Is your marriage transactional or relational? 9 key signs

Marriage is hard. As with most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The type of marriage you have will determine how successful your union is.

If you are struggling in your current relationship or want to see if there’s something better out there for you then check out these 9 signs that will help you decide if your marriage is transactional or relational.

4 signs that your marriage is transactional

First off, let’s talk about a transactional marriage. This marriage has very rigid rules and roles that keep people from ever having their own thoughts or ideas.

You may be expected to do certain things, or you may be expected to allow certain things to happen. This type of marriage is very much about what everyone else wants for you, and not about what you want for yourself.

1) Inequality

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In a transactional marriage, one partner is in charge and the other is subservient.

Because of this inequality, both people don’t feel like they’re on equal footing and fight over who should get what within the marriage relationship. When only one partner is getting all their needs met, it can cause resentment within the couple.

For example, if one partner earns more money, they can take on more responsibility within the relationship. This will also give them more control over the direction they want their life to go.

2) Passive-aggressive behavior

Here’s the truth:

Your Marriage is transactional if you resort to passive-aggressive behavior to get what you want.

A transactional marriage is based on who has the most power and control, which means that there are a lot of fights and arguments between both people. It’s a never-ending cycle of one person getting something they want, and then the other person asking for something to get their power back.

Because of this, the two people stay in a constant state of arguing with each other and resort to passive-aggressive behavior as a way to “even the playing field.”

3) Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a form of communication that involves speaking with an intentional meaning that is different from the one that most people will understand.

When married couples use sarcasm against each other, it shows how little they trust each other.

It’s easy to tell when someone is being sarcastic by listening to the tone of their voice, their body language, and observing any facial expressions they have. If your spouse is being sarcastic to you, you should feel hurt or angry.

And that’s what transactional marriage relationships are all about.

4) Lack of commitment

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According to the Wall Street Journal, only 20% of marriages are successful.

That means 80% of marriages end up being a failure in some way. But what causes this?

Transactional marriage relationships don’t last because people have no interest in making the sacrifices that they need to make.

One partner wants a new car or house, while the other can’t afford it. One partner wants to travel and the other isn’t into relaxing on vacation.

This lack of commitment is a huge deal breaker that prevents the couple from reaching new milestones together.

Transactional marriage relationships aren’t sustainable or healthy, which is why they don’t last long.

5 signs that your marriage is relational

Now that you know what a transactional marriage looks like, we can compare it to a relational one.

A relational marriage is based on mutual love and respect for one another, which means it will always be happy.

Relationship experts share that there are five signs that your marriage is relational. Check them out!

1) Mutual respect

A transactional marriage is based on one person gaining power and control over the other person.

Respect is a crucial part of relational marriage because both people are equals in their relationship. They look out for each other’s best interests and do everything they can to make the other spouse happy.

If a person doesn’t feel respected in their relationship, they will probably look for love elsewhere.

For example, your partner might do fewer chores around the house, cook dinner every night, and help with things like the kids, and in return, you also do more things for them.

2) Understanding personality differences

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A relational marriage is built on respect because both people are living in a partnership together where they have mutual goals and aspirations towards one another.

This means that each person has a different way of doing things, which makes understanding their different personalities essential for maintaining a strong relationship.

Want to know the best part?

This can lead to a relationship that’s more fulfilling because of the differences between both people.

For example, if you’re a Type A personality and your partner is a relaxed Type B personality, your Type A personality can lead to them relaxing and having fun for once. This can make the two of you much more connected and understanding of each other, which makes the relationship more satisfying overall.

3) Respect for personal space

The truth is, your partner is not the same as you, and that’s okay.

They have their own life and work different hours than you do, which means that when they come back home, they bring new energy with them.

In a relationship of equals, both people should respect the other person’s personal space and space boundaries.

If you’re an introvert or an extrovert, your partner’s energy will make you want to move in closer or further away from each other. It’s impossible to control this, but a relational marriage will always try.

This is because people who are in relationships like this understand that they need to work together, not against each other.

The beauty of a relationship like this is that both people can learn how each other operates and adjust accordingly.

4) Communication

In a transactional marriage, a partner might constantly get upset with what they perceive as their spouse’s lack of communication.

One might be annoyed with the other’s habits or dislikes in life, while the other might get annoyed with how close their partner is and refuses to back off.

A relationship needs communication to be successful because it allows both people to understand that they are not alone in knowing these things and feeling these feelings.

This is probably one of the biggest signs that your relationship is not transactional.

If you’re having difficulty communicating in your marriage, then it’s time to seek some outside help because a lack of communication will nearly always lead to a terrible marriage.

5) Trust

A relational relationship is built on trust because each person knows that the other person will never cause them harm.

This is important because two people who are not in a relationship of mutual trust with each other will often hurt or manipulate one another in an attempt to get what they want.

On the other hand, transactional marriage relationships are not built on trust because the actions of one person are always a threat to his or her partner.

So, if you find yourself in a relationship like this, it’s time to look for balance and harmony in your marriage.

Final thoughts

We’ve covered 9 key signs to determine whether your marriage is transactional or relational, as well as how to fix a transactional marriage.

The truth is, you can always build a relational relationship with your partner or spouse. It’s about getting down to the core of what’s holding you back from this and addressing it in order for both of you to live the life that you’ve always wanted.

If you find yourself fighting and arguing a lot, try to analyze the reasons why both of you are fighting so much and find ways that you can communicate better.

But if you’re still unsure of how to go about resolving your marriage issues, I’d recommend checking out this excellent video by marriage expert Brad Browning.

I mentioned him above, he’s worked with thousands of couples to help them reconcile their differences.

From infidelity to lack of communication, Brad’s got you covered with the common (and peculiar) issues that crop up in most marriages.

So if you’re not ready to give up on yours yet, click the link below and check out his valuable advice.

Here’s a link to his free video again.

Picture of Thảo Anh Nguyễn

Thảo Anh Nguyễn

It is the little daily things that make life worth living and I know how to put you in the right perspective. I write about the intersection of life and love: how spirituality has changed my relationships, what I do to cultivate love in my life, and why I believe that all relationships are spiritual. Meet all your needs for your relationship and pieces of life advice with my articles.

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