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Love doctor: Is my marriage on its deathbed?

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Chris Hart | April 28th 2019

Hi Chris!

This probably sounds a little odd, but the other day, while I was thinking about organising a holiday for us, it crossed my mind that my wife might be planning to leave me. We’ve certainly had a lot to cope with recently. We’ve moved house, I’ve started a new job, and my wife’s father died. I’ve also noticed that we’re not close any more - which is why I was planning a holiday and wondering whether things were perhaps a bit more serious than that.

I don’t have any real evidence to support my worries, but I can’t put the thought out of mind. Can you help?

Am I the Last to Know

——

Hi I am I the Last to Know!

You’d be surprised how often one spouse starts planning to leave while the other’s completely unaware that there’s a problem. It mostly happens at times of change, like a house move or new job, because that puts even the strongest relationship under pressure. And a death in the family can make you look hard at yourself and your partner.

You’ve also spotted what’s often the first sign of trouble: one of you not wanting to be close any more. And the fact that you’ve started to wonder about your wife suggests that you’re not so certain about your marriage either.

Maybe you’ve noticed that the world’s suddenly full of good looking people again. Have your female colleagues started talking to you? When everything’s good at home no-one ever approaches you. Because your body language tells everyone you’re taken. But it also works the other way round. You start advertising you’re available again, even before you’ve realised it consciously.

Are you and your wife still talking? When you’ve some news, the first person you want to tell’s your partner. So if you two have stopped telling each other stuff, then that’s another sign things aren’t quite right.

Does every little thing you do seem to annoy your wife? Instead of overlooking all your irritating little habits, her brain’s zooming in on your defects.

Are either of you feeling more comfortable on your own? If it’s a relief to escape from your partner for a while, then that’s another sign that the writing’s on the wall. Doing less and less together’s one of the strongest signs that you’re drifting apart.

Are you quarrelling? Then your relationship’s actually still quite healthy! You’re still trying to fix things. But if you’ve stopped arguing it means that one of you is close to finally giving up.

But it doesn’t have to go that way. Upsets are inevitable in every relationship. But when the fundamentals are sound, relationships can always be put back on track. It will be hard work, but because you’ve picked up the warning signs, it’s not too late to start putting things right.

All the best,

Chris

Hi Chris!

My career has so far has been very successful, and I’m materially quite well off. So, for a while now I’ve also been thinking about getting married and starting a family. But all my friends are still single, and not one of us has ever had a good longterm relationship. Is it actually possible for a career woman to have a good marriage these days?

Thinking of marriage

——

Hi Thinking of marriage! 

Marriage certainly isn’t easy nowadays. But it’s worth the effort. Because it’s not wealth and possessions that will bring joy to your life. It’s being in a truly loving relationship.

But making a marriage work means developing a whole new way of looking at the world. ‘Singles’ see things as individuals. Successful couples see things in terms of what’s best for the relationship. They also avoid negativity. Singles can get away with moaning, but not couples. 

Once you’re in a relationship, you should only hang out with people who truly believe in you as a couple. And have happy relationships themselves. Because singles tend to undermine other people’s relationships. You’ll also have to stop turning to your female friends for support. Sharing intimacies outside a marriage is almost a kind of infidelity. Your deepest thoughts should be something you only share with your partner.

Before they start arguing, good couples ask whether the issue would pass the ‘So what?’ test. So being argumentative is another singles habit that needs to be broken! Successful spouses agree to disagree about small stuff, laugh and get on with life. They avoid meaningless squabbles.

You’ll need to learn to see every situation from your partner’s perspective. Constantly let them know how much you love them. Be physically affectionate and willing to forgive. And never be bitter or sarcastic. Because every hurtful remark carves a chunk out of your relationship that never quite grows back.

You’ll need to figure out why you react to a partner’s behaviour the way you do. Maybe it’s because of feelings from your childhood or previous relationships, and nothing to do with the present. So share your understanding of how each of your pasts may have shaped you both. And get to grips with reality rather than letting the past derail you.

And never let a day go by without showing how much your relationship means to you. Actually, say out loud how grateful you are for every bit of good fortune you enjoy together, however humble it may be. Appreciation and thankfulness have a strange kind of magic. The more you express them, the more you’ll be given to be thankful for! 

All the best,

Chris

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