Knowing the telltale signs your relationship is ending can help you manage things in time so you can give your marriage another chance and work things out.
All couples experience difficulties, but for some, these problems reach a point where partners become deeply unhappy in their marriages. This can create a devastating downward spiral as the focus of the relationship remains on negativity.
However hopeless you may feel, learning to be aware of some of your risk factors can be a step in the right direction. Once this happens, you can see what needs to change and be thoughtful about doing things differently.
According to John Gottman, Ph. D., a leading expert in predicting divorce, there are four signs that indicate serious problems in a marriage.
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4 Detecting signs your relationship is ending
- You see that your marital problems are serious
If this is the case, don’t ignore them. If you bury your head in the sand and think that these problems will go away, then you are setting your relationship on a path towards divorce.
Although you may not want to talk to your spouse about your problems and fears, you need to. Doing so is difficult, but necessary.
- Talking about things seems useless
By the time relationship problems become serious, you may feel that there is no point in making an extra effort to fix things. It’s only natural to feel this way because, so far, you haven’t been successful with the approach you’ve tried.
Many people don’t succeed on their own because they don’t have the training or knowledge to help get the relationship back on track. Here is how-to advice that marriage therapists use.
If you haven’t already tried it, give it a try. It may make a difference in moving your relationship back toward happiness.
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Find a pattern of behaviors to blame
Are there a series of behaviors that occur before the negative interactions occur? For example, Craig and Olivia get into “fights” because she feels left out. If you take a closer look, the disturbances mostly happen on Sunday nights when Craig catches up on his sports matches.
Behavior A (8 p.m.: Craig is online to check sports scores).
Behavior B (8 p.m.: Olivia is lying on the couch lounging, wanting to connect with Craig through conversation).
Behavior C (Olivia expects Craig to shut down his laptop when she speaks. Instead, he ignores her attempts to speak. She gets angry, raises her voice, and complains).
Behavior D (Craig yells at her to stop talking because he’s busy).
Behavior E (Olivia yells and says she hates that he’s always ignoring her. She runs out of the room wondering why she’s trying to talk to him when he doesn’t care about her.)
Behavior G (Craig is angry but happy he can get back to catching up with his teams)
By becoming aware of the patterns that cause negative events in your relationship, you can change the course of things. Craig and Olivia are caught up in a weekly pattern that damages their relationship.
Olivia doesn’t understand that checking how his teams are doing is important to him. To turn their interaction into a win-win situation where they can make ends meet, Olivia needs to express how important this time is to her.
Craig, in turn, may change the time he keeps up with his sports. True, this is an overly simplistic example of how patterns work, but gaining awareness of what’s going on before a fight can make all the difference in the outcome.
- You start living parallel lives
Sometimes when one or both partners are unhappy in their relationship, they start spending less time together. This can create a relationship in which two people live in the same house, but their daily activities do not overlap.
The less engaged you are, the more distant you will start to grow, and the lonelier you will start to grow. The first step to breaking a separate lifestyle is to suggest that you and your partner do something together. It doesn’t matter what. The goal is to consolidate your time.
- Unity in marriage
If you are married and feel lonely, it is because you and your spouse are not romantically involved. Loneliness can creep in over time until one day you realize you’ve been feeling lonely in your relationship and aren’t sure how to fix it.
In an attempt to get closer to your partner, you may have tried to show yourself emotionally. If things don’t turn out as you hoped, you may be more cautious about taking other emotional risks.
The result of failed attempts to get close makes you feel even more lonely. When that happens, you slip deeper into loneliness by filling the conversation with superficial talk about work, kids, or other things.
The danger of loneliness in marriage is that your need for emotional connection is not met. This can leave you vulnerable to extramarital affairs.
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How to get rid of loneliness in marriage
Pronouns: A quick way to start the process of approaching your partner – change the pronouns. Separated couples use terms that describe one person — “I,” “mine,” “you,” and “your” rather than words that define togetherness — “we,” “we,” and “our.” This will be the first step to seeing yourself as part of a couple rather than as a lonely individual.
Read on: Taking it a step further, start educating yourself on techniques that have helped other couples reconnect. There are many good books on this subject.
Reconnect: Sometimes, loneliness occurs because you feel forgotten. Chances are if you feel this way, so will your partner. Try one of the four things below to help eliminate your loneliness.
speak. Tell your partner how you feel.
Remember the day you met.
Do something thoughtful for your partner.
Compliment your partner.
Don’t wait to seek professional help
Marital distress is one of the most frequently encountered problems. When relationship problems become unsolvable, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. To get the most out of marriage counseling, don’t wait until your marriage is beyond repair.
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A skilled marriage therapist will look at your relationship from the outside rather than the feelings that make couples feel stuck. This allows the therapist to consider your relationship problems and solutions from a more objective perspective.