Is Your Marriage at Risk? 4 Warning Signs…
u think your marriage is fine because you and your spouse say “I love you”, spend time together, or even pray together? Don’t be so sure. In the 20-plus years we have been helping couples whose marriage is on the brink of divorce, many of them say they were shocked by the announcement that their spouse wanted out. In many cases their spouse was already planning to move in with or marry someone else. “In retrospect, there were warning signs”, most admit.
Here are 4 warning signs that we see most often, and in fact, were evident in our own marriage when we separated in 1987 for two years.
- Real Feelings and Opinions are Buried
Naturally, there are times when some things are better left unsaid. But, when you or your spouse hide your true self because you would rather not have disagreements or hear negative feedback, then you are missing out on being best friends. True friendship in marriage is the glue that holds it together, and make the sexual union more meaningful.
Action Step: Take the Risk To Be Real
Don’t keep shoving down what you really think. Just say it. It could be something as simple as where you would like to spend the holidays or what to have for dinner, or as important as parenting issues or not feeling loved. Give your spouse permission to respectfully disagree, and let your real conversation bring you closer. Knowing your spouse and your spouse knowing you is the key to intimacy (In-To-Me-See).
2.Secrets Are Kept
Keeping secrets from your spouse could include such things as how you spend your time and/or finances, sexual activity, or emotional secrets (such as an infatuation). You may even have friends who encourage you to keep secrets from your spouse.
Action Step: Check Your Thoughts
Any time that you have a thought such as, “My spouse doesn’t need to know,” or “My spouse wouldn’t like this,” then it’s a warning sign that in fact, they do need to know, or you need to stop. Regardless of how innocent the issue may seem, get it in the light. If you get in the habit of lying in little things it will be easier to hide bigger ones later.
3. The Words ‘Separation’ or ‘Divorce’ Are Used When Arguing
You may think it’s no big deal to throw those words around when you are in a huge argument with your spouse. But that’s not true. It creates an atmosphere of insecurity in both of you, and it breeds thoughts that often lead to action.
Action Step: Reaffirm Your Commitment Even When Arguing
The next time you have a quarrel, do your best to confirm your love and commitment. Try saying something like, “I love you, and I’m not going anywhere, but right now I’m really frustrated about….” It’s also good for your children to hear since researchers say parents divorcing is the number one fear in most children.
4. Negative Thoughts are Entertained
What occupies your mind most of the time? Do you dwell on “what-if” or “might-have-been”? Everyone has some regrets, but nursing negative thinking creates a negative atmosphere in your home and marriage. Most of the shocked abandoned spouses we hear from tell us that their husband/wife said they were tired of spending time with someone who always saw the glass half empty, with no joy for life. This is not about different personalities, it’s about taking responsibility to enjoy the life God has given us, and finding things to be thankful for each day.
Action Step: Think Good Things
Try starting or ending each day by making a list of at least 3 things you are thankful for, or that happened good. Make a habit of saying nice things to your spouse and children each day, and most of all to God for the gift of life. Making necessary changes in a marriage is much easier when it comes from a grateful heart.
Have you been separated or divorced? What were the warning signs in your own marriage? We’d like to know!
Joe and Michelle Williams
209-578-4357, Modesto, CA