Most people don’t enter a relationship—or marriage, for that matter—with the intention that it won’t work out, but, as anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship of any kind knows, they’re not always easy. The same is true of any relationship, but a romantic one comes with its own set of unique challenges and obstacles that require serious patience and effort to overcome. “When couples avoid the naturally uncomfortable topics that marriage brings to the forefront and magnifies, they find themselves having a tough time staying above water,” says Rudi Rahbar, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in couples and families.
The key to solving the very normal issues that may arise in your marriage—be it finances, parenting, family, sex—is addressing them head-on, and not letting them fester. Here, couple’s counselors share the biggest signs of divorce—and how to best avoid this fate.
One or both of you is insanely jealous
Jealousy is a normal human emotion, but when the feeling is irrational or gets out of control, it can cause serious damage to a relationship. “If there are intense jealous feelings that come up often and early in the relationship, and seemingly for no good reason, this should be a big red flag,” says Celeste Holbrook, PhD, sexual health consultant. It’s also worth noting that jealousies don't often get less intense as the relationship matures. This means, if you or your significant other is experiencing strong feelings of jealousy that are not warranted (i.e. one partner is flirting with someone in front of you constantly or, perhaps, cheating on you behind your back), getting help early on is the only way you can try to rectify the relationship. “Without working on the underlying insecurities and the base of the jealously, the couple can be headed toward a breakup.”
There’s no balance of power
It’s not something most couples want to admit, but the balance of power in a relationship is real. As Dr. Holbrook notes, when one partner is always more dominant and the other is always more subservient, the relationship typically cannot thrive. “Healthy couples understand the balance of power and navigate it often and well,” she says. “Couples seeing signs of divorce often find themselves in an imbalance of power, where one individual lacks the assertiveness to ask for their needs and the other partner lacks the empathy to understand other's needs without being told.”
You wipe problems under the rug
All couples argue—every couple’s counselor will tell you that this is perfectly normal—but fighting all of the time is not, nor is never resolving the issues you fight about. As Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author, explains, this can cause one or both of you to become resentful. “Try to take your ego out of the argument and realize that winning is not the objective, but, rather, resolving is,” she says. “Listen to what your spouse says and take responsibility for your part and offer solutions rather than be defensive.”