Serious marriage problems don’t just show up overnight—they creep up on couples gradually, and it can even take up to several years before you finally hit a rough patch. The key is to spot the subtle signs before it gets too late.
There are all sorts of marriages—some that last for lifetimes—reminiscent of epic novels, some that end abruptly like a very short story, and the remaining that fall somewhere in between. But what happens when you know that your marriage is headed towards its epilogue? Is it truly the end or is it possible to salvage your relationship? Some couples will tell you that they knew they were not meant to be together from the beginning, while others truly believed that they were happily married until one of them threw in the towel. While major compatibility issues or infidelity can be obvious signs that your marriage is on the rocks, there are certain subtle signs that often fly under the radar.
Keeping that in mind, we spoke to Dr Shreya Chakravarty, psychologist, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad to help you identify the signs of a troubled marriage.
You treat your marriage like a boring routine
If your marriage has fallen into a mundane rut that keeps playing on loop, it might be time for an intervention. “This happens when partners spend their days fulfilling the social responsibility towards each other and their offspring,” says Dr Chakravarty. The entire day is spent taking care of daily chores, office work and of course, kids and their issues. It’s almost like living your life according to a fixed time table. “Increased screen time, spending more time with others rather than with each other, complaining of boredom, physical and emotional disconnect—these are some of the warning signs,” she adds.
You either argue a lot or don’t argue at all
Arguments are required to let go of the pent up stress and anger. Couples who have a habit of sweeping things under the rug are at risk of building up resentment, bitterness, and emotional disagreement. “When couples don’t argue, it’s a sign of indifference which is worse than anger,” says Dr Chakravarty. “Similarly arguing over every trivial issue is a sign of faulty communication between two partners, which can result from lack of understanding and concern toward each other,” she adds. Regular arguments indicate that partners are not able to have comfortable conversations with each other so they never really agree on anything. Stonewalling may further worsen the differences. The key is to solve conflict with efficiency and target the problem at hand, instead of attacking each other.
Related Story: Communication Patterns That Can Damage Your Relationship
There is no intimacy—be it physical or emotional
Sex is a big part of physical intimacy but it also includes other simple acts like holding hands, cuddling, or even maintaining physical contact in your everyday life. “Physical intimacy is a major sign of a healthy relationship and lack of it can stem from deeper issues like non-existent emotional intimacy,” says Dr Chakravarty. If partners feel aloof, alienated or uninterested with each other and basically live like roommates, it’s a cause for concern.
You lie when asked about your married life
Do you often find yourself lying when your friends or family members ask about your spouse? If yes, then you should understand that this is one of the many signs of an unhealthy marriage. “You may feel it’s trivial but putting up a false image or lying to others about your married life or spouse is an indication that you are not satisfied with your present situation,” says Dr Chakravarty. It is not always easy to come to terms with the fact that your relationship has turned sour, but staying in denial will only do more harm than good.
You are the last person to know about something in your partner’s life
Good communication is one of the major aspects of a healthy relationship, so if you and your partner are only making small talk and hiding major things from each other, you should be wary. “When you find yourself to be the very last person in the information sharing hierarchy of your spouse’s life, you should consider it a red flag,” says Dr Chakravarty. “This includes work-related stuff, plans with friends or even insignificant things that they start withholding for no reason,” she adds. Over-sharing is not the solution and healthy boundaries are important but make sure that you don’t let separate interests build a deep divide between you and your spouse.
Related Story: What are Healthy Boundaries and Why do we Need Them
How can you solve these problems?
According to Dr Chakravarty, every marriage is unique and requires individualistic solutions. However, there are certain simple steps that can help everyone. Let’s have a quick look at them:
Take initiative and find out what went wrong and when and where did it begin
Instead of judging each other, try to collectively introspect how you’re handling your marriage.
Stop jumping to conclusions and express your concerns before they start bubbling up
Show appreciation towards each other, be grateful for all the good parts of your marriage and learn how to respect your partner
Make it a habit to spend time with each other. If you’re both busy then do that during the weekends. Remember that quality matters more than quantity.
Related story: 7 Simple Ways to Reignite the Spark in Your Relationship
If nothing works out then you should give your marriage one last chance and consult a professional. “People give up at the slightest inconvenience but you should know that a marriage requires patience and hard work. Along with offering a different perspective, a good therapist can help you navigate through all the heavy stuff,” she adds.
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