What are the Warning Signs of a Failing Marriage?
By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
We have studied marriage around the globe for three decades. And while our focus has principally been on successful marriage, we have interviewed a lot of folks whose marriage was in trouble – whose marriage was falling apart.
There is nothing more painful than watching your marriage disintegrate before your eyes. It hurts. In fact, it may be amongst the most painful experiences you will have in your lifetime.
During our many radio and television interviews over the years we are often asked this simple question – How will I know my Marriage is in Trouble?’ Our research has identified the answer to this very important and often asked question.
So, friends, here are the Seven Telltale Signs of a Failing Marriage that we have identified over the years.
1. You fight and argue much more often than before and do so unfairly.
Fact is, you have nothing nice to say to or about each other anymore. You love to nitpick at each other. Your teasing isn’t fun – it is now painful and hurtful. You use each other as a personal pincushion!
Sadly, your arguments are repeatedly about the same subjects. You are increasingly critical of each other, you fight constantly, and you no longer fight fair.
As we have said many times before – it is okay to argue – all successfully married couples do – but the truth is this, successfully married couples have learned how to fight fair. Their arguments do not become personal and attack oriented.
2. One or both of you show increasing disrespect for each other.
As we have described in our recent book, Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley), mutual respect is at the heart of the best marriages. In failing marriages, there are growing signs of disrespect. Resentment and contempt have replaced patience and love. You go out of your way to avoid being together.
And sadly, when you are away from your spouse you are happier than when you are with them. Having fun with your mate seems to be a thing of the past.
When mutual respect and understanding fail, your marriage is well on the way to its end. Make no mistake about that.
3. You and your spouse are no longer capable of communicating with each other in meaningful and productive ways.
Communication between a husband and a wife is of paramount importance to the health of a successful marital relationship. Failing marriages communicate less and less. There are fewer and fewer meaningful exchanges between the two people who occupy the marriage bond.
Worse yet, they don’t talk with each other about their mutual problems anymore. Frankly, failing marriages lose the ability and the willingness to resolve their marital problems. They just don’t care anymore.
When communication between a husband and wife shuts down, there is little hope for the marriage. Always remember this – no problem was ever resolved, no divide ever bridged, and no disagreement ever broached when people refused to communicate. When communication falters, a marriage is in trouble.
4. Sexual intimacy in your marriage is low and increasingly non-existent.
In a failing marriage, sexual intimacy is low. Sexual intimacy becomes more and more infrequent. Marriage partners turn into roommates – they live together in the same home, but do not share the intimacies of a marriage. Unfortunately, intimacy becomes a thing of the past.
It is clear from our three decades of research that sexual intimacy is over-rated when it comes to the best marriages. There are many other elements that are equally or more important to a successful marriage than sex. But make no mistake about it; INTIMACY is more than good sex. Intimacy is holding hands on a walk, snuggling in the morning, hugging a lot, touching each other, and in general, feeling emotion for each other.
When intimacy starts to fade so does the marriage. When you and/or your spouse lose feelings of intimacy, your marriage is in trouble.
5. Financial disagreements dominate your discussions and conversations.
It is clear, when you argue increasingly and incessantly about financial issues, your marriage is in trouble. We have written extensively about this subject over the past two years, and if the truth were known, most arguments in a marriage center on financial issues.
Worse yet, you discover your spouse is lying about money and other financial related issues. They lie about the bills, the balances, the payoffs, and the commitments. A very bad sign, indeed.
It is clear; we live in trying times when it comes to economic uncertainty. Unemployment is historically high, the Stock Market has wild swings, we worry about our retirement income and our savings, and our home values are in the tank. There is a lot of economic uncertainty.
But here is the truth – the best marriages survive and thrive during trying economic times. The best marriages find a way to deal with the economic uncertainties. Failing marriages have not learned to cope with economic uncertainty because they have not learned how to communicate with each other. If all you talk about is your financial plight, you marriage is in trouble.
6. You do not trust your spouse anymore.
Trust is the centerpiece of a great marriage! In fact, there is nothing more central to a successful marriage than the ability to trust. If you can’t trust your spouse, whom can you trust?
When you or your spouse start to have thoughts of being unfaithful and think more and more about divorce, your marriage is in trouble. When you worry about infidelity in your marriage, your marriage is in trouble.
Let’s face it, when the trust level between you and your spouse nears zero, there is little hope for your marriage. You cannot imagine how important it is to trust your spouse. When you don’t trust them anymore, there is little hope for your marriage.
7. Family members increasingly choose up sides instead of striving for common ground and common understandings.
Your immediate family (your children, each other, your extended family) finds it more and more difficult to find common ground in debates, discussions, and conversations. Family members start to choose up sides. Winning and losing becomes the order of the day. Compromise is out the window.
Moreover, you and your spouse try to isolate each other from family and friends. Divide and conquer becomes the order of the day.
It is sad but true – those marriages that become dysfunctional display symptoms of division and lack of common understandings among family members. Family unity begins to disintegrate. Feuding families are not good for a healthy marriage.
It is important to know the telltale signs of a failing marriage. Pay close attention. When you witness the signs, take action. Save your relationship if you can. Having a healthy and happy marriage is one of the great success stories of life. It is not too late to save your marriage.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
**For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
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