We are often asked, “What are the indicators that my love relationship or marriage is on the rocks?” How can I tell when it’s time to seek individual or marital counseling?”
We thought we would approach answering these questions by listing both some obvious and not-so-obvious signs that there are significant problems that need your attention.
Here are some of the obvious signs:
1.) You spend less and less time with your partner, preferring to engage in activities either alone or with friends;
2.) You notice you are spending more time fantasizing about other men or women and are showing more interest in them than in your partner;
3.) When you are together as a couple, you tend to spend more time socializing in the presence of other people than enjoying your own company without others;
4.) You have a general and persistent lack of interest in sharing the activities with your partner that used to be enjoyable and bond you together;
5.) You notice that your plans for the future don’t include your partner;
6.) You begin to engage in sneaky behavior, excluding your partner from social media sites, refusing to share your password, or blatantly hiding text messages, email, photos, or anything else that would compromise your trust and integrity;
7.) The frequency, duration, and intensity of irritations, criticisms, disagreements and arguments with your partner are gradually increasing.
Here are some not-so-obvious signs that you might not think about:
1.) Your children are commenting and/or intervening in your interactions with your partner, feeling the need to defend one parent over the other;
2.) Your dream content reveals consistent themes of escaping, suffocation, being cornered in situations in which you are threatened or being attacked, encounters with past romantic partners, or engaging with physically attractive people in your life;
3.) You notice you are giving increased attention to body image and appearance with the thought of becoming more attractive to someone who isn’t your partner;
4.) Conversely, you are gradually losing interest in your health and well-being, indicating possible symptoms of depression and/or anxiety because of a stale marriage. This may be shown by changes in your daily habits — poor eating, notable weight gain or loss, lack of interest in your appearance, lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, poor sleep, and low energy;
5.) You stop performing the ritual of greeting your partner in comings and goings, no longer hugging or kissing. You no longer send spontaneous text messages or call during the day to nourish and support each other;
6.) Gradual deterioration in affection and sexual contact with your partner, and importantly, not remembering or caring how long it’s been since you’ve been intimate.
7.) Your sexual fantasies no longer include your partner.
STEVEN and DEBORAH HENDLIN are clinical psychologists in Newport Beach.