How do you know when your marriage is falling apart – observations

Before the marriage

A love saturated marriage is the glue that keeps families together but more families are falling apart than before. Some people ask, how do you know when your marriage is falling apart? Others are scared to get married even though they refuse to admit it.

As an alternative and an ever present way out, they choose common-law relationships while others hop from relationship to relationship, never settling with any one person for long.

In spite of all this, many people who choose marriage, fight to some extent to save it. Most times the effort comes long after things have apparently gone too far to recover.

Even if you have gotten that far, there are those who are willing to help you recover.

The Little Things

The steps on any journey are always small ones. For a successful marriage, little things count. The failure of a marriage also begins with the little things.

Have you ever had a disagreement and later on, after reflection, you wondered what all the fuss was about? I have, and at times, if you follow the process, you would find out that it was just you or the other person seeking to have his own way no matter what. In other words, selfishness.

And while the words are flying back and forth, the damage is being done to each person, many times without them being aware of the destruction. Hurtful words, deeds and looks may be repented – yes, I said repented, you may be more comfortable with apologized – of/for, but they can seldom be erased from the mind. The speaker may be able to do so, but the depth of the wound on the receiver may be unforgettable. Unless effort is made to forget.

And still, after forgiveness is offered and received, it may be impossible to forget what was said or done, but a person can choose not to resurrect the feelings that they had let go of.

If you are unforgiving, hurt comes not only to you, but to all who you associate with. It destroys relationships, including marriage. It is always better to talk out a situation than to allow hate and misunderstanding to fester. Make up quickly.

So there is that “fight” and then, because no one wants to back down, or one person wants to get revenge on the other – you know, you want him/her to feel what you felt, and even deeper – you pull apart and refuse to talk to each other. That silent treatment that many women enjoy dishing out to their husbands/partner.

And I realize that some men are becoming good at it too.

So the silent treatment is dished out and you think that soon things will be back to normal, but it never will be, because the other person takes note, and is also planning revenge. Some try to be proactive, but not in a way that will grow the relationship, or should I say, preemptive.

In my family of origin, I can’t recall a day when anyone of us was able to stay angry with each other for any length of time. Even my parents didn’t do it. There were times when my father would leave for work having disagreed with my mom. If, when he returned home, she was still upset with him, he would playfully tease her until she relented and started to laugh. That would be the end of any tension between them.

I only found out about the silent treatment when I got married.

Yes, there will be disagreements, but how you decide to handle it would determine the growth or withering of your relationship.

Biblically, we are counseled ; “let not the sun go down on your wrath”. Can you imagine what would happen if we took this seriously and make that effort to reconcile before the day is done? What a wonderful marriage we would have.

If you realize that communication is braking down or has broken down, do your best to restore it before it is too late. Forget the idea of “O, I’m not a talker”. Speak up, kindly.

For a different approach to saving your marriage, click here

As The Marriage Falls Apart

I have come to learn that many times married partners delude themselves as to the true state of their relationship. It may be one partner or both of them.

Couples find themselves talking bad about each other with friends and relatives as the marriage fall apart. While they do this, no effort is made to discuss the issues that are pushing them apart with each other. Or if effort is made, it comes from one person and not the other. The one who is reluctant to make the effort is usually the one who is hurt the most or who has given up on the possibility of a marital revival.

In some cases the spouse is replaced with something or someone else. That lime with the boys or girls becomes more and more frequent. Sometimes longer too.

Emotional distancing begins without anyone realizing what is going on. One or sometimes both, has already begun to prepare for the physical distancing that they are expecting will soon become reality.

They also begin to hint to friends and family that things are falling apart, thus preparing them for the coming change and also drumming up support for themselves and against their spouse.

Communication becomes shorter and most times more and more harsh. The female usually displays frequent bouts of emotionalism and crying while the male hardens himself so as not to be affected by it. They spend more and more time apart and this is usually the time when a third person – sometimes a fourth – becomes involved in the relationship.

Probably the most telling sign is that of withdrawing sexual relations. It begins in small ways, most times by the female and as disagreements accelerate, it becomes more pronounced and obvious. This allows for the other partner, or both, to begin looking for that sexual fulfillment or love, outside of the marriage. This further rips apart the relationship.

We also engage in financial withdrawal. In our present age, where both parties are employed, persons begin to speak about what is mine and what is yours in the home. My money and your money. If only one spouse is employed, the other is usually subjected to the withdrawal of that financial support. More anger and resentment results.

By this time, battle lines are drawn and support for each partner has been gathered from both sides of the family and friends.

Trouble!

I hate to mention it but this too is a part of a marriage falling apart – abuse. Although it does not necessarily occur in every failing relationship, physical, verbal, emotional and other forms of abuse are too often present when marriages fall apart.

How Do You Know

Unless you are constantly on the alert, it is possible to miss all the signs that will warn that everything is not all right. I do not speak here as an expert but as one who has been through a failed marriage and know of too many other failed marriages and relationships.

I recall as a boy hearing our pastors, elders and parents say that when you get married, you should continue “the early attentions”. That means that the things that were done in the early days of courtship to win the individual’s heart, must be continued and built up after the marriage.

In hindsight, I recognize many areas in which I failed to continue “the early attentions”.

It would be good then, to frequently examine yourself for the presence or absence of those early attentions. They tend to go first. Note that I said yourself, not your partner. It is always easy to see the lack in the other person and not ourselves. While that may sometimes appear to be good, the downside is that we then attempt to change the person and this most times result in further conflict.

The first time this idea was put across to me, I totally rejected it. In my mind, I was not at fault, she was. She needed fixing. Truth is that both of us needed fixing but I could not fix her, I had to focus on changing myself.

If you realize that you are constantly seeing faults in your partner, check yourself. Remember that when you all were courting you could see nothing wrong in this person, even when others pointed it out? So continue to look for and see the good. It may be difficult, but the other way will surely lead to destruction.

Quarreling and nagging in a marriage/relationship, is another sign that things are falling apart. If you find that you are having difficulty in settling the smallest issue, then you know that love is fading from your relationship. Where love is present, every effort is made to find solutions to problems/issues in the quickest possible time.

The break down in a relationship is also always noticed by others. If you have true friends, they will notice and point it out even before you can see it. Even not so good friends at times tell us what they are seeing. But even then we are in denial so we refuse to see and often distance ourselves from those who are telling us the truth.

“Mind your own business”, we often say to others.

When you are in love, that person is most times in your thoughts. You find it difficult to be separated from them for a long period. Everyone else takes second place to the one who owns your heart. If while you are married, you realize that that is no longer so, watch out, things are falling apart.

Beware also of the use of technology in your relationship. If it is replacing your normal relationship, you need to cut down on its use. While social media is useful to keep in touch with others, it should not be allowed to divide your marriage.

Getting Help

There are some who have taken the time to study relationships/marriages and can tell you when they are falling apart. More so, they can help you rebuild what seemed to have been destroyed or what was destroyed.

Today there are many who specialize in marriage counseling/coaching in various forms.

There are those who write books that can be a great source of help even prior to marriage. No one can perfectly prepare for marriage, but the more of the right preparation made, the higher the possibility of having a successful marriage/relationship.

I recall reading a lot when I was preparing for marriage. Today I know that I should have read a lot more and follow the counsel of one of our church pioneers – to pray three times more than usual. Such preparation should be done by both male and female in order to have a much more successful marriage.

Then there is direct counseling. There are many able pastors and qualified counselors available today for free. Others charge a fee and also provide very good help. It would be in your best interest to approach one of your choice before or even during marriage. Some have been known to help restore marriages/relationships that had totally fallen apart.

And then there are those who do seminars, going into much more detail with those who attend and thus enhancing the possibility of the success of the marriage and future generations.

In this technological world and time of Covid19, there are even those who are prepared to provide their help online or via CDs and downloadable videos.

What’s Most Needed

In spite of all that has been said before, the best keeper of your marriage/relationship is you, your spouse and God. He should be the only third party in your marriage

You may not know or believe in God and may doubt the above statement, but that does not make it a false one.

Why then, you may ask, has my first marriage fallen apart? Simple, because neither of us made Him our continuous guide as we charted the unknown course of married life. Instead, we abandoned the principles of love that He outlined, and tried to meet our problems and issues with our own solutions. None succeeded.

Marriage/relationships teaches us about unselfishness and putting the other person first. Sadly, we cling to selfishness and wanting all our needs and wants to be met first and then, if we feel like it, we attempt to meet the needs of our spouse. That is basic human tendency.

Only God can teach us how to be unselfish and put our partner first. After all, love originated with Him. If His love is in both hearts, then the problems that appear in marriage will be treated as opportunities to grow stronger.

One person cannot keep a marriage together. It is a couple’s thing. So you may find it difficult, even when you have a solid relationship with God, if your spouse does not. It is crucial then to ensure that both of you have that personal relationship with Him and that it is maintained.

As that becomes an integral part of your relationship, no one will be enquiring as to how to know when your marriage is falling apart. Instead, you would, by word and example, be a true model of a successful marriage.

Share with us your experience on this topic. If you have a successful marriage, share with us what you did to do so. Enter your opinion/views in the comments box provided down below. Same if you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.

17 comments

  1. Toni - Reply

    This was an interesting article. It is true that forgetting in harder than forgiving, thus sometimes leaving a stain on the relationship. Also, I  agree that communication is important. What makes things worse, and not better, is the silent treatment.

    This article is a good read and can be beneficial to couples who need advice.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Glad that you found it informative. My experience has taught me that most times it is the first part of the relationship to detoriate. The silent treatment is the worse.

  2. Mr. Mike - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I am a big supporter of recognizing the small things in marriage and I totally agree that is most marriages the “small things” contribute to the sustenance or downfall of the marriage. There are so many reasons why marriages fall apart, while some may want to think that it creeps up or it just one day fell apart. For many marriages authentic connection has never been an ingredient in their relationship. All we know we are in love and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. Authentic connection produces intimacy, and intimacy creates that scared space for trust to flourish. So people who just got up and realized that their relationship is falling apart think again. I agree with the article when you stated that men are become just as good as women in passive aggressive behaviors (silent treatment). My question is why men are choosing to respond with the same behaviors we detest?
    What couples want most is to be seen, to be wanted, to be heard, and for their feeling to be validated. Sounds easy?? when those things are not being met among others, things become really problematic. Your spouse becomes the enemy and both individuals defenses become super sensitives. the softest words or the most trivial thing can get you going off.
    I endorse getting professional help early in the marriage. nothing is wrong seeking help when thing are not on the rocks. Have that conversation with your therapist so that you can have a different perspective before thing fall apart.

    • Russell - Reply

      Communication, honesty and the willingness to work at being the best that one can be in a marriage is crucial to it’s success. Many people want the marriage but not the responsibility and the effort. Too many believe is revenge instead of forgiveness, in making the partner feel the pain that they felt instead of attempting to minimise the damage by asking, “where did we go wrong”? “What can we do the remedy the situation?” And then there are those who totally ignore what is happening hoping that it will suddenly disappear. We need to talk, to face the situation and find solutions.

  3. Colleen - Reply

    Great post, Russell! It sounds like you definitely speak from experience in what you’re discussing. A divorce can be quite challenging. I went through a divorce a number of years ago. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done many things differently. Looking back, we both could have worked harder to stay together. It truly does take both people regularly giving 100 percent or more. Our biggest error was that we knew “about” God, but really didn’t have much of a relationship with Him. That’s a huge recipe for failure! After more than a decade, our marriage then crumbled. Many couples (especially young couples) really need help with this so they can be more diligent about making their marriages work. Hopefully, they will find your website because they will gain wisdom from your posts. I look forward to stopping by again to check out your seasoned advice. 🙂 May God bless you and prosper all the work of your hands! 

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Your comments are sobering and real Colleen and I welcome them. I think that many couples look back after divorce and conclude that they could have worked harder on their relationships and probably save it. One of my reason for writing this blog is to help others avoid the mistakes that I have made. Having God in the relationship is critical, but each person needs to have a person connection with God or else, He will be present but not obeyed.

  4. Elizabeth - Reply

    Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading it, I can identify myself within all most every area of your topic mentioned. I was married for 31 years, when I was only 23 years old. We were so much in love, however, I guest love was not enough cause I had to end it. And I said I, because If it was up to him we would be still be together, but I would have to sacrifice my happiness for unhappiness in the relationship.

    I was, and still is a strong independent woman, and very fair and reasonable, I gave it my all before I call it quit. This article would have been great for me at that time of my marriage.

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information, it will be a benefit to couples and individual who are in a relationship or planning to be in one before marriage.

  5. Affiliate for Amazon - Reply

    Wow, great article on marriage; I can identify with all that is said. One thing for sure it does take two to work things out once acknowledged something isn’t working like when first started. 

    From my point of view and experience  in marriage for 31 years I sure couldn’t endure it any longer,  no physical abuse, but negligent and verbally. I called myself a loving fool, but not blind.  And as stated, it is the little things that caused breakage in lots of marriage or any relationships between our partners.

    Just about everything in this topic I have done to save my marriage, but again it takes two to make it work, seeking counseling it has to be both, I remember in my relationship I discussed with my hubby then, and his response was “No man or woman can tell him how to stay married” and he never went with me.

    I think I was pretty decent about the unhappiness of my marriage, at home it was a nightmare, and in public we were like the best couple, but as time progress with me crying more than laughter, I had to make that painful decision, but not before the youngest child reached age 18. When he enlisted himself in the Marine, upon his first return home to visit, he took me by my hand and sat with me, look me in the eyes, and said Mom I know you’re staying with Daddy because of us, but mom we are big now, you don’t have to stay with him any longer cause I see you cry more than you laugh. And that was it. 

    So in a sense,  I believe highly in staying into a marriage, but not for the wrong reason,  it’s suppose to be happiness between both partners, yes there’s at some point where disagreement will pop up but not to the decaying state.

    My question is, if you give it your all?  And I mean your all, should  one still stay into  a  unhealthy relationship?

    Excellent article.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Thank you for being so vulnerabel here and sharing a part of your experience with us. It indeed is sad that so many relationships break down after such a promising start. And I totally agree with you that it takes two to make a successful marriage. I also understand your husband’s point of view about no one being able to tell him how to stay married. If both people want to stay married, happily, then it’s gonna happen without outside help. But when things are fallingg apart, at times, talking it over with outside help reveals things that we otherwise would not have seen.

      Thank you for your question. I will  make it the subject of another post, so look out for it.

  6. David - Reply

    Hello and thanks for your insightful post on “How Do You Know When Your Marriage Is Falling Apart – Observations”.  This is not an easy topic to talk about, but anyone who wants to preserve their relationship needs to pay close attention.  I was raised to believe that once I was in a committed relationship it was for life.  We were engaged and planned to get married, but if never happened.  Lack of money and lack of job security at the time contributed to it.  My partner at the time claimed to be as committed as I was, but in the end she wasn’t.  Despite the fact that we had a child together.  That was a long time ago, more than 15 years. 
    The experience lead me to learn more about myself and change things that needed changing.  We must all grow as time passes.  Unfortunately, we don’t always grow at the same rate.  A few years later we tried a reconciliation, but I realized that she never changed and didn’t grow as an individual.  To this day she has changed very little. 
    Here are some of the observations that I acquired over the years.  Most people are broken from some kind of trauma suffered earlier in life.  Because this is never properly resolved, it colours the rest of their lives and their relationships.  Many people are are in relationships because they need the other for validation.  These people will move from one relationship to another without ever learning that it is ok to be alone with yourself. 
    Learning to love and accept myself was a huge stepping stone for me.  I am still not in a relationship, but I know I will be sometime in the future.  I know that I have lots to offer.  However, I am in the process of putting myself back together financially.
    Communication is vitally important and you and your partner need to be on the same page for everything.  You should never feel ashamed for seeking help.  A great marriage councilor can do wonders for a relationship. 
    Cheers,
    David

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Thank you for your indepth reply David. Some things you said deeply resonated with me and it felt as though you were telling part of my life story. It’s sad that while we prepare for success in almost every other area of life, we fail to prepare for the most critical area which can make or break an individual. Broken relationships often lead to broken children and the cycle continues.

  7. Grace - Reply

    There are some things that I do not agree with because it has not been my experienced. Putting God first, forgiveness and communication I have learned is most important.
    I agree the one cannot save a marriage alone. Trying to do so alone can break a person so bad that they may never be able to pull themselves back together from that hurt.
    Love, laugh, remember how it use to be and enjoy each other. Life is to short.

    • Russell - Reply

      I understand that not everyone will agree with everything I have said and that’s ok. We all have and have had different experiences and the way we approach the solution can also lead to a different perspective on the experience. I wish though that you would share that perspective with us so that we can learn and grow together. There may be others here who would have had a similar experience as you and could share how they handled it and what was the outcome. Thank you for commenting.

  8. Grace - Reply

    First I must thank you for responding. I am not a very talkative person, and stay quiet a lot which has been one of the things that was the cause of the brake down of my marriage. Due to this my husband seek outside companionship. I never realized that the situation was so out of hand to cause this in our lives.
    I believed and still do that God has placed us together. My husband has apologized and I have forgiven him completely. I love him unconditionally.
    Now I feel like am being punish for his wrong doing. I feel unloved, not cared for and everything that goes along with that.
    I have said I was sorry for my part in the marriage break down. I am not perfect. By trusting someone with my situation, I realized after the fact that was the wrong thing to do.
    It seems like my husband don’t care and am standing alone with wanting my marriage to work.
    I have and will always love my husband. He is a good man.
    Can you help me with the help of God fix my marriage.

    • Russell - Reply

      You have already stated some areas in which you recognized that you fell short. Work on improving the areas that you have identified. Kee in mind that you cannot change anyone but yourself Let that be your focus. Things will not always go the way you would like and you have to accept that while continuing to work on your plans and dreams. Be patient even in the face of unrequited love.

  9. Enrique - Reply

    Hi, Russell,

    I think communication is key in any relationship, especially in a marriage. I’ve always compared marriage to a plant. You have to water it and look after it if you want it to grow. You have to nurture it every day. As you said, it’s the little things that matter.

    When there isn’t a strong communication, there will be misunderstandings and situations that could have been avoided. When a problem arises, don’t just let it go. Speak about it. Let your significant other know what it is that bothers you and give him/her the opportunity to do the same.

    For us Christians, it’s important to make Jesus part of our relationship. If our marriage is built upon the Rock, it won’t be destroyed. There will be tough times, but those trials will just make us stronger.

    Thanks for sharing. God bless.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      You have stated it well. Communication is vital, open communication so much more. Thank God that we have the assurance that if each person place their trust in Him, then success in the marriage is asured.

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