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Eight Warning Signs of a Troubled Marriage

Couples counseling, marriage counseling Fayetteville NC, marital issues

Eight Warning Signs of a Troubled Marriage


There may be no such thing as a “perfect marriage.” There is also no single formula on how to have a successful, enduring and happy marriage. Certain positive characteristics are important in having a meaningful marriage, which is enjoyable and mutually fulfilling. There are also many constructive traits that can be attributed as the path to marital bliss.

Most marriages, however, can hit a tough spot from time to time. Like other committed relationships, a marriage needs hard work to keep it “oiled” and running well. In the presence of signs that show it is in trouble, it is best to find ways to repair the damage to avoid more complications down the road. One proactive way is through marriage counseling.

On the other hand, studies show that there are specific and solidly defined marital conflict behaviors with important implications for divorce. In fact, failed marriages can be accurately predicted when certain negative traits are present in the picture. Nearly all marriages that end in divorce or separation can be ascribed in some way to one or more of the following well-documented telltale signs of marital trouble.


  1. Repeated Arguments – All the arguments are a rehash of the previous ones. No matter how often they are repeated, there never seems to be a resolution, being swiftly swept under the rug without agreeing on anything. Couples who do this have a higher risk of accumulating animosity, bitterness, and emotional disagreement.


Constant arguments about the same thing are not productive in addressing issues head-on. Instead, they can become personal and painful. Couples will later shy away from each other because there is no feeling of safety in talking about complicated issues with their partner.


  1. Belittlement – One of the worst marriage killers occurs when spouses heavily criticize, ridicule, devalue, or invalidate the importance of one another. Criticism, while not necessarily bad for a marriage, becomes damaging when compliments are reduced to inferiority in some way. Belittlement can be expressed through insensitive words or implied attacks on the partner’s personality or character.


Belittlement is a potent mix of anger and disgust that form the toxic behavior contempt. It involves treating your partner spitefully as they are beneath you. Contempt can leave one or both spouses with a warped sense of self-confidence. Its venom can put an end to a relationship.


  1. Escalation – The destructive pattern of escalation occurs when couples respond to each other negatively back and forth. Whether the response is made verbally or behaviorally, the dispute widens and becomes even more negative. Even trivial disagreement can balloon into a major confrontation, sparking an angry argument, leading to animated behavior, with results ranging from threats to break up, and finally divorce or separation.


In troubled marriages, a situation does not necessarily have to be flamboyant for it to escalate. Subtle actions, such as rolling eyes, withholding intimacy, emotional detachment, and the silent treatment can be manipulative forms that can lead to escalation.


  1. Withdrawal – This negative behavior can take many forms, ranging from shutting down emotionally to physical avoidance. The pattern of withdrawing often stems from a common cause, such as anger or a vengeful attitude, as a reaction to a threat to one’s emotional safety. Withdrawal gradually progresses until spouses completely disengage from each other.


This also involves lack of intimacy or other physical actions like snuggling and holding hands. Intimacy is a vital ingredient to a healthy marriage and the lack of it is a sign that the couple has lost a key building block in the relationship.


  1. Dishonesty – Withholding information or not sharing important matters with your spouse can cause significant turmoil when the “secrets” are discovered later. Regardless of your intention, your deliberate concealment of certain information can trigger a feeling of betrayal on the part of your partner.


Choosing or picking how much detail of your life you tell the person with whom you are supposed to absolutely trust may also be deemed as another form of lying and dishonesty. It can also be a sign of indifference or a deteriorated communication pattern.


  1. Negative Assumption – Assuming the worst with one’s spouse even when there is none is a sign there is disconnection in the relationship. It can eventually lead to marriage failure. This marriage killer is least detectable and perhaps most difficult to overcome due to the very poor insight when it comes to negative beliefs and interpretations.


For example, assuming that your spouse has fallen out of love with you or is having an affair when there is little or no evidence of it can spell disaster for your marriage. Believing your spouse has wronged you does more than make you seem overly suspicious, but your negative beliefs can also result in feelings of frustration, resentment and distress within both of you.


  1. Bad Memories – Marriage will have their ups and downs. Even if those downs can sometimes be devastating, your devotion to each other can keep your relationship afloat above betrayal, annoyances and difficult times.


As a couple, you may have issues originating from past relationships. If you cannot let the past go and the follies from days gone by keep cropping up in your current marriage through irrational arguments, unfounded insecurity and unreasonable jealousy, you and your partner may not be connected as you once were.


  1. Loss or Lack of Communication – Open communication is essential to a healthy relationship. If you and your spouse have lost the ability to engage in meaningful conversation, it is time to be wary.


Failure to sustain quality communication does not only result in it being difficult to settle differences and resolve issues, it can erode your respect and diminish your love for each other.


The Profound Effects of a Troubled Marriage

Experiencing one or a combination of the warning signs of a troubled marriage can throw your relationship into distress. A low quality of marriage can reach the point of overwhelming disappointment. A marriage in trouble can have devastating effects on the physical, emotional and behavioral well-being not only of the couple, but also of their children.

Long term marital distress can have a negative impact and measurable consequences on everyone’s overall welfare. Hostile exchanges between partners can distress even young infants. Older children are inclined to suffer from a number of emotional and behavioral health issues, such as anxiety, depression, poor academic performance, aggression, and an anti-social attitude.

Once a marriage shows signs of breakdown, the decline in the couple’s relationship can also cascade downward leading to a disrupted family relationship. Fortunately, this negative direction can be averted, and most marriages can return to a state of mutual harmony. While some couples can rectify the negative consequences of a troubled marriage, for others it may take seeking intervention to achieve reconciliation beyond marital/family conflict.


Effective Help at the Right Time in the Right Place

Marriage counseling, interchangeably referred to as couples counseling, is a type of psychotherapy conducted by licensed therapists. It involves the participation of both spouses in order to recognize the underlying causes of their conflicts, as well as, learning to be thoughtful in daily decisions, addressing differences, and enhancing the way they communicate with each other. Ultimately, marriage counseling is geared toward improving the relationship and saving the marriage from breaking apart.

 If any or several of these beleaguering signs are obvious in your marriage and there seems to be no progress in your own homemade style of addressing them, do not wait six years. Do not even wait six months! Veer from your usual style and find a good, nonjudgmental and nonpartisan therapist in a safe and comfortable environment. Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC perfectly fits. One of the many qualified independently contracted counselors/therapists may be the right fit professional with expertise on your specific marital issue/issues and who understands where you and your spouse are right now.

If you believe your marriage is worth saving, focus on the benefits you may reap if you act early. Seeking marriage counseling is an investment to protect your most valuable treasures: relationship and family. If cost is a concern, worry no more because insurance coverage for marriage counseling can save you a lot of worry. Take the first step now to put the pieces of your marriage back together. Call CCS – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC anytime to request an appointment.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville, NC (North)

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC

Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Rex NC,and Wade, NC

Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

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    Location: Fayetteville, NC