20 Subtle Signs You’re in a Bad Marriage and Don’t Know It
Find out what turns "I do" into "I don't want to do this anymore."
The signs of a healthy, loving relationship are all too obvious: you can’t keep your hands off of each other, every joke sends you into a fit of laughter, and there’s nothing you want to do more than spend time with one another. However, when a relationship starts to go south, the signs of its collapse are far more insidious.
“When warning signs first appear, we may try to rationalize them as normal—after all, no relationship is perfect. And it is very hard to admit to something as important as one’s marriage showing signs of trouble,” says Dr. Inna Khazan, Ph.D. “And while it is absolutely true that no relationship is perfect, it is important to distinguish between imperfections we are willing to live with and those we are not. Once problems we are not willing to live with start to snowball, it may become particularly difficult to address them.”
If you’re concerned that your relationship might be in trouble, read on to discover these 20 signs you’re in an unhealthy marriage. And when you want to make your relationship happier and healthier in the long run, discover the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
You don’t meet halfway in terms of finances
While few couples split every expense exactly down the middle, differing expectations when it comes to your financial future are a major sign your marriage isn’t as healthy as you might think. Though there’s little evidence to back up the often-cited claim that financial issues are the leading cause of divorce, there’s ample evidence that suggests financial woes cause serious relationship issues. In fact, according to researchers at Kansas State University, financial disagreements early in a relationship are significantly correlated with overall relationship dissatisfaction. And when you want to ensure your own financial future, start with these 40 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Paycheck.
You won’t participate in activities your partner is passionate about
It’s great—even healthy—to participate in activities independent of your significant other. However, if you or your spouse keep finding reasons to avoid seeing that movie you’ve been dying to watch, take that painting class together, or even cook dinner together, that’s a major sign your relationship is on some seriously unsteady footing.
You always do everything together
On the flip side of that coin, however, is the danger of relationship codependency. If you and your spouse are joined at the hip for practically every second, you may actually be on the pathway to divorce. What seems initially like healthy closeness often turns into a nightmare of codependency, often leaving one or both partners feeling suffocated and eager to break free. And when you want to avoid the pitfalls of a bad relationship, make sure you avoid these 40 Relationship Tips That Are Actually Terrible.
You ignore one another when you’re in the same room
Sure, it’s not exactly unusual to find a couple on their phones when they’re spending time together. However, if you find that every time you and your spouse are supposed to be enjoying one another’s company, you look for any excuse not to engage, you may be attempting to sidestep some deeper issues in the relationship.
You don’t have the energy to fight with each other
Non-stop fighting in a relationship is never a good thing. However, if you’re too exhausted from the daily monotony or undercurrent of resentment in your relationship, you’ve already more or less give up on making things better.
You’ve stopped going on dates
There’s no denying that it can feel next to impossible to find time to go on frequent dates, particularly when both members of a couple work full-time or have children. That said, if you’re skipping date night in favor of doing activities separately or going out with other friends, your marriage is already in a bad place.
Making time for one another is an essential part of fostering a healthy relationship, so if you’re regularly avoiding enjoying quality time together, your relationship is only bound to get worse. And for more expert-backed relationship advice, here are 15 Signs Your Wife Is Cheating on You.
You’re passive aggressive toward one another
Some couples get so used to being passive aggressive toward one another that it stops feeling like a big deal. If you can’t communicate your feelings to your spouse without being snarky or passive aggressive, however, your marriage is already in serious trouble. People in healthy relationships know how to effectively get their needs met by their partner without resorting to immature behavior. And if you’re worried about flying solo, discover these 30 Reasons Being Single in Your 30s Is the Best Thing Ever.
You find excuses to do things without your spouse
Do you constantly find yourself finding reasons to participate in activities without your spouse? Making excuses to do things—especially those you know your spouse would enjoy—without him or her is a sure sign that your marriage isn’t as healthy and stable as you might like it to be.
You’re bragging about your relationship online
While it may sound counterintuitive, if you’re constantly gushing about your relationship online, you may be trying to subconsciously overcompensate for what you know your marriage is lacking. In fact, one study reveals that people who are insecure in their relationships were more likely to post about them on social media. And when you want to spice up your relationship IRL, start with these 50 Easy Ways to Be a (Much) More Romantic Man.
You’re having an emotional affair
Though many people draw the line at physical infidelity, emotional infidelity is a good sign your relationship isn’t as healthy as you might imagine. If you’re spending time with, confiding in, and generally doing emotionally intimate things with someone other than your partner on a regular basis, your relationship may be in more trouble than you think.
You won’t go to counseling
Deciding to go to counseling is never easy. However, if one partner in a relationship thinks that counseling is necessary and the other partner won’t go, that only confirms how unhealthy your relationship has already become.
You feel exhausted after spending time with each other
Think about the way you feel after spending time with your closest friends: maybe you feel full of energy, maybe you feel inspired, or maybe you just feel good about yourself. If the only thing you feel after spending time with your significant other is exhausted, you’re on a slippery slope toward resentment, fights, and a potential breakdown of your marriage.
Your friends express serious misgivings about your relationship
We’ve all heard people say that you shouldn’t listen to what other people have to say about your relationship—after all, how could they really understand the inner workings of your marriage?
“You might ignore early signs of unhealthy behavior because you want to give your partner a chance, think you can change him or her, feel that you have unhealthy behaviors so you shouldn’t judge someone else, or believe you don’t deserve someone healthier,” says Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed, LCSW.
However, if you find that, years into your relationship, people you trust and respect have legitimate concerns about how you and your partner treat each other, odds are your relationship isn’t in a good place.
Your fantasy life doesn’t include your significant other
What do you see when you imagine a perfect life? Is it a big house on the beach? Getting a graduate degree and a great job to go along with it? Traveling the world? Regardless of what your fantasy life includes, if your significant other isn’t part of that dream, you’re in trouble.
You don’t go to your partner for emotional support
Emotional affairs aren’t the only way you might be getting your emotional needs met outside your marriage. If you’re eager to confide in virtually anyone other than your partner, be it a co-worker, friend, or your mail carrier, you’re likely trying to make up for something your relationship is no longer providing you.
“There are some signs that in and of themselves indicate that the relationship is not healthy. These include not feeling safe physically or emotionally in the relationship,” says Dr. Khazan.
You feel like your spouse is holding you back
Do you have big dreams for yourself, but feel like your relationship is standing in the way of you accomplishing them? If so, your marriage is likely in some serious trouble. While it never hurts to be realistic, if your partner is constantly telling you that the things you’ve always wanted are never going to happen for you, you’re not receiving the support or love you deserve.
You’re keeping secrets
Everybody has those little secrets they keep from their friends, family, or employer, but if you’re hiding big ones from your spouse, your relationship is already in jeopardy, says Dr. Khazan.
Whether you’re ringing up big purchases and not telling your significant other or being deceptive about where you’re going or who you’re going with, your relationship is already in the danger zone. This is especially true if your secrecy is borne out of a desire to avoid your partner’s potential overreaction to what would generally be considered acceptable behavior, like occasionally buying yourself something small or hanging out with a friend.
You’ve stopped having sex
Sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but it’s certainly not nothing. Combined physical and emotional intimacy are what separate romantic relationships from your typical friendship, so if you’re missing one or the other, it’s likely there are deeper issues at play.
You find reasons to get into arguments
Sure, it’s annoying to find an unwashed dish in the sink or realize that your significant other has left their socks on the floor yet again. That said, if you find yourself turning virtually any minor inconvenience into a reason to fight with your spouse, that’s neither healthy nor normal.
You feel lonely
A big part of being in a relationship is enjoying the companionship of another person. That said, it’s entirely possible to feel lonely, even when you’re with your significant other—especially if your relationship is in trouble. If being with your spouse isn’t any more comforting than flying solo, it’s time to sit down and assess whether or not your relationship is working, or if it can be saved.
Even if it doesn’t seem dire now, those hints that your relationship isn’t working will eventually catch up to you. “Bad relationships are like bad food—sooner or later they’ll make you sick,” says Koenig. And if you’re feeling like things aren’t going so well in a new relationship, make sure you know these 20 Relationship Warning Signs Smart Couples Never Ignore.
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