To love, honor and obey.  Till death do us part. No doubt you meant every word of these vows when you and your spouse got married. However, marriages go through seasons that can be difficult and challenging – and sometimes impossible to overcome.

Of course, it probably didn’t happen overnight. Often it’s a gradual drifting apart that was hard to recognize, but now when you look back seemed destined to happen. What does that mean for your marriage?  Here are some signs that it’s time to seek professional marital counseling:

Lack of Communication

Marriage is a two-way street, and when one or both partners stop communicating with the other, trouble is bound to occur.  Communication is a vital part of a successful marriage.  When that changes – whether it’s reluctance to maintain a conversation or to even initiate it – problems will arise. If your partner suddenly starts hiding mail or insists on private conversations to the point they take extreme measures to ensure that privacy, the warning bells should be clanging. Every couple has communication meltdowns, but if communication always seems to end in conflict or there is significant lack of communication – then, this marriage has a problem.

Abusive Relationship

Abusive behavior of any type is a sure sign that your marriage is on the rocks.  We all know that physical, emotional and verbal abuse are cues to deeper issues.  Physical abuse is very easy to see, but emotional and verbal abuse is not.  Name calling, putting someone down, bullying and teasing are all verbal abuse traits.  Emotional abuse such as rejection, intimidation, shaming and manipulation usually goes hand-in-hand with verbal abuse.

Additionally, financial abuse – where your partner attempts to control you by refusing to give you money that you earned, or is spending it so that you are left with nothing after paying the bills – is another clear sign that you are in a destructive relationship.

Lack of Intimacy

Be concerned if you find that your partner is suddenly interested in discussing intimate topics about another person. Likewise, if they are no longer interested in having a physical relationship with you.  This does not necessarily mean your spouse is cheating on you, although that could be occurring.  Emotional distance or detachment when you are being physically intimate is another indicator that something has gone wrong.


Unfaithfulness is no longer the simple act of meeting up with someone in secret, although that is the most common scenario.  Cheating can also be emotional affairs between your partner and another person, whether or not they are physical. This includes online affairs.  In today’s world of technology, online affairs are becoming more commonplace.  If you have noticed that your partner suddenly spends a lot of time on the web, you need to inquire why.  Longer hours at work, sudden business trips, or just a need for more privacy in general could also indicate infidelity.

The Next Steps

If you think your marriage is in jeopardy and you want to try to work things out, talk with your spouse and seek professional help together. Even when there are seemingly irreconcilable differences, marriage counseling can help you look at the relationship from several different angles to see what can be repaired.

If the marriage has turned into a destructive relationship, seek the advice of an abuse counselor before you and/or your children get hurt.

Sometimes moving on is the best thing for you and your partner. If you need to end your marriage, consider using a dispute resolution called “collaborative divorce” that can make the process less adversarial.

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