If only marriages were like fairy tales; one day you get married and the next you live happily ever after. But anyone who's been in a long-term relationship can tell you that this is not the case. Marriage takes work, patience, and compromise. If you're lucky, the effort you put in will pay off with mostly happy memories, and a few difficult ones that ended up teaching you an important lesson or two. But if you're putting in the work, and it isn't paying off, you should begin researching how to tell if your marriage is in trouble.
And adding children into a marriage can cause it to turn on its end. Tension that was once resolved with a romantic date night or roll in hay, can escalate. You can't always drop everything to focus your attention on each other when there's an infant who needs to be nursed, or changed, or comforted.
If things don't get back to normal when the kids get older, you might find that they actually get worse. Adults who spend all of their time enveloped in the task of being a parent, can forget how to be a partner once the children are grown and no longer need 24/7 attention.
Here are some signs that your marriage may be in trouble and you should seek out professional support.
1. You Turn To Others Instead Of Your Spouse
On his website, author and pastor Kevin A. Thompson wrote that the first sign your marriage is in trouble is when you turn toward others rather than your spouse. It's healthy to have confidants outside of your marriage, but your spouse should be your first person – the first person you call with good news, the first person you ask for advice, and the first person you turn to if you think that something is wrong.
2. You Don't Trust Your Spouse
Women have this superpower called intuition. Psychology Today noted that women are excellent at reading facial expressions and as a result, they are more likely to pick up on subtle emotional messages. When you start to get that gut feeling that makes you start to distrust your spouse, it's a pretty good indicator that something is wrong in your relationship. If you have actual evidence to corroborate your gut feeling, then it's definitely time to face your problems head on.
3. You Fantasize About Having An Affair Or Leaving Your Spouse
If you're having serious fantasies about cheating on your spouse, or have started to imagine leaving the relationship, this is a red flag that your marriage is in trouble. Divorce Coach Dr. Karen Finn wrote on YourTango, "even if these fantasies don't help fuel a divorce, they will definitely help fuel misery."
4. You Don't Spend Enough Time Together
This is tough, because some couples have to work long hours in order to make ends meet. However, when you do have free time, if you choose to spend it with friends or doing your own thing instead of with your spouse, it can mean that you have problems in your marriage. Even if you don't currently have marital issues, spending less and less time together can cause problems.
5. You Can't Stop Bickering
Some couples who are in love and deeply committed communicate by bickering. But if your bickering regularly escalates into fighting, or you argue about the same issues over and over again without even attempting to understand the other's point of view, this can cause irreparable damage to your relationship. You can become so accustomed to disagreeing with your spouse, that you will argue, even when you are on the same side.
6. You've Stopped Having Regular Sex
A regular sex life is difficult to have when you have small children or work long hours. Sometimes everyday stress causes a dwindling of your sex life. But if one partner is making advances and the other is turning them down, this can be a sign of trouble. As marriage counselor Michele Weiner-Davis wrote on Huffington Post, "allowing your sexual differences to divide you often puts a marriage at risk of infidelity or divorce."
7. You Focus On The Kids More Than On Each Other
Many moms are guilty of this. You feel as though it's your obligation to focus on your children's needs, and figure that your spouse is an adult and can take care of him or herself. Except that if you do this long enough, you forget how to pay attention to each other. Weiner-Davis noted that empty-nesters are divorcing in droves because without the children at home, spouses no longer have anything in common.