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Fighting the 40-Year Itch of Marriage

7 warning signs that could signal potential problems

Should You Worry About Your Marriage?

— Kagan McLeod

4. You doubt your choice of mate

What it usually means: Thinking about how your life might have been different is a wistful escape during periods of self-doubt. Sometimes you wonder “What if…?” Everyone does.

When to worry: It’s more than nostalgia when you constantly compare your real-life partner with someone you could have married but didn’t. Try to reorient yourself by listing your spouse’s great qualities and the wonderful experiences you’ve shared. If the list looks weak to you, consider seeing a counselor.

5. You’re sick of pretending to like your partner’s family or friends

What it usually means: You’ll never love every person a partner brings into your life, and there’s usually at least one you actively loathe. If you’ve been a jerk to someone your spouse adores—well, join the club!

When to worry: If you find yourself disliking all your partner’s friends, or if you’re frequently downright rude, you’re probably mad at your partner, or you would be more generous.

6. You learn your partner has lied

What it usually means: White lies such as saying a new gadget was on sale when it wasn’t are common. Do they harm the relationship? Rarely.

When to worry: If your partner lied about something big—such as losing a job—or because he or she was sincerely afraid of your reaction, your relationship has ceased to be intimate, understanding, or supportive.

7. You want to run away

What it usually means: Daydreaming about escaping your life (and spouse) could mean you need a new job, more exercise, help with a money mess, or a fix for a stymied friendship.

When to worry: If you are taking steps toward leaving, or just threatening to do it, things are seriously awry. You need to find out what is at the root of your fantasy—and what can make life better for both of you.

Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., is AARP’s Sex and Relationships ambassador.

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