Sometimes we question as to how much trouble are we really in. Denial is great and acts in contrast to what can be a real deterioration in a formerly happy nuptial. In the following instances before you consider divorce consider marital or couples therapy.
1. The distance between you and your partner is as great as it can be given the geographical boundaries of the bed . . . or the house. Connection is built largely on energy and if there is no energy during the sleeping hours there starts the disconnection. If you believe that we are a spiritual being in a physical body then the relationship does not stop when we leave beta. When we asleep our soul connects. Sleeping in separate rooms, for whatever reason you choose (ie-he snores, your child requires an adult in their bed) all cause and result from the need to disconnect.
2. The distance between you and your partner is as great as it can be outside of the bedroom. That is-you avoid each other. You make excuses to be apart-work travel, social occasions, divide and conquer with the kids. Energy outside the bedroom is generally more diffused yet still critical on a lot of levels. Underlying resentment, anger and value differences can trigger distance and weaken the bond.
3. Communication is limited to single syllable words and/or fighting. I often ask my patients what they would be doing and/or experiencing if they were not so focused on their symptoms (ie-how many times a day they throw up or exercise or smoke pot or panic etc). Well the same holds true for couples. If couples were not fighting what would they be experiencing? Intimacy perhaps.
4. One or both parties have an addiction. Phil has a sexual addiction. He spends countless hours on the computer watching porn, primarily straight sex porn. Prior to the internet he had DVD’s- and lots of them. His sex with his wife is non-existent . . he prefers to be alone with his electronics. His marriage to Donna has been troubled for years. Frankly, both of them, whose communication is dominated by traveling or fighting, are terrorized by the prospect of intimacy and have been so for 35 years. Phil’s relationship with his addiction takes priority, as does others’ unhealthy relationships with food, alcohol, drugs and work. These are all ways to leave a relationship. BTW-When couples stay together this long it generally signals that whatever the dysfunction, it works for them.
5. The focus is completely child-centered. When there is no space created for the couple the marriage is on the rocks. Whether it is focused on how to arrange the family hours due to a two parent working household or how to deal with a sick child, unless there is room for the couple there is a problem. This is the case even when you think you are running the family properly and the leadership is great. There is no leadership if there is no couple.
6. A third party takes precedence over your partner when making most decisions. When you seek the help from a family member (ie-your mother or a friend) consistently there is a loyalty breach and an unresolved family of origin problem. This is often a dealbreaker
7. You isolate yourselves and keep your troubles a secret. This is denial. Avoiding social gatherings and showing anything but a lack of pride in your partner is indicative of an unhappy marriage.
8. Sex is not enjoyable at least some of the time. While sex in the family household (marriage and particularly with kids) is not always a passionate affair, again, there should be that sacred space. It requires time and attention.
9. One or both parties are having or are thinking about having an affair. Although affairs sometimes balance out the inequities in a marriage it will never work long term and certainly not in a healthy marriage. Phil, who I mentioned above, brought a third party into the marriage-an affair, which his wife was aware of. Although she consistently complained she did nothing to change the situation.
10. One part of the couple has grown and the other has not. While this is good for one person, it may not be good for the couple. When agreements that were entered into originally change because one party gets healthy the marriage suffers.