When my ex decided to finally tell me he wanted a divorce, I felt blindsided. I spent an incredible amount of time and energy wondering why this was happening to me. The truth was that it wasn’t happening to me, it simply was happening! Of course there are many layers, including the emotionally overwhelmed and the grieving process, I needed to go through first.
But then I began to wonder if there were warning signs that should’ve alerted me to the fact that my spouse was unhappy enough to want a divorce. I spent a lot of time wondering how I could not have seen this coming!
For me, there were not any glaring signs of our marriage failing. And for many of my divorce coaching clients, they’re surprised and often feel blindsided as well.
So here are 6 warning signs that the experts share and I have seen in my work:
1. Communication is either strained and full of criticism and arguing OR communication is non-existent
Of course, disagreements are part of any relationship, but constant arguing and being critical of everything is not a good sign. Oftentimes when one person is thinking of leaving the marriage, that person becomes critical of every small thing their partner does. There are times when communication can be lost because of busy lives, kids, careers, etc. but when it becomes long term silence, like not one word… that’s a problem.
2. Spending less and less time together
Although it’s healthy for people in any relationship to have separate interests, it is troublesome if they don’t do anything together. If you’re making a conscious choice to not include your partner in activities you used to do together, that’s a sign of trouble.
3. Lack of physical intimacy and visible affection
There can certainly be times in your relationship where sex slows way down for various reasons. But if there is no longer any intimacy for months and even years and one person feels rejected sexually, there may be more serious issues brewing under the surface. There is such an expectation about sexual activity, but at least physically touching, kissing, and hugging is critical.
4. One or both have low self esteem, chronic anxiety or depression
When you’re in an unhappy marriage, one or both are more prone to these negative emotional states and these individuals have a higher rate of illness. Even though a marriage may not necessarily create unhappiness, low self-esteem, chronic anxiety or depression can be a warning sign that divorce is possible.
5. Thinking about seeing other people
Imagining a happy life with someone else is a form of emotional detachment. Emotional affairs may include getting involved with someone via talking, texting, social media or on dating apps. Sexual infidelity takes more effort, but is usually the offshoot of an emotional affair. Clearly, this is a huge warning sign that there are unmet and uncommunicated needs in the relationship.
6. There is abuse in the relationship
A victim of abuse often feels demoralized and emotionally depleted. That person may just be in survival mode and not have the ability to see the damage that the abuse is causing. Where there is domestic violence, help from professionals is critical. Contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.
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If you are thinking about divorce and see the warning signs, but don’t know how to make that incredibly difficult decision, reach out to a divorce coach or therapist. Don’t pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. Try to fix things with your partner first and foremost by getting marriage counseling or couples therapy. Maybe you can fix things and it could be better than ever, but either way, having that difficult conversation is a must.
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As a Certified Divorce Coach®, I can help you with those difficult decisions and hard conversations.
Reach out to me today at Karen@smarterdivorcesolutions.com. You don’t need to do this alone.