You know that your marriage has problems, but are they the sort of problems that really lead to a divorce? Absent abuse, addiction or infidelity, a lot of couples will flounder along in an unhappy marriage far longer than they should.
If you recognize the following four communication problems as central to your marriage, it’s time to acknowledge that your relationship is probably already over:
It’s healthy and normal for couples to talk about their complaints, so that hidden resentments don’t end up erupting into fights. Criticism, however, is more of a personal attack against someone’s character.
When one spouse is constantly criticizing the other as lazy, a dreamer, a tightwad, a social climber or some other negative things, they’re essentially demonizing their behavior and negating any possibility of compromise or improvement.
Defensiveness is a natural reaction to criticism – but it’s not always healthy. When someone takes every complaint as a personal criticism, they may respond by playing “the victim card.”
Once that happens, there’s usually no way to look at the complaints or grievances being aired in order to work through them.
Stonewalling is usually what follows defensiveness. One or both spouses starts to retreat from the conversation because they believe (or know) that it’s about to either turn into a fight or will just end up being meaningless.
This creates an emotional remoteness that often cannot be breached – whether it’s on one end or two.
Contempt is usually the final sign that a marriage is doomed. Once one or both halves of a couple start to treat the other with contempt, essentially reducing them to a negative stereotype, they usually have lost any feelings of love they once had for their partner.
Sometimes, intensive counseling can help a couple overcome these communication problems, but that only works if both parties are willing. If your spouse can’t or won’t come to the table, it may be time to consider a divorce.