By Nancy Fagan, The Divorce Help Clinic (Mediation)
There’s no doubt that marriage can be difficult at times even for the most loving and dedicated couples. Anyone having been in a marriage, past or present, can attest to the fact that marriage isn’t all roses – but it certainly has its positives, and that’s why so many couples can make marriage work for the long-term.
When it comes to keeping your marriage together – and more importantly, happily together – these five cues reveal the inner workings and healthiness of your relationship. Does your marriage make the cut?
Physical and Verbal Communication Subtleties
Not seeing what’s in front of your eyes can lead to fatal relationship problems down the road. Pay attention to your partner’s physical gestures and verbal responses to ordinary situations – because as most of us can agree, words are only a glimpse into our inner thoughts and emotions. The most telling parts of a relationship are the subtleties found in day-to-day communication. For example, physical gestures like eye-rolling, pulling away from affection, tearless fights and a lack of lingering in bed together may indicate a problem in the relationship. Verbal cues include few mentions of “I miss you” and “I love you,” not asking how your day was, getting irrationally upset over small matters and your partner’s failure to ask how you think and feel about any given situation that merits importance. Responses and reactions are just as important as the actions that are brought to the marriage.
Major Changes in Your Partner
To an extent, we all crave personal improvement in one area or another of our lives. How many of us would love to lose 10 pounds and fit into our favorite pair of skinny jeans? But when it comes to drastic self-improvement, especially coupled with changes in behavior, it may become a point of concern. That’s because drastic changes in your partner’s appearance such as drastic weight loss, new clothing, or plastic surgery are all the signs associated with an affair. Be cognizant of changes in your partner, especially when it’s alongside changes in behavior and less time spent together.
No More "Dance Card" Time
When a relationship begins to dissolve, it typically manifests itself in a shift from togetherness to separateness. This typically shows up as fewer phone calls, texts, e-mails, and time spent in the same room when at home. There is only a certain amount of time in a day and when the "usual" time spent together (in any form) decreases significantly (when measured compared to the previous year, it means that time is being invested elsewhere. Because couples gradually drift apart, it can't be measured month to month because there are normal fluctuations. This is why it needs to be compared the previous year/s.) Pay attention to the time spent – or lack thereof – and if your relationship is suffering, make it a point to spend more time together whether it’s scheduled date night or simply committing the weekends to be in union.
Change in Language
Using "single person" pronouns rather than "couple pronouns" may be a cause for concern. For instance, when a spouse begins to emotionally break away, the language reflects that shift. Couples who are invested in each other will say, "We," "us," "our," "I," "me," "mine," etc. Watch out for language that reflects oneness versus togetherness.
The Art of Positivity
Research shows that couples need 5 positive interactions to every one negative one in order to stay strong. A happy marriage focuses on the bright side of things as opposed to a heavy influence from the negative. As an example, relationship expert Dr. John Gottman suggests comments as simple as “We laugh a lot” as opposed to a “We never have any fun” as the key to positive interactions on a day-to-day basis.
Nancy Fagan is the owner of The Divorce Help Clinic (Divorce Mediation & Planning Services), best selling author and divorce expert. If you have questions about San Diego divorce or mediation, make sure to stop by any Wednesday for the Divorce Information Drop-in Clinic, 11:30-1 pm (Free). This is NOT a class. Drop by anytime for a private 15 minute meeting,