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Marriage expert: Signs of trouble

Six years ago, we had a different U.S. President, Louisiana governor, LSU football coach, and a different coach guiding the McNeese State Cowboys. The best-selling singer of 2012 was Carly Rae Jepsen, the Summer Olympics were in London and Google Glass was a thing.

On a more personal level, six years ago was also the starting point of trouble for some couples. Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman says couples endure an average of a half-dozen years of unhappiness in their marriage before resolving the issue in divorce.

How can you tell if you and your marriage has gone through those six years? One sign that points toward the end of the relationship: you have thought about divorce and tried not to go through one. A second signal that divorce might be coming: deal=breakers.

Deal-breakers can take a number of forms – emotional disengagement, abuse, addictions, frequent explosive disagreements, etc. – but the common denominator is that one spouse wants to work on the problem and the other does not.

Another ominous sign: you don’t have small arguments any more. A therapist trained by Gottman says there are two kinds of couples: fire and ice. Fiery couples can have days-long arguments and lots of smaller disagreements, too. Icy couples are beyond arguing. But their quiet co-existence can be a sign that they are emotionally disengaged from each other and the marriage.

Therapists and counselors can often help couples work out differences and reignite relationships. When differences are irreconcilable, however, it can make sense for both halves of the couple to go their own ways and try to find happiness as individuals.

If you face the possibility of divorce, speak to a family law attorney experienced in both negotiation and litigation about how best to protect yourself and your family.

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