You speak but don’t communicate
Your communication doesn’t have to be meaningful day in and day out. But it’s troubling if you never talk with your spouse about anything beside, say, the weather or who needs to get more milk. “It’s a bad sign when speaking to each other seems superficial,” says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. “If you keep the day-to-day stuff inside, it creates distance and disconnection in your marriage,” says Feureman. That can make you feel less affection and fondness for your partner. The same goes if it’s one person doing all the talking and the other doing all the listening. “Remember, good communication is not just about speaking up on behalf of yourself,” says Francesca Di Meglio, the former Newlyweds Expert for About.com and writer of the Italian Mamma blog. “It’s also about listening to—and really hearing—your spouse.” Here are ways to start communicating better in your marriage.
You disagree about whether to have kids
You likely discussed the topic of having children before you got hitched, but feelings may change. Maybe you feel kids will get in the way of your career or your spouse wants to give up trying after fertility issues have made starting or adding to a family difficult. Di Meglio suggests putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Figure out why he or she doesn’t want a baby and what’s motivating the argument. Persuasion isn’t the answer either. It’s unfair if you’re trying to talk someone into or out of a desire to have kids, says Lesli M. W. Doares, a marriage consultant and coach with a private practice in Cary, North Carolina, and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work. “Parenting is hard enough when both people are on board,” Doares says. “Being talked into it will only create resentment.”
You’re spending less and less time together
You don’t have to be attached at the hip 24/7. But you should want to spend your free time with one another and enjoy being with your partner more than anyone else (most of the time). It’s perfectly fine to binge-watch a television show, surf the Internet on your phone, get lost in a book, work late, or socialize without your spouse. But consider if you’re using these activities as a distraction—to the point that it feels like a relief not to be together—from dealing with any issues in your marriage. “Creating regular time to be together as a couple and doing things that are fun is critical for a lasting, successful marriage,” says Doares. Here are ways to stay connected when you have to be away from your partner.
You’re not putting in the work to improve your marriage
Both spouses need to put forth equal effort to make the relationship work. One person can’t go it alone. “If you lack the motivation to work on your marriage, to address issues that are cracking away at your relationship, then you have to figure out why,” says Di Meglio. “Often, the lack of motivation is an indication that something has been lost. It doesn’t mean you can’t get it back, but you have to dedicate yourself to figuring out why you’re feeling disenchanted and uninterested.”
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