Every relationship goes through rough patches. A lot of times these rough patches work themselves out and you and your spouse come out at the end unscathed - maybe even you learned a thing or two from it. Some of the time, though, these rough patches are the beginning of a longer, harder road ahead. But how do you know the difference?

Below are four key signs that you should be aware of so that you know whether your relationship is just going through a rough patch or whether it's something more serious.

1. Little, to no talking

Every couple goes through patches where they don't talk as much. Whether it's because of changing work schedules or even because of a recent fight. But if it happens most of the time because you want to avoid the inevitable fight you're going to have or you just don't want to include them on things you did during your day out of anger, this is a big sign that you're going through more than just a rough patch.

2. Having the same bitter arguments over and over again

When couples argue they often come to a resolution. It may not be right away - it may take a day or two - but regardless, they usually come to some kind of resolution. Having the same bitter arguments over and over again are an obvious sign that your relationship is going through more than just a rough patch. You're not resolving conflicts in ways that create healing in the relationship. In fact, the arguments are probably causing more damage every time you have them.

3. Emotional withdrawal

If you find yourself withdrawing from your spouse generally, you're probably going through more than just a rough patch. Successful couples want to be with each other and include each other in significant things that happen in their life. Withdrawing emotionally from your spouse keeps yourself from emotionally connecting and denies your spouse the opportunity to do this with you. This is harmful to the relationship and some research shows that this could even be the beginning of the end of your relationship.

4. Spiteful feelings toward your spouse

If you ever just want your spouse to pay for what they've done or feel happy that something bad happened to them, this is a big sign that something is wrong with the relationship. In fact, if this ever happens it's time to see a counselor quick. Successful couples share each other's happiness, sadness, etc. They don't feel happy at the other's misfortunes.

Recognizing these signs in your marriage is a great way to tell whether you're just going through a rough patch or whether there's something more serious occurring in your relationship. There are lots of things you can do when you see these signs to help you get out of the bad place you're in. Consult websites, self-help books and trusted loved ones who can help you overcome your relationship challenges. Also, nothing can replace a good marriage and family therapist.

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