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Every couple is unique, but if you share some of these common problems in your marriage, your relationship may be in trouble.
Serious problems can creep into your relationship over the years without your ever realizing it until the damage has been done. While your marriage might survive with some of these situations, it will never be as happy or fulfilling as it could be.
Identifying the problems is the first step to resolving them together and getting your marriage back on track.
Marriages with problems can be saved but you need to recognize dangerous symptoms and not settle for things the way they are.
Most people who divorce just walk away without even trying. If your marriage is important to you, it’s worth the work in resolving issues.
15 Problems In Your Marriage That May Be Heading You Towards Disaster
1. You fight about the same things, over and over again
When couples fight about the same thing repeatedly, it’s may be because neither of you have found a way to compromise or communicate in a way that is respectful and considerate of each viewpoint.
Are you fighting fairly?
Are you really listening to, and trying to understand, your spouse’s point of view?
Let’s face it. conflict is inevitable in any relationship. You’re not clones and you’re bound to disagree on many things over the years. But when you have the same argument, over and over, you need to examine what has kept you from coming to a mutual solution. You’re caught in a cycle of blame instead of problem solving.
To resolve disagreements require mutual respect of each other’s point of view and a willingness to either compromise or let the other person have their way.
Yes, not everything in a marriage needs to be 50/50. In any healthy relationship, one partner will sometimes let the other prevail. You simply have to “pick your battles” or rather, let go of some. You don’t have to win every time.
Fighting about the same things over and over is a dangerous sign and may escalate into verbal or physical abuse. Take them seriously.
2. You’re considering having an affair
Don’t even think about it!
If your relationship is no longer exciting to you, emotionally or sexually, do something about it.
As long as you are committed to your marriage, don’t let your thoughts or actions wander towards another person.
Emotional affairs can damage your marriage as much as a physical one. Don’t try to justify that flirting with an old high school boyfriend means nothing because you are physically faithful to your spouse. If your marriage is solid, you will find excitement from your partner. If it is not solid, even emotional infidelity could do irreparable damage to your partner’s self esteem and trust in you.
3. You are spending less time together
While you were dating, you and your spouse planned your time together. Whether you went out to dinner, to movies, to hang out with friends, or to the beach, you made your time together your biggest priority.
It’s very easy, once married, to forget about that together time. You wake up together, you get home together and you go to bed together. Why schedule even more time together?
Just as you carefully nurtured your relationship during its courtship phase, so do you need to care for it after marriage.
Eating breakfast while reading the newspaper and brushing your teeth before heading off to work is not time spent together. Neither is flopping on the couch in the evening to watch a TV show or two and then heading off to bed exhausted from your day.
Scheduling quality time for each other is investing in your relationship.
Being spontaneous is not as important as just making the time to be with each other, doing something you both enjoy.
Schedule that time. It’s as important as a critical business meeting or your child’s big sports competition.
If you’ve gotten into a rut and aren’t used to dating each other, check out my date night ideas (you can download over 100 more) or go look at some of the fun activities on The Dating Divas, a shop dedicated to nurturing healthy marriages.
4. You focus on the kids more than on each other
Before children came along, you found it easy to go on adventures together and to have quality time to nurture your relationship. Once the children arrived, that became much more difficult.
It’s not only arranging babysitting for date nights when they were little.
As the children grow up, we focus on their needs and activities. Sometimes our social lives even revolve around those activities.
For years, we went to swim meets every month as our children competed. My husband became a swim official and I organized social events for one team, photographed swimmers for another and even worked part time at our boys’ swim team.
When my husband and I had a few moments alone, the conversation was inevitably about … the kids!
As our children began leaving for college, we had to relearn how to talk to each other. I talked about it in this post.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that empty nesters have a rising divorce rate. When your marriage is child-centric, their leaving can reveal a gap between you that you didn’t even know existed.
The best thing you can do for your relationship, and for your children, is to make your marriage the most important thing in your life. When children grow up seeing parents with a loving relationship, they grow up more secure and will want the same for themselves when they have their own relationships. So making your spouse your priority is not just good for you. It’s good for your children because they will never want to settle for less than what you have shown them marriage can be.
5. You have no sexual intimacy or connection
Yup, I said it.
Few marriages can survive loss of sexual intimacy. It is a basic need, both primal and emotional.
It’s very common for one member of a couple to have a lower sex drive. It can even alternate over time and it can definitely be affected by depression, stress and illness. That’s normal and doesn’t mean that your marriage is in trouble.
But when the person who is not as interested in sex makes no effort to consider their partner, it can go downhill fast.
RELATED: How To Get Your Sexy Back
Because sex is such an intimate act, being rejected causes hurt feelings and distances you emotionally. Once that happens, the dominos begin to fall. The rejected spouse may choose to spend less time with the other, fighting will increase and cracks in your relationship will widen.
When your sex life has gotten boring or lags, you have to ask yourself why and engage in a real discussion with your partner to improve things.
It won’t happen overnight but just engaging in the process of fixing the problem is an act of commitment and love that your spouse will appreciate.
6. You have nothing positive to say to each other
Has the affection you used to feel for your spouse been replaced by disrespect, teasing, sarcasm and hostility?
If this is you, you’ve been through a few other problems to get this far.
Other unresolved issues in your marriage have driven your relationship to the point where your communication is so skewed by pain and anger that it’s impossible to effectively communicate.
If this is very recent, jump on it right away. This may be a temporary reaction to an unresolved problem and talking it out will get you through it.
It’s important to set up ground rules for each other once you’ve experienced this. You don’t want the pattern of negative behavior to repeat itself every time you disagree. My husband and I have a few rules we’ve followed and you need to set the ones that work for you. Ours are:
- We don’t walk away from a disagreement, period. If we can’t resolve it then and there, we both agree to think about it and come back to the discussion at a later time.
- We never never use extreme words – for us, that means we’ve never said “I hate you” to each other and we don’t ever use the word “divorce” in relation to our marriage. We know what words are marriage killers and won’t let them in.
- We don’t go to bed angry. We might go to bed without agreeing on something, but we go to bed knowing that it is not us. The message is “I love you and I’m not angry with you.”
These have worked well for us for over 45 years and I know they’ve averted possible bigger problems when our rules forced us to calm down and remember that our relationship was more important than any argument.
If this has been going on for a long time and you can’t both agree to talk things out with respect for each other, this is a problem that screams for professional help.
A therapist can help you dig into the reasons that have led you to this point and address each of them.
When you feel once again that you are partners in healing your marriage and learn effective communications skills, you can get back to seeing and expressing what you love about each other.
7. You don’t have anything in common
You are a unique individual and so is your spouse. You no doubt have separate interests and that’s healthy.
But what drew you together in the first place?
What activities did you once enjoy together?
Did you like jogging together or going on hikes? Were you passionate about Steven Spielberg movies? Monster truck rallies? Dressing up for the Renaissance Faire?
Separate interests are good for you and great to talk about with each other. But shared interests create bonds and are just plain fun.
If you are no longer interested in your old pursuits, find new ones to share. Having common interests strengthens the bonds between you.
8. You are happier apart than together
If you have reached this point, there are more than just a few problems in your marriage.
When being without your spouse is comfortable and happy, and that disappears when he walks in the door, you need to do some serious work to understand what it is that is causing those feelings.
Is he abusive, emotionally or physically?
In that case, get some professional help right away.
If he is physically abusing you, don’t wait. Leave at once for your own safety. There are no excuses and no one “deserves” to be punished.
When you dread his coming home because it reinforces your estrangement from each other, that’s a different story.
As with any other problems in your marriage, you need to confront the causes of your feelings. These feelings don’t exist in a vaccum.
Are there unresolved arguments or problems with communications or intimacy that you could address?
Though it might be uncomfortable, confronting your feelings and addressing their causes is the only way to get your relationship back on its feet.
9. You lie about finances and hide money from your spouse
This usually comes from one person being controlling about money and the other reacting to perceived limits by spending.
It can also be because you worry about your spouse’s overspending and feel the need to save on your own.
Or it can be a precursor to leaving and wanting to have the money to do it.
Let’s assume that it’s not the last one.
Finances are a hot topic and a source of stress on marriages. Without both of you agreeing and committing to a financial plan, you can find yourself getting into serious difficulties, both financial and marital.
Even if one of you is a CPA, family finances have to be planned, decided and agreed on by both of you. It’s unreasonable and disrespectful to make all the decisions and relegate one partner to an allowance.
A solid family budget accounts for both of your priorities and long term plans.
If there are allowances, they are free spending that you have both agreed are satisfactory and meet your individual needs.
There are some great financial programs and experts to help you if you need it, but sometimes simpler is better if you can work together.
My friend, Kim Anderson has a wonderful and easy course that will help get you work out a financial plan together. It’s called The Cash Fueled Life.
She also has a book, available on Amazon, called Live. Save. Spend. Repeat that has been getting great reviews for a reason! It teaches you to use your money as a tool to reach your goals by creating a spending plan to let you pay off your bills and save towards your future while still enjoying life. Kim and her husband paid off an impressive $93,000 of debt in two years and on only one income. The lady knows what she’s talking about!
10. You can’t compromise on issues that bother you
Let’s say it again. Marriage is all about compromise.
If you or your partner have to have it your way, all the way, you are not being fair to your spouse or your relationship.
Even in some highly charged emotional issues, compromise can usually be reached. Couples of different faiths, with different parenting styles and conflicting financial or lifestyle goals have managed to create compromises that satisfy them.
If you have not been able to compromise, it is likely that one (or both) of you are willing to budge from your stance.
Do you truly feel that your way is the only possible path?
What will happen if you make modifications to address your partner’s point of view?
There are very few situations that can’t be resolved is you and your spouse love and respect each other. Maybe you can try some new ways of tackling decision making and even allow one person to prevail as long as the other is allowed to make the decision in other matters.
The bottom line is that compromise is about being fair to both of you. Making that work is basic to a lasting relationship.
11. You don’t allow each other time with friends and family
Do you resent the amount of time your husband spends with his buddies? Does he get annoyed at your closeness to your family?
Taken to an extreme, separating a spouse from friends and family is a dangerous sign of controlling behavior. You should never feel as if your choice is either your husband or your family & friends.
Of course you should not be spending all your free time with other people. You have to care for your relationship and that takes time together. But if you are feeling that your spouse doesn’t want you to spend any time with the people that are important in your life, you need to get help.
12. You never feel good enough for your spouse
This is the flip side of having nothing good to say about your spouse. When you are bullied and disrespected, when your spouse responds to everything you say with sarcasm, it’s normal to start feeling that you are not good enough.
The damage to your self-esteem can be crippling and long-lasting. No one deserves that. Demand changes or leave.
Sometimes, these feelings don’t arise because of anything your husband says or does.
When your partner is more educated, from a wealthier family background or otherwise different than your own upbringing, it can cause you to question your worth. We are always hardest on ourselves.
In this situation, you have to remember that he chose you for a reason. The qualities and personality that you brought into your marriage are what he values. Take some time to view yourself through his eyes and realize what he loves about you.
Better yet, ask him!
When I met my husband, he was headed towards a PhD in physics and I had just dropped out of a college program. I was intimidated but he wooed me and made it clear from the beginning that I was what he wanted. He encouraged me to go back to school but never pushed. Whatever new hobby or work I tried out, he unfailingly has been supportive. He loved the things about me that have nothing to do with education or wealth (I did finish college eventually, by the way).
Find out what your husband sees in you and then believe it!
13. You don’t confide in each other
Does your spouse talk to his friends about problems at work or with your relationship instead of to you?
While we all need a sounding board outside of marriage at times, problems should be something that you talk to each other about first.
It is a betrayal of your trust when you hear something that your husband has told a friend who then told someone and the story eventually gets to you. It’s painful when the person telling you is clearly uncomfortable to find you had no idea.
Friends are important and sometimes you need outside advice on how to deal with certain things.
But confidences should begin inside your marriage, especially if the problem is between the two of you.
14. You have let yourself go
Yes, you relax a bit when you’re married. You can’t help it and there’s nothing wrong with it. The intimacy of two people living togeher means you have to relax expectations.
Complete disregard, however, is disrespectful to your spouse. Making an effort to care for yourself and your surroundings shows that the other person matters to you.
I am not talking about weight and fitness here, though that would be relevant for some couples. People gain and lose weight and they may not be as fit as they could, but they can still take care of themselves. Basic hygiene, clean clothing and an effort to present a neat appearance show pride in yourself but also show that you care enough to make the effort for your spouse.
Even if weight is the one thing you most want to improve, there is no excuse for not looking your best in the process. One of my best friends lost over 100 lbs but she was always stylish and well-groomed – before, during and after. A class act all the way.
If your husband is the one that has let himself go, remind him that you love him but that he’s most attractive to you when he keeps himself groomed.
As in everything else, loving communication is the most important thing to convey what you want.
15. You are dealing with an addiction
We are in crisis with regards to addiction. The Opioid epidemic cuts across all social classes. Drugs are easy to acquire. People are self-medicating with alcohol, pharmaceuticals and risky behaviors.
Few marriages can survive the messy results of addiction.
But there are other addictive behaviors that can, unchecked, cause damage to your relationship.
We have become people that are addicted to our mobile devices. Whenever you are checking the latest in Instagram or Pinterest, while your husband is with you (or worse, if he’s at your side, checking the latest sports scores or Facebook updates), you are choosing media over personal interaction.
A reasonable amount of time is one thing but when you are texting to each other while in the same room, you are addicted.
My husband calls it iPad-otitis.
My tendency to watch TV while checking my iPad regularly for updates, emails or whatever strikes my fancy.
He hates it. Even during the commercials, he finds it distracting and it makes him feel that I’m not there with him.
When he told me, I got to work on making a change. It took a little while, but now my devices stay on my desk across the room when I’m with my husband. The rule is suspended when I have pending work issues that need me to respond to texts or emails, but most of the time that isn’t necessary.
He likes to work on projects around the house and will say “I’ll be with you in two minutes and we’ll watch some TV, ok?” I log off my computer and get ready only to find that the two minutes sometimes stretches into as much as an hour.
We talked about it and he now tries to give me a more reasonable estimate of how long he’ll be tied up and I adjust what I’m doing accordingly. I’m fine because he is being considerate of my time and I have plenty of things to do on my own.
Addictions come in many forms.
Alcohol and drugs require professional intervention and support. If the person with the addiction is willing to be helped, your marriage has a chance of surviving.
For the very common mobile devices addictions, understanding and clear communications can help you make changes to put your relationship ahead of the pleasures of social media.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that most marriages end without the couple ever seeking out help in fixing the problems that lead to divorce.
When overwhelmed with the pain of common marriage problems, it seems easier for many people to just leave.
That is so sad.
And so preventable.
If you have tried together to improve your marriage and deal with problems in a respectful and supportive way, and still cannot find common ground, then at least you will have clarity on what action to take and you are less likely to harbor negative feelings about your children’s other parent.
If, however, you want to fix what’s broken in your relationship and strengthen your marriage but need more help, take the time to understand what the problems are and seek help from a couples’ therapist to help you succeed.
Your marriage is an emotional investment that you’ve poured yourself into.
You owe it to yourself, and to your spouse, to be brave enough to honestly discuss and work on problems and find solutions together.