By Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT for YourTango.com
We’ve all heard the dauntingly horrible statistic: 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. No one wants to be a cliché, and everyone wants to find themselves amongst the 50 percent that beat the odds.
What if you could identify the biggest indicators before it was too late? What if you had the chance to turn it all around? Would you seize the moment, even if it meant taking an unpleasant look at the reality of your relationship and digging in to repair the damage?
Look at the indicators below to see where you fall on the spectrum of marital turmoil:
1. You become a one-woman consulting firm. You used to ask your partner for their opinions on a variety of subjects. Everything from what you should do about your difficult boss to what plans you’ll make for the weekend. Those days are gone, and you find yourself making decisions without consideration for your spouse’s feelings or how it might affect him.
2. You pull out your scorecard and start tallying. The ease of give and take has been replaced with playing “Tit for Tat”, and you actively keep mental notes on how much you are contributing versus how much your partner isn’t.
3. You anoint yourself king/queen of the castle. In a successful relationship, no one person’s needs are more important. Your desires are equally considered and equal attempts are made to bring them to fruition. However, now that there is stress, resentment and tension, you make your needs priority one.
4. You move from teammates to roommates. Teammates work in tandem to accomplish goals. They share ideas for how to succeed and envision home and life plans together. Roommates take on singular projects with no respect or thought towards the other person in the house. They clean their space. They do their laundry. Their separate plans become your separate lives.
5. You pull out your needle and start jabbing. Anyone in a long-term relationship knows their partner well enough to have a keen awareness of their hot buttons. In days past, you accidentally pressed them, learned from your mistakes and vowed not to repeat them. Today, you press them with full awareness, and you like it.
6. You stop dating. When you two were happy and in love, you “dated” each other. You did all the little things that kept the romance alive. You sent the sweet text in the middle of the day. You brought home the dessert from that little café you know they love. You made an effort to keep up your appearance. Now, you see your mate as a ball and chain instead of the hot date you used to roll out the red carpet for.
7. You move your love tank to someone else’s truck. Whether it’s emotional or physical, you are reaching out to anyone and everyone other than your mate to connect with and feel connected to.
8. You kidnapped cupid and you’re holding him for ransom. People joke that you stop having sex when you get married because you no longer “have to.” But the truth is that often times, people stop having sex when they start losing the positive feelings towards their mate. No one wants to have sex with the person they see as an impediment to their happiness. Even if you still have sexual feelings, you stop pursuing them to punish, play games or make a point to your partner.
9. Words are saved for scrabble. Gone are the days of staying up late, talking. Conversations with your mate seem futile and exhausting. Instead, you use as few words as possible to convey your sentiments and conversations devolve into what needs to get done around the house or who is running carpool tomorrow.
10. You checked out of your relationship and into your mental hotel. In happier times, your partner was your refuge because they were your best friend, your comfort and your joy. As tension sets in, you blindly interact with your mate without giving them your presence of mind. Your mindfulness has been replaced with fantasies of your new life, away from your partner.
If you’re determinedly shaking your head in agreeance, that’s a flashing yellow light that trouble is brewing. No one said it would be a snap, but then again, nothing worth having comes easy. You have a finite opportunity to get your marriage out of trouble before that yellow light turns red.
If you’re debating and looking for the motivation you’ve been missing, remember that no fantasy holds up to the reality and complexities of a relationship. Even the best partnerships are messy, challenging and can often send you to the brink. They all require effort, diligence and consistency. Be part of the solution and defy those nasty odds.