The couple watch TV at home, relax on weekends and lead a modern lifestyle.

Which one of the five? (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Relationship tests should be more normal than they are.

If you can find the source of some tension, you can prevent small problems from becoming a major source of frustration and ensure that your common goals are aligned as you move forward.

For example, what you think is an ill-considered way to ask your partner to do more in the house can be seen as passive aggression against him or her.

In the same way, small differences of opinion that go unnoticed by one party can build up with the other party and change the dynamics of your relationship without it working.

Psychologist Robert Taibbi believes that dividing your relationship into five categories can help you overcome the obstacles you encounter as a couple.

Determine which of these categories your relationship falls into.

1. Competitiveness/control

According to Robert it is a tense relational dynamic that can be caused by two strong personalities competing for attention and dominance.

If you have a tendency to fight regularly and you notice that both of you are trying to win every time, you may end up in this kind of relationship.

Since you are constantly fighting to be the winner of a disagreement, two things can happen. Either you are both tired of fighting, or one of you submits to the other.

The atmosphere is unhealthy, so consult a family therapist if possible.

A woman sits before a man's shadow...

Control should not be a factor in a relationship (Photo: Getty Images/Stop)

2. assets/liabilities

According to Robert, this type of relationship involves one partner making the decisions and doing most of the work in the relationship, while the other partner leads the dance.

While some start with a competitive relationship with a concession, this imbalance is usually present from the beginning.

In general, the active partner will feel that he or she needs to help more, either because of their common nature or because their partner has a problem he or she has to deal with.

This can then degenerate into resentment, because the passive partner does not realize that the active partner will be exhausted by maintaining this unbalanced dynamic.

This can be worked on when the passive partner realizes that things are no longer what they used to be and realizes that things are going badly.

3. Aggressive/Resident

From the outside it may turn out that being aggressive/commercial is very similar to being active/passive. However, when this situation was based on care, it was based on fear.

The dominant partner may be violent or aggressive to intimidate his partner into passivity or obedience. Overall, it is an extremely tense and unstable relationship.

According to Robert: The intimidating partner is clearly a bully with outbursts of anger.

He or she may have grown up in a home with an abusive parent and learned to identify with that parent. Behind this can be a strong fear that leads to extreme control, or simply a character disorder that leads to narcissism, power and lack of empathy for others.

On the other hand, the adoptive partner may have grown up in an abusive home, or he may believe (based on the partner’s sporadic pleasant behaviour) that if he behaves in a certain way, he will eventually calm that person down.

As with any abusive partnership, it can only end when the victim finds the right moment – and has the courage – to leave. The abuser can then try to retrieve them through manipulation, replacing the old partner with a new one when he knows he’s 100% gone.

A couple in the flesh...

Therapy and acceptance can help (Photo: Pick-up/Stop)

4. Separate/parallel lifespan

Not arguing is not necessarily a sign that everything is rosy. Some couples have entered a state of disconnection and live as if they were just friends and not in a romantic relationship.

Not all couples should faint day and night, but a sign that you are in this kind of relationship is the small talk that is your most important form of communication.

This is common for those getting older, who may now have an empty nest and try to find themselves after decades of focusing on children.

Everything is not lost in this relationship, but the feeling that it is better to have peace than to find the spark again will keep you in that frustrating state of stagnation – or let the other partner follow his or her own path.

5. Acceptance/Adaptation

As far as relationships like this are concerned, Robert says: They support each other, both are eager to help the other be who he wants to be.

They are able to revive relationships as they begin to drag; they are able to solve problems instead of sweeping them under the carpet.

This does not mean that there will never be a problem (it’s just not realistic). What’s more, you work through this tension with a common goal of unity and improvement.

Robert calls it the gold standard – he says that if you start as one of the other four, changes in your work and mentality can make you acceptable/balanced.

If you’re in one of the other four now, he says: You don’t have to take what you get. Changes are possible. And if not now, when?

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