Marriages are complex, and it’s no secret they require a lot of work to maintain.
When one or both people stop making an effort, it’s easy for distance to creep in. You notice the lack of communication and affection. You go from being each other’s best friend and lover to acting like housemates.
Maybe it happened after a big argument, or maybe it’s been bubbling under the surface for a while now.
Either way, it’s an alarm bell that something isn’t right.
Want to learn more? Here are 10 common signs of growing distance in a marriage:
1) You hardly talk anymore
One of the first signs of growing distance in a marriage is the lack of communication.
Once upon a time, talking to your partner was the best part of your day – you’d snuggle up on the sofa and talk about how Keith at work kicked off with the supervisor, or who you bumped into at the supermarket.
And when it came to arguments, you’d hash things out, no matter how long it’d take to find the middle ground.
But now that’s all changed.
You’re lucky if you get a, “Yeah, it was fine” in response to your questions. Any conversations you do have are about practical things – like who’s going to buy milk or take the kids to school.
2) There’s a lack of emotional intimacy
When communication breaks down, emotional intimacy usually follows.
Gone are the days when you shared your dreams, fears, and insecurities with each other.
You might still want to, but you can feel the drift in the marriage and so you hold back from being vulnerable with each other.
Especially if both of you are on edge and arguments happen easily (we’ll get to that later).
The point is, a healthy, happy marriage creates space to lean on each other emotionally. When this relationship starts to turn sour, it’s inevitable that one or both people involved put walls up – emotional barriers.
This is to protect themselves from more rejection, hurt, and disappointment, but in the long run, it often leads to the breakdown of the marriage.
3) Reduced physical intimacy
We’ve covered one type of intimacy, but what about in the bedroom?
Unfortunately, that’s the next area to take a hit when there’s growing distance in a marriage.
If you’re still having sex, it’s likely to become very routine. Without much thought or passion put into it.
But in most cases, physical intimacy stops altogether. I mean, if you’re not communicating and unable to be emotionally intimate, why would you want to sleep together?
A sulky, moody atmosphere isn’t exactly a turn-on.
But that’s not all – it’s not just sex that takes a hit, even holding hands, kissing, and cuddling gets put on the back burner.
4) You avoid spending time together
Do you find yourself looking for excuses to not hang out with your spouse?
This is another common sign of distance seeping in. Date night goes out of the window…
Weekends are spent with friends or family.
Do you even really need to go to their cousin’s wedding?
It’s a slippery slope, but once one or both partners “check out” of the marriage, spending time together becomes harder and harder.
Ultimately, this and all the signs in this article hint at a much bigger problem, one that isn’t sitting quietly under the rug – it’s burning the place down.
5) Arguments increase (and become more and more petty)
I mentioned increased arguments earlier and how it can stop emotional intimacy in the marriage.
But another thing you’ll notice is that the smallest thing can set off an argument.
When it gets to the point of being annoyed by your partner’s breathing, that’s usually when you know that things have really taken a turn for the worst.
But more than that, you’ll see how neither of you can be bothered to resolve arguments like you once used to.
Now, rather than reach a solution that suits you both, you end up going around and around in circles, bringing up crap from the past or finding silly reasons to bicker and argue in everyday life.
6) Arguments stop and indifference creeps in
But on the other hand, you might find you’ve both become indifferent to each other.
Put simply – you don’t argue anymore because you can’t be bothered to!
Your partner does something that bothers you, and rather than get fired up, you find yourself shrugging it off and ignoring it.
This usually happens when you’re feeling overwhelmed…If you’ve hit the indifferent stage, it’s likely that lots of other issues have also been popping up.
And when faced with so many problems, the easiest thing to do is shut down. Not care. Avoid talking. Avoid fighting and making up.
The lack of communication, ironically, speaks volumes.
7) You feel like roommates
Another common sign of growing distance in a marriage is when you feel like you’re living with a roommate rather than a romantic partner.
You co-exist together under one roof, perhaps things flow quite well, but there’s no intimacy. No quality time spent together. No thoughtful meals or dates.
It’s a practical living arrangement.
This usually happens over time, it’s like a gradual descent within the marriage.
Before you know it, you’re sleeping in different beds and eating separately too.
8) There’s no support
A marriage is about two people coming together to support each other through the good and bad….but you already know that.
So if there’s now a lack of support or no support at all, it’s a sign that something has shifted in the relationship dynamic.
Let’s say you’re going through a tough time at work. You’re crabbier than usual. Rather than be understanding and empathetic, your spouse simply brushes over it or even gets annoyed that you’re grumpy.
This can certainly happen especially if the two points relating to arguments are true for the marriage (increased fights or total indifference).
As I mentioned earlier, if these points ring true, there’s a deeper issue at play that’s causing the rift.
Two people don’t just stop supporting each other, something must have happened to drive a wedge between them.
9) You prioritize things outside of the marriage
Have you noticed your spouse makes more of an effort with their friends than with you?
Or perhaps you yourself are prioritizing other things – the gym, work, socializing, and everything else under the sun that doesn’t involve your partner?
There’s a reason why your focus is no longer on your marriage. It might be a distraction so you don’t have to confront the bigger issues happening under the surface.
Or maybe there’s a change in feelings towards each other – a lack of interest, resentment over all the arguing, or simply not enjoying each other’s company anymore.
10) There’s a change in future plans
And finally, if one or both people in the marriage are making their own plans (and not factoring their spouse in), it’s another common sign of growing distance.
Usually, happy, connected couples check in with each other about the big and small stuff. And when it comes to the future, it’s very important that they’re both on the same page.
That doesn’t mean they share the exact same goals, but that their goals align and both are working to ensure each feels fulfilled individually and together.
So if this isn’t the case anymore, and one plans to move to another country in 3 years’ time while the other wants to settle down and start a family, it’s clear that they’re not willing to compromise for the sake of the relationship.
If you’re in this situation, you need to reflect on what the underlying issue is that’s causing such a disconnect in the marriage.
The signs I’ve listed are simply symptoms of a bigger problem.
And while it’s tough to go through this, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the marriage – if both of you are willing to address the problems and work through them, you stand a chance of making it work.
But it all starts by being honest with yourself and your spouse.