We’ve heard for the longest time that half of all marriages will end in divorce. That’s not statistically accurate anymore, and the number hovers in the low- mid-40% range, but that’s still a pretty big chunk. Couples are waiting longer and longer to get married these days, which can have a positive effect on the outcome of their marriage. But marriage, as we all know, is not forever. Lots of factors can contribute to the end of a marriage, some more obvious than others. But even if you see the warning signs, it can come as a shock. My own marriage was doomed (for lack of a better word) from the very beginning. But it wasn’t until I ended it that I even recognized how bad things were. Hindsight and all of that.
If you’re concerned about the state of your marriage, there are some signs to be aware of. Will every marriage that experiences one or even all of these end in divorce? No, of course not. Everyone has different reasons for finally pulling the plug. And it can be something wholly unrelated to other, more obvious signs that the marriage is on shaky ground. But it’s a good idea to know the warning signs, and be proactive if saving your marriage is the way you want to go.
Divorce is incredibly painful and difficult. It’s also shockingly expensive! But despite the challenges of ending your marriage, staying in an unhappy marriage benefits no one.
1. One of the signs that your marriage may be in trouble is that you’ve stopped communicating.
A breakdown in communication is a big red flag. When couples stop sharing their issues and feelings with one another, it can lead to anger or indifference. At some point, you may get to the point where you just stop caring that you’re not talking anymore. Or maybe one of you cares, and gets mad that the other person doesn’t, which leads to unrest and discord.
2. You don’t spend any time together anymore.
This one is tough! Especially if you have kids. But healthy couples carve out time to spend with each other, and focus only on each other, even if it’s just for a few hours a week. If you find yourself spending all of your time with the kids, or your friends, and actually feel relief that you’re not spending time with your partner, there’s a problem there.
3. You’re getting stonewalled (or you’re the one shutting your partner out).
You know infuriating it is when your kids don’t listen to you, right? Imagine getting that same treatment from your adult partner, who should at this point have respect for what you’re saying. When partners stop communicating, they also stop listening. Not listening means the other person just doesn’t care, and that is a key predictor for divorce.
4. You recognize there’s a problem, but your partner refuses to even try to fix it.
This was my experience, and it was incredibly frustrating and hurtful. Once the problems in my own marriage came to a head, I switched into “fix it” mode, but by then, it was far too late. None of the issues discussed here are guaranteed to end a marriage. But once you recognize there’s a problem, and the other party isn’t interesting in at least trying to fix it (through therapy, changing behaviors, etc.), you’re likely fighting a losing battle.
5. Piggybacking on that, if you’re constantly pursuing your partner (or distancing yourself from their pursuits), it can create an unhealthy dynamic.
I eventually got a point where I became very resentful of the work I was putting into my marriage that wasn’t being reciprocated. Additionally, it became a chore, this thing I had to do to prove to myself that I could DO this. I was constantly pushing, constantly trying to get him to listen/understand/try. And the more I pushed, the more he pulled away. I should have known, but I had convinced myself that he just needed me to try harder. There’s no “harder” when your partner is no longer invested in your marriage.
6. There’s a lack of mutual respect.
I think women, and moms in particular, feel this on a deep level. At least, I did. No relationship can survive and thrive without mutual respect. Respect for each other, for your individual contributions to the marriage, and respect for their well-being and satisfaction. A lack of respect can also lead to gaslighting, where one partner is communicating their dissatisfaction with how things are going, and the other person is belittling, dismissive, or worse, tries to shift the blame onto the unhappy party.
7. You don’t see eye-to-eye on the big stuff.
I strongly urge anyone to reconsider marrying someone with whom they don’t share values, goals, and plans for the future. Because when they big stuff comes up, the arguments start. A lot of this can center around kids: whether to have them or not, how to raise them, even how to discipline them. We all have our own expectations of what marriage should be, and you should (at the very least) meet your partner in the middle on the majority of them. When you’re considering marriage, plan out your long game, and have those big conversations before saying “I do”.
8. You feel like you’re playing on separate teams.
Marriages should, in theory, be complimentary. Two people, working toward their shared vision, and working together to make it happen. If you feel like you’re constantly working AGAINST your partner, rather than with them, that’s a problem. And this applies to everything, from child-rearing to household chores.
9. Money is a constant battle in your home.
According to Stanley Corey, a certified financial planner and managing director at United Capital in Great Falls, Virginia, money is one of the top arguments couples have. Hiding money, making large purchases without input from your partner, or taking on debt can lead to trust issues, and put your family in an untenable situation.
10. The trust is gone.
For me personally, as much as I tried to get my marriage back on track, I should have admitted to myself that it was over the moment I uncovered a major breach of trust. I tried to talk myself out of making it a big deal, and talk myself into learning to forgive and forget, but the damage was done and there was no going back. Without trust in a relationship, there is nothing. You need to be able to trust your partner, and when that’s gone, so is the foundation. For me, divorce was the only option, as soon as I let myself accept that there was nothing to save anymore.
If I had to do it all over again, I would do it differently (starting with who I married, LOL). If you’re in a marriage that is no longer making you happy, does that mean you should get a divorce? No. Like I said, everyone will work through their problems in their own way. But knowing the warning signs is so important, and can potentially save you a lot of heartache down the road.