Growing up, we didn’t have much money. One of the things that meant was that we drove old cars and ignored automotive problems as long as possible. We almost always had a dashboard light on in our minivan—so often I just thought that was normal. Of course, if you ignore it long enough, a problem that would result in a small bill becomes the need to buy another car. What would’ve initially been a little difficult to address becomes catastrophic if you don’t address it until later.
This happens in marriage, too. Things pop up that should warn us that something needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, we often either don’t recognize it or feel like we don’t have the energy, tools, or the desire to address it. However, left unattended, these small challenges can grow into catastrophic issues in a marriage. We need to learn to notice and respond to these warnings before it’s too late. Here are 5 signs your marriage needs attention.
1. You don’t laugh with your wife.
When is the last time you and your wife laughed together? If you’re struggling to remember, that’s a clear sign something is amiss. Laughter reveals an ability to be lighthearted and take life less seriously. It shows playfulness and enjoyment. These are essential elements in a vital marriage. A house without laughter is one of the surest signs your marriage needs attention.
What could you do to reintroduce fun and levity into your marriage?
2. You see work as a respite from home.
Have you ever found yourself breathing a sigh of relief as you settle into your car for your morning commute? Does work, with all its challenges and pressures, feel more comfortable or welcoming than your own home? This happens more often than you might think. We often use work as a way to escape from challenges at home. When work becomes a respite, your marriage needs attention.
Can you identify one factor that makes home a place of discomfort? How might you address it?
3. You finished your Netflix queue.
Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with watching shows on Netflix. The problem is using entertainment as a constant escape. Some of us use television (or surfing the web or playing video games or scrolling social media) to forget our problems for a few minutes and lose ourselves in something fun or exciting or stimulating. We spend way too much time watching movies or sports or playing a video game and before we know it, most of our most valuable relational time has been consumed with entertainment. Even if it’s not a challenging marriage that drives you there, spending too much time engrossed in escapist entertainment can lead to less intimacy and connection with your wife.
How much time do you spend engaged in individualized entertainment each day? What could you do instead to engage with your wife?
4. You can’t name anything your wife is interested in.
Look, you know your wife used to be into that thing in college, or maybe even last year, but what is she interested in right now? Is there a book she’s reading, a podcast she’s into, a hobby she’s recently picked up? While these aren’t “essential” conversations to be having, they are important if you want to cultivate friendship with your wife. If the only discussions you’re having involve plans or bills or the latest disagreement, it’s a sure sign your marriage needs attention.
When is the last time you asked your wife what she’s currently interested in?
5. You are disinterested in physical intimacy.
Not everyone is interested in physical intimacy to the same degree. Some people want a lot, others not as much. There’s no “right amount” for all couples, but some level of physical intimacy is a natural and important part of any marriage (and to be clear, physical intimacy is much more than just sex). If you find yourself less and less interested in physical intimacy, it’s a sign that your marriage needs some attention.
What is one thing you can do to begin cultivating physical intimacy with your wife?
Sound off: What other issues serve as signs your marriage needs attention?
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