5 Signs You’re Drifting Apart in Your Marriage and What To Do About It
Do you have a nagging sense that your relationship is in trouble? Maybe you’re a busy mother who’s juggling home, kids. husband, friends, parents, work, social activities. On the surface you appear to have a successful family life, but that’s not quite the whole picture.
Does something feel ‘off’ in your marriage?
Are you feeling increasingly frustrated and resentful? Or emotionally disconnected from your husband?
Here are 5 Signs You’re Drifting Apart in Your Marriage:
1. It’s difficult to remember back to the time when it was just the two of you – those hazy, fun, carefree days before the kids came along. And even harder to recall what you found to talk about back then. You vaguely remember the days when you could talk forever, when hours passed without either of you noticing. But that seems like a lifetime ago now.
2. Most of your conversations now revolve around the kids, the house and the grind of daily life. On the rare occasions it’s just the two of you, you struggle with what else to discuss.
3. You’ve given up arranging ‘date nights’ because it’s too much hassle to arrange babysitters – and what would you talk about anyway?
4. Your social lives are becoming increasingly separate – he arranges nights out and weekends away with ‘the boys.’ In response you’re relying more and more on your girlfriends for fun, adult conversation and connection.
5. On the rare occasions you do spend any quality time together, it’s always you who has to plan it, and you feel resentful. After all, if he can’t be bothered to make the effort, why should you?!
If you recognize your relationship here – don’t panic! It doesn’t mean you’re headed for the divorce courts – it means you’re now aware. And awareness is the first and most important step in making any change in your life.
Here are 5 Steps to reverse the drift and start reclaiming control of your life and marriage:
1. Decide to work on feeling better about your marriage for your own sake.
Do it as an act of self-care and self-love. After all, you’re the one feeling the dissatisfaction, frustration, resentment and unhappiness. Do it for you.
Give up ‘tit for tat’ thinking, ie: ‘If he’s not going to bother, why should I?’ Imagine if he’s thinking similarly? That stance is never going to create positive change in your marriage.
Ask yourself what you would need to believe about your husband and marriage in order to start feeling more positive towards him. Make sure it’s something you truly believe that feels better than your current thinking. What do you appreciate about him? Start there. When you feel better you will behave differently towards him – and he in turn will begin to respond differently to you. Feeling better is always an option – no matter how he is behaving!
2. Don’t expect your husband to be a mind reader. Ask for what you want BUT don’t be attached to him complying.
Make requests of your husband and let him know your expectations. Don’t wait for him to guess what help you need in the house or with the kids – communicate! I know you think he should know this already – but he’s a man, his brain is wired differently to yours.
When making your requests of him – do not make your happiness dependent on him complying. His view of what is reasonable and yours may vary greatly – that’s what makes us all different. As adults we have a choice about how we want to behave in our lives.
There is nothing your husband has to do for you. Equally, there is nothing you have to do that you don’t want to. You may disagree and think you ‘have’ to cook dinner for your kids every evening, but you can reframe it as: I choose to cook for them because I love them and want them to be healthy and happy. This perspective is so much more empowering than feeling like a martyr.
How you choose to feel when your husband doesn’t behave the way you want him to is up to you – don’t give that power away to him.
3. Question your thinking and be willing to change it to get the result you want.
The next time your husband p*sses you off, ask yourself what you are making his behaviour mean – about you, about him and about your marriage. For example: ‘He doesn’t respect me, he doesn’t appreciate me, he’s not a good husband, etc.’
So often, we misinterpret other people’s behaviours (ie we ‘make up stories’ in our minds) and we assign negative meaning to it. Based on the story we tell ourselves, we feel negative emotion towards the person, which drives the way we communicate and interact with them, and how they in turn respond to us. This pattern keeps us stuck in a cycle of negativity because negative thinking always creates a negative result.
What would you need to think and believe in order to get the result you want in your marriage, ie emotional connection with your husband? Are you willing to make the change? Why or why not?
4. Be willing to set and uphold healthy boundaries in your marriage.
Boundaries are about taking care of yourself, they are not about controlling other people’s behaviour. That is the beauty of them. Boundaries are necessary when there is a violation of your physical or emotional wellbeing, eg when someone is behaving in a way you find unacceptable. A boundary consists of a request and a consequence and can be spoken or unspoken.
They’re an act of self-care and should always be set from a place of love – for yourself and the other person. Being willing to uphold our own boundaries is how we teach other people how to treat us.
5. Take back the job of making YOU happy.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your husband’s job to make you happy! So many of us buy into the myth that ‘if only’ he would change and morph into someone different, ‘then’ all would be well and we could be happy. The problem with this way of thinking is that our happiness becomes dependent on our husband behaving a certain way. In this scenario, not only have we have given away all of our power, we will also attempt to control and manipulate him into behaving the way we want – because our happiness depends on it! Not the recipe for happy, healthy relationships.
When you take back the job of making you happy and taking care of your own emotional needs, you create a different energy in your relationship because you no longer ‘need’ your husband to fulfil this role. And that is the space in which ‘magic’ can happen in your relationship.
Have you noticed that the above steps are all about what you can do differently – not a word about your husband changing? Frustrating I know – especially when: ‘He’s the one who needs to change!!’ I get it. I also know that creating change in any relationship starts with you.
When you reclaim your power over the things within your control, ie your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours, you transform your relationship with yourself first. And when that happens, you find that all of your relationships also improve, including your relationship with your husband.
In the comments below, share your thoughts. Has this resonated with you? Do you feel inspired to make some changes to strengthen your relationship? (You can write ‘anonymous’ in the name field if you prefer and your email is never disclosed.)
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Great tips and thank you for not just recommending date nights as the be all and end all. Not everyone even has access to or can afford even one babysitter.
Fiona, glad you found the tips helpful, thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree it’s not just about having date nights – happy the post has given you some other ideas to consider.
What a brilliant post. My favourite tip is the bit about being in control of our own happiness. What wise words. Divorce ruins so many lives and anything that can keep marriages together and happy couples is amazing. What beautiful work you do Julie. I will share. 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment Clare. I agree that taking responsibility for our own happiness is such an important step and one that can make all the difference in a marriage. While not all marriages can or should be saved, there are many that end needlessly and helping prevent some of those is what inspires me to do this work.
Thanks also for sharing – it’s much appreciated. 🙂
I think this post is quite empowering. No one person, even your husband, can make you happy. Contentment and joy are largely a matter of our perspective, self talk, outlook, etc. And if we can find a way to be happy, that will naturally improve the marital environment, which can only help.
Seana, thanks for commenting. I completely concur with everything you’ve written – finding a way to be in charge of creating our own happiness IS empowering and will naturally improve all of our relationships – a win/win!
Now THIS is the kind of marriage advice I totally appreciate + support!
YES to choosing our own happiness + reclaiming our power to communicate our needs + desires without being attached to outcomes.
Sooo much goodness here…thank you Kelly + Julie for the brilliant inspiration!
Love + Appreciation,
Denise, thank you so much for your comment – great to get this feedback and know I am hitting the spot with my first guest post here!
Thanks again – appreciate you taking the time. 🙂
Gosh! this sounds really good! We really need to put some of this in practice. Each point is good, but I think 4 and five are particularly good..let’s see if we can put them into action…
So glad the tips are useful to you and that you feel inspired to put them into action – brilliant!
Your willingness to take this kind of action is already a very positive sign for your marriage and the future of your relationship – best of luck to you!
I was at this exact stage 6 months ago. I ignored the niggling feelings. 3 months ago my husband suggested a separation. My world was falling apart. I then went on to realise I was doing all things described in this blog and my husband was feeling the weight of it. Making changes to take back responsibility for my own emotions has saved my marriage. We now feel connected again. Phew! Thank you for helping me see I’m not alone.
Rachel, Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. It’s a great illustration of what can unfold when we ignore the ‘niggling feelings’ and importantly, what is possible when we choose to take responsibility for ourselves and our own happiness.
Congratulations on doing the work to get back to connection in your marriage – it’s not easy, it takes courage and determination, and yours is a great example of why it’s worth it!
Finally, Thank YOU for helping other women reading this who may be feeling the way you were six months ago to know that they are not alone and there is hope.
Thanks Julie/Kelly …..very sound and “do-able” advice.
Thanks Jan, I always aim to make it “do-able.” 🙂
Oh gosh, wow, what a great article Kelly! I think all marriages go through their rough spots and this is a great reminder on what to do constantly to keep the connection. I know I’ll be taking on some of this advice! 🙂
Thanks for commenting Helen, glad you found the article helpful. You’re absolutely right – the tips can be be applied to even the most solid of marriages to keep the connection and as a reminder to stay on track.
So a couple of seconds ago I was just crying and asking myself “will my husband and I ever get back what we’ve lost between us as we have been fighting so much and growing apart lately!”
So I just decided to check so advise on the internet and I came across your website and this advice is so true and amazing at the same time I saw and felt myself in all of it.
So from right NOW I’m choosing to be my own happy place and All thanks to you Julie.
We are so happy you found this. Here’s to you choosing your own happiness first. All else will fall into place if you start there. xx
I really enjoyed this article. Such great advice. Number 2 really resonated with me. Clear communication wins every time (and saves bucket loads of angst in between).
Kristy, really glad you enjoyed the article. You’re right – clear communication is SO important. The lack of it is at the heart of so many marriage struggles and the cause of much angst.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, much appreciated.
Brilliant article Julie! Love number 5! So many of us fall into the trap of expecting our husband to make us happy…we all start our relationships independent yet somewhere along the way, we give away this particular task. No other human can truly make you happy if you are not happy with yourself. It always starts on the inside.
Thank you Amy, glad you enjoyed the article. You’re right, we all start off being independent in our relationships and so often we end up giving our power away and handing over the responsibility for our happiness to our husbands.
Completely agree that happiness is an inside job! 🙂
Julie, I love that you didn’t make it about him but about ourselves. As you know that’s where the power is.
I’m no longer married and I made plenty of these mistakes when I was but awareness did kick in and even though we divorced it happened with … truly only love! My divorce is actually a great story and it cost us $87! We remain the best of friends (family really) to this day!
What a great story Silva, thanks for sharing it Divorce is never easy, but what a great outcome for your family that you and your ex-husband managed it with love and have remained the best of friends. I think most divorcing couples could learn from your example!
Julie this post is FANTASTIC! Wonderful advice. After 2 bubs close together I noticed the signs that you’ve mentioned in this post. My husband and I realised how much we MISSED each other as we become busy with other things and didn’t get to spend as much time on our marriage. We have made an effort to make sure we always spend time on each other, but these tips will be a huge help!
Thanks for commenting Sam, so glad you found the article helpful. It sounds like you are in a great place in your marriage now and I’m happy that these tips will help you to stay on track – brilliant! 🙂
Love this post Julie. AWESOME! Great tips + ideas to keep things moving where we want them to go…both personally and in our marriage. I remember when my husband helped me learn your tip #2 Don’t expect your husband to be a mind reader. Ask for what you want BUT don’t be attached to him complying. And once I started asking for things and /or telling him what I wanted more/less of things totally shifted for both of us! Thank you!
Gia, thanks for commenting. Brilliant that you have already experienced the benefits of applying Tip #2 – sounds like you have a great hubby and a great relationship! Glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂
Julie – what great advice! I especially love the first one about doing it for yourself! It will benefit both the husband and wife in most cases but knowing you’re making changes out of self care sometimes makes it feel more doable. Thanks got these wise words!
Completely agree Jody – we often get so caught up in ‘Why should I?’ thinking, yet doing it for ourselves as an act of self-care is the best reason ever! So that WE get to feel the way we want to feel.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post Kelly! Such wonderful tips for reigniting the connection in simple and practical ways. Open and honest conversations can be challenging but they are so worth the effort especially when you consider the alternative. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. xo
Rhiannon, this wonderful post was written by a guest blogger – Julie Marah who’s a professional wife coach. I’m thrilled that you love it so much!
If you loved this, you’ll love her website, blog and free e-guide at http://www.juliemarah.com
Do check it out 🙂
I have to say, I’ve just read through about a million websites, and actually sent my husband things on ways WE can change (sadly expecting that he won’t really stick maybe half of them) before I read this one. It was a real eye opener. Honestly I never, ever leave replies, but I had to here. This blew my mind. It seems like such a simple concept, but the way this was written just put things into perspective for me. He’s always said to me how I always concentrate on the negative things he does (i.e. nagging), but if I go by this concept and make myself happy, I will have less/nothing to complain about – therefore making him happier – and maybe he will even choose to change on his own. But even if not, I will still be in charge of my own happiness anyway. Sorry this is so long, I just had to thank you!
Hi Anna, thank you so much for your comment – I’m very touched that you took the time to share your thoughts, especially as you said you never usually leave comments. 🙂
I’m really happy you found the article helpful – it sounds like it sparked a real ‘aha’ moment for you, that’s brilliant! So much of the frustration we feel in our marriages is because we are trying to control the uncontrollable, i.e. our husbands’ behaviour, and that just makes us feel powerless. Focusing on the things we can control, i.e. our own thoughts and behaviour, and taking back responsibility for our own happiness, gives us our power back. And can lead to surprisingly positive results in our relationships!
Thank you again.
Thanks for this Julie
About 8 months ago, my husband started having an affair and it totally crushed my world. On reflection I realized I had given up on my own deep happiness and dived into caring for him and his wellbeing. This had put me in a rut and taking my passion, which was one of the things he loved about me – I saw how it had made me less attractive to him. Slowly I try to get past the pain and rebuild my own sense of self and emotional well being, and this has inspired me further.
Hi Sally, thanks for your comment. I really admire the fact that you have reflected on what was clearly a very painful experience and taken responsibility for what your part may have been. It would be so easy in this situation to put the blame entirely in your husband’s corner, and you have chosen not to do that. That takes a lot of courage and self-awareness.
I’m really pleased you found the article helpful and that it has inspired you to keep working on rebuilding your own sense of self and emotional well being. I wish you every success and happiness for the future.
Thank you for your article and I am going to try hard to put these into practice. I’m in the middle of this now–marriage has been growing apart for a little while and came to a head about 2-3 months ago. We would be separated if not for 2 children. I need to work on the communication and self love points. I’m hoping these tips will work. Thank you for the hope.
Sorry to hear about what you’re going through and hope you can use Julie’s advice here to help. Be sure to also subscribe to her newsletter at http://www.juliemarah.com as getting a regular dose of her tips will help keep you focused.
Wishing you nothing but the very best! x Kelly
This is EXACTLY where I am and this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today! Thank you. We just had our 19th anniversary. 24 years total together, 2 children. I’ve completely lost myself and I AM MISERABLE. I know I need to change, go back to my old self. I just haven’t been able to pinpoint it or put it into words. This was pure clarity for me. Why would any one want to be around a “Debbie Downer”? And especially a “Debbie Downer” who’s looking for you to make her happy??? I know I dont! So why would he? So I need to BE THE CHANGE!!! I loved reading everyone else’s comments too. I’m surrounded by “practically perfect people” with their “practically perfect families”, therefore I had no one to relate to. Thank you everyone for sharing!
I love it when I read or hear something that’s EXACTLY what I needed to read or hear that day. (It happened to me yesterday with a Podcast, so I know just what you mean.) It sounds like you’ve really grasped the message here. Yes – BE THE CHANGE!
I love the post however I really don’t know how to become dependent on my self for happiness. I rely on my husband to make me happy and I really dont know how to change that
Great post – interesting no comments from men. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the man would like to be closer but the woman pushes him away. That’s how it is with us. I’ve spent over 5 years trying to figure out a way to be closer to my wife. I’ve given up hope and am moving on. Not divorce – no interest in that. Just living my own life now.
Thank you for the great article!
I do have a question regarding drifting apart as I was searching to see if my marriage is headed in that direction.
If in the beginning of the relationship, my husband displayed loads of love and patience, would it be concerning that now 7 + years later it’s not the same.
For example, I was handling a credit card fraud call for him and asked him politely as could be, if he could please hand me his card. It was handed no problem, and it was handed back to him. A few seconds later, I realized, while on the phone, that I needed the card one more time. I asked once again with an apology and he seemed pretty bothered and disturbed by his reaction and the look on his face. I’m beginning to worry since this isn’t the first time or second or third time this has happened. WE both see a counselor to deal with anger and my insecurities but on the level of patience, I think I may be over doing it since I literally NEVER get mad at him even when he does become hurtful. I decided almost 2 years ago to not follow suit when he yells and becomes angry over stuff. I decided that if there was going to be change, it had to start with me. As hard as that was, I have truly found my peace but in times like these, I can’t help but wonder if this is coming to an end. To be honest, I’ve considered flying out for a week just to give myself a break. Thanks for your time.
Great advice… and I’ve accepted it and applied it. And even though the anger, frustration, contempt and disappointment are gone…. I’m at a place where I realize I really don’t enjoy being married. I know how to make myself happy and content and the joy I experience comes from me. Why remain married if you can’t depend on anything from your husband?
Have you read Julie’s free guide “Stay Married or Leave? A 5 Step Guide Before You Decide”? You may find it really useful: http://juliemarah.com/
Ok I was with you until #5…”When you take back the job of making you happy and taking care of your own emotional needs, you create a different energy in your relationship because you no longer ‘need’ your husband to fulfil this role.” So if I don’t need my husband to ‘make me happy’ or as I would like to put it ‘keep me happy’ (cause I was already happy within myself before he met me), then what exactly do I ‘need’ him for? I’m feeling exactly like ‘Working Mom of 4’ (post above) is feeling…if I can do it all myself and I can’t depend on my husband for anything, then what’s the point of staying married and living a mundane life?..when I can do that unmarried and not have to deal with the added stress of marriage and his baggage.
I highly recommend you read Julie’s free guide “Stay Married or Leave? A 5 Step Guide Before You Decide” to help you work through these feelings: http://juliemarah.com/
Wishing you a happy solution xx
Do we really ‘need’ our husbands or do we choose to be with them? We do need to choose our mental states because no one can make us happy if we aren’t choosing to be. It’s not easy but it’s necessary or everything will be miserable.
Interestingly I found most of this article interesting, except the concept of’choosing ‘ to cook for kids. You cannot choose to NOT cook for your kids as it would amount to neglect. Especially if your husband works away from home and isn’t around to takeover this task from time to time. Feeding kids is an obligation and duty. It is of course also an act of love but whatever way you look at it there is option to choose Not to cook for them unless you have a bank balance and can afford a cook or to eat out!!
I believe what Julie was saying is that it’s all about not becoming a martyr over the things we have to do and resenting our other half for not doing these thing. When we do a simple mindset shift and ‘choose’ to cook for our kids because we love them and want them to be healthy and happy, it shifts this from being a hard-done-by obligation, into something done with love. This has taken me a while to do as I also don’t like cooking! But I give myself this pep talk and now cook for them with a loving heart xx
Very good advice, and I am a bit with some of the last posters. Over the years I have put most of this in practice, and it did take a while to teach myself, some of it with help of a relationship counsellor. I went on my own as my husband doesn’t believe in counselling. He did change his mind though as he sat with me after each session and I shared my new insights and learnings and the questions she had for him and it really helped us. However, he is often tired and grumpy, which makes living with him very hard. How can you be happy if the person you live with snaps at you, and has endless gripes about ‘useless drivers’, ‘idiot cyclists’, ‘people with no brain but a political opinion’ and so on. It’s tiredness I know, but it ruins my days too. Any tips?
When you get to a point where you google advice like this, no matter what the husband is doing, saying etc, it’s a much needed reminder that WE should control our thinking, be positive and not get bogged down in the arguments that got us (me!) here in the first place. I teach my kids to choose their attitudes but have forgotten it myself. Thank you! So well said!
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Julie, you told me something I needed to hear: I will not wait for my husband to make me happy! I just realized that since I got married, I left all the things I loved doing and have dedicated my spare tine (when I am not at work) to be with him. It turns out, men don’t leave their single-man lifestyle to be with their wives. They want both!
I don’t know Evan know where to start to make this better or happier?? Need some advice feeling hert and annoyed most days
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Appreciate the ideas. I have started feeling a complete disconnect from my husband because I developed a feeling over the time that we both are completely different persons and did not share common thoughts when it comes to how we want to enjoy our life. I just feel I am now more comfortable texting him rather than face to face conversation because we end up having an argument every time I go to him to discuss something I want.
My husband and I have been married for over 10 years. We met when I was 18 and he was 21. We’ve been through a lot emotionally together. There were several HUGE fights and painful situations in our marriage, but we always seemed to come out stronger on the other side. Out of the blue my husband just sprung the divorce talk on me, I was totally depressed until I found Dr.Todd website online and I ordered for a Love spell. You won’t believe my husband called me at the exact time this spell caster finished his spell work in 48hrs. I was totally amazed! He is wonderful and his spells work so fast. His Email: manifestspellcast@ gmail. com manifestspellcast.wordpress.com
I love this, I truly needed to read this. Especially the take control of your happiness.