Marriage can be beautiful when both partners treat each other with love and respect. However, when a marriage goes bad, it can be quite unpleasant. According to research, a bad marriage can even make you sick. Months, or even years later, you might be left wondering why things didn’t work out. Troubling thoughts may even pass through your mind from time to time as you go over what went wrong.
Why do marriages fail? Relationship experts say there are a few common factors that can be seen in most relationships that go bad. When several of these factors occur for a long time, a marriage can suffer greatly. Here are 10 reasons why your marriage failed.
1. You stopped communicating
A healthy marriage requires constant communication. It’s hard to determine if you’re both happy with the way things are going if you’re not regularly checking in with each other. If you and your partner stopped having meaningful conversations, this may have led to the downfall of your relationship. As hurt continues to build and go unaddressed, your emotional walls become harder to penetrate.
Audrey Hope, a relationship expert and addictions specialist at Seasons in Malibu, said a lack of communication can cause a married couple to give up over time. “You put your feelings under the rug, in a closet, in a drawer, and buried what you are wanting to say. Resentment and problems build because there is too much ‘stuff’ in the closet. The pain of not relating to each other might reach the limit and you can’t clear things out, so you leave each other,” Hope told The Cheat Sheet.
2. You were living separate lives
Life gets busy. It can be easy to get so caught up in your own life that you start to ignore your partner. Many marriages start to disintegrate because day-to-day cares become the priority, causing a couple to slowly drift apart. You can prevent this from happening by making an effort to set aside time for each other. Reconnect by going on weekly date nights.
3. You weren’t nurturing an emotional connection
Sex is important, but it isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. Your emotional connection is just as important as your physical connection. Generally, especially for women, if emotional needs are not being met, sexual needs start to fall to the wayside as well. If emotional needs go unmet for too long, one or both partners will start to seek fulfillment elsewhere. This is how many affairs start.
4. There was disrespect
Ongoing disrespect will eventually destroy even the strongest union. If one of you had a wandering eye, for example, and no attempts were made to be respectful about it, this can slowly wear down the relationship. It’s important to make your partner feel valued and accepted. Any behavior that suggests otherwise is asking for trouble, said Samantha Daniels, a professional matchmaker and founder of The Dating Lounge dating app. “If [your partner] gives someone a once-over when the two of you are out, let it go. If, on the other hand, your partner is all over someone else when you two are out together, then it’s time to part ways. Your partner can notice an attractive person, but he or she should not be drooling,” Daniels told The Cheat Sheet.
5. There was an uneven workload
Another factor that can lead to one partner feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of is when the workload is wildly uneven. You may not share responsibilities in exactly even proportions, but it does help if there is a sense of teamwork and mutual respect. When one partner is responsible for the lion’s share of the household responsibilities and rarely hears a “thank you,” this can cause resentment to build, said Erika Boissiere, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco. “Problems can arise when one partner carries too much weight, such as family, work, or domestic responsibilities. The partner who is carrying too much responsibility gets resentful and burned out,” Boissiere told The Cheat Sheet.
6. You were overly critical
Constantly criticizing your partner is a quick way to kill any loving feelings. Replace blame and criticism with love and understanding. Everyone has their breaking point when it comes to criticism, so it shouldn’t surprise you if your spouse responds by leaving. “Being harsh or judgmental can cause a marriage to fail. Criticism takes a toll, and you partner can start to feel like he or she is never enough,” warned Boissiere.
7. The marriage was abusive
Physical abuse isn’t the only form of abusive behavior. You might reason you never laid a hand on your partner, so you weren’t abusive. However, there are many different types of abuse. Some overlooked ways you can abuse your partner are emotionally and even financially. Any actions or words that make your partner feel devalued or unsafe could be abusive. Take stock of the ways you treated your spouse during the time you were married. How would you feel if you were treated that way?
8. You or your partner had an undiagnosed addiction or mental illness
Untreated addictions and mental illness can lead to growing relational frustration as well as a gradual breakdown in communication. One of the top reasons for relationship troubles is sex addiction. Depression and undiagnosed ADHD can also put a strain on an otherwise healthy relationship. That’s why it’s helpful to speak to a mental health professional if you and your partner are having significant trouble communicating.
9. Sex became less important
Most couples connect, recharge, and express their love for one another through sex. When sex is unsatisfying, infrequent, or nonexistent, problems tend to arise. And these problems can take the form of extramarital or emotional affairs, distancing, and anger.
10. There were serious financial problems
Money is one of the top relationship killers. In fact, 70% of married couples said they would consider splitting if they ever discovered their spouse had a secret debt of more than $5,000, according to a study conducted by YouGov on behalf of life insurance agency Haven Life. “When money is an issue, marriages suffer. This is because money is really so much more than money. It is an energy that brings up other issues and has other things that count. If there is a loss of some kind in this area, the marriage will be tested,” said Hope.
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[Editor’s note: This story was originally published February 2017]