When your marriage is in trouble, you know it because you’re worried that something bad is going to happen, like your family getting broken beyond repair.
But how do you know whether your marriage is really in trouble or just going through a phase that everybody goes through?
Here are three signs your marriage is on fire and needs your immediate attention, and what to do about it:
1. You resent the way your husband is acting
Maybe he’s withholding affection or his time and attention. Maybe he’s giving it to someone else, like the dog or the kids or another woman. Maybe he’s drinking every day or he’s just plain mean and hurtful all the time.
Who wouldn’t be resentful? It’s only human that if your husband is being reckless or completely uncaring, that’s going to hurt.
Maybe you haven’t known how to stop feeling resentful about the ways he’s falling short or not even trying. Resentment comes with the added illusion that you can’t get out of it, that you’re stuck.
But there is a way to get out. Here’s the rope that you can grab onto to climb out of the quicksand of resentment.
Are you ready?
Write this down, if you can.
You can’t be resentful and grateful at the same time.
It’s just not possible. It’s like light and dark. You can have one or the other but not both. So if you’re feeling resentful and you decide to count your blessings by making a gratitude list, guess who’s going to have to leave the building? That’s right, resentment.
Granted, it’s not always easy. You might go to make that gratitude list and think, “There’s nothing! Not one thing I’m grateful for about him.”
That used to happen to me too!
But if you can, write down just one thing.
Everybody can come up with one thing, right? There’s definitely one thing you’re grateful for about him, right? And once you’ve written the one thing down, you’re going to have some momentum, so you might as well write down a few more things.
Now resentment will catch on that it’s being evicted and try to persuade you that choosing gratitude is being fake. But if you keep going, reflecting on all the ways your husband has made your life better, past and present, then you’ll banish that resentment and in its place will be something much more enjoyable.
Of course the gratitude will be present, but something else bubbles up, in my experience, when you consciously choose gratitude instead of resentment.
It’s humility, which is the ability to see where you might have also been wrong so you can take responsibility for it. Even if what he’s doing seems SO MUCH worse than your teeny tiny transgressions.
Marinating in resentment is dangerous for your marriage, of course, but even worse it can make you bitter, which is a painful way to live.
The second sign that your marriage is in trouble is that…
2. You aren’t happy
You may be thinking, “Of course I’m not happy! My marriage is in trouble!”
That’s exactly what I thought too! I worried that if I got happy, my husband would think that what he was doing was okay, and I didn’t want him to think that! Then my situation would never improve! So I made every effort to let him know I was displeased and miserable.
But that strategy wasn’t very well thought out on my part because it just meant I was going through life unhappy. After I got happy, my marriage got a lot better. Because it turns out, only happy people have happy relationships.
The third sign that your marriage is in trouble is that…
3. You don’t know what you want
If you’re anything like I was back in those bad old days, you’ve been miserable for a while too. And you’re not even sure what you want, except for your marriage to be better and maybe for him to make you happy. But beyond that?
Maybe you’ve been expending so much energy on your struggling marriage you haven’t had time to tune into the subtle yearning from your heart, the vital marching orders your soul is trying to give you through desire.
What are those marching orders?
If you’re anything like I was, the things I yearned for were too scary to admit, much less do anything about. I didn’t want to make a big deal about them because I didn’t feel deserving. I knew I could suck it up and make do, which seemed safer than giving my desires the opportunity to germinate and spring forth. It was less scary just to exist than it was to honor my dreams.
But ignoring my desires made me less vital and less vibrant, and it made my marriage harder and heavier. Because one of my husband’s highest priorities is my happiness. He desires to see me get my desires. And by not knowing what they were, I was derailing the whole incredible system where he feels successful when I’m happy.
Now that you know these three signs that your marriage is in trouble, you may be wondering, “Well, what about him saying it’s over or putting his attention elsewhere—isn’t that a sign that it’s in big trouble?”
In my experience, those issues are scary but solvable when you’re tending to your own gratitude, happiness and desires.
Which will you start tending to first? I’d love to hear in the comments…