When she packed her bags, and walked out the door he was shocked. He didn’t see it coming. What happened? What did he miss? Was there another man?
No, there wasn’t another man. However, there was a woman who felt alone in her own home. You see, her divorce began way before she walked out that door.
Being a life partner now seemed like a life sentence for her.
This had been going on for years and she tried to overlook the fact that he placed others before her. Work, church, and even his family came before her. He didn’t think this was true. Nonetheless, her thoughts were her reality. She longed for his attention and he knew this, yet he never figured out how to acknowledge her as his queen.
She longed for conversation. Meanwhile, he longed for the happy loving woman he married.
This particular scenario isn’t real, but it’s a reality for so many marriages. Unfortunately, too many people are blind-sided on the day their spouse decides to ask for a divorce. But the dissolution of their marriages started long before their spouse walked out the door. It started with unchecked division.
Sometimes, the division in your marriage may be obvious, like strong disagreements on the finances or how to raise the children. But more often than not, its subtle unchecked division that causes a marriage to fall apart. Things such as:
- We don’t talk anymore
- We no longer go to the same church
- We don’t kiss anymore
- We don’t hug anymore
- We don’t hang out with the same friends anymore… she has hers and he has his
- We don’t eat meals together
- We are rarely intimate or have sexual relations
- One of us sleeps on the sofa more than in our bed
- We argue more than we laugh
- We cry more than we smile
- She hides in her room
- He gets lost in his man cave
- Instead of sitting close and holding hands, we sit on opposite ends of the sofa, retreating to our respective corners.
One day turns into a week which turns into a month. And before you know it, all of this distance has become the norm in your relationship. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of unchecked division in your marriage (no matter how small or subtle they may be) and then take actions to address them before someone is walking out the door.
The biggest enemy to your relationship is Distance! – Dr. George James, LMFT
Here is what Dr. George James, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and BMWK Infidelity expert, has to say about distance:
“Regardless of the problem in your relationship, it probably started with distance. One day you wake up and realize you don’t love him/her any more or that something has changed. You went from loving each other, can’t be without each other to avoiding each other and not loving each other. Most likely because of distance. Every couple struggles at some point to maintain closeness, connection and intimacy. At the same time, pulling away, retreating, pushing the other person away and creating distance also feels natural. It could be through communication, raising your children, your sex life, or balancing work and family. Every aspect of a relationship has this push and pull, fight between closeness and distance. When distance wins, you stop talking to your spouse, you cheat, you don’t show up for the kids recital or game, you hurt each other, you sleep in separate beds, you drift away from each other, stop loving each other and realize that you don’t know each other anymore. But it doesn’t have to be like that.”
And he’s right. It doesn’t have to be like that. Here are actions that both husband and wife can take to address the distance that is growing in their marriage:
- Be intentional – When you were dating, you made sure you spent quality time together (no matter what.) And the same has to be true now that you are married. Set a dedicated time to spend with each, weekly or daily if possible.
- Expect Intimacy – Again, when you were dating, you couldn’t keep your hands off of each other. Don’t let the lack of intimacy become the norm in your relationship. When you expect to intimate, you will make sure that you are not going too long without it.
- Don’t Stop Kissing – there are so many opportunities throughout the day to give your spouse a peck on the lips. Make it a habit to kiss your spouse every opportunity that you get.
- Re-calibrate – as the years go by, your interests will change. Acknowledge that you are not who you used to be and then take some time to communicate this with your spouse. Then, find new ways enjoy each other’s company.
- Make Real-Talk Mandatory – set up a time to talk about challenges rather than letting them fester.
Finally, if all else fails find a mentor, engage other couples, read a book, go to a conference, or consider therapy…but do what you have to do to address the distance that is growing in your marriage – unchecked division. Marriage requires work in order to maintain closeness and intimacy. Strong communication, honest interactions, and consistent bonding is a small portion of what is needed to maintain closeness and not drift apart.
BMWK – What do you think; how could this scenario be different? What can the husband and wife do to get their marriage back on track?