The very act of getting lazy and going blind to our partner’s needs/wants/desires/dreams is probably the leading cause of broken hearts in the end.
Being human, we’re all selfish and self-centered to a degree — many of us more than others. And take it from me — the divorced guy — nothing kills the human spirit more than the creeping death of inattentiveness and lazy love.
That said, since my divorce earlier this year, I’ve done a bunch of thinking on this and have come up with a little checklist of things that I hope might be useful to couples in love — to married people who haven’t yet hit the proverbial wall that so many couples seem to be hitting these days.
It’s not a fully comprehensive list, mind you; I wouldn’t look at this and feel like you’re golden if you can’t relate to everything on it. But it does include some things that ought to be viewed as real warning signs, things that I know helped annihilate two pretty cool spirits in a once promising union. And that’s probably worth paying attention to.
Here are four signs your marriage is destroying your spirit — from a newly divorced dad who totally missed them.
1. You stop making out.
I think that something really awful happens to the human spirit when something like making out on the couch or in the backseat of the car (every now and then — not every damn day!) fades away. People need to feel wanted by the person they want. We yearn for intimacy. We crave the electrical flash and jolt that comes with kissing the lips of the one we love. You know, even the most ironclad emotional ice houses among us want that.
But a lot of times, it’s one of the first things we begin to slip up on in marriage. We end up sitting down on different ends of the couch, never meeting in the middle for some straight-up teenage-style kissing madness. And that sucks.
2. You bottle up emotions.
Even on the surface, the idea of keeping things that are troubling us inside so as not to bother our partner with them is a real red flag. But then when we toss in the resentment and growing upset that comes along with bottling up said emotions, we’re faced with a fast-moving fire of epic proportions.
People need to feel comfortable with each other in order to share a life together. It’s just that simple. And yet, so often, we start down this road of zipping up our emotions or our thoughts for a million different reasons, many of which are untrue, dreamed up in our heads. Not working really hard at maintaining open lines of connection, trust, and confidence is the perfect way to begin slaying your own spirit, believe me.
3. You focus on the kids.
Children are SUPER NEEDY! They just are! They need you all the time — from the moment they’re conceived until they’re like … what … 29? And that takes a tremendous toll on every married couple, I don’t care what anyone says. Sure, some handle it better than others, but for many people, the Kid Years are the times when we turn away hard from our spouse; when we begin to see and treat each other way differently.
The constant demands of kids on our physical and mental well-being often lead us to trading in the romantic way we once saw our partner (independent/strong/sexy/committed) for a more utilitarian spirit-sucking role (minivan driver/exhausted/workaholic/not doing enough!). So be really careful when the kids come along. It’s easy to lose sight of the person you married amid an ocean of toys strewn across the living room floor.
4. You stop exercising.
After my ex and I had a couple of kids, found a good house to live in, were both working and keeping daily life moving along at a pretty common good clip, I started putting on a lot of weight. Okay, it happens. Truth is, it IS hard to find time to hit the gym or whatever when you’re always hustling and making life happen from like 5:45 AM to 10 at night. No one can argue that.
I’m surprised at how much I let myself go in my marriage. It may sound lame to put this out there, but I feel like allowing myself to change so drastically physically in such a short amount of time (2-3 years) had to be indicative of some other things that were going wrong in our marriage. And in a lot of ways, I have to admit, it had to be a massive turn-off for my ex to watch my rather swift transition from a reasonably attractive guy in decent shape to a beer-bloated, over-sized version of my former self.
And I hated myself for letting myself get that way. All along I knew that I was just playing the tired/lazy card. Yes, I was busy. Yes, time was hard to come by. But it really damaged my spirit, my confidence, and my overall outlook on life every time I looked in the mirror. Yet, I let it go, stopped exercising, and grew pretty un-sexy.
And guess what? I’m way busier now that I’m a single dad than I ever was in my marriage. But I still manage to exercise almost every single day. Because I never want my sagging spirits or my flabby body to help kill something good again.More On