You love your partner, but you're not feeling “in love” anymore. You're fighting more and playing less. Your conversations are about bills and kids and work rather than dreams and goals and vacations.
You know something is off in your relationship, but you just can't pinpoint it. Your lives are so busy, you don't have time for each other. When you do get together, it’s just not as fun. You know you want your marriage to work, but you also want to be happy again. Something needs to change.
Here's the good news: your relationship is not doomed. Most likely, you just need to figure out the hidden issues and fix them. Here are 10 signs your marriage is in trouble and 10 ways to make it better.
1. You think you could be happier with someone else.
Maybe you could be happier with someone else ... that doesn't mean there's a problem with your relationship! (In fact, here are 38 hard truths about relationships.) The bottom line is that love is a choice. It's a practice. Actively love the one you're with. Remind yourself why you and your partner fell in love and make time for the things that nurture your connection. Do you love to see movies together? Take long walks? Try new restaurants? Plan to do the things that bring you together and you will feel closer.
2. Everything your partner does annoys you.
Living with another person can be tough. We all have our quirks. Maybe you used to love your husband's huge laugh, but today you find it irritatingly loud. Rather than focusing on what annoys you, choose one or two things you love about your partner and start admiring those. Maybe your husband has a great smile and is a patient listener.
3. You’re changing and he or she is not.
You are growing! That's awesome! Don’t leave your spouse behind. Invite him or her to grow with you, but don't pressure your partner to change. (No one likes that!) If you're new to meditation, invite your spouse to practice with you. If you're excited about a new parenting course, see if she wants to take it with you.
And remember: you'll never be in agreement 100 percent of the time. (That would be boring!) Instead, look at the core values that you share and focus on those. For example, focus on the fact that you both care about health, rather than the fact that he will not try the latest elimination diet.
4. Your trust has been broken.
Trust can be restored when you focus on doing things that are in the best interest of your spouse and your relationship. Trust is the most important force in a long-lasting relationship and is often hard to restore without professional help. If you find that you and your partner can't restore trust on your own, consider meeting with a counselor who can help you both move forward. If you're looking for pointers, here is a primer on how to build trust in a relationship.
5. You never really talk to each other.
Your life goals and priorities may not be aligned. It’s time to reevaluate your goals, priorities, and life vision and get on the same page with your spouse. Schedule a fun night to talk about your dreams and find out where you are aligned.
6. You feel unappreciated.
You're working your butt off in your career, running the household, and raising the kids … but you receive no thanks. Instead of complaining, be the change you want to see in your relationship. Start showing your partner gratitude every day. And if you need help in running the household, ask for it. Don't complain about what you're not getting, but be clear about what would make your life easier. (Not sold? Here's why you need to ask for what you want in a relationship.)
7. You don’t feel like you can talk to your partner about difficult things.
Last time you tried to bring up a touchy subject, it turned into an all-out blowout. That's a sign that you and your spouse need to learn how to communicate based on your feelings and your needs. Communication isn't easy, and most of us weren't taught how to have difficult conversations in school, but you can learn.
- Here's how to have difficult conversations with your partner.
- Here's how to discuss tough topics when they arise in your relationship.
8. You feel sad and anxious and are no longer taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Relationships are an important predictor of your quality of life. If yours is not thriving, then it will be very difficult for you to thrive. If you are suffering mentally, physically, or emotionally, please seek help from a trusted counselor or mental health professional.
9. You compare your relationship to others.
If you find yourself taking note of what's happening in your friends' relationship, that's a sign that you have unmet needs. For example, if you're envious of how patient your friend's husband is, chances are, that's a sign that you'd like your partner to be more patient. Talk to your partner about this — and then do your best to stop comparing! That just makes everyone feel worse.
Another example: if you're envious of how often your friend has date night, chances are, that's a sign that you'd like more quality or fun time with your partner. Maybe it's time to plan a trip to your favorite pizzeria? Use those negative feelings to fuel positive experiences in your relationship.
10. You don’t feel heard. (Or worse, you feel belittled.)
This is a sign that your communication is broken. Luckily, communication can be improved with practice. You may be surprised how much it will help if you just try to listen more. Once your partner feels heard, he or she will typically return the favor, and you'll create a climate of understanding and respect.
- To improve your listening skills, start here.
- Need more convincing? Here's a world famous expert's take on the importance of listening in a marriage.
Don't let your relationship slowly deteriorate! Take action today to create surprising changes in your relationship. When you choose to make yourself and your relationship better, chances are you'll become a happier, better version of you.
Want to know more? Download the free eBook, 10 Ways to Be Extraordinary Together for an action plan to help you re-create love and fun in your marriage.
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