The thought of separating from one’s spouse can sometimes cause a person to overlook the red flags of a troubled marriage. While divorce has its own consequences, it is equally dangerous to simply ignore the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

A marriage is supposed to be a safe place where you and your spouse care and love for each other. However, if you feel that this is no longer the case, or if respect has been absent in your marriage for some time, then you need to start looking at the signs.

For instance, a lot of negative emotions will be present in the marriage. Either one or both of you are likely to harbor emotions like resentment, anger, contempt, as well as a pessimistic outlook on the relationship. What’s worse is that there will also be what’s known as ’emotional leakage’ where in the stress and depression will spill over into your job and general attitude towards life.

If you want to prevent marital disaster, the first step is to develop a further awareness of the typical issues that indicate there are some deep-seated issues that need to be addressed.

#1: A failure in communication is one of the most common warning signs in a marriage. A healthy relationship should be a two-way street which allows a couple to freely share their feelings and innermost thoughts without being attacked or judged. When it’s come to a point where trying to get your point across will turn into a full-blown fight at the slightest provocation, then you know that something’s wrong.

You can also tell if the communication process is dysfunctional when a couple doesn’t say anything during an argument that will actually help resolve their conflict. Instead, they’re more focused on exchanging hurtful words with the intention of demoralizing the other person and “gaining the upper hand”.

A better style of communication would be to focus more on what you’re feeling so that your partner will understand why you are upset in the first place. Instead of throwing accusations or playing the blame game during a heated argument, you are more likely to get better results by communicating your emotions and what can be done to rectify the perceived transgression.

This should go both ways for you and your spouse. Otherwise, you should be concerned if a relationship is suffering a lack of basic ‘communication ethics’.

#2: When one of the people in a relationship thinks that there’s inequality present, this creates a strong sense of resentment which is a sign of serious trouble.
A partner who feels wronged by their spouse is angry because they believe that their other half isn’t contributing to the relationship. The only way to deal with this particular problem is through open and honest communication – obviously, it won’t be possible if a marriage is no longer a safe place to air your grievances or express your innermost feelings.

#3: An extended lack of physical affection is also a deeper sign of trouble.
A marriage should have a strong element of intimacy, both in out of the bedroom. Sex is obviously important as it’s part of the bond that keeps a couple together in a romantic sense. However, intimacy also means being physically close in non-sexual ways, such as hugging, exchanging a kiss before going to work (or coming home), or putting your arms around your spouse while watching a movie at home.

It’s important to make sure you stay connected not just on an emotional level, but also on a physical one. Expressing your love through words is definitely vital to the health of your marriage, but you should also express yourself through touch. Being tactile with your partner on a consistent basis is must. There are plenty of opportunities for you to introduce touch into your daily routine, so the trick is to take advantage of these when they come up.

Find a reason to give your spouse a brief hug, hold their hand while you’re walking out in public, or give them a kiss before they head out the door. It might seem that these “little” moments don’t mean much on their own, but you have to look at the big picture – they count for a lot in the long run.

#4: A great part of being happy in a relationship is when a couple understands how important their individual interests are, even if they’re not necessarily interested in each other’s passions.
A marriage is in trouble if you and your partner don’t make an effort to support each other on this front.

People are never static – either you’re growing or declining. This is why you need to support your partner in whatever makes them happy and fulfilled. Everyone has their set of passions, hobbies and interests that make them the interesting and unique individuals that they are. These are the same qualities that both you and your partner had – not to mention the reason you fell for each other in the first place.

Whether it’s stamp collecting, playing music, yoga, or volunteer work, open your eyes to what makes your partner tick. Make them feel that it’s just as important for you to let them pursue these things. Alternately, let your partner know that you too have interests that give you a personal sense of accomplishment.

A marriage suffering from these warning signs is dangerous for the partners involved because there’s nothing more soul-crushing than being trapped in an unhealthy relationship. Some say it feels like dying a little each day, so you need to take necessary steps to reverse these negative trends in your marriage. Change may take time, but you have to start the recovery process as soon as you can.

Complacency is one of the biggest mistakes a couple can make, so you can’t take your marriage for granted or turn a blind eye when any of these red flags come to light. The quicker you act, the better you can stay on top of these issues and manage them before it’s too late.

In light of these 4 marriage checks, how’s your marriage looking?

See you next time for more great advice.