Six Signs Your Marriage Is in Trouble
Are the six signs your marriage is in trouble affecting your relationship? After over a decade as a couples counselor and Denver marriage counselor (and over two decades of being married myself), I’ve concluded that being in a relationship is a little like doing yoga: if it feels really easy all the time, you’re probably not doing it right.
Having a little friction, some differences of opinion, and even conflict, is an entirely natural, normal, and healthy part of any marriage or long-term partnership.
However, some situations are more concerning than others and reveal signs that your marriage is in trouble. These dark patterns and cycles of negativity can take hold of your marriage in subtle ways, like toxic black mold that blooms unseen in the walls of your house until it’s too late to do anything about it.
There does come a point when it’s too late. Marriages can be broken beyond repair when trust, empathy, and commitment are damaged past a certain point (like a destructive affair); even the best marriage counselor in the world cannot help you put the pieces back together again. That’s why it’s so crucial to know the stages of a dying marriage and recognize the signs your relationship is failing, before you reach that point.
Seeing the Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble
If you’d prefer to listen, I’ve also recorded an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast on the six signs your marriage is in trouble. I hope you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone, that relationship issues do arise and are expected, and that there is a healing and healthy path forward in your relationship if you put in the work it deserves. You can tune in to six signs your marriage is in trouble on this page, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen (or keep reading the article below!).
Our authentic relationship experts know how to help you learn, grow, and move forward into a bright new chapter.
The Six Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble
1. Your marriage is in trouble if you feel resentful all the time.
You talked about whatever the issue is, and everybody said “sorry,” but deep down you still don’t feel like the problem has been resolved. You don’t feel heard, or fully understood. You still feel bad about what happened, and you don’t trust that it won’t happen again. When you’re filled with unresolved resentment and mistrust, it’s hard to feel like you love your partner in the way that you’d like to. Love is a two-way street, and if you feel like your partner is at a dead-end, you may feel yourself come to one as well.
2. Communication doesn’t feel productive.
Every time something comes up, voices immediately get raised, and it turns into a street brawl instead of a productive (if intense) conversation. You’re intentionally mean to each other and try to wound each other, or it feels like your relationship is a rollercoaster of honeymoon phases mixed with periods when you constantly fight. It feels impossible to solve problems and hear each other out because one or both of you are focused on “winning” instead of “understanding.” Or, disagreement leads to someone freaking out, shutting down, or falling apart instead of listening and communicating effectively.
3. You expect the worst possible outcome.
Your trust in the emotional safety of your relationship is eroding. You anticipate that your partner will get mad at you or be mean to you, or will be emotionally unresponsive to you. You start to feel anxious about being around them and feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You believe that your relationship is toxic (and maybe it is!), or that your partner is toxic.
4. Your relationship is in trouble if you’re talking to everyone but each other.
If your best friend/mother/sister knows more about how you feel about your relationship than your partner does, that is a huge red flag. While it’s much more comfortable to talk to a third party about your feelings, if you’re not also working things out together, you may be doing more harm than good. If you think your partner ought to know how you feel because of all the non-verbal hints, but you’re not actually saying the words out loud, you might need a relationship coach to help address the lack of communication and mediate productive conversations.
5. The “Four Horsemen” are Riding Through.
Dr. John Gottman, a researcher in the field of marriage counseling, created a theory that can help predict whether a marriage will fail by the presence of four toxic behaviors he calls “The Four Horsemen.”
These four horsemen are:
If you find any (or all!) of these factors in your communication with your partner, get to a couples counselor or a marriage counselor online quickly, before the four horsemen stampede on your marriage. No matter how strong your bond, these patterns can drive you apart, making it hard to feel attracted to your partner and to share emotional and physical intimacy with each other.
6. At least one of you thinks it’s too late.
When relationships finally end, it is almost always because one person has lost hope that things can be better. They have tried to talk, tried to change, and tried to get their partner to understand them — sometimes for a very long time. It has not worked. At a certain point, they simply lose hope that their partner can love them in the way that they need to be loved. They start to believe that the relationship is beyond repair.
If you’re reading these warning signs, and they feel familiar, don’t wait to get into marriage counseling. There is a breaking point in every relationship — but if you both still are willing to try, there is always hope.
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
6 Signs Your Marriage Is in Trouble
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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