For as much envying as we do of other relationships, the truth is—even the most wonderful, "perfect" union can end in divorce.
We've all seen it: Two genuinely great people start off head-over-heels in love, but then somewhere along the way (despite everything looking peachy on the surface) they shock their family and friends with an announcement of their marriage ending.
What happened? They seemed so happy together!
Despite how happily they started off as a couple, the pair was more than likely hiding a continuous cycle of unhappiness within their relationship. After striving to keep all their troubles hidden just below the surface for far too long, they felt that separation was their only option.
This isn't unusual at all. Many couples struggle to maintain "happy relationships," but without the right tools their attempts at doing so can become futile and marriages still fall apart. Luckily we can take note of these unfortunate heartbreaks and heed their warning signs before its too late. Here are 15 bad habits these former couples most likely left unaddressed and slowly but surely eroded the connection between them.
1. Not being on the same page with each other
Often couples lack alignment on the things that matter most, and feel like their own personal goals or feelings are the most important ones to focus on. It is easy to get lost in your own perspective and fail to see your partner's viewpoint on the important things, causing them to feel like they aren't valued.
2. Not meeting each other's needs
Every person has unique needs they hope their partner will fulfill. But sometimes couples fail to speak up about those needs or presume their partner's needs are the same as their own, often leaving their significant other feeling alienated.
3. Letting disconnect become the norm
This is when couples start to say things like, "I love you, but I am no longer 'in love' with you." This should be seen as a call to action, but more often than not couples seem to find this to be a final resting place, whether in divorce or mutual unhappiness.
4. Allowing intimacy to dwindle
The affection, connection, and tenderness you once shared dries up from lack of effort, leaving you as nothing more than mere roommates. Once again this should not be a final resting state or terminal phase of a relationship, but a signal—or check engine light, of sorts—to make some positive changes.
5. Neglecting each other
Blowing each other off, forgetting to follow through on promises, failing to pay attention. Neither of you necessarily meant to make other things more important than your spouse, but you did and the continuation of this behavior can eventually be seen as blatant disrespect for your partner.
6. Harboring resentment for each other
Unspoken or unresolved resentment festers and severely poisons a once healthy relationship. One partner (or even both) can think: You did this to me, and I can't get over it. This type of toxicity and buried tension will only continue to build and eventually require release, often taking the form of explosive arguments.
7. Not dealing with things head on
You know things are off, but it's easier to do nothing about it. You avoid facing the truth or handling the real issues in your marriage but just as with all procrastination, the subject will have to eventually be addressed—only with more complications due to the passing of time.
8. Criticizing each other
Nitpicking and obsessing over your partner's shortcomings (whether out loud or just mentally taking note), eventually results in those faults becoming the only thing you see in your partner. After awhile, complaining and criticizing become a comfortable habit which compromises your willingness to communicate and interact in a compassionate, supportive way. It can also eat away at the intimacy and trust you have built in your relationship, and result in one or both of you feeling too self-conscious to be completely honest and open with one another.
9. Turning your attention (and affection) elsewhere
Whether by having an affair or pouring all of your attention into the kids, you have checked out and sought both attention and affection elsewhere. This can lead to jealousy, feelings of neglect or being undervalued, and the deterioration of emotional security within the relationship.
10. Letting stress control your lives
Life is hectic and many couples accidentally let stress (both big and small) come between them. But once stress takes over and shared togetherness fractures, it can feel incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to get it back.
11. Fighting to win
When you're more focused on being right than on truly connecting, attempts to discuss problem areas within the relationship can often end up making things much, much worse. It inhibits the sense of openness needed for healthy communication and progress that could be made in mending other issues.
12. Neglecting sexual intimacy
When you start to forgo sex, your intimacy and resulting connection is going to start to drift apart. It is important to see this aspect of your relationship as just as much of a priority as any other, and really put in the effort to make a positive change. Even if there is a sense of disinterest or apathy, effort can take the form of scheduling sex or giving maintenance sex a try.
13. Lying about financial issues
While even the closest couples can find it difficult to talk about money, it's important to make an attempt to keep an open dialogue—because money is the number one cause of relationship stress. If your partner is irresponsible or deceitful about money, it can feel overwhelming and hurtful, because it’s a huge breach of trust in the same way that an infidelity would be.
14. Losing respect for each other
The minute eye rolls start to enter into the relationship, respect has gone out the window. Like Kristen Bell once said, “You might as well break up right then because it’s contempt.” Its important to always make an effort to understand your partner's perspective and respect their right to a different point of view, even if their opinions don't match your own.
15. Introducing ultimatums into the relationship
If your partner starts saying things like, "It's me or your best friend/parents/sister, etc.," you've entered into a stage of the relationship you may not be able to come back from. The subject does not always have to be another person, in many situations it can even be a career or habitual pattern.
The longer the above issues remain unresolved in ANY marriage, the more these habits intertwine, intensify, and steadily reduce the flow of love and connection in your life. Each day, love dwindles and stress builds until even formerly happy couples reach their breaking point.
So what can you do when your happy marriage feels miserable (and seems hopelessly lost)?
Find a little perspective: Focus on why you fell in love with your partner and what you want your life as a couple to become. Even better, tell your partner this without any expectations of them doing the same.
Be brave enough to go first: Be willing to apologize to your partner first instead of waiting for them to make the first move.
Start to repair the damage: Apologize for your part in any misunderstanding. Don't defend why you did or didn't do this or that. Offer a simple, heartfelt apology without expecting one from them. This can work wonders.
Stop waging war: Stop doing anything that's causing harm to your partner or injures your feeling of connection and intimacy. This might simply mean showing a little more patience, compassion, and kindness.
The happiness and success of any marriage is reflected in the little things you do (and fail to do) for each other. Don't let your marriage fall apart like so many couples do. Make a fresh start, today. Choose to do something that moves you out of the past and imagines a brighter future together. Choose your relationship over the often alluring consistency of inaction.