Ask anyone who's been married for a while, and they'll tell you the same thing—marriage takes work. Unfortunately, not every marriage is made to stand the test of time. Sometimes, people simply grow apart, no matter how good their intentions are when they tie the knot.
If you're worried your marriage is on the rocks, knowing what signs to look for can help you identify whether it's worth trying to save your marriage, or if you should take the leap and dissolve it entirely.
You Don't Approach Problems as a Team
One of the key characteristics of a healthy relationship is the ability of both partners to approach issues as a team.
For example, let's that a man, Harry, is concerned that his partner, Sally, drinks too much. There are two ways Harry and Sally could approach this problem:
- Harry can shame Sally, blaming her for being irresponsible and telling her she needs to fix her drinking habit, or he'll leave her.
- Harry can tell Sally that he's concerned about her, and will work with her to find ways that they can collectively combat her drinking habit (helping her find an Alcoholics Anonymous group, refusing to drink around her, etc.).
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the second approach—where the couple confronts the problem as a team and works together to address it—will lead to better results.
You and your partner should approach issues with the ultimate goal of finding a resolution that helps build up both parties, not shame one person or drag them down.
If you notice that when you fight, arguments become less about "us versus this" and more about "me versus you," it may be a sign that your relationship needs some work.
You Argue More Often than Not
Even if you approach issues in a healthy way, you still shouldn't argue that often. Marriage researcher John Gottman posits that, in healthy relationships, couples argue once for about every 20 interactions they have. In other words, you should have around 20 positive experiences for every negative one that crops up.
If you find yourself constantly arguing with your partner—especially about things that you usually wouldn't care about—it may be a sign your marriage needs some work.
Someone Isn't Willing to Put in the Work
It may not be romantic, but relationships require work. In a healthy relationship, both parties are willing to actively devote themselves to making their marriage better.
One of the more well-known examples of the importance of devoting effort to a relationship is the article "She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink," written by Matthew Fray. In the article, the author recounts how his refusal to devote time towards things that mattered to his partner—like washing the dishes—eventually led to the end of his marriage.
If, in your marriage, one or both partners are unwilling to spend time and effort on making the relationship actively better, it may be time to consider working on your partnership.
You're Growing Apart
Nobody gets married intending to file for divorce later down the road. However, not everyone has the same path in life.
Whether it's your career or other decisions, such as the desire of one party to have kids while the other wants to remain childless, various factors can lead to spouses growing apart throughout a marriage.
Ultimately, marriage should improve the lives of both people involved. If you feel like you're limiting yourself by being in a relationship or don't have anything in common with your partner anymore, it may be time to reevaluate your marriage.
Tips for Improving a Failing Marriage
If you feel that your relationship is on the rocks but don't want to dissolve your marriage, there are plenty of things you can do try and improve your relationship. You should consider the following options:
- Visit a marriage counselor. Marriage counselors are certified psychologists who specialize in helping couples work through issues and build a stronger relationship. If your marriage is on the rocks, a counselor can be invaluable in helping you get back on the right track.
- Find something new to do together. One of the best ways to get closer to your partner is by picking up a new activity that you can do with each other. Make a list of hobbies you and your partner are both interested in. Then, look for clubs or societies near you that engage in those activities. You can simultaneously strengthen your relationship and make some new friends.
- Actively devote time toward doing something nice for your partner. On a consistent basis, dedicate yourself to doing things that you know your partner will appreciate. Make them a dish they like. Take care of a chore they usually do. Rent a movie you have fond memories of watching. Of course, this should go both ways—your partner should do the same for you. Making helping each other a habit will involve you more in each other's lives and increase the quality of your relationship.
- Be mindful of each other. Everyone has good weeks and bad weeks. It's okay for one party to forget some chores or be more argumentative, as long as it's not on a regular basis. You should both try and act with grace when one of you is feeling stressed out or depressed.
- Don't take your relationship for granted. It can be easy to take your relationship for granted, especially when you've been together with someone for a while. You and your partner should do things that encourage you to be actively invested in your relationship, like consistently telling each other things you appreciate about the other person, going on a special date with them, etc.
Unfortunately, not every relationship can be saved. If you decide to part ways with your spouse, you should consider alternatives to divorce, like mediation. Using mediation to dissolve your marriage can reduce the stress and cost of the process, enabling you to move towards a healthier, happier life post-divorce.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, our mediation attorneys can help you understand the mediation process more thoroughly and find the best path forward in your divorce.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (949) 558-2624.