Being in a relationship comes with plenty of ups and downs, and over the years, many couples tend to find themselves falling through the cracks and forgetting the very promise they first took on their wedding day.
Most of the time, people do not just simply fall out of love. Instead, problems often build up slowly over time, testing the basic foundations of a relationship.
“Unreasonable behavior”, “infidelity and extramarital affairs” and “financial problems” are just some of the common reasons cited for divorce.
According to the 2016 Prudential Relationship Index that surveyed more than 5,000 adults aged 25 to 55 in Asia, 24% of married people in Singapore actually seriously thought about leaving their spouse.
Since being in an unhappy marriage can take a huge toll on our physical and emotional well-being, acknowledging and understanding the signs of a troubled marriage can help you to decide if the red flags need to be addressed.
1. You hardly communicate anymore.
At the start of the relationship, both of you might have had endless topics to bond over, but somewhere down the line, you began to realize that you no longer wanted to talk or share much with your partner and vice versa.
Communication is one of the most crucial ingredients in a successful marriage as it allows couples to express their appreciation for each other and show a genuine interest in their partner’s life.
A lack of communication also means that you probably aren’t hashing problems out when they need to be addressed, which may likely cause more problems down the line.
If you are no longer actively engaging and spending quality time together, or can’t seem to take part in meaningful conversations, it may be time to reassess your relationship to set things right.
2. There is little to no intimacy.
Intimacy plays a vital role when it comes to having a happy marriage, but this does not only come in the form of sexual intercourse.
Physical affection and finding different ways to connect with your partner is just as important, such as having brunch together or planning romantic date nights to rekindle the passion amidst a hectic schedule.
Shoulder massages, spontaneous hugs and giving words of care or encouragement to your spouse can help to build up both emotional and physical intimacy.
Not feeling a sense of intimacy with your partner can quickly stir up feelings of being rejected and unwanted, and may be a clear sign that you are in an unhappy marriage.
Seeking marriage therapy early is vital to saving the marriage.
3. You would rather spend time with your friends than be at home with your partner.
Research often reports that happy marriages are those where couples celebrate each other’s successes as well as negative experiences.
Whether you have an exciting announcement or just received some bad news, wanting to share it with your friends and family instead of your partner can mean that you no longer see them as a pillar of support.
While spending a little time apart is healthy in a relationship, too much of it may spell trouble.
If you would rather spend more time at work and are constantly trying to avoid your partner, this could mean there are feelings of dissatisfaction and you will need to dig deeper to find out the underlying reasons.
4. Everything they do irritates you.
What was once cute and endearing has now turned into frustration and disgust, where even the smallest of things can trigger huge, explosive arguments.
Little habits like the way they eat or talk might start to become more than just an annoyance, and you might start to feel a sense of resentment towards your partner.
When this happens, you may want to first analyse why you feel this way, so that you can figure out how to resolve the problem.
5. There is emotional withdrawal.
Emotional withdrawal is a huge sign that there you might be subconsciously thinking about a future that does not include your partner.
Often, emotional withdrawal happens in an effort to convince yourself that you don’t care anymore so that it is easier when the actual separation occurs.
You might notice you or your partner pulling back from the relationship, or feeling distant from them despite being in the same room.
No one feels heard, and no one listens – and it can be extremely stressful to be in an unhappy marriage that is on the brink of becoming toxic.
It is never a good idea to let a cold war prolong indefinitely. You may want to nip the problem in the bud and sign up for marriage therapy to mend your relationship before it is too late.
6. Both of you have differing values, beliefs and goals.
“Opposites attract” may be what makes a couple want to tie the knot.
Unfortunately, different values, backgrounds and lifestyles can quickly become major roadblocks in growing together as a couple.
When it comes to relationship compatibility, studies have shown that couples with similar values, cultural backgrounds and lifestyle habits find it easier to understand and live with each other as compared to those who are vastly different.
Completely different parenting styles or different ways of spending one’s money may often be the root of many heated quarrels in a relationship.
One would probably find it easier to pick up a new hobby or kick a habit than to adopt a partner’s set of beliefs and attitudes towards life.
Seeking marriage therapy earlier could help you find new ways to resolve such differences amicably.
7. There’s criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.
Criticism: Attacking and shifting all the blame on your partner by targeting their appearance, personality and character (e.g, “You are so stupid, you can’t do anything right” or “You only care about yourself you are so selfish” and “You are so old and ugly”).
Contempt: Disrespecting and disregarding your partner’s feelings and using your ego to rule the relationship. You start to become sarcastic and enforce your superiority on your partner by attacking their self-worth.
Defensiveness: Refusing to accept responsibility in a problem and attacking your partner in retaliation. You constantly find excuses to minimize the consequences of your actions (e.g. “It’s all your fault” or “I am always the one doing the work”).
Stonewalling: Emotionally shutting down instead of openly addressing issues.
Continuing to exhibit these 4 traits often erode a relationship to the point where there is no longer mutual respect for each other.
To prevent the marriage from getting to the point of no return, self-reflection and recognizing one’s faults may very well be the key to mending the relationship.
8. There is abuse, addiction, or adultery.
The 3 As (abuse, addiction and adultery) can be a deal breaker for most couples that lead to divorce.
Alcoholism or gambling addictions can cause harm to a relationship due to the prolonged feelings of shame, insecurity and stress felt by the spouse whose partner is addicted to such vices.
Domestic violence, if silently tolerated by the victim over a period of time, often leads to the aggressor escalating the level of violence to obtain more satisfaction of being in control of the unhealthy relationship.
Discovering infidelity in a spouse often causes one to harbor hurt and negative feelings internally. Such unhealed wounds can reappear in the future even after one decides to “forgive and forget” the unfaithful partner.
Feelings of insecurity and a lack of self love are a major relationship killer, and if you are constantly feeling scared, anxious, or depressed because of your partner’s actions, these are signs that your marriage is in serious trouble.
What you should do if you notice these signs
There are many external circumstances that could be putting further stress on your marital relationship such as caring for young children, looking after a sick parent, or losing a job.
Seeking help from a marriage therapist should be the first priority if you notice any of the warning signs above.
If your partner is not interested or committed to tackling the issues of your marriage together with you and you have exhausted all possible ways to resolve your marital issues, choosing to go your separate ways is an option to consider.
Recognizing that your marriage cannot be saved is both difficult and painful.
You may want to make the process of divorce simpler by engaging the help of an experienced and accredited divorce lawyer to deal with the legalities of the divorce paperwork.
This article was first published on ilawyer.com.sg (all images have been replaced).