"I just didn't see it coming."
Since communication breakdown is often a glaring sign on the road to the end of a partnership, it isn't surprising that one partner in a relationship is often caught off guard by the dreaded delivery of divorce papers. Below are seven warning signs of a marriage going sour.
1. Acting Like Strangers
Do you and your partner spend hours together under the same roof, at social engagements or performing routine errands, yet rarely engage in meaningful conversation? Existing in silence is a primary symptom of major marital problems.
2. Too Much Scrutiny
Do you feel like your every action is being watched and criticized by your partner? Can you do no right in their eyes? Too often partners will funnel larger relationship issues into negative criticism of day-to-day tasks.
3. Being Out of the Loop
Has your major source of information about your partner -- their career, problems and personal achievements -- become mutual friends and overheard phone conversations? When you start becoming "the last to know," communication needs to happen.
4. Change in Appearance
Over time, your comfort level will inevitably end that desire to look "perfect" for every encounter with your partner. However, a drastic decline in personal appearance and hygiene by your spouse could be a sign of surrender.
5. Looking for Distractions
If the buzz of your household's television becomes constant, there may be a problem. It is common for individuals to overwhelm themselves with distractions (television, books, model-building in the basement) to avoid dealing with a troubled marriage.
6. Repeated Arguments
Do you feel like a Broadway actor giving the same performance eight times a week? If your arguments become routine with all the same issues and no resolution, then your marriage is either standing still or dying fast. You may need the assistance of a professional counselor to help direct these conversations.
7. Lack of Intimacy
A significant decline in physical affection is one of the most recognized symptoms of a flailing relationship.
If these scenarios seem all too familiar, there are several things to keep in mind when dealing with these issues and making decisions about marriage or divorce:
Marriages rarely fix themselves. Don't walk on eggshells, afraid to bring up sensitive issues. If your relationship is on the rocks and you aren't moving toward either a solution or dissolution, then you aren't actively managing the process and need to take a more proactive role to help a troubled marriage. Click here for more tips on talking to each other.
Don't be afraid to rely on professionals. Marriage counselors, couples retreats and communication workshops are great first steps to reviving a relationship and building a stronger, more balanced partnership. Take steps to seek marriage support. Click here to revitalize your marriage.
If divorce seems inevitable, start preparing. If your instinct says your relationship won't last, be proactive: have an initial consultation with a lawyer and make copies of important financial and legal documents. Click here for what to do first.