Are you and your spouse just as close as the day you married, or have you become strangers? Marriage is the joining of two souls together to share their life and dreams. At first, everything is bliss with sweet romantic dinners and spending every waking moment together.
However, as the years roll on, you will find that you will go through ebbs and flows, and everything can take a dramatic turn. One minute they are the greatest thing ever, and the next minute you’re ready to pack your bags and head for greener pastures. Even on a good day, marriage is complicated.
You have someone in your face and space 24/7, and you must make things work even when you don’t want to. Why is it that so many marriages fail? You hear the divorce statistics, and they are horrifying for anyone considering a trip down the aisle.
The person that you’ve slept beside for years helped them through the good and bad times, and watched them grow and change, has now become a stranger to you. You’re not alone, as this is a common occurrence in couples that have been together for many years.
THE MANY REASONS WHY SPOUSES BECOMES STRANGERS
What happens in a marriage that makes people turn from living to existing? Marriage counselors would argue that you’re not the same person the day you marry as you are five or even ten years down the line. Life has a way of making or breaking you.
If you’re stuck in this rut, or perhaps you have the seven-year itch and no longer feel content with your spouse. Here are 15 reasons why you and your partner feel more like strangers.
1. THERE’S A STRONG LACK OF COMMUNICATION
When something exciting happens in your life, who is it that you text or call to tell about it? Your spouse should hold the number one position on speed dial. If you’ve stopped communicating, then it’s easy to grow apart.
Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D. points out that “the need of diplomacy isn’t felt just in international relations; it’s also highly valuable in ‘domestic relations,’ including your own personal nearest and dearest relationships, as well.”
Can you honestly say you know what goes on at their job or with their family? People who stop communicating with each other find someone else to confide in, and many affairs start because one party is just looking for someone to talk to them about their life.
Remember that you cannot open up clear lines of communication without being vulnerable. Don’t let the fear of having difficult conversations hold you back. Remember to fight fair if an argument ensues. Covering up the problem by avoiding discussion will only lead to heartbreak.
2. YOU BRING YOUR FRUSTRATIONS HOME WITH YOU
It’s easy to take your frustrations out on the ones closest to you. You can quickly become strangers if all you do is use your spouse as a punching bag. They will avoid spending time with you and want to stay out of your way.
You can’t let the frustrations of your day spill over into your home life. It’s one way to push the other person away from you. Leave all the work drama at the door, and don’t let it interfere with your relationship, or soon you won’t have a relationship at all.
At the end of your workday, take time to switch your mind away from workplace woes. A quick 5-minute meditation session or doing some visualization techniques can signal to your brain that it’s time to shift gears.
3. A LACK OF ATTACHMENT HAS FORMED
There’s no one specific reason why a lack of attachment forms as many things can cause it. However, one day you woke up and realized that they aren’t the most important thing anymore. You can’t put your finger on it, but the feelings you once had are no longer there.
This situation takes a lot of work to fix. Fortunately, you acknowledge the problem–check step one off the list. Now it’s time to make reconnecting with your partner your top priority. Ask them questions—a lot of them. Get to know your partner and grant yourself permission to fall in love again.
Psychologist and relationship expert Tania Hormozi, PsyD, LMFT weigh-in:
“Love and connection go a long way, but communication keeps your relationship stronger.”
4. YOU STOPPED DATING EACH OTHER
Life can’t be about all work and no play. Dating should never stop when you move in together or get married. There still needs to be special times between the two of you where you throw the cares of life away and have fun.
Find a romantic spot, and give your partner the royal treatment. Make plans based on their favorite things to do, showing that you value their preferences.
5. YOU’RE MARRIED TO YOUR JOB
Your job is essential, but does it dominate your entire life. You must make time for each other. Many people become strangers because they only see each other in passing.
Take time away from work. Even if you work many hours in a demanding career, prioritize spending your downtime with your spouse. If you work these long hours, your spouse probably misses your company–and that can lead to issue number six.
6. YOU’VE GROWN APART AND JUST FEEL LIKE STRANGERS
Time changes people, and you can quickly grow apart. After you weather a few of life’s storms, your outlook and personality can change. You may be so altered that you are just a reflection of what used to be, and you’re not the same.
Try to find some commonalities between you. Focusing on the things that still bring you together is an essential starting point.
7. NEITHER ONE OF YOU IS GOING IN THE SAME DIRECTION
It’s hard to grow together when you’re both going in opposite directions. If you want to live in North Carolina and your spouse wants to put down roots in Ohio, how can it work with you in two different locations?
Physical distance isn’t always the issue, but emotional distance can destroy a union. Make sure you’re both going in the same direction and have similar goals. Sit down and openly discuss adjusting your goals to suit both of your dreams.
8. YOU FACE FINANCIAL TROUBLES
Money troubles are a big issue. If you’re always fighting overspending problems or a lack of funding to pay the bills, it can make things go sour real quick. Don’t make every conversation about finances an argument.
First of all, money troubles happen to most couples. Don’t blame each other or point fingers.
Second, learn to budget your money–and stick with it! If you want a more analytical eye on your finance, visit a financial planner. This professional can help you develop a spending plan to help you get out of debt.
9. YOU FIGHT CONSTANTLY
It’s easy to become strangers when all you do is argue and fight. The other person might walk on eggshells around you and avoids you to keep from having more drama.
Choose your words wisely and pick your battles. Your comments could be what drives a wedge between you and your spouse. Remember that you cannot take back words that you use as a weapon. If you need time to formulate the right thing to say, step away for a few minutes. Reconsider your wording, then come back into the discussion in a calmer manner.
Tonia Hormoze, PsyD. states this advice:
Becoming aware of yourself, the way you speak, the way your tone of voice sounds, and how you communicate when you are sad, angry, or happy are all areas that couples need to learn to be aware of when communicating with their partners.
10. ROMANCE IS GONE
Are you still making love? Do you still kiss goodbye in the mornings and before you go to bed at night? When romance dies without a medical reason, there is something terribly wrong in your relationship. How can you keep a fire burning if there isn’t even a spark?
Perhaps you still recall the butterflies you felt when you first met your partner. Reintroduce the romance by wooing your spouse. It might feel silly at first, but treating it like a new relationship can help you decide if the spark still exists.
11. YOU HAVE BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT
Over the years, you will both do things to and against one another to cause resentment and bitterness. A healthy couple will learn to forgive these blunders and work through any hard feelings.
However, many people let these wounds fester until they become deadly. If you seem like strangers, it could be because you’re harboring much anger and hatred inside.
12. YOU’VE FOUND SOMEONE NEW
Did you know that many people have emotional affairs long before they engage physically? One of the reasons your spouse may be strangers is that you’re smitten with someone else. If you are running to another man or woman to talk about your life and dreams, then you are already close to walking out the door.
If you want to save the union, then it’s time to come clean, admit your affair, and see a relationship counselor to help you rebuild. If not, then your partner deserves the respect of you saying goodbye, honestly. Yes, you will hurt them, but they deserve your honesty.
13. YOU DO THINGS AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT A COUPLE
Do you plan your time off, but it doesn’t include your spouse? Perhaps, you go on vacations with your friends rather than your partner. If you find that you’re sitting in a restaurant eating alone or sleeping single in a double bed, then you are already strangers in theory.
To have a successful union, you must be present. Time off should be spent together and not apart. Make them as necessary in your mind and heart as they were the day you met.
14. DIVORCE IS ON YOUR MIND
Perhaps you’re secretly thinking about divorce, and you have already checked out of the marriage. No wonder the person lying next to you feels like a stranger; you secretly wish them away.
Think carefully before you express this desire to your spouse. However, the sad reality is that sometimes relationships are not meant to be.
15. IT’S JUST NOT FUN ANYMORE
Remember the gifts and fun that you had when you were dating? You would throw caution to the wind and do something wild and crazy, all in the name of love. Staying up and talking for hours on end was how things began, but now you find yourself in an awkward position.
Go back and revisit the times your partner did something zany to see a smile on your face. What about all the times you laughed until your stomach hurt. The cares of life can ruin any union, but it will only happen if you allow it.
ALARMING STATISTICS ABOUT PARTNERS WHO PRACTICALLY BECOME STRANGERS
Did you know that where you live can have everything to do with your union?
For instance, couples in Italy stay together for about 18 years on average, and the divorce rate is less than 30 percent. However, in Qatar, most marriages don’t last even five years, and their divorce rate is almost 70 percent. It’s easy to see from these numbers that outlying factors have a significant influence on staying together.
Even in the United States, the statistics on divorce change from state to state. While in general, people say that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, the numbers are just generalities. Oklahoma has the highest rates with more than 65 percent, while Hawaii only has a mere 20 percent divorce rate.
These numbers show that where you live, the environment around you, and economic stances can all contribute to your marital problems.
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FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEING MARRIED TO SOMEONE WHO FEELS LIKE A STRANGER
When you walked down the aisle, you thought you would grow old and gray together. However, life and time have a way of changing people. You can quickly grow apart or not have the same goals and desires anymore.
Some marriages can be fixed with counseling and intervention. If there were no significant betrayals or other things that require lots of patience and forgiveness, it might be worth working on.
Consequently, sometimes, it’s simply better to know that it was good while it lasted, but now it’s time to walk away. Don’t stay in a situation that you’re miserable in, or you will live as strangers who are more roommates than lovers.