11 Warning Signs Your Marriage Could Be in Trouble
Marriages, like all relationships, have their rough patches. In extreme cases, you may consider divorce, or at least discernment therapy to help you decide on your next step. However, how do you tell when your marriage is in trouble in the first place?
There are clues that can give you fair warning if you’re heading for foul weather. Keep an eye out for these eleven warning signs that your marriage needs some work. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. Identifying the problems can help you address them before they have time to escalate.
1. Non-existent Intimacy
Do you still have physical and emotional intimacy in your relationship? Even little acts like holding hands or touching can help couples connect when they’re feeling stressed. Avoid acting like you and your spouse are roommates instead of spouses. Losing intimacy also costs you a vital cornerstone of your relationship. In case of problems, tackle your issues with love and understanding, and a determination to get back on track. Regaining your intimacy can be as easy as talking again. Find some simple romantic gestures (e.g. date night or couple’s massage) to help reconnect physically and rebuild the relationship.
2. Constant Fighting
It’s normal for couples to have some disagreements from time to time, but constant arguments are a red flag, especially when they are covering the same ground over and over. Fighting over the same thing time and again is both unhealthy and unproductive. If you are fighting the same argument, take steps to resolve it once and for all. Keep an open mind, even if you don’t agree with your spouse. Try being more receptive to their point of view and imagine things from their perspective. A little validation can help, and sometimes giving a little can ease some of the tensions.
Fights can escalate if you keep fighting long enough. The situation can evolve from disagreeing over what to do to saying harmful things to hurt your partner’s feelings. If you notice your fights becoming more hostile, take a step back and look at the situation again. There may be underlying issues that are fueling the conflict. This is a common theme with escalating arguments — they get out of hand because you aren’t fighting over the actual problems. Separate your issues from the love between you and your spouse. Start learning how to communicate effectively to let go of any anger and avoid becoming enemies with your partner.
4. Unresolved Conflicts
Not all fights get resolved right away, especially the ones you keep repeating. Unsettled issues can fester over time and drive a wedge between you and your partner. Avoid sweeping these unresolved arguments under the rug. Address them openly, and talk things through. Unresolved quarrels eat away at a marriage if ignored long enough. Communicate your concerns with your spouse to find a conclusion to the problem. Learn to compromise and meet each other halfway.
5. Breakdown in Communication
Open communication is a sign of a healthy relationship, and poor communication is a sign of a struggling one. If you and your spouse aren’t communicating openly, you still have a problem, even if there is no immediate friction between you.
Pay attention if it seems like your discussions aren’t productive anymore. Marriages in crisis have fewer meaningful conversations and tend to ignore problems. If you find yourself in this situation, make an effort to disconnect and give the current issue your full attention. Avoid using judgmental language to help both of you speak freely without fear of judgement. Look for ways to improve communication to understand each other better.
6. Lack of Honesty
It can be tempting to avoid a fight by withholding information. However, the fallout from this lack of honesty can damage your relationship. Keeping big things secret rather than sharing them with your partner can cause them to feel betrayed and spark turmoil. Withholding information is still lying, and lies of omission are still lies. Avoid picking and choosing what things you share with your spouse. Instead, be open and talk it out. It helps when you and your partner know that you are there for each other.
7. Focusing More on the Kids
Focusing on your kids is a good thing. It’s crucial that your children get the love and attention they need to grow up right. However, giving your kids more attention than your partner can be damaging to your relationship. Give your marriage the same amount of consideration you give your kids to strengthen the marital bond. Children tend to benefit from more loving and stable relationships. Think of it as a way to show your kids how good, healthy relationships work. As a plus, switching gears to focus on your marriage puts yours on safer ground and improves longevity.
8. Comparing Your Relationship to Others
Do you find yourself paying attention to your friends’ relationships? For example, do you find yourself envying your friends for having more patient spouses? It’s very likely that that’s what you think is missing from your marriage and what you want yourself. Talk to your partner about your needs to get what you both need from this relationship. Stop comparing each other and identify the underlying problem behind the comparisons. Once you know the source, you can start working toward a solution.
9. Arguing about Money
Many marital arguments are about money; pay attention when more and more of your arguments turn to your finances. In some cases, the reason can be chalked up to incompatibility (e.g. you’re a spendthrift, your partner’s a penny-pincher). In those situations, it can be difficult to see eye-to-eye about your family finances. Have a sit-down to talk about your financial goals. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page concerning inflow and outflow to avoid more rows about money.
Cheating can take many forms. Physical infidelity is one thing, but there’s also emotional cheating to consider. When your relationship takes a downturn, your partner may turn to other people and confide in them rather than you. In any case, recovering from an affair and repairing the damage can be a long process. Find a third party who can be objective to help you through what happened and find out why you’re looking somewhere else for intimacy.
11. Trust is Gone
The negativity in your relationship can cost you or your spouse the other’s trust if it builds up enough. Trust is vital for long-lasting relationships, and if it gets damaged, it takes time to restore. Come what may, if you find the trust in your relationship shaken, both of you have to acknowledge and understand the fact to start the healing process. Discuss what happened to get some closure and learn to move on from the event that hurt your relationship.
When it comes to saving a relationship, it helps to watch out for signs of trouble and act quickly when you find them. These indicators can help you find out if your marriage is going through difficulties and start addressing them. Once you know there’s a problem, you can take steps to fix it. Communicate with your spouse to find solutions that work for both of you. Consider going through couples counselling to help you make your relationship more positive moving forward.
At Living Well by Design, we provide counselling to help couples through difficulties in their relationships. Whether you are trying to strengthen your relationship, or you are considering divorce, Wendy Hart offers individual and couples care to address your personal problems. Give us a call at (780) 246-8100 to make an appointment and start the healing process.