Richard and I have very different ways of solving problems.
My problem-solving techniques go something like this: leave it and see what happens, it may go away on its own. Richard’s way of dealing with problems is: tackle it head-on and work at it until it’s fixed.
Both of these have pros and cons. Sometimes my way works, sometimes his way does.
However, when it comes to serious issues, like disease or marriage troubles, it’s better to use the “tackle it head-on and get it fixed no matter what” approach.
The difference between disease and marriage is that we often don’t take note of the symptoms of a troubled marriage.
While symptoms are unpleasant, they are actually our friend, warning us that something is wrong.
So, how can you tell if your relationship is in trouble? Pay attention to the symptoms.
Let’s jump in and look at the symptoms of a marriage in need of urgent attention:
Your conversations lack depth. You talk about who’s picking the kids up from school and which one of you is going to fetch cousin so-and-so from the airport. You don’t reveal inner thoughts and feelings. There is no connection at all and you hardly ever make eye contact when you talk.
You don’t plan activities together anymore. You prefer to each do your own thing and have your own friends. You don’t tell each other what’s happening in your life, where you’re going, or what you’re doing next.
You don’t touch each other affectionately. You never hold hands unless you have to. If you do have sex it’s perfunctory – hasty, superficial, and lacking enthusiasm. Or, you haven’t been intimate for years.
You avoid each other when you’re at home, going to bed at different times or sleeping in separate rooms. You eat meals at different times or in different rooms. You drive to church or social events in separate cars.
One or both of you refuse to bother with counseling, seeing the problems in your relationship as the other person’s fault. Or, if you are going for counseling, one or both of you are not willing to put into practice what the counselor is suggesting.
It seems like the only option to escape the misery is divorce. You find the thought entering your head more and more and the idea of freedom from your marriage is increasingly appealing.
The feelings died long ago and you just couldn’t be bothered anymore. You’re tired of pretending that all is well when it’s not.
There are things you tell your friends that your spouse doesn’t know. You delete messages on your phone so your spouse won’t see.
You are unable to resolve conflict and your relationship is marked by times of severe conflict or silence. A lack of fighting is a red flag – maybe one of you has given up their own desires, just doesn’t care anymore, or doesn’t want to talk.
You don’t enjoy the same things you used to enjoy together. You’ve drifted apart and have nothing to talk about and share. You’ve developed separate hobbies over time and now you have nothing in common.
You can’t hold a conversation without insulting, demeaning, or belittling each other. You don’t respect each other’s boundaries. You shout at each other or mock one another by mean mimicking or rolling eyes.
There are no positives about your relationship anymore. You blame each other for everything that goes wrong between you. You find fault with everything your spouse does and neither of you takes responsibility for their actions. There is more bad than good in your relationship and you have become each other’s enemy instead of friend.
One – or both – of you have been unfaithful, and don’t regret it. Your mutual trust is gone. You just don’t care that you have broken your marriage vows.
The relationship is completely one-sided, lacking reciprocity. One partner is a taker and gives nothing back, no matter how much the other gives and tries to make the relationship work.
If your marriage is showing any of these symptoms it’s not too late to do something about it.
Ignoring the symptoms, hoping they will go away is not going to work. You must take the symptoms seriously and do whatever it takes to heal your marriage.
Read 5 Simple Ways to Pull Your Marriage Out of A Stall for ideas on how to get started.
Is your relationship showing any of the above signs? What are you going to do about it?