Forget filing the papers -- the story started years ago. Most couples can look back and remember when they fell in love, just as many who are divorcing can see the slow progression of collapse. There are definite markers, warning signs in a relationship that signal your marriage needs an intervention. Here are five key things to look for: Lack of communication. In the beginning, you share everything. Life takes a toll, however, and communication becomes work. A huge indicator that your relationship is struggling is a decrease in sharing. Put your phone down. Don’t go smoke that cigar with the guys. Look each other in the eyes and start a conversation.
Distance. After you stop talking and sharing with one another, the space widens. Having distance between couples causes them to grow apart and eventually change without one another. You’ll feel like strangers. It might be awkward at first, but get to know one another again. Rediscover why you fell in love.
Criticism. There’s constructive criticism offered in love and there’s negative criticism that undermines confidence and hurts trust. Too much of this atmosphere is damaging and one of the worst things for a marriage. Criticism can create a lack of communication and cause distance. Step back and make sure you aren’t critical to the point of alienating your partner.
Repetitive Fighting. Couples argue. Everyone has days where you are tired or hurt or just thoughtless: It happens. The issues with fighting over the same aspects of a relationship is that this indicates something isn’t going right or someone isn’t being listened to -- repeatedly. Repeat offenses cause major problems and can lead to all three relationship killers listed above.
Lack of intimacy. “Sex begins in the kitchen” is a phrase I heard from wise folks who had been married and sought to pass on some key knowledge to me. A lack of sex between partners is really the end result of a systematic absence of intimacy. Intimacy needs context. Do you greet each other in the morning? Share breakfast? Do you ask each other about work, worries, dreams, and goals? See? If you aren’t nurturing intimacy in your daily lives, you aren’t going to have it in the bedroom. This is the most dangerous indicator of a dying marriage. It takes time to cultivate a trusting atmosphere, but anything worth having takes work.
Of course, IRL any one of these issues can have different origins. My point is, as a divorce lawyer, I see different couples with different reasons leave their marriages. Sometimes those marriages have lasted through deaths, moves, and children, only to end with two people who feel like strangers. Take time to evaluate your relationship. Talk to a professional. Don’t let the cares of life steal something precious.
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