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Marriage 911

About this Blog

Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis restore and revitalize their relationships for more than 30 years.

At The Marriage Recovery Center, Dr. Hawkins promotes '3 Days To a New Marriage, Guaranteed!' Contact TMRC for a free 20-minute consultation.

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Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

I receive many calls and emails every day, each one of them tragic, discouraging, and heart-breaking. Some are from women married for 25 years, who have suffered for many of those years. Some are from people who have been married 52 weeks, with a spouse saying they made a mistake in marrying in the first place. Disillusioned and discouraged after weeks, if not years of heartache, they all want out.

“My husband left six weeks ago and just sent me an email saying he wants to file for divorce,” a woman said to me recently.

“My wife says she doesn’t love me anymore. I can’t live without her. Please, please help me save my marriage,” a middle-aged executive said to me tearfully.

“I’m still with my husband, but I don’t love him anymore,” a bitter, hardened 40-year old woman told me. “Too many years of pain and anger. I just feel resentful now when I look at him.”

“I’ll do anything to save my marriage,” a 30-year old blue collar worker told me. “I thought it was all about me, but when she left I knew I had lost something incredible. Can you help me?”

This is a sampling of the opening lines I get from people in excruciating pain, people who have ignored the warning signs of a marriage in trouble. Here is one man’s story:

Dear Dr. David,

My wife left me six months ago. The longer she’s gone, the more I see what a jerk I was. At first, I blamed her for leaving. I told her she was ‘wrong’. In fact, I slapped Scripture on her, trying to guilt-induce her any way I could. My anger only pushed her farther away. I can’t believe the way I acted. My wife gave me chance after chance, and I ignored her.

I don’t know if there is a chance for us. I don’t know if my wife will soften her heart to me. I just want to tell everyone that your marriage is fragile, like a rose. You can’t stomp on it and expect it to remain beautiful. One day, when you don’t expect it, she’ll tell you she’s had it. You think you can take it, but you can’t. Make sure you know what you’re doing.

Regrets! We all have them. We look back and wonder what could have been. We see far clearer out of our rearview mirror than our windshield. We see the missed opportunities. We feel the remorse of treating our mate badly, of taking him/her for granted. And sometimes we recognize our mistakes too late.

Some of you reading this still have time. You still have the opportunity to save their marriage. Couples in crisis have a number of issues in common. Here are some warning signs you must watch out for that I discuss at length in my book, 10 Lifesavers for Every Couple:

1. They experience ongoing conflict without resolution.

No relationship can bear the weight of unresolved conflict. This “baggage” wears you down, even if you’re able to ignore it on a day-to-day basis. Couples need the skills to talk about tough issues and to resolve them.

2. They become insensitive and demanding of each other.

With respect dissolved, couples in crisis begin to treat each other badly. Sarcastic and biting, their language is far short of edifying and encouraging, further eroding marital integrity.

3. The relationship is filled with criticism and derogatory comments.

They begin to feel contempt for their mate, which erodes the love they once felt. The criticism becomes pervasive as the couple “forgets” the positives that attracted them to their mate.

4. They find more excuses to spend time away from each other.

Feeling anger and resentment, couples find reasons to spend time apart. They get involved in other friendships or activities, instead of spending time together.

5. They feel uncomfortable sharing intimate feelings with each other.

Finding their mate critical and insensitive, they begin withholding intimate feelings and details of their daily life. They fail to provide a “safe place for feelings to land.” This creates further distance.

6. They experience less and less physical intimacy.

Since intimacy is “into me see”, and this is seen as dangerous, the gulf widens. Couples move apart physically, even to the point of sleeping in separate bedrooms.

7. They compare their mate unfavorably to others.

The grass begins to look greener on the other side of the street. Tragically, some begin flirtatious relationships and even affairs as a way to cope with their pain. Others begin to look better than what they have at home.

8. They make threats about separation and divorce.

As the pain increases, many begin to make plans, if only in their minds, to leave their mate. They fantasize what it would be like to live alone.

If you find yourself with any of these warning signs, take action. Things will never get better on their own. Time alone will not heal your marriage. Stop telling yourself you should be able to fix things; you can’t. Denial (Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying!) won’t help you. You must be honest about the condition of your marriage and take appropriate measures to heal your relationship. Don’t let pride stop you from seeking professional help. Get a fresh, objective perspective as to what is wrong and learn the steps necessary to save your marriage.

You can save your marriage, but not on your own. You need God’s wisdom:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

Get help now!

I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about Depth Marriage Counseling, or for further information or advice on Marriage Intensives. Consultations are available on what may be needed to assist you in your marriage. Please see more about my work at and, sharing your concerns and insights at

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, February 21, 2011 10:45 AM

Comments on this post

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

My husband and I have been married for 13 years now. I truly feel that I no longer love him. We have a 14 year old son at home, so I do not want to ruin his life by hearing any loud arguing or bickering. My husband knows that I am not happy and have not been happy for a long time. Since we have been married, it has been constant idle promises from him and out right lies. I am the one who always has to take care of any issues, paper work, bills, money managing, etc as he "gets too stressed" and cannot handle any of it. I am the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the accountant, etc and am tired of it. I am waiting until our son is out of school and will make a decision then. He is a great son and I do not want to ruin his childhood. Yes, things can change but I am not optimistic. I have prayed and I was told that my worries will one day settle. I don't know what that means, but I know that the future will one day be better in some way. God's promises are true.
Left by Diane B. on Feb 23, 2011 4:01 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Dr. Hawkins- I saw your book 10 Lifesavers for Every Couple- and think it has many valuable points.Thanks for your columns too.

Diane B. -I ound myself in a similar situation but after many =years of marriage. I would hope you will inquire more of the LORD. I commend you for having gone to God in prayer.Have you a Godly church leader of whom your husband respects- that you could approach for help?
Left by Lm on Feb 23, 2011 8:06 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Hi Diane, my heart goes out to you. Please seek PROFESSIONAL christian help like Dr. Hawkins has adviced. He has helped saved a lot of marriages and is a christian so please seek him out. You'll be surprised to find that your marriage can indeed be restored, even the feelings for your husband!!I have read a lot of his write ups and really believe he will be able to help you (perhaps you can seek out his books as well in case cost is an issue). Please be encouraged, dont despair. God loves you and values all your effort; He knows your worth and will see you through. Amen.
Left by amenebohon on Feb 24, 2011 5:03 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

...We all have issues..people not being happy..and not in love..etc..20 years ago these types of things would never be an issue..LACK OF CONVICTION...meaning GOD heart change..Honor God with your marriage, keep your eyes and Him..and not the issue, God will guive you wisdom and disernment with EACH detail..the Word states..if God cares for the birds of the air how much more does He care about us.. then He know what you need even before you askWE are supposed to be examples..for the World and examples of the covanant thast HE made with us thru Jesus Christ..God will give us supernatural wisdom and disernment to be able to appropriate ourselves to our other half. Check your heart for unforgivess..the biggest and easiest way for the enemy to DESTROY your marriage. Honor God and put him first and EVERYTHING will be added unto you!!!!
Left by jcdouglas on Feb 26, 2011 2:13 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

My marriage is such a mess that I can not even stand in church side by side with my husband any more. I am desperately trying to regain the trust I had for my husband and to forgive him ~ but it is so hard. Years of breaking down our marriage and my love for him has finally taken its toll. I long to forgive him and want to move on but ours is not an isolated incident. It is two worlds that clashed together and our differences are destroying us.
Left by SunShine on Mar 02, 2011 5:09 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Our 20 year old son was killed by stabbing in 2006.It has now been almost 5 yrs.Since that time, my husband has become a hermit.He stays upstairs after work, watches tv all the time, eats his dinner up there,& when I try to talk to him about anything, he says'Im trying to hear this,(the tv) He lived in my sons room for many months after that happend & the guy that killed my son was parolled already in the summer of 2010. We are like roommates,except worse. We dont do anything together and i mean DONT DO ANYTHING together.He always has an excuse & in April we will have been married 32 years, I just pray, pray pray that God will help this marriage but it seems like it is taking forever.For the last 2 weeks, however, my husband has showed up in church.He goes separately. What am I supposed to do? It was never like this until he lost his only son & I really cant stand it for much longer.It is lonely and what would anyone do in a situation like this?
Left by robinleigh131 on Mar 08, 2011 9:53 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

I too have marriage problems of a different kind. I am married to a drug addict. It has been a rocky road that I believe is getting ready to end. I have already filed for divorce. It seems the only time I have any peace about myself is when he is not home. I keep praying but am still unclear of actually what to do. He has stolen from the home and me, ruined me financially. I don't think this is the life God has intended for me to live. I pray now more for his sake and not our marriage. I do have some resentment but I don't hate him, I just don't want to live like this anymore. Am I wrong?
Left by Darlene on Mar 30, 2011 9:52 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Today is my 10 year anniversery. Four years into my marraige I seperated from my husband. There was a time I had suspected my husband was into porn on the computer. All the signs were there but he denied it. Our marriage was falling apart so I left him. In the 2 years we were seperated he never once called me. Then one day I called him. to make a long story short we decided to go to counceling and then ended up getting back together. He moved in with me into a house I brought while we were seperated. We have been back together for 3 years and 4 month. He has gone back to the way he use to be. But this time it's strange. He met a man on line about 2 1/2 months ago and he is on the phone with him from the time he gets up in the morning until he goes to sleep at night. He has completly ignored me since he met this man. Now I would be the last person to call my husband gay. But what is it? I am done with my marriage. I would appreciate your prayers. We are both born again Christians.
Left by Donna on Apr 06, 2011 1:40 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Today is our 21 year anniversery. My husband and I have never once seperated, needed counseling, no hitting or fussing each other out in private nor in front of our children/others. Sure We had disagreements thats normal,(our 2nd time around) we both have had our fair share of DRAMA IN OUR PAST LIFE. No More Drama!! the Bible says a man that finds a wife finds a good thing. Life happens and we don't always make the right choices, its not about power, fame, money and sex, which started in the book of Genesis ITS the LUST that controls us, a very powerful spirit resulting in sinful desires. My advise is turn it over TO GOD, and continue to pray for deliverance or it will destroy your soul, your marriage and your life. Keep it real no matter how bad it is God can fix it, but you must be honest with self and Him. marriage is HARD work about Husband,GOD,and wife so its not easily broken when life happens. read Ecclesiastes 4:12. Marriage is ordained by God take it to Him in prayer. by cj
Left by shoutglory on May 11, 2011 8:46 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

Im sorry Im a little confused about how to start in contacting you re: my marriage and asking for help. I read through the list of warning signs that our marriage may be in trouble and ours is definately showing all (literally) of the signs. I am at a lose as to what to do. If I can be contacted by email (is that how it works?) I will expand. We need help! I didn't want to go on about our marriage struggles if Im not even in the right place to do that. Sorry!
Anyway if you can please contact me because I do want to stress that we are in trouble and I have told my husband Im leaving, but if there is anyway that we can fix this I would much rather do that. He admitts we are in trouble to and he is clueless as well as to what to do. He is willing to do "so much" to fix it but Im not sure he is willing to "go deep" with me in really looking at our concerns/problems.
Thank you
Left by daughter2Him on Aug 23, 2011 12:01 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

I can not forgive my husband for treating my daughter terrible, and hitting me... He "said" he's sorry, but I've heard this numerous times. I shudder when he laughs, walks, talks, coughs, eats, chews, etc... My back is killing me from 2 years on the couch, but I refuse to sneak in the bed to sleep, afraid he'll wake up, and expect. If I say NO, he's an attitude walking, or Drama Queen! I've tried EVERYTHING I know to make him "want" to leave, and he refuses. I asked him, why do you want to be w/someone who doesn't want to be w/you? He replied, "Yes you do! You are mixed up"! I have prayed, begging God to take these awful feelings from me / my heart... It seems as though when I pray, things get worse! It pushes me over the edge, and I fell over a thousand times now! Can I reverse my thinking, or is this "marriage" over ? When I can't stand to hear him at all, on cloud 9 when he leaves the house, and -9 when I hear him pull up... Any advise ?
Thanks and God Bless!
Left by Missy on Nov 23, 2011 6:37 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble


I hope this was set 'in the beginning' of your marriage. I would say forgive. Forgive everything he has done. Forgiveness should be done immediately. The Bible says 'submit'. For wives to submit in everything.

Bless you.
Left by lovebug on Dec 09, 2011 11:19 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

i have all the sign that my marriage is over, i already asked my wife to just part ways but she is still insisting of because of the WOMENS Hormonal changes. even the kids thinks i am the Bad Wolf, we are not on the same page when implementing rules for kids, im always trying to do everything to make things right but its just hopeless. she rather work all the time rather than spend time with the Kids, thats why the kids are always wanting for her company all the time. my plan is just divide and concquer our assets and liabilities and go our separate ways with out getting legal advice and lawyer. i think it would be best for everyone dont you think?
Left by GOMA on Jul 23, 2013 6:16 AM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years now, and we were constantly arguing all the time in the beginning. Thank God it has gotten better, but now it feels like we both are dragging each other to love each other. Its like he is nitpicking at me and when he does I do the same back. He complains so much about me in everything and sometimes I have told him just leave then if your not happy. But no he stays, I don't know what to do anymore,and its annoying because I love him but then I don't I guess.
Left by Raziela on Jul 17, 2014 12:56 PM

# RE: Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble

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Left by Kassandra on Jul 29, 2014 7:38 PM


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