Right, there you are coasting along nicely, paying off the bond together, going to PTA meetings and spending alternate Christmases with your respective parents. The kids seem to be OK – right, they're not child prodigies, but they're far from being juvenile delinquents – and the only debt you have is on the car and the house.
You watch TV on Saturdays and braai on Sundays and everything seems to be in order. But is it? Many people after breakups or divorces look back and say the recognise some of the signs in retrospect.
Here's how to tell if your relationship is about to hit a bit of a speed wobble.
Signs that trouble is on the way
You do your thing and I'll do mine. Couples certainly don't have to do everything together – they'll drive each other crazy. But if you cannot think offhand of any activity you enjoy doing together, there might be trouble on the way. It's fine if he goes mountain climbing and she goes windsurfing, as long as they do enjoy drawing classes together – or whatever. If you share no interests/activities, you could be drifting apart.
My friends and your friends. Married couples are not joined at the hip and it is only natural that they spend time alone with certain of their friends. But if it's the third time this week it happens and they don't like each other's friends anyway, there could be trouble lurking in the wings.
Kids – hooligans or angels? Many a relationship has floundered when parents differ in their ideas of how – if at all – the kids should be disciplined. If one parent allows everything and the other one comes down in the kids like a ton of bricks, they are undermining each other. A huge fight regarding this is inevitable, and the kids will be dragged into it.
Charles Bronson versus Juliet Binoche. Everyone's tastes cannot always coincide and one has to allow for differences between people. But if there is no correlation at all in the movies or books you enjoy, chances are that that is not the only major difference between the two of you.
Scrooge versus shopaholic. If your financial values are widely different, it could be very problematic. If she scrimps and saves around every corner and he splurges on golf clubs/new suits/club memberships, it's going to become a situation of 'until debt us do part'. Similarly, if he works himself half to death and gets huge credit card bills for unnecessary boutique purchases, it's going to leave a sour taste in the mouth. Especially if he buys everything at chain stores to save money.
Family woes. Most people have some in-law troubles every now and again, but if your family despises your spouse and treats him/her without respect or her family loathes you, things can become very difficult. Yes, your spouse has vowed allegiance to you, but he/she is still part of their respective families. Constant negative feedback from families is difficult to counteract in the long run.
Perfectionist versus slouch. Differing attitudes to household cleanliness can spell serious trouble. If you fight every day because of your untidy habits, or if his/her obsessive cleanliness really gets to you, this could become a huge issue. You don't even see the dirty coffee cup on the floor and what's more, you really hate the smell of antiseptic household cleaner.
Reborn vs atheist. If you and your spouse have widely differing political or religious views, it's bound to make your relationship road a rocky one. It will also greatly complicate the world view you choose to present to your children. Chances are also that your families will not spend every second Sunday together willingly or without incident.
Is this a silent movie, or what? If you and your spouse have become unable to discuss problems that you are going through and have resorted to passive-aggressive silences that last for days, red lights should be flashing. Once resentment starts getting a foothold in a relationship, it's very difficult to eradicate, as it starts feeding on itself.
Sex, oh yes, I remember that. Sex is an integral part of any relationship. Different couples have different sexual needs, so no one can prescribe how often this should happen. But if it's been months, there's something wrong. Something that's related to this is excessive jealousy – there's no greater turnoff than this. Also on this list is constant flirting with third parties by one of the spouses – real flirting, not the imaginary flirting exceedingly jealous spouses think they are seeing. - (Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2012)(Pcitre: bored woman from Shutterstock)