I’ve been separated for some time now, but the initial symptoms of our marriage going-down-the-tube, are still very clear. I hope you don’t recognize any in your relationship, but if you do, perhaps you can take steps to stop the downward spiral. It seems that the expression of affection starts to diminish first and that shows up in various ways.
1. Sex is infrequent
I suggested that he see a doctor in case it was hormonal, a medical issue or a simple fix. He didn’t go for two years. So there lies the priority and its not having a good sex life with your wife. The last year of our marriage, I realized that I was getting sex only on special occasions. My birthday, Mothers Day, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, New Years. Yep, 5 times. This is not healthy for a vibrant and sexually active woman. I started having thoughts of infidelity. I expressed this to him and he dragged me to a marriage councilor. I say ‘dragged’ because I was done with the marriage at that point. It had been getting progressively less over the last 5 years.
2. You feel like roommates. (that have nothing much in common)
A consequence of very little sex is that you start to feel like roommates not lovers, not a married couple. It got to the point, for me, where kissing him just felt wrong and I knew in that moment that it was over for me. Part of our ‘homework’ when we went to see the councilor was to hold each other for 30 minutes each day. We did it. It was not easy. I wanted to be anywhere but there. It got easier and communication got better but I think it was too little, too late.
3. One harps at the other about something that is reoccurring.There is no playfulness.
For instance: ‘Why don’t you ever clean the dishes before you go to bed?’ I will tell you right now that it isn’t about the dirty dishes. It’s about control. It’s about a lack of respect for each other. Its about the ‘silent F.U.’ when deciding to leave the dishes in the sink. Its about not clearly communicating the truth, whatever that may be for you.
4. You don’t feel like a priority in their life.
If you feel like you are down on the list a few notches say something! Work is not more important than your relationship. A good relationship is what will ground you and give you the strength to deal with the stresses that life will throw your way. That’s not to say that you won’t disagree. You are two different people, you will have different opinions that come from your unique experiences. But instead of having to be right you will choose to see the others point of view and agree to disagree. Someone once said “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”
5. Compliments are rare or non-existent
When you give a compliment, three things are accomplished 1. you make your partner feel good, 2. this makes you feel good, 3. you strengthen your friendship bond. Saying something positive must outweigh the negative five to one according to studies. Once a day say something nice. It’s not hard.
Ultimately, if you sense that something is wrong, it probably is. Don’t stand by and wait for it to change for the better on it’s own. It won’t. You need two committed participants with a common goal to make the relationship better in order for it to get better. Seeing a councilor is good at times when you are stuck or need mediation, a third party that won’t take sides. This way, if nothing else, the breakup will be more amicable. If you want to work on issues faster, try a couples group. It’s amazing how quickly things can come up in a group setting.