Marriages see a lot of ups and downs. It’s a normal thing to experience a range of seasons throughout life, especially in your most important relationships. Unfortunately, sometimes some of the more difficult passages can lead to unresolved conflict, separation, even divorce.
Aside from a few exceptions, most relationships are capable of recovering. It just takes a lot of focus, dedication to personal growth, humility, patience, forgiveness and often, professional help. Ultimately, the choice to stay or go will be in your and your partner’s hands.
A possible looming divorce usually displays tell-tale signs in the weeks and months leading up to the separation. It’s important that you both recognize these signals and respond accordingly. This difficult period will afford you the time to reevaluate your relationship, have better conversations with your spouse, develop new communication habits, and seek help from a qualified counselor. Depending on the circumstance, it may also solidify one’s decision to move on from the relationship.
In this article, we’re going to look at 6 common signs to keep an eye out for that let you know you might be headed for divorce. You’ll be able to spot problems earlier, think about what they mean, and open a healthy dialogue with your spouse.
1. Most of Your Interactions are Negative
This is one of the clearest signs that divorce might be on the horizon. According to psychologist and marriage researcher John Gottman, happy couples share a roughly 20:1 ratio when it comes to their interactions. That means that for every 20 positive interactions between them, they only experience one negative. That’s a fantastic batting average and certainly accounts for why healthy couples seem so happy all the time.
Couples in conflict average about 5:1. So, they still get 5 good interactions per single bad one. Couples in danger of divorce average 0.8:1. This means that for every bad interaction, they have less than one positive interaction. That’s unsettling to say the least.
Take a hard look at your time together and the way you interact.. If your negative exchanges are beginning to outnumber your positive ones, it’s a strong sign that divorce might be headed your way.
2. You are More Like Roommates than a Couple
Are the two of you finding joy and satisfaction in your time together or are you just going through life like housemates? Sometimes, for couples, residing under the same roof doesn’t really mean living together. You may be surviving but you’re not really living.
Are the two of you simply going through the motions? Doing chores, running errands, nodding and smiling, coming and going while barely even acknowledging one another? This is a clear symptom of a deeply struggling marriage.
Even though marriages take a lot of work, and even while they experience varying seasons of intimacy, healthier spouses always find ways to pursue life together, not only side by side, but face to face. If you’re living instead like roommates who just happen to share the same address and last name, it’s time to be honest with where you’re at and respond.
3. You Avoid Each Other
Sometimes, this only happens for one partner, while the other still pursues. If you or your spouse seem to always look for excuses why you can’t spend time together, this is another sign of possible divorce.
Struggling couples, especially those with old, unresolved conflict, disappointment and anger, often avoid being in the same room. They find every excuse to get out of the home or stay in another room.
We may use things like the desire to exercise more often, spend more time with friends, run errands, do volunteer work, tackle a project or hobby, or any number of other reasons. But if these come at the cost of losing meaningful time together, they are merely places for each of you to hide from the reality of your sliding marriage.
4. Lack of Effort
Think about how things are between you two when times are good. Each of you actively look for ways to make the other one happier. You cook each other’s favorite meals, surprise one another at work, plan unique dates or trips, leave notes and treats for the other to find, consciously try to better understand one another and listen more attentively, and enjoy encouraging and spoiling your partner.
When things are declining, both partners lose a lot of that excitement. The notes and surprises stop coming. The meals get redundant, dates become a rarity, compliments are replaced with complaints, gratitude is difficult to come by, and the joy of caring for and bringing happiness to one another runs thin.
This is a good time to seek professional counsel or coaching from an older, experienced couple to help you both find new roads toward communication, respect, interest, and generosity.
5. The Blame Game: Accountability Goes Out the Window
Holding yourself accountable is never the easiest thing to do. But in strong, healthy relationships, the ones that inspire us to live openly, honestly, and with integrity, personal accountability is a more natural and more common thing to find.
For couples struggling significantly with their relationship, oftentimes no one wants to be accountable for his or her actions. Everything gets blamed on the other partner or on various random external reasons, the kids, money, time, schedules, family, friends, illness. Of course, life is full and there are often multiple sides to every story. Still, we all know when we’re trying to pass the blame to someone or something else, when we’re hoping to avoid the pain and exposure that comes with honesty.
Couples who are still trying, those displaying an effort to pursue one another, often do their best to take responsibility for their own actions. This leads to healthier communication, greater understanding, better problem-solving, and increased intimacy.
I’m not sure it’s fair to call this one a sign. It’s often more of a nail in the coffin. Often, by the time one or both spouses are engaging in extramarital affairs, the relationship has long since given up the ghost.
This isn’t always the case, though. There are many reasons why someone might cheat. Some marriages survive the storm of infidelity. But it takes a serious climb to crawl out of that hole, complete with months of counseling, patience, complete transparency, a firm desire to grow as a person, forgiveness, and entirely new ways to interact and relate.
Infidelity is one of, if not the most painful and devastating thing to befall a marriage, and certainly a clear signal that something is broken and needs attention.
There are several other divorce signals. But these should help you navigate the turbulent waters a little better. Divorce doesn’t have to happen. There are ways to heal and reconcile. However, sometimes divorce is the smarter and safer choice. Work with your therapist and your attorney to find the best solution for you and your family.
Torrone Law helps individuals and families navigate the difficult terrain of divorce, custody, and adoption with ease and confidence. Get a hold of us today to start a conversation about your needs and we’ll work hard to find you the healthiest and best solution possible.
To learn more about divorce, see our frequently asked questions and answers below.
Is divorce always necessary for a deeply struggling marriage?
No! Struggle, pain, conflict, anger, and disappointment don’t guarantee a permanent separation. They are signals that things need to change, and change radically.
Discovering whether the two of you can find healing and build a future or if you’re better off calling it quits, will take respect, communication, transparency, and professional help. It’s the right time to get an experienced therapist, and to seek additional support from friends, family, and objective mentors with long-term successful marriage experience.
What are some signs that my relationship might be headed for divorce?
There are many signs that you may be on unstable ground in your marriage. Some of these include:
- Constant fighting
- Not putting in the effort
- Consistent Disrespect
- Not taking accountability for one’s own actions
- Making excuses to spend time apart
What can I do if my marriage seems to be headed for divorce?
It’s time to get serious if you want to reconcile. Seek the help of a qualified psychologist or counselor. Talk to older couples. Ask friends and family for support. Read a few of the best books on building a stronger marriage. Work on improving your listening skills, your patience, and your vulnerability, and choose gratitude over complaints.
If things worsen instead after months or years of effort and divorce becomes imminent, partner with a caring, trusted divorce lawyer.