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When Happy Couples are Very Unhappy 10% of the Time

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

AUGUST 14, 2018

I often hear from couples that they are reluctant to begin couples therapy because really, their relationship is good or even great 90% of the time. It’s just that other 10% – are they being greedy by focusing on that?

Shouldn’t they be able to fix it themselves?

As we get deeper into the conversation it becomes clear that the 10% can be extremely distressing. They become volatile, distant, stop talking, are hurt and frustrated and don’t understand how they got there. The trigger seems so silly it’s embarrassing.

The anchor in any good relationship is connection. This can be spending time together or simply a check in, letting each other know you’re there with each other emotionally. When this doesn’t happen small resentments build and a simple misunderstanding can trigger an all out war.

Sex and intimacy is a primary way couples stay connected. Each may have somewhat different sexual needs or they are out of sync sexually and distance creeps in, this can be subtle and happen without either person realizing it, or it can be extremely obvious. In many cases both partners avoid talking about it, resentment and confusion builds. Another volatility trigger is “the in-laws”. At times the needs of your parents and the needs of your partner may be in conflict. The pull to satisfy both often results in your partner feeling neglected, not a priority, or misunderstood.

It all comes back to connection, the anchor of every relationship. What that connection looks like varies from couple to couple and for each person in the couple. One may require more alone time and the other may need more together time. This has to be communicated so it doesn’t turn into a trigger.

These are some of the ways couples end up in the volatility cycle going down a rabbit hole of arguing that only leads to more hurt and distance. Identifying these triggers can help prevent fights or repair and reconnect after some volatility has already occurred.

As your relationship partner, I help create a safe space for these conversations so that you can identify triggers and communicate in a way that brings more understanding and closeness.


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