I like to refer to Halloween as the relationship fortune telling holiday. You don't need a crystal ball to see how your relationship will fare in the new year. Instead, the foreboding signs that divorce is coming will play out in the details of the spooky holiday. You just have to know what to look for.
If you recognize any of the three scary relationship signs below, it might be time to take off the mask and look at the ugly truth hiding beneath. Like all things preventative, if you can detect relationship problems early on, you have a better chance of fixing the relationship before it dies.
Scary Sign 1: A sudden change
Most couples celebrate each Halloween the way they always have -- doing the same thing. For some it involves dressing up in matching costumes (him a hamburger and her a box of fries). Some choose not to celebrate and even ignore children shouting trick-or-treat at the front door. Falling into a routine isn't always a bad reflection on a couple's commitment. Sometimes, change is the sign of trouble.
Reflecting back on his marriage, Garrick remembered, "The only thing that changed about Halloween was that we didn't have as much fun and my ex-wife stopped decorating the house to freak the kids out."
Garrick's memory of behaviors that seemed inconsequential turned out to be a sign that he and his wife had lost their celebratory ways. Don't make the mistake Garrick did. If you see the same thing happen in your relationship, there is only one thing to do -- direct your flashlight straight in your spouse's costumed-eyes and talk about what's truly going on.
Scary Sign 2: Costumes that sex it up
Costumes have a way of bringing out more than a spouse's alter ego. If your spouse usually dons a costume in the likes of Gumby, the Flying Nun or a favorite cartoon character, you have nothing to worry about. He or she is someone who feels secure enough in the marriage to act out fantasies that would normally get laughed at.
On the frightening side, people who are contemplating divorce sometimes treat the day (usually without awareness) as a rehearsal to freely dip their toe into single life. If they like what they experience, it could wreak havoc on your marriage later on.
Costumes that lean toward trouble are those that are alluring to the opposite sex. You know the type -- the naughty nurse, French maid, Playboy Bunny (obviously for women) and the shirtless fireman, Tarzan or anything that makes a woman swoon.
"I arrived late to my husband's Halloween work party. I looked for his usual "plumber man" outfit (accessorized with a fake butt crack). I saw him cozying up to a sexy Medusa. He'd ditched his plastic buttocks for a chiseled set of abs and bulging biceps he'd been working on for 6 months. Boy did I let him have it! My gut was right. Divorce papers arrived four months later along with his new address -- Medusa's house!"
Scary Sign 3: Separateness
Halloween is a time for couples to focus their attention on shared activities -- the children, carving pumpkins, hay rides, haunted houses. When a relationship begins to dissolve, it typically manifests itself in a shift from togetherness to separateness. Ironically, the fun nature of the holiday has a way of not only exposing a couple's emotional distance, but also making it more noticeable.
Marley's husband departed from the marriage gradually, "Two years before we separated, Dylan lost complete interest in what we'd always done for Halloween. All he did was hang out with his friends. It became a bigger deal for him to dress up and go out and drink. I was left to be with kids and he slowly withdrew more and more."
Marital separateness can also be so subtle that a couple barely notices. However, if they look for the red flags, it will be very apparent they are married but doing it separately.
Lynda and Harry usually spent weeks planning their pet costume BBQ. Last year she did it alone. When party day arrived, "I knew something was off. He didn't want to touch me when people arrived. As a matter of fact, he avoided all affection for two months until I forced his ass into counseling." Sure enough, Harry had some big issues but their story ends on a happy note. Lynda recently reported, "He's back to groping my backside ever chance he gets."
Let Lynda be your role model if you detect changes in your relationship that you don't feel good about. Even if your partner insists that nothing is wrong, do what she did and get to the bottom of it. It could save your relationship from becoming a statistic.