When I sadly realized that divorce might happen to me, I kept asking myself, “Were there any warning signs of divorce I didn’t pick up on?” I wondered if there were signals that should have alerted me to the fact that my then-husband wasn’t happy. I spent lots of time pondering how I could not have known that my husband was unhappy enough to be willing to leave our 33 year marriage.
We had the family everyone wanted to be like us! Of course, like in any long-term marriage, there were things we had to work out and adjust to, but I never saw my husband’s affair (and then our divorce) coming. I sure never saw any blinking signs: “YOU NEED TO GET A DIVORCE!”
Before I went through divorce myself, I would have said, “That’s impossible! Surely there are warning signs of a failing marriage! There have to be signs that someone is thinking about divorce! Divorce is about ending a marriage. There have to be clues!” But for me, there really weren’t any glaring signs of our marriage failing. And for many women who come to us for help, they are surprised, too, when their husband suddenly declares, “I’m not happy. I want a divorce.”
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Basic Communication Is Strained
You Always Argue
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 you are constantly on each other’s case about something. Finding fault day after day becomes a drip, drip, drip of destruction.
Marriage is not supposed to be a daily battle! If you are finding yourself arguing, not only about the big things, but are constantly at odds about everything, you should worry. FYI – three stupid common things couples argue about:
- How to put the toilet paper on the roll
- How to load the dishwasher
- How to fold the clothes
We need to all ask ourselves: How important is this? Geesh! Figure it out!!
Along with the habit of constantly arguing, 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 we do.
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.
You Never Argue
Normal couples argue. Normal couples occasionally get loud … or if you’re like me … get loud, slam the door and drive to the bookstore to cool off!
If couples never argue they may not be connected enough to really care one way or another what their spouse feels. That sounds like an awful relationship to me. In truth, contrary to what you might think, never arguing can definitely be a warning sign that a marriage is in trouble.
There’s No Communication At All
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.
It’s definitely a sign of a failing marriage if you hardly talk. We’ve all seen couples at restaurants who never say one thing to each other during dinner. Ugh! If communication is gone, divorce is usually on it’s way.
The Silent Treatment
I have read about the “Silent Treatment.” That’s torture! It’s almost always a sign that a divorce is in the future for couples where one partner uses the silent treatment. For me, that would be worse than arguing. Silence is often a manipulation tool that one partner uses to maintain control of the relationship. 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, too.
Keeping Your Guard Up
Often in families with addictions or with verbal or emotional abuse, one part of the couple has to walk on egg-shells to keep the peace. Couples should get help to deal with the underlying issues. Talk with someone about that feeling of constantly being “on guard” in a relationship. Having to always be ready to “fight or flee” is exhausting and unhealthy and may be one of the signs that you should divorce.
Spending Less Time Together
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 and you may need a divorce. 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 fix it. If you don’t, a divorce might be in the future for you. Talk about it! Figure out things you can both enjoy together and make those a priority.
Thinking About Seeing Other People
If you (or your partner) often think about what it would be like to date other people or see other people, that is definitely a warning sign of divorce. If your partner brings up the idea of a more “open” relationship (translation: I want to date other people), that is a big clue that something is not right with your marriage. Some people think that kind of relationship is fine. I personally would not be okay with my husband wanting to basically have my permission to go have an affair.
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 is on it’s way.
Actually Seeing Other People
Of course, actually having an emotional or sexual affair is a HUGE warning sign that your marriage is failing. There are all kinds of warning signs of an affair. Sometimes we feel some unease about our relationship. We should always listen to our gut instincts. Keep in mind, though, that usually when we confront our spouse and ask if he is having an affair, he almost always denies it. Women involved in infidelity, often deny as well.
There’s No Sex Anymore
Most vibrant and nourishing marriages include an active sex life. When a couple doesn’t make physical intimacy a priority, other parts of the marriage often suffer, too. Physical intimacy serves lots of purposes: Pleasure, affirmation, fun, comfort, and belonging to name a few.
When sex stops, a very important and precious part of the relationship dies. I wonder, “Why in the world would anyone let that happen in their relationship?” If it’s something physical that is making things difficult, go see your physician. If necessary, get help with an appropriate therapist. Or go to an adult toy shop together. There are lots of things that can spice things up a little.
When my Dad died, he was 92. On his bedside table were two books. The Bible and How to Make Your Wife Happy in Bed or something like that. My brother and I laughed about that but were impressed, too!
You’re Not Happy
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 to see if things can be fixed for both of you.
It’s inexcusable to be unhappy without ever telling your spouse about it. If you have never expressed the reality that you are not happy, say something! It’s the most decent thing you can do.
You’re Thinking About Divorce
If you yourself are actually thinking about divorce, go see a counselor. If your current relationship is not satisfying your needs, please be honest with your partner. Tell her or him. It’s gutless to sneak around and go to other people to fulfill your emotional, social or sexual needs and keep that from your partner. Don’t send confusing warning signs of a divorce. TALK!
In the same way, It is very hurtful to have your spouse come to you with no warning and say, “I want a divorce. I haven’t been happy for years.” If that statement is true, it’s their fault that they did not tell you and instead told their affair partner everything that was wrong with your marriage. That’s gutless of them and heartbreaking for you.
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 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 their bad, not yours.
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