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Divorce is a word no one wants to hear, especially when you love your spouse beyond any reasonable doubt.
Sometimes most couples are quick to use the word divorce without even giving their marriage a fighting chance. Divorce doesn’t just happen overnight. There are usually a lot of unseen signs that something isn’t right.
We might not notice these signs or take them too seriously at first. This may be for a couple of reasons like getting too preoccupied in our day to day lives that we ignore the signs on the wall, and we do not bother to talk to our partner about how we are feeling.
It could also be that we may feel reluctant to talk about the problems or difficulties plaguing our marriage.
So I did a little bit of research and lots of therapy while going through a few tough times in my marriage, so I decided to put these tips here with hopes that it will work for somebody the way it did for me.
Now here are a few signs you should be wary of in your marriage;
1. Constant criticism
When couples start becoming each other’s biggest critics instead of motivating and encouraging each other, then there’s trouble brewing.
When couples start focusing only on the negative instead of the positive, it creates a downward spiral that often leads to divorce with time.
Sometimes criticism can be good and you can easily take corrections from them, but couples shouldn’t take it to the extent that it becomes purposely hurtful. They shouldn’t make their partners feel worthless and unloved by their tone.
When it gets to the point whereby your partner no longer sees anything good in what you do, and constantly criticizes all that you do, then you should know there is something totally off in your relationship.
You could try talking it out with your partner to know the real issues behind the harsh criticisms and try to find a way around it.
Couples should try as much as possible to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders and should focus on the positive side of their life together.
2. Focusing only on raising kids
Most couples put their marriage on hold when they start to have children, especially the women who shift focus from their spouses and focus entirely on their kids.
Two well-meaning people put so much focus on their kids that they forget to keep investing in their marriage. Some couples reduce their relationship to mere partnership and co-parenting, and when the kids finally grow up, they discover that they have created an empty nest and an empty marriage.
Give your children the gift that comes with seeing their parents in a loving and thriving marriage. Model the kind of marriage that will make your kids excited to be married someday.
While taking care of your kids do not forget the needs of your spouse. Taking care of your children should not be your only objective. Couples tend to focus all their love and attention on their children forgetting that before the children came along their spouses were there first.
They sometimes become too tired from taking care of their kids to even listen to the needs of their spouse or they forget to create time for intimacy in their relationship.
It’s never proper to put your relationship on hold because of your children. We find ourselves forgetting our spouses in a bid to be good parents to our kids.
3. Holding grudges
Most couples have the ability to hold a grudge with their partner for so long that it quickly escalates into something more. Couples should learn to offer grace quickly when their partners offends them.
When your spouse has wronged you, you need to be quick to forgive so there’s no room left for bitterness to take root in your heart.
Don’t use past hurts as ammunition in arguments against your partner and allow grace to flow freely in your marriage because no marriage can survive without grace.
Couples should learn never to go to bed angry with each other. You should not let your resentment for each other exceed a day before you try to resolve your issues, because the longer you hold on to it the bigger the divide between the both of you.
Always learn to forgive your partner in all things, try to always reach that tender spot you have for your partner no matter how angry you are because letting grudges grow will end up destroying your marriage.
4. Making decisions alone
Most couples tend to forget they are married and that they have become one with their spouse. They still take self-decisions and forget to consult their significant others first.
Our pride can often convince us that we don’t have to answer to anyone, and we should be able to make decisions without consulting anyone.
Pride has been the downfall of so many marriages. The healthiest couples have learnt that every decision they make as individuals will have some level of impact on their partner, so they respectfully and thoughtfully consult their spouse in every decision they make.
Being selfish and thinking of yourself alone should have no place in your marriage, you must always think of your partner before you make any decisions or take any actions.
Sometimes we unconsciously make decisions and forget the impact that it will have on the ones we love. It might take some getting used to, especially when you are newlyweds and you are used to making decisions alone.
You need to learn to think of your partner before making a life-changing decision because if you keep making the mistake of thinking only of yourself you might end up losing your marriage.
5. Trying to change your partner
Many couples enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations about each other and when these expectations are not met they go about trying to change their partners or try to mould their partners into fitting their expectations.
Most couples see what they don’t like about their spouse, and go about trying to change the other person to fit their standard or satisfaction instead of embracing them and learn to compromise and accept them for what they are.
When you try to change your spouse, you will both end up frustrated.
As you’ve probably learnt already, you can’t change each other; you can only love your partner the way he is.
The only person in your marriage you have the power to change is the person you see when you look in the mirror. Be willing to change your responses to your spouse’s behaviour. Look for ways to love and serve each other even when you have differences of perspective or preference. You’ll both probably end up “changing” for the better in the process.
6. Planning an exit strategy
The healthiest of couples have removed the negative term “divorce” from their vocabulary and instead learned to embrace positivity with moving forward in marriage.
The couples who make it work aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced; they’re simply the ones whose commitment to each other was always bigger than their differences and flaws.
Some people enter into marriage already planning a gateway out of the marriage if things get bad. They are no longer willing to fight for the marriage, and they are usually not surprised when the marriage packs up because they were expecting it already.
When you start your marriage with the mindset that it may not work out, you are already setting yourself up for failure, and it might take a lot of extra work and effort to prevent divorce.
7. Hiding your marriage
Most times couples tend to hide the existence of their marriage due to various reasons on their part.
If you are intentionally hiding your status as a married person or you’re projecting “availability” through flirting, slipping off your wedding ring, acting single around your single friends or at bars, etc, then you’re way out of bounds.
Those subtle acts of deceit are in themselves forms of infidelity even if they never lead to a sexual affair.
These little white lies help to kill your marriage faster than anything, and they tend to become dark lies that can lead to distrust in marriages.
Couples should learn to flaunt their marriage and their wedding band should be on display for all to see and adore.
Not thinking of your partner’s interest for your own selfish gains is always going to end up causing conflict within your relationship.
Sometimes making the change from being a single person who only has to think only of or herself to be in a situation where you can’t think of only yourself anymore might prove to be a much more difficult transition.
It’s never an easy thing because sometimes you still tend to look out for only yourself first in most cases and this may make your partner unhappy.
We all have the urge to look out for ourselves first by nature, but a marriage can only work when we put our selfishness aside and put the needs of our partner ahead of our own.
When both spouses are willing to selflessly love and serve each other in this way, the marriage will thrive.
The hard part is that you must be willing to go first and be selfless even in those moments when he is not reciprocating.
Your actions might turn the tide, so choose to be a thermostat; not a thermometer. A thermometer always adjusts to the climate in a room, but the thermostat changes the climate in the room.
Sometimes most couples like to have their own personal space; an alone time for just themselves and when you are a clingy person you might not want to give your partner the space that they need. This might make them claustrophobic and want to spend more time away from you.
Try to give your significant other the space to do things alone. This can help you grow while together, and at the same time not feeling ‘stuck’ together.
We should be careful and not overdo the need for space in our marriage because sometimes in the process of giving each other space, we let the space become too wide that it might become difficult to bridge. Taking space is sometimes necessary but letting the space grow wide is leaving enough room for divorce to crawl into your union.
During the honeymoon phase of your relationship, you were all lovey-dovey with each other giving each other gifts and saying nice words, and also having sex constantly.
But sometimes most couples fall into a rut and not knowing how to come out of it is where most of their problems start.
Couples should always remember to be spontaneous once in a while and they should learn to find different ways to keep the spark in their marriage.
You sometimes fall into the rut due to stress from work or other external factors. Most couples unintentionally let stress drive a wedge between them and they end up falling into a rut in their relationship, and most times it can be incredibly difficult if not impossible to avoid divorce when you fall into a rut.
You know you are falling into a rut when you find yourself doing the same things over and over again. There are hardly any changes or you find it difficult to do new things. With this in mind, you should know that there is a problem in your marriage, and you should look for ways to crawl back out of the rut.
11. Not meeting each other’s needs
Everyone has unique needs they hope their partner will help fulfil. But sometimes couples fail to speak up about those needs or presume their partner’s needs are the same as their own, often leaving their partner feeling alienated.
Learning to know your partner’s needs and trying to meet them is one of the important ways to make a marriage work.
Not thinking of your partner’s desire, especially sexually is giving room for your partner to look outside, or when you don’t meet their emotional needs you are setting yourself up for divorce in your marriage.
It becomes easy for you to become lost in yourself and do not notice that your partner’s needs are not being fulfilled.
In marriage, when you get lost in your own perspective you forget that your partner has their own needs and expectations that they expect you to fulfil. This sometimes makes your partner look outside in search of this fulfilment from other sources and this ultimately leads to the end of your marriage.
12. Allowing intimacy to dwindle
The affection, connection, and tenderness you once shared with your partner can dry up from lack of effort, leaving you as nothing more than mere roommates. Once again this should not be a final resting state or terminal phase of a relationship, but a signal to make some positive changes.
You should focus on different ways to spice up the intimate life of your relationship.
When couples start forgetting to show each other how much they care and stop making efforts to connect deeply with their partners, then there is a problem.
Here are a few ways you could bring the intimate spark back into your marriage;
- You could send sexy text messages to your partner when you are both at work by flirting with him via text. You could send selfies of yourself and just generally keep in touch with him during most days when you guys are apart.
- You could also try to hold your partner often. You could hug him often or hold hands with him whenever you guys are walking together.
- Be adventurous in your sex life. When you become monotonous and use just one sex position without infusing passion during lovemaking, it could have a toll on the intimate life of your relationship. You could try out different sex positions with your partners and even role-play during sex. Just try out different ways to make sex exciting with your partner.
- You can also go on great romantic date nights with your partner.