When I finally realized that my husband was not going to change his mind and wanted to divorce me, I wondered if there were signs that should have alerted me to the fact that he wasn’t happy. I spent lots of time thinking about how I could not see the signs that were there all along.
If you had lined up 10 couples, I thought we would be the last ones to go through divorce. Everyone thought we were a great couple.
Sure, there were things that others did not know (and even I didn’t know), but I never saw this coming!
There have to be warning signs that someone is thinking about divorce. There have to be clues! For me, there really weren’t any glaring signs that the marriage was failing.
And for some women and men who come to me, they’re often surprised when their spouse comes to them and wants a divorce.
Here are 5 warning signs that your marriage might be in trouble and that could mean divorce is a possibility:
Communication is argumentative
Sometimes a couple knows that divorce is a possibility. One of the most common warning signs of a bad marriage is if you argue all the time. Disagreements are part of any marriage, But having disagreements is different than if everything you talk about brings up an argument. Marriage is not supposed to be a daily war!
If you’re finding yourself arguing about everything both big and little things, this may be a warning sign.
Along with the habit of constantly arguing, Criticism is one of The Four Horsemen of an unhealthy relationship according to the Gottman Institute. Always being critical of your partner is definitely one of the concrete signs that your relationship is in trouble. When marriages are thriving, criticism is kept at a minimum. Often, when one person is thinking of leaving the marriage, he or she becomes a constant critic of almost everything their partner does. Some things that suddenly bother them, they never had a problem with before. Finding new things to criticize can sabotage the relationship and is one of the common signs a divorce is imminent — at least in one partner’s head.
If couples never argue they may not be connected enough to really care one way or another what their spouse feels. This can become a bad habit and is not easy to stop.
There are times in almost any long-term relationship that you feel like ships passing in the night. When you have busy kids, two careers, and lots of obligations, you might feel like a good morning kiss and a goodnight “snuggle” is about all the real communication you have on most days. A relationship can survive that for a season, but definitely not long-term. Lack of real communication is very destructive in a relationship.
According to The Gottman Institute, Stonewalling is usually a response to contempt and occurs when the listener withdraws from the interaction, shuts down, and stops responding to their partner.
That is not healthy for anyone and is a sign that the relationship is not working. When a relationship is not working, the signs of a potential divorce start showing up.
Spending Less Time Together and Thinking About Seeing Others
When couples do not enjoy each other’s company and spend less and less time together as the years go on, that is an indication that a marriage is not healthy. People who love each other don’t need to do everything together. In fact, it’s healthy for people in any relationship to have some separate interests. If you find yourself not enjoying being together, you need to figure out why and work on it. If your current relationship is not satisfying your needs, be honest with your spouse. When someone starts thinking about seeing other people, those thoughts almost always lead to actions. Talk about what you might both enjoy together and make it a priority.
If your current relationship is not satisfying your needs, be honest with your spouse. When someone starts thinking about seeing other people, those thoughts almost always lead to actions. Most of those actions mean divorce could be on its way.
You’re Not Happy and You’re Thinking About Divorce
If you are constantly thinking to yourself that you are not happy in your marriage, that is a warning sign that your relationship needs help. Those thoughts are a personal warning sign. Talk to your spouse. Don’t keep your dissatisfaction to yourself. Say something like, “I’m just not getting what I need in this relationship.” Honestly verbalize your feelings. Get a counselor or go to couples therapy to see if things can be fixed for both of you.
Oftentimes, one person has been thinking about divorce for months, years, or even decades before they take any action.
It takes courage to talk to your spouse and to be honest that the relationship is not satisfying your needs. Do not send confusing messages, but talk with your spouse. It is really difficult when there are no warning signs that a partner has not been happy for years.
Don’t pretend everything is okay when it’s not. That is cowardly and so hurtful. Try to fix things with your spouse before you go looking for a relationship with someone else. Give your spouse a chance. He or she may be unhappy, too. Maybe you can fix things and your marriage can be better than ever. Maybe you decide that your marriage is beyond repair. Either way, having a chance to talk about it is a must no matter how difficult that conversation may be.
If you are in the middle of divorce or already divorced and were blindsided without any warning signs of divorce, that’s not your fault. Sometimes the damage is already done and your spouse is having an affair or the divorce has already happened. If your spouse kept you in the dark about how they were feeling, that’s on them and not you.
We all recover and learn from these experiences. Being able to work through the role we played in this is critical. Please reach out to professionals who can help you understand how to move forward so that you can have a joyful and fulfilling next chapter in your life.