Warning Signs of a Troubled Marriage

older couple arguing

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Every marital relationship is unique. However, there are common warning signs and red flags that indicate serious problems in the marriage. If you find yourself in a marriage with these concerns, do not ignore them! Do not bury your heads in the sand and think these problems will just go away. They most often will not! You must talk with your spouse about them. These are hard but necessary conversations. 

"Bottom line: I hope all of you are in happy marriages but let's be honest, no marriage is perfect. Just be smart, work at keeping your marriage alive and exciting but don't put your head in the sand if red flags are waving in the wind." Silvana D. Raso (head of the family law practice at Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A).

Common Warning Signs of a Marriage in Trouble

  • The two of you bicker a great deal.
  • You are withdrawing from one another or use the eye roll a lot.
  • You don't fight fair.
  • You find yourselves having the same arguments over the same things over and over again.
  • Your fights escalate out of control or to screaming matches.
  • There seems to be a feeling of indifference between you both
  • One or both of you are started to detach emotionally
  • You fight often in front of your kids
  • There is a lot of nitpicking going on between the two of you.
  • You no longer enjoy your time together. Your spouse prefers to spend free time away from you on a regular basis.
  • You have nothing nice to say to one another.
  • You don't talk with one another about your problems or feelings.
  • You don't respect one another or you nag one another.
  • There is inequality between you both concerning gender roles or decision making
  • You can't seem to agree on goals and values.
  • You don't trust one another and feel suspicious.
  • The level of sexual intimacy in your marriage is low or there isn't any at all.
  • Teasing has become hurtful.
  • Your partner keeps secrets.
  • You think you are getting sick or having physical complaints due to marital stress
  • You don't make time for each other and for new experiences together
  • Your spouse prefers to talk or texts on a cell phone that is kept private.
  • Your spouse is in frequent contact with old boyfriends or girlfriends via social media.
  • Your spouse tries to isolate you from your family and friends.
  • You discover your spouse is lying about money, is more frugal than usual, hides money or controls you with money.
  • You are happier when your spouse is away from home for an afternoon, a meeting, or for a business trip.
  • You realize that there is emotional and/or physical abuse in your marriage.
  • One or both of you have considered cheating or has cheated -- in real life or online, physically or emotionally.

According to Jay Lebow, PhD., "Marital distress is one of the most frequently encountered and disturbing human problems. Everyone who is married experiences difficulties, but for some, these troubles reach the point that partners become profoundly disappointed and upset about their marriages and may even come to question whether they want to continue to remain married. Marital distress is very unsettling and the ways marital problems often progress make it easy for things to go from bad to worse. However, in most situations, this flow in a negative direction can be altered. Most marriages can return to being satisfying. Sometimes people can make these changes on their own, but frequently help from a couple therapist is needed."

Don't Wait to Seek Professional Help

To receive the most from marriage counseling, don't wait until your marriage is beyond repair to get professional help. A skilled marriage therapist can be an ally to your marriage. This person can guide you through the tough communication needed to get your marriage back on track. A therapist will not take sides (within reason), help creates safety and connection and help you with negative communication patterns. When the problems become unsolvable by our own attempts, it is a good idea to seek professional help.

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  1. MentalHelp.net. Predictable patterns of marriage breakdown. 2019.