5 Signs of a Dying Marriage

No marriage is perfect, and of course we can’t expect them to be. The dynamics of a relationship can change over time. The bond you share can go through its ups and downs over the years, and this is perfectly normal and healthy.

If the marriage seems to be stuck in one of those “downs,” however, the problem might be more serious than the natural ebb and flow common in many long-term relationships. To help you understand the warning signals, we’ve put together a list of 5 problems that put the entire stability of your marriage at risk.

Now, please remember that if you are experiencing one of these problems, your marriage is NOT dead. There’s a big difference between “dying” and “dead” here – if you’re experiencing one of these marital problems, it’s not too late. Reach out for help to save your marriage’s life!

1. Lack of Sex

There are many signs of a dying marriage.
There are many signs of a dying marriage.

Sex is extremely important to your marriage. While the frequency (and all the other details) will surely vary from couple to couple, the connection you build with your spouse through sexual activity is undeniable. Not only are our brains and bodies designed to feel extreme closeness through sex, the level of intimacy that surrounds the whole process is important time spent together at your most exposed and vulnerable.

If sex is absent from your marriage, the connection you share (or want to share) is suffering.

2. Squabbling

There’s a big, big difference between a disagreement about a particular topic and “squabbling.” If you find that you and your spouse are bickering about next to nothing, take this as a warning flag. Squabbling is what happens when elements of frustration and difficulties in the marriage go unaddressed, and instead you both just remain slightly angry, picking away at each other every chance you get. Clearly, this is unhealthy behavior.

3. Ignoring Problems

This is directly related to the item above. Ignoring problems (whether it’s something serious like substance abuse, or something minor like whose turn it is for dishes) will only cause them to get worse. When problems go unaddressed, most people find other ways to take out their frustrations (hence the squabbling), and the longer they go ignored, the worse the problems (and the misplaced reactions) get. Marriages need to be built on trust and honesty, and that means being able to communicate about problems in a way that leads to real solutions, and not being afraid to work toward those solutions together.

4. Living Separate Lives

So much of marriage is about togetherness, from casual time spent together to having your spouse as a confidant, support system, and ally. If you and your spouse are living separate lives, spending your time in different parts of the house, keeping your opinions, passions, or fears to yourself, your marriage really only exists on the surface. Without actually sharing your lives with one another, nearly all of the benefits of a happy marriage our out of reach!

5. Lying

Dishonesty hurts, especially when it’s from someone you care about. In a marriage, dishonesty will not only chip away at the trust you have for each other, but will even start to lead toward unfounded suspicion. Lying about the small stuff only makes it all the more possible to lie about something much more important, and if you can’t trust each other to tell the truth, how can you trust each other with anything else? Dishonesty is like a spreading infection for marriages – it only grows and spreads from one area of the relationship to the next, leaving damage wherever it goes.

Remember, these are the signs of a dying marriage, not the signs of a dead marriage. You have the power to save its life! If the items on this list sound a little too close to home, then you know where to start working!

Don’t let your marriage slip through your fingers!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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14 comments

Jennifer 9 years ago

I think my husband and I fall into all of these categories. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells trying to talk to him about it. Do you have any suggestions?

Adam J 9 years ago

How can I turn my sex deficit around? My wife seems almost disgusted at the idea...

Lincolnshire sad owl 9 years ago

Me too. Am sad for you. My hubby refused to even acknowledge our marriage on our 25th wedding anniversary. He has not opened my card and even planned to go to a hotel on his own the night of our anniversary. Where do you go from there?

NMAC 9 years ago

I'm past all that - we went from all of that - to he's unhappy and moved out - but he wants to do holidays as a family (the surface one) to save face with the kids.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Jennifer, I am glad to hear that you are trying to talk to him about some of these issues. I'm sad to hear that you have to walk on egg shells. Here is a video with communication advice. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/communication-in-marriage/#comm-video Hopefully this will help you get your voice heard.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Lincolnshire, I'm sorry to hear that your husband did not acknowledge your 25th wedding anniversary. It sounds like the two of you need to work on reconnecting as a couple. Check out this video on "How To Reconnect and Feel Close Again." https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/reconnect-feel-close/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Adam, Lack of sex is a very common problem in marriages. Please take a look at this article, "Choose to Be Happy-Talk about Sex." Talking about your feelings is a great way to turn things around.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

NMAC, Your husband has "checked out" of the marriage, but it is not too late to check him back into the marriage. Here is a video that addresses the issue you are currently dealing with: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/how-to-save-your-marriage/get-husband-wife-checked-back-marriage/

Dee 9 years ago

My husband has checked out, Im devastated, sex nil, we have been talking and crying for the past 2wks, we have grown apart over the past 2 yrs, I over looked it, didn't know it was that bad, and now he has given up, says he loves me, but not in love, I want to work on this I love him and Im in love w/ him. we both have been wrong, I touch him he moves away from me, I do not want to sleep in another bedroom. I had surgery in Oct 2 rods and 7 pins in my neck that we both understand. I cant work at moment, cause of recovery. Im dying inside.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Dee, Thanks for sharing your story. If you do still love him and want to work on saving the marriage, here is a great video for you to view: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/save-marriage-possible/

Mrs. Lost 9 years ago

My husband and I are polar opposites. He was flexible when we met and did things I wanted to do... now I wonder how my future is going to be with him when our glue (our child) grows up... where will be?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Mrs. Lost, It can be very difficult when two people are completely different, but remember to always support each other. Even though you are different you can still love each other for who each of you are. Here is an article I think you will be able to relate to. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/support-spouses-passions/

Paul Perrini 9 years ago

The walking on egg shells comment really hits home with me.I have heard my wife say this to me many times.My marriage has been up and down for several years.I do really well with responding to here communication needs from me for about 3 to 4 weeks.Then I fall off the wagon.I have been married for 22 years,and do really love my wife.We have raised 2 wonderful daughters,and are going to be (empty-nesters) in June 2014.My wife told me this week that we need to separate;mostly because she does not want to keep doing this up and down not connecting,communicating on a consistent basis.I am a 100 % great provider,I am lacking in listening, and have never been the greatest with my own feeling.We have been to counseling together and apart.I do feel like this marriage is slipping through my fingers and there is nothing I can do about it. I have been reading many articles and watching videos on this site since I found it.I feel helpless, alone, frustrated and want to do what ever it takes to a turn this marriage around.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Paul, It sounds like you recognize you need to continue working on communication skills without falling off the wagon. Something to take into consideration is that men and women often have different communication styles. Take a look at this article for more help with communicating with your wife: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/marriage-advice-understanding-differences-communication-styles/