It is entirely normal for couples to have highs and lows in a marriage, but there are certain signs to look for when the lows have you contemplating divorce.
While there is never a “right” time to divorce, knowing what to look for will help you in the long run when making this important decision.
Trust is at the heart of a relationship and, without it, a relationship will collapse. Infidelity is a common cause of the breakdown of trust in a relationship. When a spouse cheats once, it is challenging to recover from, but it can be almost impossible to get that trust back if the spouse cheats repeatedly.
To move forward, you need to be willing to forgive, and your spouse needs to acknowledge their failings in the relationship. Whether this lack of trust is due to infidelity or your spouse just frequently lies, without it, your relationship may not be capable of surviving.
Maybe your relationship started with you on the same page, or perhaps you thought you would work it out along the way, but if you cannot build the future you want with your spouse, it may be time to end it. This is particularly important if one of you wants children and the other does not because children are a life-long commitment. The bottom line is to determine how much you are willing to compromise your desired plans.
This is perhaps the most crucial sign on this list to consult an attorney about a divorce. Staying in a marriage where abuse occurs puts you and your children at risk because abuse is likely to continue once it begins.
Physical abuse is easier to spot and should be considered a deal breaker. Emotional abuse, however, is generally more difficult to notice but can be just as damaging. If you are the one being emotionally abused, you may feel a lack of respect from your spouse.
Work and children will inevitably take priority at points during a marriage, but when they are always at the forefront, your marriage will suffer. When something else is always above your marriage, there is no longer enough room for your spouse.
It takes two people putting in the effort to make a relationship work, so if you or your spouse are no longer doing so, it is a telling sign the relationship is in trouble. Signs of this can be your spouse withdrawing from conversations or interactions, shutting down in an argument rather than working toward a resolution, or tuning out completely. When one spouse lacks effort, it can make the other feel as though they are alone in the relationship. Similarly, if there is a lack of communication or merely passively listening to the other, it can cause friction between spouses.
It is not abnormal for life to get busy and to spend less time with your spouse, but when you start to enjoy spending less time with your spouse, that is a problem. For example, feelings relief when away from your spouse is a sign you no longer want to spend time with them, ultimately leading to disconnect.
Arguing in a relationship is normal; however, when you begin arguing too often, or the arguing ceases altogether, your marriage is likely in trouble.
When the arguing becomes too frequent, it creates a toxic environment for a relationship. Frequent arguing may be redundant and feel like a never-ending cycle of the same thing over and over. If you and your spouse fail to reach resolutions, it is a sign of a high conflict marriage. On the other hand, if you have stopped arguing altogether, it could mean something is missing from the relationship, and the spark is no longer there. It can also mean that neither of you has any fight left to give.
If you have tried marriage counseling or something you agreed to do together, like scheduled date nights, and nothing has worked, it may be time to think about separation or divorce. Sometimes, marriage is simply no longer viable regardless of the effort, communication, promises, and structured help.
Separation is a good option if neither of you wants a divorce but still have issues to work through. Often, a temporary separation can help resolution by allowing you both the space you need to work on your problems. Separation, however, is not a good idea for those where abuse, drug or alcohol abuse or infidelity is the problem.
Intimacy is a crucial aspect of a relationship to survive long-term. If you have very different intimate needs than your spouse or you have simply ceased intimacy altogether, it is a sign your relationship may no longer be working. More importantly, if you and your spouse are not communicating about the decrease in intimacy and what you can do to fix it, it is a sign one or both of you do not want to fix it.
Perhaps the clearest sign on the list is that you are simply not happy in your marriage. This could be for several reasons; maybe you are depressed, you are feeling a lack of respect from your spouse, or perhaps the relationship does not bring joy anymore. If the problem lies more within you than with your spouse, you may need time to work on yourself alone. If, however, your spouse is making you feel unhappy, it may be a bigger sign to end the marriage. Be mindful of your mental health, as that should always be a priority in your relationship.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Every relationship is different, so just because one of these signs is observed in your relationship does not automatically mean you are heading for divorce. You should consult with a family attorney if you wish to speak further about your options.