Relationship Burnout: How To Recognize & Overcome It

What is your idea of a happy marriage or a long-term committed relationship? You’ll probably have an image of a couple that ticks all the boxes, with romantic feelings fading into the background, being replaced with a sense of certainty, security, and trust. However, as with many other things in life, there’s usually a challenge for the married couple that can lead them to question their feelings at some point. 

Have you experienced periods when you felt the need to back off or just wanted to give up? One way to approach such situations is to work on your relationship building skills by attending professionally-led workshops, and learning how to strengthen your bond and your individual potential. If you’re afraid that you’ve reached a point where you need to withdraw or take a break from your marital commitment, keep reading.

What Is Marriage Burnout?

In a very similar fashion to career burnout, marital or marriage burnout manifests as a period of intense psychological and physical draining and exhaustion. It is oftentimes the result of one of the partners providing love, care, and support, whereas not receiving the same amount of attention in return. It can also be an outcome of bitter conflicts and heated arguments between spouses, and general disappointment with how their relationship changed. It can be seen as a moment in your relationship when the excitement and jubilance of romantic love fade away, leaving room for feelings of resentment. It can also arise after a very stressful period 

Is Burnout In A Relationship Normal?

If you’re in a committed relationship that lasts a decade or longer, or you’ve gone through a stressful period with many changes, you’re likely to experience burnout at some point. It can be a perfectly normal reaction to an overwhelming situation. And, of course, it doesn’t mean that you need to split up and start living separate lives. If you do feel guilty for being exhausted or detached, it’s probably time to pose some questions. 

It could also serve as a wake-up call: a reminder to allocate time to care for your own needs, have an honest conversation with each other, listen carefully, spend some quality time together, and relieve yourself of the constant tension. However, you may need to discern whether you’re going through a passing phase or you’re becoming emotionally distant and neglectful

How Do You Know If You’re Emotionally Exhausted?

How Do You Know If You're Emotionally Exhausted?

When you’re going through a rough period as a couple, you can start feeling like you’re on the end of your wits. Although the symptoms may vary from one person to another, these are some of the signs of emotional exhaustion: 

  1. Loss of hope. You can feel hopeless about the future of your relationship, or have a general feeling of despair and uncertainty. 
  2. Lack of motivation. You may struggle to get into the mood to work, socialize, spend time together with your partner, do chores, and engage in hobbies.
  3. Sleeping problems. Some people experience the inability to fall asleep, others tend to wake up too early, which is a clear sign of stress and lingering worries. 
  4. General irritability. Although you could say that you feel fine, you can come across as nervous and on edge when approached by your partner or other people.
  5. Headaches. Sometimes, prolonged stress leads to painful physical symptoms, and you might develop chronic headaches, dizziness, or migraines. 
  6. Fatigue and lack of energy. Being emotionally exhausted means that you’ll feel physically drained as well. This will reflect in lowered energy levels and sleepiness
  7. Apathy. When you’ve invested your energy and emotions into your relationship, and were met with invalidation or neglect, you’re likely to act and feel apathetic and cynical.
  8. Absent-mindedness. You’ll probably have moments when your mind just wanders and you’re unable to focus or follow through with a conversation. 

Can I Feel Emotional Burnout After A Relationship Ends? 

If you went through a complicated and unexpected breakup, divorce, or separation, you can also experience burnout. You might be trying to cope with the effects of emotional trauma, and you need time to recover. The signs can include the following: 

  • You’re ambivalent or cynical about dating a significant amount of time after your breakup
  • You find little or no enjoyment in meeting potential romantic partners
  • You tend to have bad recollections of your former relationship or see it as meaningless, painful, or a waste of time.  

What Causes Relationship Burnout?

In terms of emotional investment, you can understand the burnout situation as an imbalance between what you’re giving and what you receive in return. There are, of course, other factors that can contribute to the feeling of emotional exhaustion: 

  • A failed expectation that your relationship will give a more profound meaning to your life
  • Unclear boundaries, lack of personal space or time for self-care
  • Cycles of repeated fighting, misunderstandings, and tension
  • Periods of work or family-related stress, and lack of support between partners
  • Boring or exhausting daily routines and incomplete assignments
  • Certain patterns of relationship addiction lead to outbursts of jealousy, resentment, and helplessness, burdening your partner, and it may cause you both to feel emotionally drained.

How Do You Fix Burnout In A Relationship?

How Do You Fix Burnout In A Relationship?

When you’re willing to work and salvage your marriage after an emotionally tense and exhausting period, you may first consider evaluating the issue. Look closely at how you feel and how long it has been bothering you. Whether you’re recovering from a period of intense fighting or trying to rekindle your marriage after a period of separation, these tips might be useful: 

Take Care Of Yourself

Be careful and mindful of your resources, of your physical and mental health, and devote time to work on your strengths and potential. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to build resilience to future challenges. 

Don’t Forget To Talk

Communication is key to resolving any difficult situation. Open and honest conversation, without putting blame on the other person, will shed some light on what path to take as a couple. This way you’ll be able to recognize where you are in your relationship, whether you’re bonding over trauma, and how to move forward. 

Practice Active Listening

Surely, you will be there to listen to what your partner has to say. However, don’t suppose that you understand everything and that you mean the exact same things. Try to carefully paraphrase what they said and openly ask “Have I understood you correctly?”. 

Confide In Each Other

Intimacy and confidentiality are some of the most important tenets of married life.  Some people tend to seek support from friends, family members, and their children when feeling emotionally drained. While it might be perfectly okay to have some type of support outside of your marriage, keeping your secrets from your significant other can create an atmosphere of mistrust. 

Be Honest About Your Needs

Try to be frank with yourself and your partner when talking about your needs, whether it’s more personal space, more quality time together, or whether you need more support in terms of sharing household and parental duties.  

Show Appreciation 

You may try to show that you appreciate your partner, not only in words. Showing that you truly care about each other despite the hurdles can help you overcome burnout and recharge your batteries. This way, if you reciprocate, you’ll show that you’re not taking each other for granted. 

Introduce Variety In Your Marital Life

If you’re feeling fed up and frustrated with some of your rituals, talk to your spouse and try to do something new and exciting, start a new hobby, find a new favorite place, try new food, break the routine, and surprise your spouse. 

Balance Excitement And Trust

To recover and rekindle your relationship after burnout, it’s best to find a fine balance between passion and excitement on one hand and trust, security, and commitment on the other. 

Who Offers Beneficial Couple Relationship Management Workshops For Married Couples And Individuals? 

When you’re ready to work on your relationship or marriage and PIVOT from your current situation, we can help you with our team of trained and dedicated relationship advocates. You can count on us to ensure you manage your separation or divorce anxiety and work on your personal growth or provide you with helpful tools to revive and put your relationship on a path of recovery. Whatever you choose, we’re here to provide supportive and experience-based coaching and retreat. 

© 2022 Lori Jean Glass, LLC | PIVOT