I’ve written prior posts on how to know it’s time to address the issues in your marriage, but today I thought I would speak directly to the men. Guys, I hope you are paying attention. Women are notorious for being unhappy in a relationship and complaining without success until they feel it is hopeless and they detach. As a result, we see a lot of surprised men who reach out to us for help when their wife has already filed for divorce and they “didn’t see it coming”. In reality, the signs of marital distress were most likely there, but simply went unnoticed or ignored. I don’t want this to be your story too. You can read my post on why women choose divorce, but you can get ahead of this phenomenon by watching for these signs:
- Your spouse shows contempt for you related to an unresolved issue – This contempt may look like rolling her eyes or appearing indifferent to you. She may make comments such as “It figures” or “Why am I not surprised?” or there may be frequent episodes of the silent treatment. Her request of you may not seem like such a big deal, especially if she has stopped making an issue of it, but if you see signs of contempt, it means she is building resentment, and long-standing resentment can spell big trouble for your marriage.
- Your spouse isn’t being vulnerable with you – When women begin to detach, one of the first things they do is shut down emotionally. If she isn’t sharing information about her day or her more intimate thoughts and feelings, there’s a good chance she feels it’s unsafe or unproductive to do so with you.
- Sex is not happening or not happening often enough – When someone feels they have to beg for sex, resentment builds quickly. People are often embarrassed to talk about sexual issues, but sex is a big hurdle for so many couples. Avoiding the conversation is one of the worst things you can do for your marriage.
- You rarely spend time alone together – Couples have to be very intentional to find time alone in today’s world of busy work schedules and kids. If you are always going out with friends or taking vacations with friends/family, you miss some great opportunities to connect with each other.
- Your arguments often feel unresolved and re-occurring – Healthy couples fight, but they also know how to work through difficult issues and resolve disagreements. If it feels like you are stuck or someone is always winning or losing, those are problems that need to be addressed.
- You cannot share what’s on your heart – Your spouse should be the safest person in your life to go to for comfort, reassurance or help. If you feel your spouse isn’t interested or doesn’t have time for you to share, this is something you definitely need to address.
- You feel in your gut something is off but your spouse won’t discuss it – Listen to your gut. “I’m fine” is often code for “I’m not fine but I don’t want to tell you or I don’t think it will help anyway.” It’s possible your wife isn’t upset with you and everything truly is okay, but if your gut tells you differently, it’s worth checking out.
- You are tempted to reach out to someone else for companionship, flirting or sex – Or, you suspect your spouse is reaching out to someone else. If you or your spouse are looking elsewhere for that fulfillment, something in your relationship is off and needs to be addressed with the help of a professional.
- Your fights are escalating into verbal, emotional or physical abuse – Abuse is never okay and it’s especially destructive if there are kids at home. If you are being abused, your first priority is to get yourself and your children into a safe place. If you are the abuser or both of you are losing your cool, it is imperative that at least one of you get yourself under control.
- One or both of you are struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol, porn, or sex – Addiction, left unaddressed, will eventually destroy the foundation of your relationship. Don’t wait to get help. The longer the addiction goes untreated, the harder it is to kick.
When to get counseling
First, I encourage you to refrain from viewing counseling as a last resort. It’s not. In fact, healthy couples seek out professional help early, as prevention and before there are years of hurt to unravel. I have couples who check in a few times a year simply because the health of their relationship is a priority.
If your spouse doesn’t want to go to a counselor…go alone. For the best experience, choose your therapist wisely. Make sure he/she is pro-marriage who has an extensive history of working with couples.
If you and your spouse are looking to repair past hurts or simply better your relationship, I encourage you to reach out and schedule time with one of our pro-marriage counselors or coaches here at The Marriage Place.