After being married for 77 years, 99-year-old Antonio learned that his 96-year-old wife, Rosa, had cheated on him in the 1940s. She admitted to the affair, but the two were unable to reconcile their differences, and Antonio filed for a divorce.
Was the 60-year old affair a complete deal breaker in an otherwise happy marriage? Or was it simply the final straw that broke the camel’s back?
The couple had, in fact, separated for a time earlier in their relationship and had experienced marital problems. Finding out about his wife’s affair was just the impetus Antonio needed to take action.
This is far from unusual in divorce cases. Couples who come to speak with us about getting a divorce may point to one reason for the decision””maybe infidelity or financial problems””but often that one incident comes after many other symptoms or problem signs.
Sometimes, recognizing or seeing the signs can be a challenge. How can you tell the difference between run-of-the-mill bickering and a significant problem? Below, we have pulled together a few signs that your marriage may be in trouble:
- You never talk anymore. Or maybe you talk, but you do not seem to have the long, significant conversations that you once did. Maybe you feel like you have run out of things to say or that you’re just not interested in hearing about your spouse’s lousy day at work. Regardless, communication breakdowns are often one of the first signs of deeper problems.
- You look for opportunities to spend time apart. It is one thing to have an occasional girls’ or guys’ night out or to seek some alone time, but when you are actively avoiding your spouse’s presence often, you may have a problem. It may not even be going out. You may be avoiding your spouse when you’re in the same room. TV, reading, surfing the web””whatever your escape is, if you would rather do that than talk to your spouse, there may be cracks in the relationship.
- You find yourself arguing more and more about insignificant things. Divorce is not always triggered by huge fights. Sometimes it is smaller fights””even about seemingly unimportant topics””that add up. This is especially true when it seems like you are always fighting about the same thing. Sometimes it may feel that you bicker and argue more often than you enjoy each other’s presence.
- You have lost that loving feeling. Intimacy is an important part of marriage, whether it is physical or emotional. Couples whose relationships are struggling often have a hard time with both. An increasing gulf and reduced interest in intimate connection between you and your spouse may be an earlier warning sign.
- You or your spouse is hyper-critical or hyper-sensitive. As a couple grows apart, they may find themselves being easily irritated or easily hurt by the smallest things. Some people who come to talk with us complain that they feel like they can do no right anymore. Others complain that their spouse is constantly criticizing them.
These are just a few of the early warning signs that all is not as it should be in your marriage. Though every couple is different, we hear story after story of marital problems that started off small and grew to be enormous. If you are starting to see cracks in your marriage, counseling and therapy can be relationship-savers, if you get there before the problems become too big. Do not ignore the early warning signs. If you really want to save your marriage and avoid divorce court, find a therapist and start working on the small issues now. Divorce, more often than not, stems from the little things that build up. The big incidents, like Rosa’s decades-old affair, just tip the scale.