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12 Warning Signs of Marriage Trouble

The #1 reason most people marry is love according to Pew Research. Many people have a healthy marriage that lasts for decades, but others don’t. How can you tell there may be trouble in your marriage?

Istockphoto credit: Ridofranz

Here are the twelve warning signs for your marriage…

1. Keeping secrets.

Secret keeping indicates a lack of trust and respect for one’s spouse. It also can mean we are participating in activities we know our spouse would disapprove of and we don’t want to rock the boat. Be transparent with your spouse. It’s the way to build intimacy.

2. Prioritizing your children over your spouse.

Kids are huge blessings and we need to care for them and raise them to be strong followers of Jesus. However, our spouse should be our first priority after our relationship with God. Stay unified in your parenting. Make time to communicate with your spouse and let your children know your spouse is your first love. 

3. Lack of sexual intimacy.

Sex is important to the health of your marriage. Make time for it.  Unfortunately, not all couples can make love due to trauma or PTSD. But there are still other ways to facilitate physical intimacy. Kiss and cuddle each other even if you don’t make love. The benefits of touch are huge for your relationship. 

4. Increasing “separate-ness.”

When couples begin to distance emotionally from each other it’s a warning sign. This can be seen when husbands and wives lead increasingly independent lives. They make decisions without consulting each other. They no longer have the same couple friends and instead, spend time with single friends or co-workers. They may divide bank accounts that were previously held together. 

5. Poor Communication.

If you and your spouse no longer discuss values, daily activities, or dreams for the future this could be an indicator that your marriage is in trouble. Take 10 minutes a day to catch up on your day’s activities. If you’re pressed for time, we suggest talking about each other’s “highs and lows.” Each spouse shares their high and low point of the day. This is a quick, effective way to stay connected during busy days. To increase your marriage communication and connectedness, check out our book, Build Your Marriage One Day at a Time.

6. Fight unfairly.

When you or your spouse use blame, disrespect, shame, anger, or manipulation you are fighting in an unhealthy way.  Couples can express disagreement but it should be respectful. One way to ensure this is to own your feelings and faults. Keep the disagreement about the issue; don’t make it personal about your spouse.

7. Contemplate Divorce.

When you’re angry or disappointed with your spouse where does your mind go? Is your first thought about how much better life would be if you had married someone else or could get a divorce? Avoid saying or even thinking about the “D” word. Look for solutions together.  Resolve that you’re a team and together you can work through the problem. Have the mindset that you’re committed to your marriage.

8. Unforgiveness.

Everyone has to forgive someone and that includes forgiving your spouse. Forgiveness is ongoing. In an intimate relationship like marriage, we will, unfortunately, wrong our spouse since no one is perfect. (We’re not referring here to abuse which is a more complicated issue requiring professional help.)

In our marriage, we’ve hurt each other with our words and actions. And that means we’ve had to do a lot of forgiving. 

Don’t let unforgiveness take root in your marriage. If you’re struggling with forgiving your spouse we highly recommend professional counseling. Some issues are too complex to work through on your own.

9. Absence of laughter and fun.

You should enjoy spending time together. There should be opportunities where you laugh and engage in activities you both like. If your best times of laughter and fun are without your spouse, your marriage is threatened.

10. Ungratefulness.

Some people think the world revolves around them. They didn’t get married to serve; they got married to be served. When their spouse doesn’t meet their expectations or fails to anticipate their needs, these individuals complain and an ungrateful heart usually follows. 

What aspects of your spouse are you thankful for? What characteristics of your spouse do you appreciate? Is he or she a hard worker? Loyal friend? Good parent? Excellent provider? Wise decision maker? Make a point to tell your spouse what you appreciate about them.

11. Infidelity.

Infidelity is one of the biggest threats to your marriage. You and your spouse can’t build your marriage when a third party is present. If you or your spouse has been unfaithful, professional counseling is a non-negotiable for your marriage to survive and heal. We have seen many marriages healed and strengthened–including ours–so there is hope but it’s a long journey. Don’t do this alone. Find a trained, Christian therapist to walk alongside you. We did and we’re so glad we fought for our marriage.

If you or someone you know has had their marriage rocked by infidelity, be sure to get our book, Ruined to Recovery: Help when the affair is discovered from Amazon.

12. Failing to pray together.

If you and your spouse don’t pray together, your marriage is threatened. In fact, according to research, couples who pray together are more likely to stay together and less likely to divorce than couples who don’t pray regularly together. According to the late Dr. David Stoop, “…The National Association of Marriage Enhancement, in Phoenix, Arizona, reported that when couples prayed together on a daily basis, less than 1% of those couples would end up getting a divorce. The numbers were 1 out of 1156.” Take the steps now to initiate prayer in your marriage.

Our goal is to help couples build a Christ-centered marriage. If you are concerned about the health of your marriage, get help from a trained Christian counselor. It’s not too late to build your marriage.