10 signs your marriage is headed for divorce
Sometimes, a break-up can seem to come out of the blue. One minute things are fine and then next you're reeling.
But it may be that in the whirlwind of everyday life, it's possible to overlook signs or red flags and only see them in retrospect.
Here are 10 signs that there might be impending issues in your relationship, according to e-Harmony relationship expert Sharon Draper.
Willingness to compromise disappears
Meeting one another halfway when you disagree on things is a key part of a healthy relationship. "Losing this willingness to compromise is usually a gradual process, starting with feeling like there is an imbalance in how often you are ceding ground. This can turn into resentment over time, before something snaps and you no longer want to compromise at all," she says.
"At this point, it's much more difficult to find a path forward together, which can be particularly damaging when big issues like those involving children, your living situation or money arise.
You're having the same argument repeatedly
Often, repeat arguments can be avoided by taking a step back and reflecting on what is causing the problem, then modifying your actions or language where reasonable - for example, trying to sound less accusatory when you raise concerns about the relationship. "If this is not possible, or you are arguing about a more serious rupture like infidelity, it might be that you are unable to psychologically move past a problem. At this point, couples counselling might be beneficial," she advises.
There is a lack of physical contact
Physical intimacy is often a reflection of emotional intimacy in long-term relationships.
"If you or your partner no longer have sex, kiss or hold hands as often, the cause might be something as simple as not having the means to do so. Perhaps the kids are always around or you're working different schedules," Sharon says.
"But when the idea of physical contact doesn't seem appealing more generally, it can point to deeper issues with compatibility."
Your partner regularly uses 'universal statements'
Arguing in relationships isn't always a problem. But according to Sharon, how you argue might be. If you communicate well and explain your issues without casting aspersions, it can help clear the air and move forward.
"One warning sign is when universal statements start coming into play. For example, "You never listen to me", or "You always take your mother's side over mine." These phrases make change seem impossible."
Family and friends take up more of your time
There are always competing priorities in life, but when you are consistently putting other commitments ahead of your partner, it is a red flag.
"In short, this either means that you aren't paying them enough attention, which will lead to them not feeling valued, or you are trying to avoid spending too much time with them. Either way, taking a step back from the situation and trying to make a change is key."
You feel worried about being vulnerable
The ability to feel safe in opening up to a partner makes for a healthy relationship. "When that fades, it can lead to you feeling resentful as your issues aren't addressed - and there's not much your partner can do about it if you aren't able to be vulnerable. This can be an issue when it is a new development in response to your partners attitude or actions, for example, feeling that they don't listen when you open up."
Leaning on tools to escape
"Even if you don't realise that you're at risk of breaking up, if you're relying on drinking too much when you spend time alone with your partner, or find yourself absorbed in work without really knowing why, it might be you're trying to escape in other ways. It can't last in the long run though, and eventually you or your partner will need to confront the underlying issues," says Sharon.
You start to feel suspicious
"Being worried that your partner is cheating on you can often be a precursor to that fear becoming reality. But equally, it might indicate that you are instead sensing a distance opening up between you and your partner more generally, where you are no longer a priority. As a first step, talking in a non-accusatory way about the specific things that are making you concerned without bringing up cheating can be helpful," she says.
You don't laugh together
When your life together gets serious and you have increasing responsibilities, there is a risk that your interactions with your partner can become purely transactional. "One indicator is when you no longer laugh together. In order to really laugh together, you need to be relaxed and absorbed in one another's company - if there is never this opportunity, it can indicate that you aren't making enough time for one another," says Sharon.
You regularly think about leaving
"If you think about breaking up with your partner and the reasons you give to talk yourself out of it are largely based on external factors - for example, worrying what other people will think or feeling like you've failed in your relationship - then the thought is going to keep arising," she says.
"To turn it around, try to identify reasons that you want to stay with your partner that solely relate the relationship between you and consider counselling if these are being outweighed by the problems you are having," she adds.
This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.