A recent report from the Institute for Family Studies found that eight out of ten couples who avoided divorce after a period of unhappiness, found themselves happily married five years later.
They also found that couples who divorced during that time, were no more happy alone than they had been in their marriage. If these couples had sought counseling early on in their troubles, they may have made it. After all, the average unhappy couple waits six years before pursuing therapy.
If you suspect you may be in an unhappy marriage but aren’t sure, you need to evaluate the signs and seek help. Don’t let things get worse, check out this list of red flags that should send you both straight to the therapist’s office.
1. Lack Of Physical Connection
While not every couple is super affectionate, seeing declines in your intimacy level with your partner should be a huge red flag. The physical connection is what separates a romantic relationship from all others.
Many marriages are sexless. In fact, in Japan, the problem is so common that the entire culture supports men and women seeking sex outside of their relationship. Reports suggest that half of all Japanese couples may be in sexless marriages.
But in America, living in a sexless marriage is a lot less common. And, if you’ve previously had a very physical relationship, it can be very difficult.
Limited Physical Affection
While living in a sexless marriage is difficult, having an overall reduction in the physical affection you get from your partner can be traumatic. If your partner no longer reaches for your hand when walking or gives you hugs, you may be in a loveless marriage that needs help desperately.
2. Lack Of Communication
An even bigger sign of a loveless marriage is a lack of communication with your partner. When you get big news, like a job offer or an award at work, who do you call first?
If it’s your mom, dad, best friend, or sibling, then your marriage is in trouble. Sharing things with your partner, both good and bad, is a sign of healthy communication and a supportive environment.
3. You Don’t Engage With Your Partner
Even if you communicate with your partner some, if you don’t engage with them fully then your marriage can quickly become loveless.
When you’re in the living room with your partner, are you sitting together talking, watching a show, or playing a game? Or, is your partner across the room with their head silently buried in technology?
While it’s normal to spend some time alone, if you regularly find yourself feeling alone in the same room as your spouse, you have a problem.
4. Your Gut Is Telling You To Run
Too many people ignore their guts and do nothing about their loveless marriage for many years dreading the emotional and financial fallout of a divorce, or the exposure of their problems that comes with therapy.
If your gut is telling you that your marriage is loveless, it probably isn’t meeting your needs and you need to take steps to protect your happiness like contacting a therapist.
5. You Distract Yourself With Other People’s Problems
Women, in particular, love to help other people with issues they are facing. They’ll spend all day counseling a friend after a break-up or visiting a sick friend in the hospital. That’s not to say men can’t be just as caring.
But if either of you is filling your schedules with other people’s problems, then there may be something more than charitable giving at play. When someone is trying to avoid an unhappy marriage, they will try to seek that emotional satisfaction elsewhere.
While we’re not suggesting your spouse is cheating on you when they say they are helping a friend, they are clearly looking for another way to nourish their soul.
So if your wife is organizing a fun run at her work, volunteering with the kid’s school, helping put together a charity gala, and building houses for the poor on the weekends, you might want to ask her if something is up.
6. Distance Is Growing
Unhappy marriages don’t get that way overnight. Your bond deteriorates over time when you don’t give your marriage the attention it needs to thrive.
If you find yourself in a marriage where you feel like things keep getting worse, then you should consider doing something about it now. If you’re only having sex twice a year, don’t wait until it’s never at all to do something about it.
Likewise, if you used to spend all weekend with your spouse doing chores around the house and going on family outings, then don’t ignore it when they start to pull away and their weekends become a time for friends and sports.
7. You Find Yourself Dreaming About Life Alone
When your marriage is really up a creek without a paddle, you may find yourself daydreaming about what it would like to be a single person.
For some, the idea of living alone after so many years as a couple is scary and lonely sounding. But, if you find yourself longing to be caring for just yourself and want to build a new life somewhere else, then it’s a sign your marriage is unhappy and needs help.
Get Help Today For Your Unhappy Marriage
If you read this article and found yourself relating to any of the signs of an unhappy marriage, then it may be time for you and your partner to seek counseling.
Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com