Thursday, February 14, 2013

Couples or Co-Tenants - Drifting Apart

Many thanks to all of you who emailed your responses to last week's blog. I appreciate your comments and will use them in the next couple of posts during this couple-focused month.

© Mack2happy |
Today is February 14th, a day set aside to celebrate love.

Here is a must-not-miss opportunity to reach out and connect with your spouse in a unique, tangible and active way. An opportunity to put your spouse high on your agenda.

It is a SHOW AND TELL day. And perhaps, a springboard to a renewed and vibrant relationship.

Last week, I shared a short story (fiction) - Adrift, which I am sure many could relate with, and I asked you to comment on what was happening between the couple. I also asked for comments on how the couple can bridge the gulf.

I was prompted to share more about why couples drift apart. And this will be the subject of today's post.

It happened slowly and subtly. The crack lines running deep beneath the surface long before gulf opened wide.

It can happen to any couple irrespective of the length of their marriage. Below are some factors that can cause couples to drift apart.


Your busy schedule can choke intimacy out of your marriage.

When we enter into marriage, we focus attention on each other and that makes us very close. But as years goes on and responsibilities mounts up, our focus tends to turn more towards our jobs, children and a host of other things, and less towards ourselves. When focus is diverted by these day-to-day responsibilities and the marriage is left to languish, couples become disengaged from each other.

If one or both of you is regularly spending more time away from home, more time in the office, more time with other friends, you are likely to drift further apart.

Are you giving your spouse the leftover of your time and the dregs of your strength?

When one or both of you start coming home too tired to give meaningful attention to each other or you find it more interesting to do other things than to be with each other, then you are no longer engaging as an active couple.

Couples drift apart when they no longer have common goals or shared interests, when they begin to spend significant amount of their time and energy with others in shared experience separate from their spouse. This includes time spent with other people with whom you have common goals which can result in closeness with them, and other time- and energy-consuming  activities which excludes your spouse.

When the children and your busy life is all you and your spouse have in common, the marriage suffers. It is no longer exciting and interesting for both of you.

© K Avraham |
A marriage that is dry and patchy like an arid desert or stagnant and stale is not an exciting place to be. Busyness can become an excuse to escape from such a dry, stale, boring or tense marriage.

Negative and critical attitude:

We can loose sight of the things we once appreciated in each other. Gestures that used to touch our hearts begin to go unnoticed. We let a lot of time go by without telling each other how much we care about one another. This causes the marriage to become cold and stale to the extent that many are enduring, tolerating and coping with their marriage rather than enjoying and being fulfilled in it.

As we loose focus on our spouse and their needs, we become more vocal when we are irritated by our spouse’s habits and weaknesses. We criticize more rather than encourage each other. We don't  consider how our spouse is affected when we are negative and critical. I don't know anyone yet changed by a nagging spouse! This negative and critical attitude widens the gulf.

Together but separate:

Sharing the same space, even sleeping on the same bed, does not equate to being together.

Being physically together does not mean we are giving attention to each other if we are connected at the same time to the rest of world via texts, emails and social networks. When more time is spent hugging the screens, and we are virtually everywhere except with the physical people we are occupying space with, our marriage is bound to suffer.

Your spouse may be silently screaming for your undivided attention. Your spouse wants to be truly connected with you—spirit, soul and body— instead of sharing you with a host of other people.

Poor Communication:

When you feel your spouse is not listening to you, taking your opinion into consideration and validating you, it makes you feel uncared for and unloved—your opinion is not important enough to be given attention. When we don’t make the effort to find out what our spouse desires, and to respond to them, we become presumptuous about their needs. It gets worse when decisions about issues concerning your life as a couple are taken unilaterally without seeking each other's opinion.

Couples drift apart when they do not take time to talk and listen to each other. When we care about someone, we value them and we value their opinion.

Keeping secrets:

Couple drift apart when they keep secrets from each other. Withholding information that is relevant to the life and vitality of the relationship will create a gulf between you.

Vibrant and intimate relationship requires deep knowing. The depth of your relationship is influenced by how open you are to each other. The sum of what you keep from each other will determine or limit how deep your relationship can be.

Showing indifference:

If you are not concerned about what is happening to your spouse—good or bad, if what your spouse is doing makes no difference to you, and you are not showing interest in each other, then you are no longer engaging as a couple. You are indifferent and are drifting apart.

Festering wounds:

A preacher once said that Christian couples are great actors. They can have issues boiling beneath the surface, come to church, be courteous to each other, smiling and exchanging pleasantries, without giving a clue of what is going on between them. 

When we are unhappy about something our spouse said or did, and we keep quiet about it,  we become sullen and withdrawn. We feel our spouse does not care about our feelings if he/she does not ask us why, and that can makes us resentful.

There are also times when we are not honest about our feelings even when we are asked. We simply respond; "I'm fine or I'm OK"  when we are not. Keeping quiet about something hurting us is like sweeping debris under the carpet. It festers and rots beneath the surface. It makes the relationship bumpy, and often leads to resentment.

So when we don't communicate openly about issues, we are merely saving it for a latter day, it does not go away, it stays between us, until we deal with it and in the right way. If we don't, the hurts pile up, we harbor negative feelings, and eventually we will start exploding over trivial matters. Little resentments when they build up can kill passion and intimacy in the marriage. And tear the couple apart.

Friends, today is a good day to reflect on why couples drift apart. I hope it will ginger you to renew your commitment to actively engage with your spouse and be determined to keep your relationship vibrant.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Great post, and an important one. I agree, it is a subtle thing when people drift apart. Every once in a while, something will happen between hubs and myself, and I catch myself thinking that I need to check my feelings. That if I keep down a certain path, it could create cracks.

    Hubs and I have a good marriage. We communicate. But it doesn't mean that we don't have to pay attention, and make sure the little things don't get in the way of that communication. :)

    1. Thank you very much for your comments, Angela. You are right - "we must pay attention to make sure that 'little things' don't get in the way of communication."
      Very useful and valid point. I wish you and your hubs an enriching life together.

  2. I've learned a thing or two here, Irene.A great post.


Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and comments. I appreciate you. God bless you.