What are some early signs of a problem in your marriage? There are many.
Number One: You Can't Seem to Talk Anymore
You probably are aware when your relationship with your partner is struggling, but in case you're wondering just how big of an issue communication is--here are a few questions to ask yourself...
--Do you feel you do not know the right words to say to your partner, and when you do attempt to express yourself, you say something that irritates, frustrates or angers your partner instead of communicating what you wanted to say?
--Do you feel that it is no use talking about an issue because talking just ends up making both of you feel irritated?
--Do you struggle to explain yourself and your feelings?
--Do you find yourself in the middle of a fight with your partner and you don't know how or why it happened?
--Do you want to feel more understood by your partner?
--Do you want your partner to feel more understood by you?
--Do you wish your spouse or partner would openly and honestly talk to you instead of shutting down and withdrawing?
--Do you wish your partner would stop and listen to themselves and realize how unkind and disrespectful they are?
--Do you wish you could speak openly with your partner without fear of how they may overreact?
--Do you wish your partner followed through on what they said they would do?
--Do you wish that you and your partner felt safe enough to talk about any ‘feeling‘ you felt?
If you answered YES to any of the above questions, communication is definitely a problem in your relationship and believe me--you are not alone.
Number Two: You Are Feeling Disconnected
Does your spouse seem distant or aloof If you are feeling disconnected from your beloved don’t pretend that everything is just fine. Your heart might be telling you that you need to pay attention. Fixing a problem before it becomes too large to handle is always a wise decision. The best time to save a marriage is before it feels like it might be too late.
Number Three: Do you feel confident about speaking your partners love language?
Most couples that are struggling are NOT fluently speaking their partner’s love languages. If you do not know what love language your partner speaks, learn. Our love language is how we ‘experience’ love. (Go to S.P.E.A.K.I.N.G. L.O.V.E. personality languages, read through them, see if you can recognize your own, and then see if you can pick out your partner’s.
Number Four: Is it difficult to find time to make love.
Physical intimacy is the bedrock for many marriages. Without physical intimacy bonding and connecting you and your partner there can be gaps or chips in the relationship and one partner or the other can begin to feel that the love is no longer alive. This is a challenging piece of many marriages, especially if you have young, active children, or a great deal of stress in your life. The best solution for addressing this problem is to do something spontaneous and romantic. (Whatever romantic means to YOUR PARTNER). It works best if it breaks your normal routine and that your spouse is delighted and surprised. Spontaneity, thoughtfulness and surprise rekindle the flames of passion.
Number Five: You would rather work late, or go out with friends than go home and be with your spouse.
This is a sure sign of problems ahead. Find activities that you enjoy that you also know your partner loves. Learn something new about subjects they like to talk about. It is easy in today’s world, simply Google it. You cannot imagine how it will make your partner feel when they believe that you have taken the time to learn something about a subject they care a great deal about. It is truly endearing. Let them know you value your time together, and your marriage will take on a new character. Go to a movie you would not otherwise go to, or take up a new sport, or learn about painting, organic foods, or whatever you believe is of interest to your partner. Make plans to attend an art festival, go to yoga, or enroll in some lessons to learn salsa dancing. Your goal is to insure that your spouse enjoys their time with you, and the secret is that you pick things that you will enjoy as well.
Number Six: You are bored and in a marriage rut.
Routines in life can feel comforting and manageable but not if routines turn into ruts. No marriage is at its best on autopilot. There are many things that attempt to steal your time, energy and attention in life. Most of us feel pulled in many different directions, but be careful of your marriage falling into a rut. All people want to ‘feel’ important, special and valuable. It is difficult for either partner to feel that way when your marriage is being swallowed up by a rut. Ruts cause marriages to feel monotonous. Monotony has never brought excitement to anything. Our partners need to feel that they are valuable, and worth our loving efforts and attention toward them. If you are feeling like your marriage has gotten monotonous, break the monotony as soon as possible. You know your partner. What would they simply love? If you cannot answer that question, it is time to learn who your partner is and how to bring them joy. (Check out "Are you Bored" article)
Number Seven: Your marriage feels like it is a lot of work.
Reality is, relationships do require maintenance. Different personalities value different work. My husband and I are as different as rock and rain. His love languages are very different than mine. When we first got married I wanted to show him I loved him with words of affirmation, poetry and long romantic talks. He is an action person and talk to an action man is cheap. One night I felt especially loving toward him and wanted him to understand how much he meant to me. My first thought was to wake him up and tell him how wonderful he was, but then I stopped and asked myself, “What would HE like?” “What would make HIM feel loved?” So I got up out of bed, went to the garage in the middle of the night and and vacuumed my car. I came back to bed and shook him and said, “Honey, I just went and vacuumed my car.” He said, “Really, wow, I love you too.”
Number Eight: Your whole world revolves around your kids.
I am not saying that loving and caring for your children is not important. Of course it is, but if you find that the only thing you and your spouse have in common is great kids, there is a real problem, not only for you, but for your children as well. Our children learn how to love and value their future spouse by watching YOU. The two of you are teaching your children how to have a healthy relationship. You cannot successfully do that without having a healthy relationship. So if your marriage has turned into a management and entertainment company for your children, stop, take a real look at your relationship and go wherever you need to go to learn to make your relationship with your partner as important as your children.
Dawn L. Billings is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, and author of over 20 books on Relationships, Parenting and Entitlement and is a relationship, communication and personality-expert who is the author and architect of the Primary Colors Personality Tests and Insight Tools.
Dawn is the executive director of the Healing Resort in Arizona, and author of the Relationship Help at Home online program. Dawn is creator of OverJOYed Life, a powerful, positive work culture initiative.
Dawn was selected as one of the nation's emerging women leaders by Oprah Magazine and The White House Project in 2008, and one of "15 Women of Achievement" by the Georgia YWCA.
Dawn is also the creator of the patented parenting tool called CAPABLES.