Red flag: “My wife no longer said ‘thank you.’”
“My wife completely stopped appreciating anything I was doing for her. I would bring her coffee in bed every single Saturday and Sunday morning and I think after awhile she just got used to it. She used to smile at me with grateful eyes and even sometimes would welcome me back into bed with her, even just to cuddle. She started taking me for granted and it hurt deeper than anything else. I knew we weren’t going to make it, I think from that point on.”—Evan Bradshaw
Why it’s a red flag: Forgetting to appreciate your spouse is one of the common behaviors that sabotage relationships. “It’s a universal thing, when people stop paying attention and stop noticing their spouse, the relationship is over, even if they haven’t noticed yet,” says Lisa Orban, author of It’ll Feel Better when it Quits Hurting & Wine Comes in Six-Packs. “When a person doesn’t feel appreciated, they will start looking for it somewhere else, everyone needs someone who will pat them on the head and give them their cookie, someone who makes them feel validated.” She explains that if one partner starts looking outside the relationship for appreciation, or validation, (even if it doesn’t lead to actual cheating), the glue that holds two people together dissolves.
Red flag: “My husband refused to address issues from his past that were harming our marriage.”
“My husband, who was raised in a home with an alcoholic father, had many unresolved issues. He does to this day, and may never be able to be honest enough in therapy to get past them. Often, he would have fits of rage. His level of anxiety, depression, self-deprecation, fear, and low self-esteem weighed heavy on him and still do. I never knew what would set him off. Would it be something I said or did? Something that one of the kids did? I was walking on eggshells all the time and soon my own anxiety started to build. I eventually had physical symptoms of anxiety, which made me take a good look at my life. I grew weary of trying to be the best at everything while feeling like the worst. Eventually I got myself into therapy and began to change. He didn’t like that I was regaining the free spirit I was in my younger years, but nobody was going to hold me back. But, believe me, he tried. He accused me of being gay, of lying to him, and more. Leaving him was the best decision for me and maybe he’ll see in the future that it was for him as well.”—Stephanie Dandrio
Why it’s a red flag: Addiction is a difficult experience to overcome—even if you’re not the person who had the addiction yourself. In this scenario, it’s clear that the spouse was still dealing with the long-term affects his father’s addiction had on his life. “If they are in recovery or getting help and it’s something that they openly discuss, than you can get through it,” Rudi Rahbar, PsyD, clinical psychologist who specializes in couples and families.” If it’s something they deny or are hiding, most likely they need to seek out help and they will not be the best version of themselves for the relationship.” Dr. Rahbar also points out that the issues involving the addiction experience will take priority when the relationship should be priority, because they’re still dealing with the issues this experience has caused in this person’s life. “In these circumstances, most likely the relationship will not survive, or you will need to make a lot of sacrifices to keep the relationship afloat.”
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