Defensiveness is often a response to criticism because you feel attacked. You think you have to justify yourself and may even push blame back. Unfortunately, this is viewed as excuses by the critical partner and sends the signal that you aren’t serious about the issue. Criticism and defensiveness draw battle lines and rarely lead to good solutions in conflicts.
Contempt is when you treat others with disrespect, mock them, ridicule, call names, mimic, scoff at them, or roll your eyes. It makes the other person feel unvalued and worthless, while you have placed yourself (knowingly or not) in a place of moral superiority. Contempt keeps you right without ever having to recognize your partner may be struggling as well.
Stonewalling is often a response to contempt. When the listener withdraws from the conversation, refuses to engage, or shuts down, that’s stonewalling. It usually takes time for stonewalling to emerge in a relationship, but when it begins, it can quickly become a bad habit and hard to stop.
4. You’re not having sex anymore
Sex is not only healthy for your emotional health but also for the overall health of your relationship. Regular sex with your partner improves your confidence, which reflects in your marriage. It can improve your self-esteem and your sense of being an attractive, desirable individual.
When you have sex, you place trust in one another, and that creates increased intimacy. Yes, we all have physical urges to have sex, but there is a need for emotional fulfillment as well. Intimacy creates that desire to be close and bond with your partner, leading to improved marital satisfaction, emotional well-being, and happiness.
According to sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., if you’re having sex less than ten times a year, you’re headed for trouble! Sexual and emotional intimacy separates the romantic relationship with your partner from all other relationships you have.
5. Quality time doesn’t exist — and maybe you don’t care
Do you distance yourself from your spouse when you get the chance, because you would rather be apart? Are you spending time in different rooms when home? Are you drifting apart at social gatherings?
If you’re avoiding spending quality time with your spouse, you are disconnected and growing further apart by the day. This distance sends a strong message to you and your partner: You no longer value the relationship to the extent of caring about time with your partner.
All living things need care. Without care and nurture, those living things wither and die. Just like the child, pet, or houseplant in your home — without care, your relationship can’t survive. Quality time is part of that care in human relationships.
6. You’re ignoring your intuition
Take a moment right now and close your eyes. Focus only on your breath and continue to do so until you feel a calmness sweep over you. In this calm state, ask yourself, “Am I in an unhappy marriage?”
The little voice in your gut that answers back is your intuition. It’s easy to ignore the booming voice in your head, but the little voice knows your truth. You cannot ignore facts forever. And the longer you do, the more (sometimes) irreparable damage can be done in your marriage.
Your intuition can be very informative when you give it the chance to speak. Find that calm again and continue asking yourself more specific questions.
- Is my marriage working?
- Do I love my spouse?
- How safe do I feel? Respected? Loved?
- What can I do to fix my marriage?
- Do I even want to fix my marriage?
Whatever questions you feel you need to ask, allow them to emerge. Quiet, calmness is the key to hearing your intuition because it comes from your heart. And typically the first answer is from your gut. Trust your gut because your mind may try to rationalize you away from it.