5 Signs Your Marriage Is on the Rocks

marriage in troubleAsk any married couple and you will hear the same thing: Being married is not easy. Loving someone and having them be your best friend is wonderful, but the daily slog and the tit for tat fights and the little squabbles add up. Sometimes the person you love most in the world becomes the person whose eyes you dream of scratching out in a fit of rage. Those are the bad moments.

Of course, there are also lovely moments. Moments when you can't imagine being with anyone else and the sun rises and sets with your spouse. But how can you tell when the bad moments are starting to outnumber the good? How can you tell when your marriage has gone from normal, everyday difficulty to "we're in trouble" town?

More from The Stir: 5 Signs Your Marriage Is Really Over

It's easy enough, say the experts. It's not that the two of you are headed to a split or even that you need to leave that evening. There are five basic signs your marriage is getting rocky. In other words, it's not time to divide the assets, but it may be time to seek counseling or some kind of outside intervention.

1. You go to bed at different times. Uh-oh. I am so guilty of this. You know how it is? You are tired and want to sleep. Your spouse isn't and doesn't. Is that really so bad?

Answer: Yes. Yes it is.

"When you start going to bed at separate times, three things happen," says psychotherapist Christina Steinorth-Powell, author of Cue Cards for Life. "The most important of the three is this: You stop having those intimate minutes of conversation with one another before you drift off to sleep. The other things that happen when you start to go to bed at separate times is that you are less inclined to cuddle, which usually leads to the third thing -- less sex." All bad.

2. You feel ambivalent about your partner. It seems like people who divorce would probably hate each other, right? After all, why would you leave a marriage if you didn't feel so strongly that the other person is a horrible human being? Not so. In fact, a sign of trouble in a marriage is not in the intensity of the hatred, but in the level of apathy.

"If a couple comes in and one of the partners says to me, 'I hate him/her!' I always say, 'That's great news!' Hate is not the opposite of love ... ambivalence is," says psychotherapist Mia Adler Ozair, author of Insider's Secrets: How to Choose an Exceptional Therapist (and How to Avoid the Bad Ones). "If the partners are at least still feeling feelings toward one another (even if they are negative), that means there is still a pulse and I don't have to revive the dead."

3. You are out alone and only talk about the kids. Children are wonderful, and the love you share for your kids can make a marriage flourish. But when the focus of your relationship becomes something other than your relationship, it's a problem. Period. All the experts agree on this.

"If you have focused so much on being a family and raising your kids and let your couple relationship go, you may find that you've lost your couple connection completely," says "Dr. Romance" Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and the author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. "This is why so many couples break up as soon as the kids are grown (or even before). Your man-and-wife relationship is vital -- it's the foundation your family is built on."

4. You STOP arguing. Everyone thinks that fighting is the sign of a horrible marriage. It's not. In fact, STOPPING the arguments is more concerning.

"Arguments are intimate," says Valerie Jencks, founder and executive director of Prairie Family Therapy in Chicago. "Physiologically, we become aroused with conflict requiring that we pay full attention to the person we are fighting with. In marriage, arguments are one way that couples connect with one another. A decrease in arguments may signal the couple is drifting apart or avoiding one another."

5. You no longer know each other's passwords on social media. I actually never have known all my husband's passwords. Not sure what that says! But the point here is this: Is there a change in behavior? Are you suddenly locked out of his life?

"When you start having secret passwords on social media, it's usually a pretty good indication that you don't want your spouse to see something," says Steinorth-Powell. "If you're doing something you're not comfortable with your spouse finding out, then you shouldn't be doing it. Ever."

So the bottom line is this: It's not as simple as "we need to get divorced." It never is. But there is something to be gained just by checking in on your marriage, taking its temperature, if you will. Catching things early can save your family. What can you do? Seek counseling. Do things together again. Go on dates.

"[If] you are slowly becoming less engaged with one another, it means both of you will be more inclined to seek a strong connection outside your marriage," says Steinorth-Powell. "Even the most mundane activities that couples do together have a bonding value."

Did you ever feel like you were drifting from your spouse?


Image © Wavebreak Media Ltd./Corbis



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nonmember avatar samatha

My husband and I go to bed at different times every night. He is a programmer and will work a little at night when the house is quiet. He tucks me in. We chat about our day and he cuddles me before he leaves our room. We don't argue very often, we talk a lot. I don't know my husband's passwords and I'm not bothered by it. He owns his business and that's his own business. I think people should have more communication in their relationships, I don't see the need for arguing and yelling, but that is me.

nonmember avatar Jason

Oh Samantha...You are very naïve. Speaking as a man, if he tucks you in (as you claim) and leaves, then he has no interest in you in an intimate way anymore. If he stays up late and alone, it is because he is either talking with his girlfriend, or looking at porn.

If you don't agree, then out of the blue ask him for his passwords, and as he stammers for a reason not to share them with you, you will know that I am right. Otherwise he will have no hesitation in sharing them with you.

I think this article is right on the money.

Robin Johnson Virgilio

My husband and I take turns getting the kids to bed.  Gee....I guess our marriage is suffering because we share tasks.  FML...

Rebecca Peterson

Wow Jason. Not every single man is like that. Her husband could very well work when every one else is asleep. My husband has very long days. Do I every night go to bed when he does? No. Sometimes I stay up, and clean up the house, or talk to friends that we have in different timezones. Sometimes when  I am exhausted and he's watching a movie, I'll go to bed before him. He comes in, kisses me, tucks me in, and goes back out to his movie. I have no reason to not trust him, nor does he have a reason to not trust me. We're both constantly logged in on social media, as I play games on his facebook and on mine. He does have intimate interest in me, so just because Samantha and her husband go to bed at different times, doesn't mean that they don't connect as he's cuddling her to sleep.

nonmember avatar Jason

What does taking turns tucking your kids in have to do with anything? "FML"...very mature.

Rebecca, according to you, you have each others passwords, so you must have missed the point.
What man would rather watch a movie than go to bed with his wife? Maybe one who's married to a woman who would just as soon stay up and clean the house...
If you're going to bed separately, you're avoiding each other. Just saying.

Christine DiMaria

We go to bed at different times sometimes because we work very different schedules. I work at home and only work when our son is sleeping. I'm not much into cuddling anyways. He always wants to cuddle though... And I find no reason to give my partner my password to my FB account and I don't want his. I don't think that makes us a bad husband and wife. I think there needs to be some privacy in a relationship, even if you have nothing to hide. He does have my email password though. 

nonmember avatar Rave

Jason shut up dude. Obviously you're not married, or if you are definately not happily. Nor does it sound like you have kids. I personally disagree with this article. Watching both my parents and my inlaws do some of these things (as well as my grandparents) and they all have had long marriages. My husband and I do alot of these things on the list, but we are still intimate and have a passion for each other. It's just we have children now and don't live for just ourselves anymore. We're alot more tired and they're our lives, however we both try to make a point to let the other know that there's still passion and love. For us we usually chat, kiss, and cuddle while we cook. So it may not always be when "experts" say it should but it's still there. And my husband and I have never really argued. We mostly don't see a point. It's a waste of energy and time. Even on the small occasion we do, we work through it pretty quickly.

nonmember avatar samatha

Sorry I am not naive as you think I am, Jason. My husband owns his business and is a computer programmer. He works best at night when it's quiet. That means no clients bothering him while he's working. I also know my husband likes to look at porn and I oh my goodness shock! I don't care. I don't need to ask for his passwords either cause he leaves his email open at home. Tucking one in can mean more than saying good night and leaving the room.

Kalis... Kalistasmommy

I call horse manure on this whole article.  Some of these things apply to my marriage but we are very happy together.  Yeah right now we go to bed at different times but that's because our son was born prematurely at 17 weeks and didn't make it and that the 12th of htis month.  I have meds that I take to keep me calm and not go in full meltdown mode so since I take them with dinner I am typically in bed either before the kids or soon after.  I don't expect him to come to bed that early.  My husband and I have hardly EVER fought.  We have known each other since we were kids.  Those are just some examples as to why I say this article is horse manure.

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