12 “Divorce Signs” That Actually Aren’t a Big Deal
Some supposed relationship danger signs are really no big deal at all. Here's how to know when your problems are normal.
You don’t act like honeymooners
“The chemistry we feel for a spouse can ebb and flow for many reasons,” says Cathy W. Meyer, managing editor of divorcedmoms.com. “It’s not unusual in a marriage to go through periods where we feel a lack of desire for our spouse.” When someone is sick or a couple has young kids, it’s natural to be less intimate. Even as you age, you might not want to be as physical as you once were. But if you’re no longer intimate consistently, ask yourselves why. A lack of physical affection means you’re in a platonic relationship. Check out 15 signs your relationship is solid.
You argue about the same thing repeatedly
It’s normal and common for people to argue about the same issues throughout their marriage, says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. This might lead to divorce, though, if you let the arguments seriously escalate, fight dirty, shut down and refuse to talk, or excessively blame, says Feuerman. You may need to practice some give-and-take to end the constant battles. “Couples get caught in a cycle of the same-old drama because they’ve lost interest in each other and the health of their relationship,” says Meyer. These are the fights that are actually healthy to have as a couple.
You don’t feel madly in love
With daily responsibilities like work, running a household, and chauffeuring your kids, your passion for each other may take a backseat. You likely can’t jet off to the Caribbean or spend hours in bed like in your newlywed days to rev up the romances. But you can do little things to rekindle your relationship. “Go the extra mile to rekindle the romance that you had in the beginning and your entire relationship will be better,” says Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. Try something new, different and exciting to help promote closeness and connection, says Feuerman. Take a cooking class, try a dance lesson, sign up for an escape room, she says. “Do almost anything you can think of that’s novel,” says Feuerman. “Novelty kicks up the dopamine hormone, the one that goes into high gear when we fall in love.”
You each tend to do your own thing
No one can be together 24/7: It’s fine to want to have a girls’ night out or play a round of golf on your own. Spending time apart isn’t a reflection on the status of your relationship. In fact, a break—even a short one—revives it. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. “Time apart can create a sense of mystery and longing for a partner,” says Feuerman. “As long as you have a foundation of trust between the two of you, time spent on your own or with others can inject positivity and passion into your relationship.” It can even give you a sense of liberation, says Winston. “It’s good to strengthen your bonds with your friends, as it will make you a happier person and not so dependent on one person to give you everything you need emotionally.” Don’t miss these daily habits of couples in healthy relationships.
You sometimes feel bored
If you find your spouse dull at times, chances are they find you bland at moments too. Bring back the excitement by doing something worthy of conversation. “Become less boring yourself,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of Don’t Lie on Your Back for a Guy Who Doesn’t Have Yours. “People who are bored are usually quite boring. Pump up your own game and see how it pumps up your marriage.” Form a book club that’s just the two of you. Try a new restaurant with the kids. Bring some fresh experiences to your relationship to keep things interesting. “Really and truly listen to what your spouse is and isn’t saying, both in words and body language,” says Dr. Carle. “Ask yourself how you want to be listened to. Let that be your guide.”
You get jealous
It’s totally natural to be jealous when you’re in a relationship. The key to overcoming those feeling is through communication, which will build trust and reassurance. Set aside time to address your feelings and you’ll feel more comfortable and find that your jealousy dissipates, according to Jane Greer, PhD, New York-based relationship expert, and author of How Could You Do This to Me? Learning to Trust After Betrayal. Find out what habits destroy trust.
Some things about your spouse are a mystery
You have no idea how he can talk and text simultaneously. You’ll never get why she won’t follow a recipe. And you don’t understand why they’ll only fill the gas when the fuel light comes on. It can be impossible to see the world through a partner’s eyes—and that’s ok. While marriage makes you a couple, it doesn’t turn two people into one. It’s impossible to understand literally everything about someone. “Having differences offers opportunities to learn and grow from one another,” says Antonia Hall, MA, a psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. “It keeps things interesting and adds a richness and depth to the relationship. Most importantly, the willingness to accept little differences strengthens your bond because you’re making your love and friendship more important.” In fact, you’d get bored quickly if you understood your spouse completely, says Mike Goldstein, founder of EZDatingCoach.Com. “The most fun part of a relationship is realizing that there is always more to learn about your partner,” says Goldstein. “A strong relationship will remain strong when both parties stay endlessly curious about how their partner works and what they’re most passionate about.”
You fight about chores
Chores aren’t fun and they’re never-ending: It’s completely normal to argue about the division of labor in your household. “Talk through what’s required to keep your household as you both desire, and agree on a way to divide things up,” says Hall. “Often chore frustrations can indicate that you’re upset about more than chores. So be willing to address other imbalances in the relationship. Spending some quality time on the friendship aspect of your relationship can help immensely with working through everyday household issues.” Keeping score will do no good. “After you’ve been keeping score, ask yourself what you’ve gained, besides additional stress,” says Dr. Carle. Here are communication rules every couple should know.
You don’t tell each other everything
When a friend says “Don’t tell this to anyone,” you take it seriously. You never betray a pal when they spill the beans because you don’t want to lose that pal’s trust. It’s fine to keep a buddy’s confidences to yourself. “Your spouse is married to you and not your friends,” says Francesca Di Meglio, the former Newlyweds Expert for About.com and writer of the Italian Mamma blog. Your spouse likely won’t understand or even care, especially since it doesn’t impact him.
You check out someone else
Passing glances happen naturally, even when you’re in a committed relationship. “It’s human nature to check out someone else. Sizing someone up doesn’t mean you want to make a move on that person,” says Di Meglio. Let yourself off the hook if you’re giving a harmless, quick gaze—it’s only a problem when you act on the fantasy. “It’s touching if that’s the problem,” says Di Meglio. “As the old saying goes, ‘You’re married, not dead.'” These are 15 signs that your relationship may be in trouble.
Your spouse isn’t the best lover you’ve ever had
From time to time, you may find yourself wistfully remembering the wild sex with a past partner—and that’s totally normal. “Realistically, the one you marry doesn’t need to be the best lover,” says Goldstein. It’s ok to fantasize about what an ex did in bed every now and then. Just keep these fantasies to yourself to protect your partner’s ego. “Sex should rarely be a total deal breaker if the rest of the package is phenomenal,” says Goldstein. “Not to mention, sex can be coached and improved over time.” Ask yourself how your love life could be better, and then work with your spouse on how you both can improve.
You fail to mention some purchases
Being a shopaholic is one thing. But if you occasionally treat yourself to something nice (as long as you can afford it), you don’t need to tell your spouse—they might not be upset anyway. Consider granting each of you a monthly allowance to spend a certain amount of money on whatever you want, says Goldstein. “If you want to spend that money on shoes, it’s none of your partner’s business, as long as it fits into the budget.” Just never lie if your spouse asks how much you spent—that could indicate you have spending issues. Learn about signs your partner is a keeper.