In hindsight, the signs of a marriage breakdown are always pretty obvious. All you did was argue, you avoided being in the same room together, and nothing your spouse did ever made you happy. But seeing all of this in hindsight means your marriage is already over. You need to recognize the signs when they first start appearing so you can head off that trouble and avoid a marriage breakdown.
Some signs that your marriage is heading for a breakdown are pretty obvious. When your spouse flat out tells you he or she has met someone else and they have a suitcase in one hand and divorce papers in the other, then you pretty much know it's over.
But those aren't really signs that your marriage is in trouble. Those are signs that it's over. For good. You want to watch for signs that there might be a problem long before you get to the divorce stage. The most obvious signs your marriage is in trouble are:
- You argue about everything
- Your arguments are getting more heated and hurtful
- You spend less and less time together
- You avoid being in the same room together - or maybe even the same house
- You're never happy anymore
- You sleep apart - either farther apart in the bed or in completely different rooms
- You make decisions and plans without consulting each other
- Your spouse has changed his or her appearance
It's important to understand that all marriages go through gradual changes as the relationship matures. Your relationship in the bedroom, for example, might not sizzle as much as it did in the beginning. But that doesn't mean it's less fulfilling. Maybe your spouse does make a few more decisions without asking you first but it could mean he or she knows you well enough to anticipate your response.
In other words, every little change that happens in your marriage shouldn't signify disaster. But you do need to be aware of sudden changes. If minor disagreements are suddenly being blown all out of proportion, or your spouse sleeps way over on the other side of the bed - or in the guest room! - then there's probably trouble brewing that could spell marriage breakdown.
The first thing you and your spouse need to do is acknowledge the elephant in the room. Ignoring it, or brushing it aside, won't make it go away. In fact, if you don't focus your attention on finding and solving the problem, it's only going to get worse.
Once you admit that there really is a problem, then you need to go about solving it. It may mean all you have to do is sit down and have a calm, adult discussion. And it may mean you need to consult a marriage counselor. Either way, the best way to avoid a marriage breakdown is to pay attention to the signs and take care of the problem before it gets too big to handle.