Are you worried that your marriage is at risk? Considering divorce or may be afraid that your partner is?
There is a difference between marital drift and real marital rift.
Learn the signs that your partnership is at serious risk, and how to address these signs to get back on the path of rediscovery and reconciliation.
1- Lack of Intimacy and Even Sex
Though this does not necessarily mean sex, sex is certainly a component.
Many of us mistake sex for intimacy. The fact that you can have casual sex with a stranger proves that sex is not always an intimate experience.
Intimacy is THE building block of a successful loving relationship. Intimate and fulfilling sex is, for most people, a vital component in expressing intimacy. Regular sex, coupled with intimacy is a vital component of individual and relationship health.
A recent study showed that couples who have sex regularly are emotionally impacted for up to 48 hours post intimacy and have higher marital satisfaction.
If you are suffering from low sex, and you are both physically healthy, it is inevitably a result of low emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is built on trust, caring communication, and empathy, so these are going to be your areas of focus for recovery.
Complaining that you’re not having any, and/or blooming one another will not build trust and is the opposite of caring communication.
2- Constant Conflict
Fighting all the time? Can’t seem to stop?
While conflict is an important part of any relationship, constant, particularly destructive conflict is not.
This is a sign that lines of communication have really broken down. Chances are what you think that they are saying to you is not really what they mean and vice versa.
When a couple hits this place, it is an indication that they have either become their parents, made their partner one, or both. This is almost impossible to disentangle on your own.
You will definitely need outside help to identify what is real and what is false evidence appearing real. Schedule a discovery call with us (it’s free) and we will help you find the resources/next steps you need to resolve this.
3- Too Little Conflict (yeah, really!)
It is not unusual for a couple to avoid conflict, particularly if both individuals have had a good deal of destructive conflict in their childhood or previous marriage.
In fact, some couples seek one another out to heal from a high conflict past. Conflict is a good and vital part of life.
We are not talking destructive/judgment of one another conflict. Rather, a difference of opinion. Healthy discussion of difference can give birth to something new and even vital in a relationship.
In fact, the strongest partnerships are made by individuals with differing strengths and ways of going at life, based on shared values and vision. If you are having little or no conflict, the chances are you are on the road to living parallel lives. Lives based on individual fulfillment primarily with very little shared fulfillment.
The tendency for couples in this position is to accede to the wishes of the other in the areas that are most important to them. This couple is leading divergent lifestyles and looking for gratification outside of the marriage in various ways.
Break through this log jam by simply expressing when you do not agree fully. You don’t have to resolve the difference or fight over it, start out by simply stating when something does not feel completely in alignment with you.
Secondarily, begin looking for one or two activities that you can plan together and enjoy together. Observe yourself as you Talk about your plans. Are you sharing everything? Where are you compromising and why?
The first step is a little effort and growing your awareness.
4- Little Or No Planning
Marriage is the equivalent of joining a team.
Successful teams have a game plan. Without a plan, the team can not define success. If a team is not successful, it cannot claim victory and the purpose of the team is undermined.
When couples stop planning for the future together, they undermine their own future on multiple fronts.
Lack of planning can be symptomatic of several different issues. It may be that the couple is conflict-avoidant.
Also, it may be that unconsciously they both feel the relationship is done and don’t want to face up to it, so they avoid one another. It also may be that both players are swamped, underpaid, and overworked.
In all of these cases, the starting point is to begin talking about it. Discover what the lack of planning is symptomatic of and make a plan to address it!
5- I and Me Over Us
We like to call this Parallel Lives Syndrome (PLS).
PLS is sadly the norm in a good deal of relationships. It is a direct outgrowth of leaning too heavily on each other’s differing skills for greater efficiency in dealing with the world.
This typically occurs when a family grows, when a couple has children. One parent is a great organizer, for example, and the other is good at details and they naturally lean into one another’s strengths. Because they are leaning into strengths there is individual fulfillment that comes with success, and as a couple, they feel they are winning.
Over time, however, they draw more and more fulfillment as individuals and less and less as a couple and thus slip into PLS. The answer here is for at least one member to gently start reweaving their lives together by planning on more couples-only activities (not just “family time”).
This can start with date night and as the couple rediscovers one another slowly grow into a reconvergence of their individual parallel lives.
6- Separate Beds
Back in the day, separate beds were a sign of wealth and were born out of a time when people married for life/financial advantage more than love. When a family was prosperous, they had the means and space for separate beds.
Today, however, we marry for love.
The marital bed is the symbol of intimacy. Separate beds can in this context be a symptom of separate lives or PLS and a marriage at risk. For that matter, an overly large bed may have the same impact.
Couples who have love in their marriage share a bed, if it is a really big one, they still cuddle at least and touch one another. If you find that you are in separate beds because of “his snoring” for example, there may very well be another solution.
If you find you are waking up in the night wondering who that is on the other side of your ginormous bed, then you may very well be on the way to separate beds so watch out!
7- Constant Complaining
One or both of you is constantly complaining.
It is grating, incessant, and drives either anger, or a feeling of inadequacy, or perhaps even both. We all have things to complain about. The question is are we going to put up or shut up? In a partnership “putting up” is vital.
If we just live in a state of ongoing complaining, and the complaints never change, then the marriage may be doomed or the marriage is at risk.
I have had the rare couple where culturally, complaining was the norm. In this instance, accepting that your partner uses complaining to blow off steam and it’s not really about you may be the key.
8- Consistent Tension
People get married to create happier lives together.
Happiness is contingent on reduced tension and stress. In fact, one of the foundations of marriage is creating a safe space for one another, and for your children.
When there is constant tension in a relationship, something is seriously amiss.
It may be that the tension is from unrest in the world. Note that the pandemic drove a good deal of marital tension. It may be internal. It may be both.
Successful marriages are built on the ability of both people to navigate and dispel tension. When there is constant tension, something is broken in the relationship and will need to be repaired for a happy marriage.
The starting point is to talk about the tension, identify that the marriage is at risk. Identify where it is coming from in you, taking responsibility for your own feelings while identifying what is triggering the tension.
Next plan for how to alleviate the tension.
On the outside, everything seems to be OK. In your gut, something is just not right.
This is the most sure-fire sign that something is off in your marriage.
Trust your gut. You may not know what it is, but deep down it just does not feel right. You don’t want to be paranoid, and at the same time, you just can’t let it go.
Look into the feeling. First ask yourself, what does it feel like? What does it remind you of?
Our intuition is triggered when the situation feels familiar in some way that is not positive. When in the past did you have this feeling? Look more closely at your life together. What is missing? What is there that should not be?
Give yourself permission to explore without acting. Be comfortable with the discomfort as you get in touch with what it is about and I guarantee you that you will track it down to the source.
Final Thoughts If Your Marriage Is At Risk
In all likelihood, if you are experiencing one of these signs, you will find at least one more.
They do not necessarily mean your marriage is over, but certainly, it is at risk.
Do not delay. Addressing any one of these signs will take time. There are no quick fixes when it comes to relationships.
Think of your marriage as a living breathing being. It needs nurturing, exercise and general care to avoid risk.
As you address one area of weakness, the next one will rise to the top. You address that, and the next one rises up. This continues until the marriage is strong and healthy and still it needs love and attention.
If your marriage is at risk and you feel it is out of your hands, consider consulting with a third party. Don´t wait till it gets worse!