No one wants to believe, much less be told, they are in a bad marriage. I mean, the typical walk down the aisle has usually been vetted with life circumstances that prepared the bride and groom for this commitment of a lifetime. The experiences they have faced up to that point and the way they have handled them solidified their conviction that they could handle anything together.
Unfortunately, for some relationships, one or both individuals find reason to forget the “together” part. Ultimately, they “check out” of the marriage and the bond that kept trouble at bay is weakened, opening the marriage up to potential failure.
I won’t say it’s easy to avoid this possibility in your relationship. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people often say marriage is hard. But how do you know if either you or your spouse has decided to check out of your marriage? While there are some very blatant and obvious signs down the road, more subtle communication signals begin first and easily hide under the radar. Before you know it, you’re living in a world of “everything was fine and then all of a sudden…”
“You Always” and “You Never”
These two are some sneaky suckers. You see, one day, your spouse is the love of your life and the next: “You always talk down to me!” and “You never listen to anything I have to say!” What typically follows is an angry walk out of the room then a door slamming shut. Later, whether it’s an hour, a day, or a week, the couple puts a band aid on the issue…until the next argument. That’s why they’re so sneaky.
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Unless you fully resolve an issue where the concerns of both are addressed, heard, and understood, the opportunity for growth and change in the relationship is lost. If you or your spouse begin to pepper your disagreements with these two phrases, take notice because someone is starting to check out of the relationship.
“Yes.” “No.” “I don’t know.”
Remember how interesting you thought your spouse was when you were dating? They seemed to be so smart and had a wealth of knowledge that captivated your attention. Now, any effort to make conversation is followed by a monosyllabic or seriously abbreviated response.
“Did you have a good day?”
“Is dinner ready yet?”
Even open ended questions are tough.
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know.”
The easy, fluid conversations you once had with each other are now happening with other people. If you overhear your mate chatting with a friend, laughing and sharing more information with them than they do with you, they are starting to check out of the relationship. It’s time to bring this to their attention and address the root cause before it’s too late.
Time is No Longer of the Essence
There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s not changing any time soon. If you are to have a healthy marriage, your spouse will need a decent portion of that time on any given day. Sadly, while this is probably the easiest thing to notice, it’s the hardest to fix when a person decides to check out of their marriage.
Unlike the start of the relationship when you couldn’t get enough of your partner, if you find yourself making up reasons to not be in their presence, you have made a decision to check out. Rather than go on a date, you hang with the fellas. Rather than plan a romantic dinner, you have the ladies over for a book club meeting.
Without saying the words, you are communicating to your spouse that you have no interest in spending time with them. You are staying busy so you can stay checked out. This is not one of those issues that can afford to wait or will work itself out. Once you check out on time, it’s tough to get it back. So don’t sleep on this issue if you see it taking shape in your marriage. Address it right away and give your relationship the chance it deserves.
Checking out of your marriage is a decision. But so is checking back in. These three are tough when the relationship has hit rock bottom, but catch them early and your marriage will have a fighting chance.
BMWK, based on these three signals, have you started to check out of your marriage?