Marriage Alert | Signs Your Marriage May Be in Trouble


Every marriage faces challenges, but knowing the warning signs can help troubled couples address issues before they escalate. This comprehensive guide explores common indicators that a relationship needs work, along with expert advice and real stories of hope.

Marriage Trouble Statistics (Paw Research)
55% of Americans believe unhappy couples stay in bad marriages for too long
43% of Americans believe unhappy couples get divorced too quickly
66% of 18-29 year olds believe unhappy couples stay in bad marriages for too long.
72% of unmarried adults living with a partner believe unhappy couples stay in bad marriages for too long

Lack of Effective Communication

Lack of Effective Communication

One of the strongest predictors of divorce is failure to communicate openly and honestly. When partners cannot respectfully share positives and negatives, problems persist unsolved, and feelings fester into resentment.

“My husband and I hardly talked at all unless it was arguing,” recalls Sarah, married 8 years. Everything was a complaint and we lost the ability to really listen with empathy to understand each other.

Other signs communication is breaking down:

  • Frequent disagreements and raised voices
  • Feeling unheard or invalidated by one’s spouse
  • Avoiding difficult topics like intimacy issues
  • Use of blaming language (“You never…”, “You always…” )

Regular check-ins without judgment help strengthen intimacy by:

  • Validating each other’s feelings and perspectives gently
  • Finding compromise through seeing multiple sides
  • Resolving small conflicts before they escalate

Loss of Intimacy

While the ebb and flow of physical and emotional intimacy has been normal for decades, a sharp or prolonged decline warrants concern. Withdrawn affection and lack of romance are linked to higher rates of affairs and divorce. However, setbacks are not permanent when addressed early.

“We let life get so busy raising kids that we stopped prioritizing quality time together,” reflects Susan, 50. But our relationship rebounded when we each made small efforts like a weekly date night.

Other signs of waning intimacy:

Reconnecting requires effort, such as trying new hobbies together, acting out of service, having non-sexual touch, and having honest conversations.

Conflict Avoidance

Conflict Avoidance

Failing to resolve disputes effectively allows resentment and bitterness to build over time. Sweeping arguments under the rug prevents resolutions and understanding. However, disagreeing respectfully, when done constructively, can strengthen intimacy.

“My wife would shut down if I even tried talking through problems,” recalls John, divorced 10 years. “We didn’t appreciate that good communication is actually the solution, not something to be feared.”

Other signs conflicts are being dodged:

  • Withdrawal or “cold shouldering” instead of discussion
  • Refusal to negotiate or acknowledge the other perspective
  • Constant appeasement to keep peace rather than resolve issues
  • Holding grudges for minor grievances instead of forgiveness

Regular check-ins keep minor spats from erupting into blowouts with tools like “I feel” statements, active listening, and compromise.

Negative Interactions

Relationships decline rapidly when positive exchanges are outnumbered by criticism, hostility, and contempt. Yet well-meaning couples still shower support 90% of the time on average. The key is catching and addressing put-downs before they dominate.

“We started every discussion as an argument,” remembers Cathy, separated 5 years. “But once we made a conscious effort to be kind even through disagreements, our bond improved dramatically.”

Additional warning signs of predominantly negative interactions:

  • Sarcastic, demeaning, or insulting remarks
  • Raised voices or name-calling during disagreements
  • Blaming, accusing, or threatening behavior
  • Expressions of contempt through eye-rolls or mockery

Even amid tensions, prioritizing respect, empathy, and affection helps preserve intimacy.

Lack of Commitment

Lack of Commitment

When dedication wanes, the willingness to weather relationship challenges also erodes. However, commitment takes active nurturing beyond the wedding vows through small daily gestures of care, compromise, and teamwork.

“I was honestly just going through the motions of being married,” admits Joe, divorced 2 years. “When challenges came, I didn’t fight for our bond because the foundation of commitment had faded.”

Additional red flags that dedication is declining:

  • Fantasizing about life as a single person
  • Reduced compromising or willingness to meet a partner’s needs
  • Emotional or physical distancing from the relationship
  • Expending more effort on other priorities like hobbies or coworkers

Recommitting takes refocusing effort on acts of service, appreciation, and quality time together regularly.

Conflicting Life Goals

Divergent visions for relationships, family, or careers are a major fracture point when not addressed sensitively. However, with skillful communication, many incompatible aims can be harmonized through cooperation.

“At first I wanted kids right away but my husband wasn’t ready,” shares Sarah, happily married for 10 years. “By listening without judgement, we found a compromise that celebrated our differing needs.”

Further signs underlying desires are not aligned:

  • Inability to find joint solutions respecting all perspectives
  • Resentment over “sacrificing” one’s goals for a partner
  • Assumptions or accusations about the “right” path
  • Lack of support for a spouse’s hopes if different from one’s own

Validating each other through empathy is key to respectfully negotiating changes over time.

Financial Hardship

Financial Hardship

When handled without teamwork and candid discussions, money remains a leading cause of marital problems and divorce. However, uniting on financial literacy and shared budgets can strengthen trusting partnerships through tough times.

“We were drowning in debt without ever openly talking finances,” remembers Dan, married 15 years. “So we made joint decisions about spending priorities that greatly reduced our stress levels.”

Other warning signs surrounding joint finances:

  • Hidden purchases, debt loads, or bank statements
  • Refusal to compromise on budgets or save as a couple
  • Conflicts stemming from discrepancies in earnings
  • Feeling controlled or unsupported in one’s financial choices

Building habits like shared budgeting, savings goals, and frank conversations about priorities can help weather financial setbacks together.

Growing Apart

It’s common for partners’ desires, interests, and identities to evolve, especially as life stages change. However, allowing inevitable divergences to pull the relationship apart without open talks risks growing distant emotionally or physically.

“We drifted into more independent lives as our daughter left for college,” says Olivia, 45. “But committing time for rediscovering our connection strengthened the bond we’d had for 20 years.”

Additional red flags that spouses may be growing apart:

  • Reduced shared quality time or conversations
  • Withdrawal or secrets from each others’ lives
  • Differences in values, interests, or life priorities
  • Emotional or physical distance despite cohabiting

Regular check-ins keep relationships vibrant by embracing changes together respectfully.


Extra-marital betrayals rupture trust profoundly, yet forgiveness is possible when rooted causes are addressed through empathy, accountability and rebuilt intimacy over time. Prevention requires meeting needs within the primary partnership.

“I know now the affair stemmed from feeling unheard for years,” admits James, reconciled 5 years after betrayal. “We’re closer than ever by listening non-judgmentally and making each other a priority daily.”

Additional signs one or both partners may be at risk:

  • Secretive behaviors like passwords or unexplained absences
  • Withdrawn affection and emotional disengagement
  • Fantasizing about romantic alternatives
  • Projecting blame or accusing the other of infidelity

Rooting out needs deficits and strengthening communication long-term deters potential betrayals.

Mental Health Concerns

Mental Health Concerns

Relationship issues often stem from or exacerbate untreated depression, anxiety, addictions, and other disorders in one or both spouses. Yet recovery is very possible when caring support replaces isolation.

I struggled with addiction for years but hid it, wrecking our marriage,” says Frank, in recovery for 6 years. “Once my husband lovingly encouraged treatment, we realized our bond was worth saving through hard work.”

Additional potential warning signs:

  • Withdrawn or volatile emotions, mood swings
  • Isolation from social support systems
  • Substance misuse or gambling as coping mechanisms
  • Expressions of hopelessness, worthlessness or suicidal ideation

Prioritizing mental wellness through counseling preserves relationships facing internal struggles.

Lack of Balance

Excessive time spent on distractions prevents deepening emotional bonds and tackles family priorities cooperatively. Neglect strains partnerships and family well-being long-term.

“My job consumed me to the point my kids felt neglected and my wife became depressed,” reflects David, married 15 years. “Once I shifted to working smarter not harder, our whole family’s happiness improved dramatically.”

Additional signs of an unbalanced lifestyle:

  • Sacrificing family time and responsibilities for hobbies, work or screen use
  • Physical or emotional absence from the relationship and home
  • Resentment from a spouse for an uneven division of labor
  • Difficulty setting limits to protect relaxation and togetherness

Keeping commitments like joint activities and chores and being mindful of each other’s needs supports thriving relationships even amid external obligations.

When to Seek Counseling

When to Seek Counseling

While normal ups and downs are tolerable, seek guidance to prevent lasting damage from unaddressed relationship distress. Signs professional mediation could help:

  • Emotions are overwhelming problem-solving abilities
  • Conflicts never resolve, and tensions escalate
  • Partners report feeling miserable in the relationship
  • Safety concerns arise amid hostility or threatening behaviors
  • Attempts to improve independently seem ineffective

Counseling teaches communication strategies, identifies contributors to fractures, and motivates change through accountability. Most importantly, it preserves intimacy by prioritizing understanding over winning an argument.

With patience and effort, committed couples can often establish healthier dynamics through counseling that allow marriages to thrive for lifetimes. The key is addressing red flags early through an impartial facilitator before resentments solidify or alternative conflict patterns set in.


As with any enduring relationship, marriage takes ongoing nurturing to withstand inevitable challenges while deepening emotional bonds. Recognizing early signs of distress empowers couples to rectify issues before they escalate through compassionate communication and seeking help when needed.

With awareness and commitment to partnership, troubled marriages often recover stronger than before. Though difficulties arise naturally over decades, prioritizing understanding above all else allows spouses to weather conflicts as a united team. By facing troubles respectfully and prioritizing each other’s well-being, intimacy and trust can prevail long-term. With patience and determination, addressing warning signs constructively typically preserves what both partners value most – their cherished bond of committed companionship.

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