When you got married, you probably had a certain set of expectations. You probably thought that you would always get along with your spouse and things would be wonderful until the end of time. You probably didn’t expect to ever have an unhealthy marriage. Most couples don’t.
From the very beginning AND as the years go by, it takes a lot of work to make a marriage successful. If a couple doesn’t put an effort in the relationship, they could turn their once-happy marriage into something miserable.
There are some signs of an unhealthy marriage that couples can look out for, and a few tips to change the way their marriage works.
This post is part of the series “31 Days to Household Happiness”. If you would like to join in on the rest of the series, you can CLICK HERE.
|This post was co-written by Licensed Professional Counselor, LaVonne Dyste, LPC. This post should not be used in place of therapy. Please seek professional help if you are being abused in your marriage.|
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.
Table of Contents
These common marriage issues take place in an unhealthy marriage:
1 | Lack of healthy communication in the marriage.
More often than not, the number one problem in a marriage is that the couple does not communicate effectively.
So many issues can arise from poor communication.
Sometimes misunderstandings can lead to horrible arguments that seem unsolvable. If spouses would talk to one another, these misunderstandings wouldn’t take place as often as they do.
Healthy communication looks like a respectful discussion when spouses don’t agree about something.
Instead of yelling and trying to be right about the topic at hand, it’s important that spouses make respect a priority.
Using a communication journal, like this one from Promptly Journals, can help open up the lines of communication.
Change might not happen over night, but consistency and working toward the common goal of healthy communication will pay off.
Related Post: 12 Awesome Books on Marriage
2 | Disrespect between spouses.
Disrespect comes in many shapes and sizes, but any type of disrespect is a sign of an unhealthy marriage.
Disrespect could be a condescending tone when spouses speak to each other, or in the extreme and obvious case, calling names.
Sometimes, spouses don’t see eye-to-eye on what is and is not disrespectful.
For example, one spouse might think that not calling when they are coming home late from work is NOT disrespectful, while their spouse believes it is. This type of situation is where communication comes into play.
You and your spouse have to talk about what you view as disrespect.
If one spouse feels that something is disrespectful, then the other spouse should try to improve in that area.
This is a huge part of sustaining a healthy marriage.
3 | Avoidance of spending time together.
Spending time with your spouse should be your number one priority. Life can be busy, especially when you have kids, but time should still be carved out for quality time.
When problems arise in a marriage, it is easier to avoid each other altogether, but that doesn’t make the problems go away.
Even if you don’t have regular date nights out, you can still spend time together by doing things like working around the house, or watching a favorite television show after your kids go to bed.
4 | Blame is a huge factor in an unhealthy marriage.
People make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and that is something that has to be understood in a marriage.
When you are married to someone, you will see their imperfections. They will make mistakes, just as you will.
Don’t blame your spouse for all of the problems in your marriage.
Of course, in extreme cases (such as abuse), one spouse is at fault for their wrongdoings. But, in general, spouses whose marriage is in crisis tend to blame each other for things that aren’t going well.
Instead of blaming one another, work on your individual selves and make the only improvements you have control over… your own.
5 | Defensiveness.
Defensiveness is a precursor to divorce. Being defensive about everything does not open the lines of communication and can make the quality of a marriage decline quickly.
When you are defensive, your brain is not open to ideas from your spouse and therefore, a breakdown of communication occurs.
Instead of being defensive, listen to what your spouse is saying. If you are arguing, take time to listen to what your spouse is really saying.
No one is perfect and when it comes to marriage, it’s not about being right but making compromises on a regular basis.
6 | Stonewalling.
Stonewalling means that one person shuts down and no longer communicates with their spouse.
This could be an act of avoidance, purposeful manipulation or a power play to get what they think is best for themselves in the marriage.
Stonewalling is dangerous because it not only blocks the lines of communication, but also causes resentment between spouses.
If a spouse isn’t available to discuss the issues at hand, nothing gets solved and the problems multiply.
Stonewalling is an extremely dysfunctional way to approach disagreements in a marriage. In a marriage that is already unhealthy, this type of avoidance has zero benefit and needs to be addressed immediately.
It may take marriage counseling or individual counseling for a person to escape the cycle of stonewalling. The spouse who is stonewalling needs to approach the marital issues with an attitude of engagement, rather than disengagement.
7 | Any form of abuse.
Although it seems that this should be obvious, so many individuals are abused in their marriage and can’t tell that it is unhealthy. Or, maybe they realize that it is unhealthy and can’t figure out how to escape.
Abuse might include: emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or sexual abuse. These are NOT normal and are dangerous and unhealthy.
If you are in a marriage and your spouse is abusive, please contact the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
What to do if you are in an unhealthy marriage :
If you are in an unhealthy marriage, you do have options.
1 | Educate yourself about different issues in marriage. Reading books and researching online are great ways to find information that can help you transform your marriage.
2 | When you identify that you are in an unhealthy marriage (without abuse), getting therapy is essential. Therapy can help change behaviors that are toxic to a relationship.
Mywellbeing.com is a great way to find a therapist. Though it’s not available in all states, this website will match you to a therapist by asking a series of questions on your needs.
3 | If there is any form of abuse (physical, mental, verbal), you need to seek help immediately. Especially when kids are involved, this type of behavior is unacceptable.
Final thoughts on an unhealthy marriage.
Marriage is not always easy and sometimes the best marriages become unhealthy and dysfunctional. If you notice any of the symptoms of an unhealthy marriage in your own relationship, it is important for you to address it with your spouse.
If your spouse is not willing to talk with you about the problems in your marriage, or if the problems have escalated into abuse it may be time to seek marital counseling or leave the marriage altogether.
You know your marriage best and ultimately you make the decision on how to approach your spouse and marriage.
How do you keep your marriage healthy? Comment below!