I have been doing marriage therapy for nearly three decades. And one thing is for sure- people experiencing marital difficulties wait a long time before they get help. In fact, research shows that, on average, people wait six years before seeking marriage therapy. Furthermore, many, if not most people never receive help; they run right over to a divorce attorney’s office. And when you think about the impact divorce has on their lives and that of their children, I find this to be a devastating finding.
What should people in the throes of marriage problems do instead? Get help when things start going downhill. Nip things in the bud. And if you’re wondering how to know when your marriage is headed for trouble, read on.
1. You’re thinking about having an affair
There are many reasons you may be tempted to have an affair. They may want the excitement that comes from a new relationship. They may want passionate sex with a different partner. They may be longing for attention and appreciation. They may enjoy risk-taking. They may be longing to connect with someone who they think is more similar to them. They might want to escape daily responsibilities and routines. There is no shortage of reasons people stray. Regardless of the reasons people are unfaithful, affairs signal trouble in marriages. Going outside the marriage does not solve marital unhappiness. In fact, affairs often create unintended problems. Once emotional energy goes outside a marriage, the issues needing to be repaired take a back seat. Problems linger and become worse. Lies, deceit and the guilt and shame that is often a by-product lead to avoidance and separateness. Suspicions run high. Trust corrodes.