In the courtship phase of a relationship, a lot of talking takes place. Couples talk about favorite foods, hobbies, likes and dislikes. They discuss their families and traditions. They have serious conversations about marriage, careers, children…
And then they get married.
Perhaps it’s because married people get busy with work, children and other responsibilities that they don’t have time to talk openly like they did in earlier days. Or maybe they think marriage is the pinnacle of a relationship — the “I have arrived” moment of love — and they forget that marriage takes work.
But any couple that doesn’t do the necessary homework or put in the crucial hours needed to nurture marriage will soon face divorce. Here are three warning signs that your communication (or lack thereof) has landed your marriage in “pre-divorce” phase.
If you are emotionally starving in your marriage and your spouse is unaware of the pain you’re suffering, you need to change this. Left to fester, issues that are hurting you will eventually unravel the relationship and end your marriage.
2. Lack of appreciation
A fatal blow to marriages? When one or both spouses feel unappreciated, unimportant or devalued. Humans have an inherent need to feel needed, to be recognized for their efforts. Without communication, it is difficult (if not impossible) to feel that your spouse appreciates and values you as a person, as a companion, and as an integral part of your family.
It’s difficult to bring up communication issues with your spouse if you don’t feel respected. You may think that you won’t be able to explain your feelings or hurts in such a way that you’ll be heard or understood. Perhaps you don’t feel like you have the necessary respect needed for a proper relationship.
For each of these potential warning signs, communication is the remedy.
Miscommunication or no communication creates chasms in a relationship. Neglected spouses begin to shut off their feelings and seek to end their relationships. Couples and family therapist, Steven M. Harris, stated, “… many of the people I talk to share some of the same elements in their own pre-divorce narrative: lack of communication, turning away from their partner, and insulating themselves from people and resources that might help.”
If your marriage is struggling in the communication department:
Have weekly date nights alone with your spouse so you can talk.
Set aside time to talk in the evenings after work or when the kids are in bed. Leave out television watching, playing video games or other activities that detract from communication.
Seek couples or marriage counseling to work through bigger problems. A professional can help you reestablish healthy communication.
Agree on some respectful ways to bring up problems or disagreements.
Listen with the intent to understand your spouse’s perspective and feelings.
Remember, once you’re married, communication should increase rather than decrease. For each spouse to feel understood, respected, loved, and appreciated, communication is a must! It comes in many forms — verbal, physical, emotional, spiritual — and you need each form in order to be truly effective communicators. Your marriage depends on it.