If you're constantly battling it out, it's not love — it's war.
It doesn't matter how crazy in love you are with the person; if you're constantly engaged in a series of ups and downs that require hard management and constant work simply to keep the fort afloat, you need to ask yourself: Is this marriage worth my time and energies? Here are some signs it isn't:
1. You find yourself compromising who you are.
It's not throwing in the towel if you and your partner are head-to-head or constantly compromising yourselves and the two of you decide to call it quits. No one should expect marriage to be sunshine and kittens each day.
The friends on your Facebook who are married blissfully and never seem angry at each other are indeed angry at each other sometimes, but if you're compromising who you are as a person or making compromises at every little choice with your spouse and vice versa, you both need to face the music.
Marriage shouldn't be hell or stressful to just maintain. You're supposed to have stressful periods and fights, but if that's your life together since the beginning of time, you're both doing it all wrong. Perhaps you two need counseling or simply aren't a good match.
But at the end of the day, no one stays in a sinking ship. It's good to fight for your marriage to stay alive, but if you're drowning it's time to get a life preserver.
2. You constantly feel unfulfilled.
As a woman who writes about divorce, I just love the comments on articles from married people telling me how my ex and I should've tried harder.
"It's not supposed to be easy!"
They "shouted" this in the comments section, as I laughed thinking about the three or so rounds of counseling I committed to, even if he was skeptical. But I question this, "it's not supposed to be easy" idea. Sure, you'll have difficult periods in your marriage and you'll fight, but it should be relatively easy to not be at each other's throats or constantly feel like you're not getting your needs met in the marriage.
A good married couple fights well and not hard. A good married couple gets mad with each other but doesn't build up resentment. A good married couple works with the other person's strengths and weaknesses. If everything is a battle, that's not a healthy love.
3. Your time spent together is worse than time spent alone.
Almost every great couple I know has had a rough patch, but over the time they've been together, the time spent was mostly great and not bad. Why? They work together and tolerate the other person's shortcomings. They didn't get delusions of grandeur about how the grass is greener on the other side, and if they did, they came back to reality.
Simply put, they're well-suited for each other. Some things, some people, don't gel. The right match works together. If you two are compatible you'll work together to find solutions rather than be mad at each other all the time.
Some people may truly love the other person but have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye because they're opposites or have different value structures. That was my ex and I. Of course, we did love each other and there will always be love there, but we weren't compatible. Toward the end, it wasn't time well spent together.
4. You've exhausted every possible solution to "fix" things.
I tried to save my marriage until I was blue in the face. I knew marriage was work, but I didn't realize that a good marriage should be "relatively" easy. So I tried numerous rounds of counseling and other steps to keep us going. What did this accomplish? Nothing.
For me, it was taxing and depressing. My normal upbeat personality was sunken in. I felt so lonely and unloved, yet I kept hoping for a different result. The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, expecting a different result.
5. You feel like a slave to making things work.
Yes, marriage requires effort, care, understanding, and the desire for BOTH people to grow as individuals and as a couple. Marriage requires two people who accept the other as is, and who want to spend time together to work on issues and problems that come up.
But no, a good marriage isn't constant work. You aren't supposed to be Cinderella, metaphorically scrubbing, dusting, and slaving at every detail of your marriage simply so the two of you can function. A good marriage can be easy at times (most of the time!) and when it's not, eventually the bad times end and harmony is restored.
Never feel bad for leaving a marriage that's a slowly sinking ship, especially if you have kids. Don't leave it so everyone is suffocating until everyone's quality of life is affected. And if you value your marriage and love your spouse, try marriage counseling.
A happy marriage isn't one in which two people are at war. Put down the weapons and start fighting smartly, or start disengaging the battle.