All relationships face challenges.
Partners can resolve their issues and stay together or make the tough choice to split up.
Being married makes everything more complicated.
You have a family to think about, especially when kids are involved.
Long-term investments like a house, car or a retirement plan are suddenly up in the air.
The legal issues you have to deal with if it comes to a divorce and the financial pressure the process brings adds so much more stress.
Above all else, you have to contend with the possibility that the love of your life, the person you married, may not be that person anymore.
10 Signs You Have Been Growing Apart In Your Marriage
55% of divorced people have said that the main reason is that they “grew apart.”1
You can look for the following signs to see if you and your partner have been growing apart in marriage:
1. You Don't Feel Close To Your Partner Anymore
Happily married couples feel like each other’s best friends.
They know each other’s favorite movies and dishes.
They know the entire list of each other’s celebrity-free passes.
They know all about their spouse’s one incredibly annoying co-worker that they’d love to humiliate in front of the entire office.
They know exactly what to do to make their partner happy (or to piss them off).
They know when their spouse is going through something.
If you feel like you no longer know your partner, that’s a telltale sign of things going wrong.
2. A Lack of Physical Intimacy
Things start to slow down in the bedroom after the honeymoon period.
You're not as pumped up with hormones anymore after 1 year.
It can be worrying when you suddenly stop showing interest in making love for no apparent reason.
Attraction may subside over time, but happily married couples still find their partner attractive as they grow old.
They still want to show their love and affection.
Physical intimacy is everything that involves touch:
- It can be as simple as holding hands while you stroll around the neighborhood
- giving each other a peck on the lips when you see each other off before work
- or cuddling on the couch after a long day.
Not having your sense of touch satisfied could lead to a failed relationship.
Divorced people have cited lack of love/intimacy as the most common reason why their marriages ended. According to a 2020 study.2
Related: How to Avoid Divorce - 20 Ways to Revive a Struggling Marriage
3. You No Longer Want to Do Things Together
Shared interests are a core component of bringing couples together.
- whether it’s riffing over bad 80s horror films
- going rock climbing
- or hunting down rare vinyl records.
There’s at least one activity that couples enjoy doing and help bring them together in the first place.
However, it’s perfectly reasonable to do social activities with other people than your partner on occasion.
It’s healthy to maintain relationships with friends and family through these shared interests.
You can’t solely rely on your partner for socializing.
It does become a problem if either of you prefers to do these activities in the company of other people more often than with each other.
4. You Never Have Meaningful Conversations Anymore
Anybody can ask you about your day, share a funny cat TikTok, or discuss spoilers about the latest Marvel movie.
You can have small talk with your spouse.
But if it’s only the superficial things you are comfortable talking about could mean trouble.
You shouldn’t intentionally avoid getting into talks that involve the state of your relationship and your future.
Meaningful conversations also include tough topics.
Don't be afraid to talk things through when you recognize the problems.
5. Hanging Out With Your Partner Feels Like Work Instead of Fun
Marriage is a commitment.
It includes doing things out of obligation to your spouse.
You might not like attending a dinner party hosted by a friend you find obnoxious.
But you do it anyway because you love your partner, and they want you to be there.
It isn’t normal when it’s just the two of you hanging out, and you feel like you’re clocking in for your second job.
Alone time with your spouse is about relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
Hanging out shouldn’t feel like a stressful situation where you have to perform to some expectations or risk making your partner unhappy.
6. You Let Misunderstandings Go Unresolved
Emotions can get the better of anyone.
We sometimes say things harshly or misinterpret what our partners tell us.
It happens to the happiest married couples.
You can’t expect to know what your spouse means to say during a heated moment.
The important thing is that once both sides have cooled off, you hash things out.
You talk with no judgment, accommodate each other’s feelings, and clear the air between you.
Trying to resolve misunderstandings shows that you are willing to patch things up.
What’s worse is when you no longer care to kiss and make up.
Around half of the divorced people across multiple studies cite poor communication problems such as not being able to talk to one another as a reason for their divorce.3
7. You Don't Share Secrets Anymore
Part of the fun of being married is that your spouse can be your most trusted confidant.
You can share secrets, knowing that neither would ever tell on the other.
It can be as silly as knowing a close friend’s guilty pleasure or as serious as hearing about a family member hiding a medical condition.
There’s a level of trust that you can’t put in any other person.
Once either of you can’t feel safe anymore about sharing secrets, that could mean trust has been broken.
8. You Prefer Spending Time Away from Your Spouse
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
That's not true:
Absence makes a fond heart grow fonder.
A healthy married couple looks forward to seeing each other again after a long time apart.
- You miss each other when one goes on a business trip.
- You get your partner a treat on your way home from work.
- You make dinner for them when they’re coming back from work.
When you finally get to spend quality time with each other, you feel fulfilled.
But when you’re counting down the seconds to “finally” get away from your partner, that’s clearly a sign that your marriage is on the rocks.
Related: 46 Age Gap Relationship Statistics
9. You Feel Like You Can't Trust Each Other
Trust manifests itself in different ways in marriage.
There’s trusting your partner that they’ll:
- stay faithful and won’t cheat
- have your back in times of need
- use your shared finances responsibly
- make the right choices for your family’s sake
- take care of your loved ones in case of emergencies
- support you in your endeavors
- keep secrets between the two of you
If you find yourself relying more on other people than your spouse for the important things, you can take that as a warning for your marriage.
Related: Ashley Madison & Cheating Statistics
10. You Both Easily Get Upset and Annoyed
It’s OK to be mad at your spouse when they’ve done something that hurt you.
It’s also OK to be annoyed at your spouse when they do a small thing that grinds your gears.
We have to allow our partners (and ourselves) to make mistakes.
We also have to allow ourselves to feel hurt or frustrated.
We’re human. We mess up.
However, there’s a limit to how often and how easily you get upset at your spouse.
You could be growing apart when even the tiniest screw-up sets either of you off.
Are you turning your choice of restaurant for date night into a full-blown argument about your spouse’s indecisiveness?
Related: 50+ Fun & Intimate Date Night Questions to Ask your Partner
Are they starting to get too cutting with their jokes about your taste in music?
When either of you is looking to pick a fight for any reason, this is a subconscious act of justifying ending the relationship.
Related: Are You Constantly Fighting In Your Relationship? Discover How To Stop and Establish Constructive Fighting Patterns
9 Tips To Reconnect With Your Spouse When You've Been Growing Apart
If you manage to spot the signs that you’re growing apart, you can take action.
Here are nine practical things to do to stop the downward spiral:
1. Start by acknowledging the situation and have a serious conversation about it
It’s going to be tough facing the reality of your situation.
It’s the person you swore to stay with for the rest of your life.
To acknowledge that both of you are now having doubts about that commitment hurts.
The first step is admitting that your marriage is in trouble.
Sit down and have this hard talk with your partner.
Treat this process as a frank discussion without being accusatory.
Be honest, but talk about how you can work together to address the issue.
This is a conversation about addressing the problem.
This is not the time to be pointing fingers.
Tell them that you feel upset that you’re no longer as close as you used to be.
And that you want to create a new path together going forward.
2. Talk About What's Happening in Your Lives
You can start your road to reconciliation with something easy.
When you’re already drifting apart, you’re no longer paying attention to what your partner is doing.
Use this as an opportunity to catch up with what they’ve been getting up to.
Consider the following steps you can take:
- Carve out time in your schedules to just talk to each other.
- Get rid of distractions like your phones or the TV.
- Don’t multitask by doing chores while talking.
- Give each other all of your attention.
- Maintain eye contact when you’re speaking.
- Most importantly, listen.
3. Do Something Together Every Week
In a study on marital well-being, participants were 21% less likely to be stressed when doing activities with their spouses.4
Remember when you’d eagerly anticipate hanging out and doing things with your partner?
Remember when you used to have fun together?
Those days don’t have to stay as memories.
You can go back to the activities that brought you two together when you first fell in love.
Did you like going on hikes?
Put on those hiking boots and hit the trail with your partner.
Did you play cooperative video games?
Load up It Takes Two on your console.
You can also try starting a new hobby.
It can be something your partner is already into or something fresh for both of you.
If your spouse is a great cook and you aren’t, let them teach you how to whip up a delicious meal.
Both of you agree that you two could be in better shape?
Buy two exercise bikes that you could get on for half an hour.
Whatever the activity, dedicate time to it at least once a week.
Related: 92 Marriage Statistics in the US & Worldwide
4. Have Sex More Often
Having sex once a week instead of once a month boosts happiness by the same amount as getting paid an extra 50,000 $ a year.5
After growing apart, it might feel awkward trying to rekindle the passion you once had in the bedroom.
But it could be that the lack of physical intimacy pushed you two away in the first place.
There may be underlying reasons for couples not being as intimate as they used to be.
Performance anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, thinking you’re not attractive anymore.
It’s becoming a pattern, but it bears repeating:
- Talk to your partner about it.
- Let each other know how you feel about sex.
- Tell your spouse what turns you on.
- Hear them out when they suggest ways to spice up your sex life.
- Of course, respect each other’s boundaries.
- Don’t push each other to do things neither one is uncomfortable with.
- Find the middle ground where both of you can satisfy each other sexually.
Related: Sexless Marriage Advice: 10 Tips to Fix a Sexless Relationship
5. Take Care of Yourself and Be Happy on Your Own First
It takes a lot of effort to repair a marriage.
It’s more complicated if you’ve already pushed past your limits.
When you can’t even find it in yourself to be positive, how could you muster the energy to work on your relationship?
Don’t let yourself get consumed by the idea that you will take on all the burdens and single-handedly save your marriage.
- Take some time to take care of yourself.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Go outside and breathe in the fresh air.
- Eat right.
- Slow down.
You can better focus on closing the gap between you and your partner once you’ve got your things sorted out.
7. Do something nice for them
When was the last time you made a gesture of affection or kindness to your spouse?
If it’s taking you a long time to remember, there’s no better time than now to get back to it.
- Get up earlier than usual to prepare a good hearty breakfast for them.
- Do the chores that they usually have to do.
- Leave love notes for them to find when you’re away.
- Give them a massage after a hard day’s work.
You can then work up to bigger expressions of love.
Plan a picnic to where you had your first kiss.
Book a weekend at a fancy hotel.
Surprise your spouse with a full course meal of her favorite dishes you cooked up on your own.
Related: Division of Labor in Marriage: 10 Ways to Make it Fair
8. Take a vacation together
External factors can be just as responsible for straining your marriage.
Two adults with full-time jobs or other responsibilities leaves them with very little time for each other.
The only moments you have are late at night in the bedroom when you’re both already too tired.
Work-life balance is more important than ever for married couples.
While your career and other family members are important, don’t let those aspects compromise your relationship.
Take the PTO you’ve been saving up and go on a vacation with your partner.
Why not trake a trip to a beautiful locale?
Doing some sightseeing, enjoying good food and getting first-class treatment are the perfect antidote to the stress and mundanity of everyday living.
9. Consider getting professional help
When it feels like you’ve already done all you can to seek help from a professional.
That’s why couples therapists exist.
They have the knowledge and experience to help you identify issues you and your partner might not see.
They can be the mediator who articulates the message you want to express but can’t find the words for.
Try emotionally focused therapy (EFT).
The American Psychological Association has stated that EFT has been effective at helping couples connect emotionally.6
Going to an outside source for help might seem like you’re just not cut out for this whole marriage thing.
That is certainly not the case.
In a study of 1000 couples, 49% said they attended a form of counseling with their spouse.7
Married couples getting professional help is a lot more common than you think.
It shows that you are willing to do everything to fix your marriage.