that knowledge and save your love life. It will take hard work and personal growth to save and repair your bond.
Dr. Gottman reminds us that “Even a marriage that is about to hit bottom can be revived with the right intervention.”
The biggest barrier I see to savings marriages is partners’ willingness to risk the vulnerability to reconnect. To properly forgive, repair, and strengthen a bond that has been weakened by a lack of knowledge and experience on how to replenish love, affection, and care.
When both partners are committed to learning how to fight and love better, they can save their relationship.