Experts Say These 17 Subtle Signs May Mean A Marriage Won't Last
Some couples can pinpoint the exact moment they knew they were going to get divorced. Others truly believed they were happily married until the very moment they signed their papers. While major compatibility issues or infidelity can be obvious signs that a marriage won't last forever, experts stress the important of paying attention to the small stuff.
"Small things can be much more dangerous to a marriage because it's easy to let little things slide," Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle. "It might bother your relationship too much in the moment, but one too many 'small things' may cause pent-up anger and ill-feelings." The more resentment that builds up inside, the more explosive it can be for the two of you at some point down the line.
A lot of effort that goes into making a marriage last. According to divorce attorney Steven J. Mandel, some happily married couples go into their commitment with the best intentions, but many may still inevitably get divorced down the line. And while divorce is in no way an end-all, be-all, experts say there are certain subtle signs to look out for if you're worried your marriage might not last long-term.
1. Generous Acts Are Met With Suspicion
If surprise romantic gestures or thoughtful acts of service are met with "what did you do now?" your relationship may not make it. According to Schweyer, this type of knee-jerk reaction means there are underlying trust issues in the relationship.
"If the constant reception to every affectionate thing you do is suspicion that you did something wrong or that you cheated on them, this is a sign that your marriage may not have a strong foundation to begin with," she says. "No one in the relationship should project their issues and insecurities to the other party." After all, relationships require complete trust.
2. Flaws And Faults Are Used As "Jokes"
If one of you makes light of a mistake once to ease tension, that's fine. But if one partner is constantly "joking" about the other's faults and flaws, this can cause resentment and generate passive-aggressive behavior in the relationship. These are two obvious factors you don't want in your partnership. It's even more problematic when you take these jokes outside of the relationship. According to Schweyer, "Your marriage isn't there to be the comedic skit one of you uses to make other people laugh."
3. You Stop Being Curious About Each Other
When you've been together for a long time, it can be easy to assume you know your partner inside and out. But people constantly change. According to Schweyer, learning more about your partner should never stop. "Being interested in getting to know your other half is vital in making the marriage work," she says. "Once you know more about each other, the easier it is to navigate the relationship."
4. No One Is Willing To Compromise
You and your partner are two different people with different interests and dislikes. "The only way couples get through conflict is when they learn when to stand up for what they want or when to give their partners a chance to do things according to how they want," Schweyer says. "When that stops, then problems and misunderstandings will only grow." It's hard to have a long-lasting relationship when you are on two separate teams. If you've stopped compromising or one of you always has to win, your marriage may not last.
5. You Stop Fighting
How you handle conflict can really determine whether your relationship is going to last or not. According to Jeanette Schneider, relationship expert and author of LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future, if you're giving each other the silent treatment or failing to bring up issues at all, this can be a problem long term. "Conflict creates intimacy if you allow it to be a place to grow as a team," she says. If not, at some point you're going to fight and you likely won't know how to handle it in a healthy way.
6. You Enjoy Spending More Time Apart Than Together
"It’s always nice to have the house/apartment to yourself for an evening," Jeannie Assimos, eharmony’s chief of advice, tells Bustle. "But if you enjoy numerous nights without your partner and actually get upset when they're back, you may need to have a conversation with yourself and with them about why." Maybe you've just been spending too much time together and you just need more alone time, or maybe things are really off in your relationship. Take some time to evaluate and see where you want to go from there.
7. You Constantly Interrupt Each Other
If you and your partner have a habit of constantly interrupting each other, especially in the middle of an argument, that's a major sign that you need to work on your communication skills as a couple. According to Jess McCann, relationship coach and author, interrupting each other shows a lack of respect for what the other person has to say. If it keeps happening, it can lead to future resentment.
8. You Need To Win Arguments
While no one likes to lose an argument, sometimes in relationships, you need to evaluate whether your need to win is what's driving your conflict. According to McCann, when you and your partner both have a strong need to win an argument, it's a sign that you may have an inability to see eye-to-eye. "This can lead to heated fights that can last for days, months, or even years because the desire to win/ be right is more important than compromising and making your relationship better," McCann says.
9. You Villainize Each Other
If you blame your partner for actions that aren't malicious or intentional, you may be villainizing them. As McCann says, "Over time, this will create distance and animosity." Your partner might make mistakes, but you must be able to communicate and work through these hurdles together. Always painting them out to be "the bad guy" will only push you further apart.
10. You Bicker In Public
If you're having relationship issues, try your best not to get your friends and family involved — unless there's need for intervention. When you start bickering in public, or making mean comments with the intention of other people overhearing, Audrey Hope, relationship counselor and author, tells Bustle that this may be a sign that you no longer care about your marriage.
11. You Flirt With Other People
Some people have naturally flirtatious personalities, but if your partner's behavior bothers you, it's important to have a conversation about it. "All marriages have their issues, and some can even lead to anger and confrontation, but when the couple has the mindset to actively work on their problems and deal with their issues instead of running from the problems, success is for sure," Hope says. If your SO brushes off your concerns, that's a sign of disrespect.
12. You See Your Differences As Weaknesses
Your differences can lead to a stronger marriage if you allow them to, Suzie and James Pawelski, Ph.D., relationship experts and co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts, tells Bustle.While it's easy to be intrigued by someone who's completely different from you early on in a relationship, down the line, those differences can easily become seen as "deficits." "It’s important to notice and celebrate our partner’s unique strengths throughout the relationship, not just in the honeymoon stage," the Pawelskis say.
13. You Don't Appreciate The Little Things
In any relationship, it's important to take time to appreciate the little things that make your partnership work. For example, your morning routine making breakfast together before work or the funny memes they send you throughout the day. According to the Pawelskis, marriages that last "mindfully savor experiences together and appreciate the small magical moments." You don't need to wait for a fancy getaway or an anniversary to remember how great your relationship is.
14. You Don't Talk About Money
There's a reason why the number one cause behind couples' breakups is money. If you're going to build a future with someone, you need to be able to communicate about money. According to Valerie Tocci, a partner at Stutman, Stutman, and Lichtenstein who specializes in matrimonial and family law, tells Bustle that economic dishonesty is one of the biggest signs that a marriage isn't going to last. This can look like anything from your partner avoiding financial conversations to having a secret credit card.
15. Your Quirks Feel Like Dealbreakers
When you first start dating, you may see someone's quirks as potential dealbreakers. But as your relationship grows, so should your understanding of their personality traits. As Randy Schroeder, a couples' counselor and author of Simple Habits for Marital Happiness, tells Bustle, "Eighty to 90% of marriages that end in divorce or are extremely unhappy are due to one spouse having intolerable flaws, which I define as 'dealbreakers.'"
16. You're Never Present
While having long-term goals for the future can be important, Tony Ortega, licensed clinical psychologist and author, tells Bustle that "we live in a society where more is typically seen as better, which can lead to one or both partners becoming workaholics and not spending any quality time together." Although there's nothing wrong with working hard, that shouldn't get in the way of the connection you have with your partner.
17. You Stop Trying
The number one warning sign that your marriage might not work is you stop trying. You stop communicating, or you stop showing affection or planning date nights — you basically stop nurturing the relationship because you or your partner has checked out. "The moment one person checks out, begins to meet their emotional needs elsewhere, or refuses therapy you are playing a losing game," Schneider says. "If you see this happening, drop everything and try to reconnect. You can't salvage a relationship when you become free agents."
If you notice any of these subtle signs happening in your relationship, start openly communicating with your partner. But if you've done all the work and see no end in sight, it's OK to walk away.
Celia Schweyer, dating expert
Steven J. Mandel, divorce attorney
Jeanette Schneider, relationship expert and author of LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future
Jeannie Assimos, eharmony’s chief of advice
Jess McCann, relationship coach and author
Audrey Hope, relationship counselor and author
Dr. Randy Schroeder, couples' counselor and author of Simple Habits for Marital Happiness.
Valerie Tocci, partner at Stutman, Stutman and Lichtenstein who specializes in matrimonial and family law
Suzie and James Pawelski, PhD, relationship experts and co-authors of HAPPY TOGETHER: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts
Dr. Tony Ortega, licensed clinical psychologist and author
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