Whether you're thinking about getting married, married already, or dreaming about it, you're bound to question your marriage or future coupling at some point. The questions may be specific or general, but either way the topic of marriage brings up all types of emotions, vulnerabilities, and curiosities. Many couples will be looking for signs that it will ultimately last, while others will be looking for red flags. There are conventional words of marriage wisdom that still make the rounds (relentlessly so), but there are also more subtle and interesting clues that predict your marriage won't last.
I've been married for seven years now. My husband and I met in college and are now in the midst of raising young children. The transitions in those seven short years have been bananas. Our personal and professional schedules are chaotic. Life sometimes feels like a whirlwind.
When my man put a ring on it I was in a dreamy, cloud nine, blurry fantasy of love. Neither of us was truly paying attention to the real issues that could come up. Sure we talked about the usual topics like how many kids do you want, when do you want them, where will we spend holidays, how will we handle our money, retirement, etc. But we could've never predicted or planned for the surprises, the bombshells, and questions that arise from simply going through life and living it. Each time we're faced with uncertainties, challenges, and issues, it ultimately comes down to how are we going to handle this, do we agree, do we not, and are we going to make it through this.
In an effort to find consistent clues of marriage longevity and divorce I interviewed psychologists, divorce lawyers, and a matchmaker. Here are nine key clues, according to these experts from varying fields, that can predict your marriage won't last.
1. Someone Is "Rigid"
"These tend to be the worst divorces because the rigid partner does not tend to change," Chloe Wolman, a divorce attorney in Los Angeles tells Romper. "The rigid partner will often continue to insist that things go their way even after the divorce papers are filed."
Wolman says the interesting part is that she often sees rigid partners paired up with compromising partners, so it seems like the relationship is well balanced.
"She wants things a certain way, and he's willing to accommodate those wants. Easy, right? No quite," Wolman says. "Even the most easy going partner will eventually break down."
Wolman explains that one partner may require their spouse to act a certain way, buy certain things, and adhere to certain "rules." She says this rigidity comes down to control and refusal to accept dissent, which in her opinion is the number one predictor of divorce.
2. Soemone Doesn't Prioritize The Marriage
"If your spouse doesn't make you a priority and if you fail to feel special, you will lose interest in the relationship," Regina DeMeo, a divorce attorney in District of Columbia says. "The commitment simply falls apart."She adds that a person who makes work, friends, and extended family a priority is basically taking their spouse for granted.
Matchmaker and founder of Hunting Maven, Julia Bekker agrees that not making time for each other can be a serious problem for couples.
"When work and everything else becomes more of a priority than your relationship or significant other, you are doomed," Bekker says. "Don't expect a person to just always be there. If you neglect your partner long enough it will take a toll on them emotionally and it is hard to come back from that."
3. Someone Is Indifferent Towards The Marriage
This is one my own mother has preached to me through the years. She always told me if you're not happy, sad, or even angry, you know you're numb and ultimately it's probably over.
Date to Soulmate founder and psychologist, Michael Arn, backs up what my mom's wisdom. He tells Romper you know your relationship is in trouble if you don't feel anything towards you partner. Arn continued with the hard truth about indifference, saying that it shows "you are no longer fighting for your relationship."
4. You Have A "No Conflict" Marriage
The idea that couples who don't fight have "perfect" marriages has circled in our society for a long time. But couples therapist, Marni Feuerman says all relationships have conflict and disagreements to some degree, and if they don't then they are lying or exhibiting some definite avoidance behavior.
"Couples who routinely avoid conflict slowly drift apart," Feuerman says. "It's like the music of the relationship is playing but neither is getting on the dance floor." She says these types of couples eventually just become roommates and the marriage (and love) dies.
5. There Is Conflict With The In-Laws
This one is a sensitive topic because we're talking about your spouse's family, sometimes their own mother or father. That's rough. Psychiatrist Dr. Celia Trotta says conflicts or difference of opinions, even with in-laws, can be totally normal. But they can also be a sign of bigger problems.
"If you are having an issue with your spouse's family and he or she ignores the problem or does not support you it can be a sign that he or she is not fully invested in the longevity of your marriage," Trotta says.
6. One Partner Gets Sober, And The Other Stays In Their Addiction
This one will really resonate for anyone that's dealt with addiction in a relationship. When a partner in a marriage gets sober it is obviously very good for that person. However, if the other partner is still deep in their own addictions the relationship can get very rocky and quickly.
"The committed sober partner is living such a radically different life that they have nothing in common," Gretchen Kubacky, a psychologist in Los Angeles says. She adds, "Without the haze of drugs or alcohol, the spouse no longer seems quite as enticing as he or she once did."
7. You Two Don't Have Enough In Common
You hear the old trope "opposites attract" all of the time, but that doesn't always translate into longevity. Bekker, who couples up people for a living, sees it all of the time.
"Difference can be a good and necessary thing if they are bringing something positive to one another and adding to the relationship," Bekker says. "But if you are two completely different people with entirely different upbringings, values, lifestyles, and desires, chances are it won't work."
She believes that both will always be trying to conform or one or both of you will simply get tired of never being on the same page.
8. Someone Make Jokes At The Other's Expense
You've no doubt heard a spouse be referred to the "old ball and chain." A seemingly harmless phrase that's been used for years can actually be quite damaging.
"If you make jokes in public at your partner's expense, this can show underlying immaturity in the relationship and hints at underlying disrespect," Dr. Paul DePompo, psychologist in Newport Beach says. These subtle insults can actually go a step further and be considered verbal abuse. The Emotional Abuse Answers website noted that abusers use jokes so that they seem innocent. When jokes are made about a person, it can diminish their self-esteem, embarrass them, and cause pain.
9. One Partner Is Too Co-Dependent On The Other
This is the problem when one or both partners either don't take the time to develop themselves before marriage, or lose their identity in the relationship.
"You must be happy and secure with yourself to have a successful relationship with someone," Bekker says. "If you rely solely on them to feel 'complete' and 'happy' you will not only be putting unrealistic responsibilities and expectations on your partner, but you will push your partner away."
Bekker stresses how important it is for people to get to know themselves and feel comfortable with themselves before getting married.
"Have your own set of friends and hobbies, interests, career, etc." Bekker says. "This way you can both add to each others lives and be with each other because you feel you want to be, not because you have to be."