More common in long term commitments, a spiritual divorce can creep into your relationship quieter than a mouse. It plants it’s seeds and before you know it, you are living in an overgrowth of negativity. You co-create your spiritual divorce and it happens long before the partnership ends.
In her book, Learning to Love Yourself, author Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse offers the following symptoms as signs that you may be in a spiritual divorce:
- Habitual sadness in the couple – low energy
- Mutual sentiments of boredom and emptiness
- Indifference to each other’s problems or dreams
- Frequent coldness or avoidance in sexual encounters
- Lack of small courtesies and politeness
- Climate of mutual distrust
- More confidence in someone outside the relationship than with each other
- Communication routine and superficial
- Frequent feelings of being alone or misunderstood
- Insults and sarcasm and a discomfort with healthy anger
- Much avoidance and little confrontation
- Overbusy and chaotic social or professional life
- Loss of capacity for play and joy
- An atmosphere of the “violence of silence” in the home
Do any of these resonate with you? It’s important to remember that all relationships ebb and flow. We have times when these symptoms may occur. Short spurts do not signal danger. If these symptoms dominate your relationship chronically, that is your red flag. If you do not work to address these issues, you will either keep the unfulfilling status quo or end the relationship.
I underlined little confrontation because many identify this as healthy. You might think, “I don’t know why we feel so unhappy. We never disagree, we never argue, we never fight”. Somehow, you might see lack of conflict as a good thing. Have you ever considered that you may feel unhappy BECAUSE you never disagree?
As two different people with different upbringings, backgrounds and history, you cannot possibly agree on everything. If you do, one of you is not telling the truth about you’re thoughts and feelings. Also referred to as unhealthy confluence, this symptom can wreak havoc on your relationship. Constant agreement is the demise of intimacy.
The other standout characteristic in this list of symptoms is passivity. Notice that this list focuses more on a “lack” in the relationship. It does not include explosive, impulsive, reactive behaviors. Those behaviors are easily visible. Rather, the symptoms are quiet – boredom, avoidance, disinterest, distraction with other “busyness”. These symptoms do not catch your attention until it’s too late.
To avoid a spiritual divorce, you must take interest in each other’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, activities. If it’s the same ‘ol same ‘ol, try new things individually and together. Take on new hobbies and interests. Introduce new things to each other. If you both work on your low energy, your dull routine and your ability to play, you become more interesting to each other.
You must also be honest, even if what you want to say might upset your partner. Disagreement is never dull! As a result, you learn about each other, even if you do not agree on a solution. Be honest without insulting or criticizing each other.
Remember that your relationship will benefit when you turn toward it instead of away from it. You may be using work, family, friends and other activities as a distraction from the “lack” in your relationship. Start to make your way back to your partner. Share your struggles and your wishes for THIS relationship.
Above all, work together. If you can catch the signs early, you can prevent separation and/or divorce. Agree to turn your relationship into a spirited, fulfilling, intimate connection.