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4 Scary Marriage Symptoms

Dr James Córdova, relationship expert and author of The Marriage Checkup, promises that if you catch the signs early, you can make a full recovery. You know you’ve got relationship work to do if…



…the money fights are fierce. ‘Most people think these arguments are just about spending and saving, but they’re really about our emotional relationships with money,’ Córdova says. ‘I once worked with a couple who collected tropical fish. He would buy them and sneak them into the tank even though she thought they didn’t need any more. The more he spent, the more anxious and thrifty she became. I worked with them on accepting their differing attitudes about money. They realised that even though it’s a struggle, it doesn’t have to damage their bond. My advice: find a middle ground that leaves you both content with the solution.’


…you’re always snapping at each other. ‘A lot of people think that being irritated here and there is normal in marriage. In reality, constant bickering is a warning sign that you’re inadvertently stepping on each other’s toes, brushing over big issues that matter to you or losing faith in each other. This can go on for years before a couple notices that they’re truly unhappy.’


…you notice the opposite: you avoid conflict. ‘The most authentic couples acknowledge their issues. But often, people don’t want to start a fight, so they skirt around something that bothers them. You might think it’s silly to tell your husband it drives you crazy when he leaves dirty dishes in the sink, but since that’s a behaviour he can change, you’re doing the relationship no favours by ignoring it. You need to choose your battles, but minimising conflict also minimises intimacy, and you’re more likely to become bitter if you allow that to happen.’


…arguments don’t end, they just fizzle out. ‘Many couples just walk away after a spat, hoping the negative feelings will settle,’ says Córdova. ‘It’s important to deliberately reapproach your partner to make sure there’s no lasting damage. All you have to do is acknowledge, “Okay, we disagree about this, but we’re fine. I still love you.”’


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