by Mari Lyles
My parents have been married for 71 years; two elderly people bound together by familiarity, beliefs, rock-hard faith and accommodating crankiness. My father’s brothers, who unfortunately passed in the last few years, had marriages of similar duration. Eighty percent of my numerous cousins spread across the country can claim marital longevity; it was ingrained from childhood after all. How happy they are is another question altogether.
My marriage lasted all of six years: two fairly happy, the other four bordering on Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell. I always thought of myself as a rebel, the exception to my family’s unwritten coda of undying commitment. I obviously didn’t inherit that particular “ever after” family gene. I couldn’t adapt to the ride or die mentality and bailed due to my low tolerance for b.s. and infidelity. While the dissolution of my marriage was undoubtedly a blessing in disguise, as a coach, I’m nevertheless in the business of building and solidifying relationships, helping clients identify rocks before they become boulders. Here are 10 signs to look for before your marriage crashes on shore.
- Lack of intimacy
When you’d rather lick a toilet than be intimate with your spouse, your marriage is definitely on shaky ground. Intimacy can be viewed as physical or non-physical bonding, where the two of you come together as a unit. When there is no longer any effort to unite and bond for any given reason, this is certainly an harbinger of underlying problems that need addressing.
There is secrecy, and then there is Secrecy. Secret email accounts, text messages, or phones are usually a dead give-away that something is amiss. Husbands and wives are not joined at the hip and individual space allowing for growth is needed in a marriage or any relationship. However, when a spouse exhibits signs of deliberating keeping information from you, makes excuses for reasons why, or looks like a “deer in the headlights” when questions arise, such secrecy demeans not only you, but the foundations of the marriage itself.
- Diminution of Value
Once upon a time when your courtship was all magic and sparkly, your spouse was Wonder Woman or Superman in your eyes. That was then. Now, their stock value has plummeted to little or nothing and that tiny gremlin in the back of your head keeps questioning why you married such a loser. When your spouse evolves into “someone you just happen to live with,” it’s time to really take a second look at what’s at stake in your marriage.
- Repeated arguments
Regurgitating the same old arguments time and time again with no resolution in sight, or introducing new subjects into the fray, or worse, seeing arguments turn nastier and perhaps physical is a warning sign in any marriage, and shouldn’t be randomly dismissed. Any argument that even remotely has the possibility for abuse is reason enough to call in a mediator (marriage counselor/coach) if you hope to maintain your relationship.
- Complaining to friends
Your friends are avoiding you like the plague because you’ve become a one-note record full of complaints all centered around the inadequacies of your spouse. The person you married is inept, incompetent and inconsiderate, and these are some of the kinder things you’ve said. Nothing your spouse does is correct. Let’s face it, you want out of the relationship in a really bad way.
- Using substances or distractions to drown out your problems
Your job sucks, but you find yourself spending a lot of unnecessary time at work to avoid your spouse. Or, your friends have gradually developed more importance than spending time at home. You’ve noticed your food or alcohol consumption has gone through the roof, and your language has suddenly become replete with expletives you haven’t used in years. At this point, you’re turning your anger/disappointment/
depression/fear… you name it… in on yourself instead of facing your problems head on.
What seems like eons ago, you and your partner enjoyed spending the majority of your time entwined in “togetherness” activities, whether it was bowling, golf, tennis, crossword puzzles, or what have you, complete with laughter and snacks. Nowadays, the only activity the two of you seem to engage in is sleeping in the same bed… emphasis on sleeping. If you find the two of you have nothing further in common, understand that you’re drifting away. Unfortunately, when partners drift apart, there are usually other men or women willing to step in and take up the slack.
You (or your spouse) look like a slob, and quite frankly, could care less. The nonchalant attitude regarding the weight gain, the unruly hair and stained teeth all speak volumes of a less than enthusiastic desire to look pleasing. Combined with a take it or leave it demeanor, the ambiance in your marriage says quite clearly, the thrill is gone. Unless your spouse is as unkempt as you, you can consider your marriage shipwrecked.
Infidelity, in its myriad forms, has the ability to destroy relationships given its violation of trust, one of the top foundations of marriage. And lest we think otherwise, there is such a thing as emotional infidelity, wherein your daydreams or imaginings of your co-worker or former lover far outweigh any satisfaction you currently derive from your spouse. Depending upon the makeup of the spouse, infidelity can be worked out; however, some ramifications of the betrayal can last a lifetime.
- Tuned Out
If you’ve begun to regard your spouse as another potted plant or if you’ve tuned your significant other out to the point where their very presence doesn’t make an indelible mark on your consciousness, then by all means realize there’s a ship wreck right beyond the horizon.
If any of these weeds are cropping up in your marital garden, and you want to keep your marriage, try tackling the problem now, before these weeds becomes full grown bushes.