Many of us have been there. Many of us haven’t been, but will be. Most of us have friends or relatives who have. It’s a particular situation called your marriage going south… in other words, a failing relationship.
Once you’ve been through this yourself, you can usually spot the signs in someone else’s relationship. And by the time the symptoms display themselves, it’s usually too late to reverse the situation, unless counseling is sincerely and immediately sought. The negative emotions have taken a terrible toll on the love that was once there.
One of the very first indicators is the constant disagreements. These can come into play over just about everything in daily life. They can be over what movie to watch, whose turn it is to take out the garbage, where to go out to eat, whose family is the hardest to get along with. Just about every topic has the potential for dissension. All normal people differ in their opinions from time to time, but a sign of relationship failure is when there are constant disagreements, without letup.
Further signs are the out and out arguments. The disagreements have deteriorated into arguments where nothing is ever decided rationally. When the argument begins over one topic, it usually broadens to include several (many) other topics, as well. Typically, nothing is resolved, and the arguments are repeated over and over again, at a future time. Added to this, there are hurt feelings and frustrations to be stored up, for use as fuel in further emotional combativeness.
A friend of mine was in a car accident which, fortunately, resulted in only minor injuries for her, even though her car was totaled. The other car ran a red light and broadsided her. She said she never even saw it coming. Months after the accident, she was still shaky even getting into a car. Unfortunately, her husband was a fast driver who came to quick stops, took risks, cut in and out of traffic, and so forth. She said that she couldn’t even ride with him, that she had to drive herself, even though they might be going to the same destination. Even though she tried, she just couldn’t ride with him after the accident, and this resulted in a lot of anger in her husband, as you might imagine. My friend said that she knew absolutely that arguments over this were a fair part of their later divorce.
It could be said that she was unreasonable – that even though she was very nervous with her husband’s driving, she should have just toughed it out for the sake of his feelings. On the other hand, though, why should she have to live with additional fear in order to assuage his feelings of hurt pride?
Which leads me to another sign of a failing marriage – the inability or unwillingness of either or both of the partners to see the other person’s side. The ability to feel empathy, or at least respect for the other person’s feelings, is a must in a relationship. My friend’s husband told her she should “just get over it.” He saw no reason for her to be afraid of his driving (even though he had a terrible driving record.) She saw this as a lack of feeling for her and he saw it as a lack of confidence in him.
Your marriage is going south when you hear your husband/wife coming home from work and you wish you could go right out the back door. The desire to be somewhere else, anywhere else, is not a good sign. I’ve heard people say that they absolutely had to stop for happy hour at a bar before they went home, just so they could go home.
What is really odd, though, is that I’ve heard some people say that their sex lives are actually the last thing to go in the relationship. Some couples continue sleeping together right up until the day one leaves and files for divorce. They apparently still strive to achieve some type of intimacy, whether mental or just physical, in an instinctive measure to force a type of positive change. Unfortunately, though, even though the sheets may still be warm, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is still well-grounded.
These are just some of the signs of potential marriage failure. There are more that lead up to a divorce. Some people may say that they live happily and have a solid relationship even though they disagree, argue constantly and live for their own viewpoint. But sooner or later, I believe, these things take their toll on two people who have vowed to love each other. Without respect, sharing and understanding, what long-term happiness can flourish between them?
What do you think – what’s the best way to avoid these situations… or diffuse them?