Sex & Relationships

20 Subtle Signs Your Marriage Might Not Last

#8 You need to win arguments.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
Elisaveta Ivanova/E+/Getty Images

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 importance 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, a dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle. "It might not 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 the only way to deal with the issues listed below, experts say there are certain subtle signs to look out for if you're worried your marriage might not last long-term.


Generous Acts Are Met With Suspicion

If surprise romantic gestures or thoughtful acts of service are met with the question of "what did you do now?" your relationship may not make it. Typically, 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.


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."


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 — and in fact, it's this ongoing interest that keeps the love alive.

"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."


No One Is Willing To Compromise

You and your partner are two different people with different interests and dislikes, and that's OK. What matters is that, even when you disagree, you find a way to compromise.

"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.


You Stop Fighting

While zero fighting sounds great, it's actually not a good sign if you completely stop disagreeing. According to Jeanette Schneider, a 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 tells Bustle. Arguments mean you're working things out, so let them guide you rough times.


You Enjoy Spending More Time Apart Than Together

Nothing beats alone time, so "it’s always nice to have the house/apartment to yourself for an evening," Jeannie Assimos, a relationship expert and 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 need more alone time, or maybe things are really off in your relationship, and them returning home means drama is right around the corner. Take some time to evaluate and see where you want to go from there.


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, a 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. And, ultimately, a failed relationship.


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.


You Turn Each Other Into The Villain

If you automatically blame your partner or get angry over 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.


You Bicker In Public

When you start bickering in public, or making mean comments with the intention of other people overhearing, Audrey Hope, a relationship counselor and author, tells Bustle that it may be a sign you no longer care about your marriage. It's often means that the problems are so big you can't contain them anymore, and are so irritated with each other you can't help but make snappy comments.


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. And when they don't respect you, bigger issues will arise.


You See Your Differences As Weaknesses

Your differences can lead to a stronger marriage if you allow them to, Suzie and James Pawelski, PhD, relationship experts and co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts, tell 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 be 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.


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.

In fact, if you do, you'll constantly feel like the other person isn't enough, and the marriage will be way more likely to fall apart.


You Don't Talk About Money

There's a reason why the number one cause of breakups is money. If you're going to build a future with someone, you need to be able to communicate about spending and saving.

According to Valerie Tocci, a partner at Stutman, Stutman, and Lichtenstein who specializes in matrimonial and family law, 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. While it's fine to have separate bank accounts, sharing your lives means approaching joint finances as a team.


There's An Air Of Ambivalence

If there's this feeling that you both aren't fully invested, or you don't talk about future plans or milestones, take note. As Genesis Games, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle, "A healthy relationship requires that all partners are 100% involved in creating a life together."


You Don't Invest Time Into The Relationship

While having long-term goals for the future can be important, Tony Ortega, a 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.


You Constantly Nitpick Each Other

Pay attention to how you talk to each other, as well as what gets on your nerves. Is everything you say a critique? Do you see red over the smallest indiscretions? If so, it's a sure sign important things are going unsaid in your marriage — and that something is brewing beneath the surface, as a result.

"A lot of times, our longings can sound critical, this is normal," Games says. "Yet as mature adults in relationships, we need to learn how to voice our longings and requests in a respectful manner that allows the other person to hear the message.


There Are Lots Of Small Betrayals

While a big betrayal, like infidelity, can certainly send your marriage into the ground, smaller ones take a toll, too. As Games says, little white lies fall into this category, as well as all the things you keep hidden from each other. If you aren't being truthful, it'll catch up to you.


You Don't Hear Each Other

Being able to actually listen to each other is arguably one of the most important aspects of a relationship. "If you or your partner are not listening and responding willingly and positively to each other's needs, concerns, requests, and dreams," Games says, divorce might not be far away. "Emotional safety is key to healthy long-term relationships."


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, you stop planning date nights — basically, you stop nurturing the relationship.

"The moment one person checks out, begins to meet their emotional needs elsewhere, or refuses therapy you are playing a losing game," Randy Schroeder, a couples' counselor and author of Simple Habits for Marital Happiness, tells Bustle. "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, remember that sometimes it's in everyone's best interest to walk away.


Celia Schweyer, dating expert

Steven J. Mandel, divorce attorney

Jeanette Schneider, relationship expert

Jeannie Assimos, eharmony’s chief of advice

Jess McCann, relationship coach and author

Audrey Hope, relationship counselor and author

Valerie Tocci, partner at Stutman, Stutman and Lichtenstein

Suzie and James Pawelski, PhD, relationship experts

Dr. Tony Ortega, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Genesis Games, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor

Dr. Randy Schroeder, couples' counselor

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