What's a warning sign that your marriage is headed towards divorce? When you start to think, "he has checked out of our marriage." This is a first stage warning sign that more women (and men) need to recognize as early as possible.
The first step out of a marriage is to check out. The second step is to step out through an excessive focus elsewhere, like on work or a hobby or an affair. And the third and last step is to walk out.
Ironically, many marriages never get to the third step -- they get stuck in step one or two. A lot of people mistakenly accept (or ignore) being in a marriage where their partner has either checked out or stepped out and stay stuck in that stage.
It's not uncommon at all for a partner to feel that the other partner has checked out of the marriage. In fact, just this week 2 couples told me in couples counselingthat they feel like "roommates"-- which is another sign that one or both partners have checked out.
Here's a submission we received from a wife who believes her husband has checked out:
I am currently unemployed and choosing to be a stay home mom. I have been married for the past 11 years and have two boys. My husband and I have had our differences of opinions over the attitude of his family towards me and has not once stood up in my support to their demeaning behavior towards me. I have been struggling with him lately again over his lack of emotional availability after my mother passed away. I think he has checked out of our marriage. He has been yelling at me, is angry, restless, has insomnia and very low self esteem. I was under severe stress this year...I had a very difficult pregnancy, my son was born with a medical condition and I lost my mother who I was very close to. I also lost a few relatives this year. But my husband has not been able to say any comforting words to me or even touch me with a hug. We have intimacy issues. I am recommending couples counseling but he is refusing. We have temporarily separated. What should I do?" -Megan
What are some signs that your partner has checked out?
- "Has not once stood up in my support to their demeaning behavior towards me" -- this is not the only reason partners don't stand up for each other, especially against their own family, but it can be and certainly leads to the next problem sign.
- "Lack of emotional availability" -- this is also not the only reason why a partner is not emotionally available, but not being there for each other is being checked out.
- "Yelling at me, is angry, restless, has insomnia" -- these are all signs of being depressed, which is another sign of someone who has checked out.
- "Not been able to say any comforting words to me or even touch me with a hug" -- lack empathy towards the person you say you love is a sure sign of a problem and often it's that he has checked out the marriage.
- "We have intimacy issues" -- many couples have intimacy issues, but when partners check out, intimacy is almost always the first thing to disappear.
So what should Megan do? She should go to couples counseling without him. Couples counseling doesn’t require two people – it can be done with only one person too. Most partners refuse to go to couples counseling for two reasons: first, to avoid change and second, to keep control.
If you're in Megan's shoes, don't give your partner the power to prevent your relationship from changing. Go to couples counseling with or with him or her (here's a wife facing a checked out husband who did).
By the time you're thinking "he has checked out of our marriage," you're probably right. However, that can be reversed. Just as someone checks out, they can also check back in. It's not usually easy, but it can be done with help. The most important part is not to ignore the warning sign.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- Marriage Problems Can Be Very Obvious At Events Like Back-to-School Night
- Marriage & Love Don't Always Go Together So Easily
- My Husband Used To Love Me - Can I Get Him To Again?
- Get More Help with Marriage Problems