Although each couple is unique, these are some little signs that all too often spell trouble for a relationship.
You don’t respect one another
It begins with an innocent accusation, Doares says: “You did not do the dishes.” Then it transforms into more general criticism: “You never help around the house.” Then it develops into a criticism of personality: “You are an egocentric, lazy person.”
“This doesn’t happen overnight, but little resentments gradually chip away at the foundation of your marriage,” says Doares. When you put yourself down or constantly contradict each other, your relationship will definitely be in trouble.
You’re having the same argument again
It is a different day but you’re fighting the same battle. You’re scolding him for leaving the dishes sitting in the sink. You need to remind her to call from her doctor’s appointment on her way home. Or, the issues are bigger, like having children or not. Believe it or not, you are not even fighting about what you think you’re fighting about.
Repeating the conflicts in your relationship over and over again reflects the gaps in your lifestyle and personalities, according to The Gottman Institute.”This might lead to divorce if you let the arguments seriously escalate, fight dirty, shut down, refuse to talk, or excessively blame,” says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida.
You don’t spend your free time together
You want to watch Friends while he’s more into The Walking Dead. You enjoy going to the gym while he enjoys playing video games. Doing something without your spouse is completely fine — nobody can be with a companion 24/7. Nonetheless, remember whether you use those behaviors as a diversion. Because rather than anything else you should want to spend your free time with your partner.
“Creating regular time to be together as a couple and doing things that are fun is critical for a lasting, successful marriage,” says Lesli M. W. Doares, a marriage consultant and coach with a private practice in Cary, North Carolina, and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work.
You don’t laugh together anymore
It’s easy to get used to chatting about the doldrums of the day-to-day logistics and routines of life, particularly when you have children. Yet, happy people laugh together all the time. It helps maintain happiness in your relationship.
“Laughter can be an important bonding element,” says Dr. Manly. “When partners laugh together, whether due to an inside joke or hilarious comment, they share a sense of mutual joy and understanding.”
A paper by professor Jeffrey Hall at University Kansas provides data-backed validity to what you might have figured out for yourself: couples who laugh together, remain together. “Having fun together reminds you why you connect,” says Zakeri. “You can look at each other when you both find the same thing funny and connect over that,” she says.
Really, laughter will do wonders for your overall relationship.”It’s difficult to store up resentments against the person in your life who makes it easiest for you to laugh,” says Dr. Tessina.
You fight about money
At some point, nearly every couple will fight over the sensitive issue of finance. However, when you can’t decide on how to make, invest, or spend money, that’s troubling, because you need to make those decisions together.
“The top earner in the relationship shouldn’t take complete control overspending,” says Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. “It’s imperative that decisions are made jointly, whether it’s where to take a vacation or what and how much to spend on holiday gifts.” She recommends if one of you manages money better, let them decide on the budget and the other determines how to spend it.
You don’t touch
“Touch allows for a sense of being connected and in sync with your partner,” says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of the forthcoming Joy From Fear. “Touch can be reassuring and affirming. A partner may feel safer when the other offers loving, supportive touch.”
Not touching can indicate you are trying to fend off the other person. “Touch takes any relationship to a more intimate level,” says Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW, who practices in the Chicago area. “It shows trust, vulnerability, love, and attraction. It makes people feel good.” Touch can even be used to repair feelings that are hurt, says Zakeri. “A gentle squeeze or touch on the arm, or grabbing your partner’s hand can quickly repair an argument,” she says. “If you’re cringing at someone else’s touch, decide if this something you want to work on, or if it’s the last straw.”
One partner is always criticizing
Negativity can lead to a relationship breakdown. “I know a couple right now in the midst of a divorce due mostly to putdowns and criticisms,” says David Simonsen, PhD, LMFT, who practices in Olympia, Washington.
Words can sometimes be powerful and dangerous. “The words we use and the tone we use can be powerful enough to cause someone on the receiving end emotional pain and even psychological damage,” says Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, a couples therapist in Los Angeles. “If you’re with someone who is hypercritical on a chronic basis, then you’re likely in a toxic relationship. If you’re in this situation, you need to ask yourself why you stay.”
Try not to be too hard on yourself if you’re the subject of criticism. “It’s most likely not about you,” says Dr. Simonsen. “It’s about your partner and something going on with him or her. The more you make excuses for the putdowns, the more likely you are to have a relationship that ends.”
One or both of you hold onto grudges
You just can’t get over the fact that for your birthday, he was on a corporate trip. He can’t forget that you didn’t go to his holiday party at the company. Holding grudges is toxic, you know that.
“The problem is that these feelings of resentment are like rust,” says Dr. Brown. “They can silently erode our ability to trust our partner.”
He advises to let your partner know how you feel, in order to get over a grudge. Getting angry with each other is normal but resentment can be damaging. “The key to a lasting relationship is moving into and through the anger, rather than swallowing it until it comes up in a destructive way,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a clinical and consulting psychotherapist.
You don’t ever fight
Just because you’re not arguing does not mean you’re not disagreeing about something. It means one of you is too afraid to bring up the issue. No, it is not going to fix the problems. If you are in a happy relationship you shouldn’t have to hide how you feel.
“Remember that your love interest liked you just the way you were when the two of you met,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of Ask for What You Want AND GET IT. “He enjoyed hearing you argue your point of view. If you suddenly withhold your passions about something, question whether you’ve given up your personal power. Fight for what you believe, and your passion will continue to turn your honey on.”
Your partner hates your family
If your partner hates your family you will end up resenting each other. “If you’re going to make comments about your partner’s family, it should be done in a way that’s respectful to your partner and mindful of his feelings,” says Stacey Laura Lloyd, Dating Expert for LiveAbout.com. “Since family connections run deep, your partner may feel personally insulted or attacked by less-than-kind words about his family.”
He’s never wrong
You never hear him say the words “You were right” or “I’m sorry.” He doesn’t even take responsibility for something like picking up some diapers from the grocery store or a gallon of milk.
“We all make mistakes,” says sex and relationship educator and therapist Laura Berman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. “But when a person refuses to admit a slip-up—big or small—it’s a guaranteed relationship-killer.”
You don’t compliment one another
“Too often, couples start to take for granted all the good things about their partner and complain about the flaws and friction points,” says Jill Whitney, LMFT, who practices in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and blogs about relationships and sexuality. “It’s fine to talk about things you hope will improve, but it’s essential to also give attention to all the good things about the one you love.”
Happy couples know how to express a real and sincere compliment. Nevertheless, a study found that getting a compliment has the same positive impact as receiving money. “Keeping love alive and flowing in your relationship is essential to being happy with each other,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist, and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together.
She suggests using fun surprises like leaving a love note in a spouse’s briefcase or card for no reason. “Thoughtfulness, thank yous, and gestures of politeness and affection are the WD-40 of your marriage.”
You have completely different lifestyles
You’re a social butterfly with lots of friends. He’s a home person who has a handful of close friends. “If someone in the relationship is still partying like it’s 1999 and the other isn’t, it will most likely spell trouble,” says Winston. “The partner who is a homebody will be made to feel that they’re not enough, making the outgoing partner feel guilty.”
Sure, opposites can and do attract. Yet these variations in lifestyles mean you need to learn to meet halfway. Winston suggests he can make his wife happier by staying home and preparing a meal, it’s just as simple.