What are the signs of divorce? Here at Happily Committed, we do not take divorce lightly. If you’re familiar with our philosophy, then you know that we strive to provide you with all the tips and tools you need to strengthen your relationship, make it more fulfilling, withstand the test of time, and reach its full potential.
Sadly, divorce is such a common topic, and more than half of marriages end up in divorce. It is with that in mind that I write this article for you today. My goal is to provide you with all of the information you need to know to decide whether you want to end this marriage now, or stay and set out on a new path.
I cannot make the decision for you, but I can provide you with over twenty years of shared experience from our relationship coaches to give you all the details you need to help you make the choice that is right for you, and set yourself up for longterm happiness.
I will begin by going over the signs that a marriage is coming to an end so that you can get a 360-degree view of the current situation, then I will explore the signs of toxicity in a marriage, and then I will go over how to move on with grace and peace of mind.
There are some cases in which it is in your best interest to end a marriage, and when you get a better idea of what those are, it will become much easier to make your choice.
Then, for those of you who recognize that their marriage is not toxic, I will go over what needs to happen in order to save it. It will take time and effort, but the most precious things in life require time, effort, motivation and perseverance.
Fortunately, I have an entire arsenal of tools that I can share with you, and you have come to the right place if you want to avoid divorce. As I often tell my clients who have found themselves in this type of situation, the threat of divorce is often an enormous blessing in disguise.
Though it may not feel like it, it is often a catalyst for big changes that revamp your relationship. You realize what you are willing to do to save this marriage, and you realize how important it is to you.
The threat of losing the marriage serves as an impetus that fuels your desire and motivation to change… But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s get started with the basics!
Understanding the biggest warning signs of divorce
What are the signs of divorce? There are so many reasons why a person would do everything in their power to avoid divorce. In the majority of cases, it’s because they have invested so much into this marriage that they can’t bear to let it slip through their fingers, but there are also cases in which a person is worried about the effect of divorce on their children, their family, their family…
As we start to dive into this article, I want to get the uncomfortable stuff out of the way. We need to take a good look at the marriage and determine if the signs divorce is coming and that it is inevitable.
Even if you recognize the signs I am about to go over, I don’t want you to panic. If a relationship must come to an end, it means that it is because there are better things waiting for you on the other side of it all. Now, these are the most common indicators that I’ve picked up on over the years,
One of the top signs of divorce looming is when one of you consistently chooses justice over forgiveness and is always seeking to make the other person pay for his or her wrongdoing. There is no sense of teamwork; there is only a dynamic where one person is right and the other is wrong and must pay for it, over and over again.
One person is so resentful that hurting or scolding their partner becomes more important than the common life project you two had been building all this time. There is no communication and the relationship is not fostering an environment where the two partners are able to communicate with one another in a productive way.
A big sign of divorce is especially evident when every single conversation turns into an argument and the blame game. One (or both) of you refuses to take any responsibility for the dysfunction of the relationship. Think about whether or not you and/or your significant other are constantly bringing each other’s shortcomings and are using these things as weapons.
A big sign of divorce on the horizon is when one partner constantly belittles the other, and consistently refuses to seek to understand their spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. It’s also important to note that a big sign of a problem is when one person no longer sees any good or praiseworthy character traits in the other person.
They no longer have any good memories of the relationship and they can’t remember anything that brings them joy.
This reminds me of one of my clients, Robert. He was 46 when he contacted me, and he had been married to his wife Marie for almost 20 years. The lost touch with one another, despite the fact that they were husband and wife, and they were both just coasting through life, focusing on their children and their jobs.
They had completely neglected each other and they no longer appreciated each other. This disconnect was especially apparent whenever they would be forced to spend time alone together and didn’t have any distractions. For example, when they would go on vacation together, they would be at each other’s throats.
They would fight over the most trivial things and each of them only saw the bad in the other and associated their marriage with disappointment. They had build separate realities even though they lived in the same house and slept in the same bed.
They no could relate to each other, and their lack of empathy or ability to relate to one another were clear signs that their marriage was over despite the fact that they were still technically together.
All of this can be extremely isolating and draining, so think about whether or not you have come to associate your marriage with a sense of feeling alone, hurt, and upset.
Signs to get a divorce because the relationship is toxic and beyond repair
If you’re reading this article today, it means that your gut is telling you that something is seriously wrong in your marriage and you’re looking for the signs of divorce. That said, I don’t want you to automatically think that all hope is gone. I wish I could tell you how many couples have successfully bounced back from the seemingly most impossible situations. We need to be careful with some elements, so we need to continue exploring the signs your marriage is headed toward divorce because there is a serious issue in the foundation. Issues in the foundation are usually linked to a person’s personality traits, so as we go over the next points, I want you to think about whether your partner is genuinely like this, or if the issues your relationship is experiencing is more linked to improper communication and negligence.
I bring this up because many people end up realizing that they married a covert narcissist and the fundamental characteristics that make their partner the person that they are, are actually toxic. It is incredibly frustrating because in the majority of these cases, these characteristics become more obvious once the relationship has been established, and then it becomes very difficult for a person to make the decision to exit the relationship. As you can imagine, in many cases, these people wind up being married, and then it feels even more challenging to leave. So, we have to dive deeper and look at your partner’s personality traits.
The first point I want to go over is how respected you are in this marriage. Does your partner continually seek to fulfill his or her own needs at your expense? If so, we might be looking at one of the signs you need to divorce your husband or wife. When we are dealing with people, we need to remember that we are dealing with the human being, and the human being is not a creature of logic. It is a creature of emotion that is often blinded by personal desire, prejudice, ego, pride, greed and vanity. As you can imagine, these are elements that can erode the foundation of a marriage and turn it into something very unhealthy.
Next, ask yourself if long periods of space ultimately brings you back together, or does it give you a sweet sense of relief? When you are no longer afraid of losing this person, or when your partner is no longer afraid of losing you, it means that this marriage is on its way out. When you feel happier when you’re not around each other, it means that the relationship may be beyond repair. It is also important to pay attention to the rage factor when you’re looking for divorce signals. When neither of you is able to control your tempers around each other and you can’t remember a time when you could, it’s not a good sign.
Signs you should get a divorce because things have become toxic
These are the elements that we need to pay very close attention to. As I said, we do not take divorce lightly, but we do not take toxic relationships lightly either. If you suspect that you have become involved in a toxic relationship or a toxic marriage, it is a clear sign to get divorced. To help clarify what a toxic relationship looks like, let’s look at some of the main indicators.
First, there is a lack of moral or ethical principals. Your boundaries are constantly being overstepped, and perhaps you are doing the same to your significant other. It becomes very hard to protect your dignity and you are subjected to verbal and physical violence. Before we go any further, I want you to know that there are free resources available to you, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, that is available 24/7. There are options to call in, and you can also contact them through discreet texts if you are not in a position where you can call or speak openly about your situation. We are also here for you if you need guidance, and you are never alone.
Other things to keep an eye on are the relationship’s impact on your sense of self-love and self-respect. You are made to feel small and stupid, and you have great difficulty asserting yourself and being heard. Your needs are negated, and it feels like you are constantly walking on eggshells. All of the love and compromise come from you, and yet, you are blamed for everything. You are afraid to speak out or to be yourself, and as time goes on, you are made to feel smaller and smaller. Remember, it only takes one partner to make a relationship or a marriage toxic, and if this is happening, it’s a big sign that you should get divorced. Another thing is privacy. In a toxic relationship, you have no privacy and you are cut off from your friends and family. Your partner threatens to leave you and makes it so you feel that you couldn’t survive without him or her. In addition to this, they still manage to continually make you feel worse about yourself. It’s a downward spiral and if you recognize these elements in your marriage, it is important to understand that these are clear signs it’s time for a divorce.
How do you know when to get a divorce: Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is very hard for us to recognize because it plays on our own self-doubt, which is why it is so prevalent in toxic relationships. Emotional abuse looks like being made to feel “less than” in the relationship, it is being made to feel that you are 100% responsible for all the bad that is in the relationship, it is being gaslighted and made to feel crazy when you most certainly are not, it is being insulted or constantly criticized, and it is when your partner threatens to leave you whenever you do not agree with him or her. As I said above, one of the biggest signs of emotional abuse is when a person constantly threatens to leave the relationship every time there is an argument. It is also when a person threatens your wellbeing or your safety, and when they defame your character to your friends and family.
Sadly, emotionally abusive relationships are very common and many people who wind up in them struggle to figure out why it is so very hard for them to leave. They feel weak or stupid when they realize that they can’t figure out how to end a toxic marriage, but if you can understand what’s going on on a chemical level, it will be easier to let go. You see, toxic relationships have a lot to do with adrenaline. The couples who fight a lot and have violent highs and lows get a rush that can become addictive. Intense, eruptive fights that are followed by passionate makeups can make a person crave the emotions that wash over them when the latest conflict is revolved. Unfortunately, that feeling is only sparked when there is conflict to resolve…
A fight followed by love, followed by another fight followed by love creates a rhythm that people subconsciously get hooked on. So it is not so much that you are addicted to your partner; it is that you are addicted to the rush that the situation can give you. If you are struggling with moving on from a toxic marriage, I encourage you to try this simple exercise. Look in the mirror and ask yourself these two questions:
Am I attached to my partner or the way it feels when we make up?
Am I confusing the pain I experience with passion?
Toxicity doesn’t tend to go away with time; it tends to get worse and if you notice abusive emotional trends in the relationship, it’s important to leave before it gets worse. We worked with a client that was in this type of situation recently. Reina was in an 8-year relationship with the man who she called the “love of her life”. However, her relationship was very, very toxic. This “love” would verbally abuse her, gaslight her and make her believe she is crazy, and tell her that she’s worthless. However, despite all of this, she was glued to the relationship. So much so that her identity was deeply rooted in his love for her. Whenever he made her feel worthless, she was convinced it was because she was. Reina originally reached out to me because she wanted to keep the relationship going. However, when she shared with me what was going on, and shared the extent of the toxicity, I told her what I don’t like to tell clients – that I cannot help her stay with this man. I could, however, help her to exit the relationship and enter into a new chapter in her life. A new chapter that was much more fulfilling and healthy, so that she could open the door to true happiness.
So how exactly does one leave a toxic marriage?
We always strive to help our clients leave toxic relationships with dignity, and very often, there is no dignity or respect in highly toxic relationships. Exiting a toxic marriage and filing for divorce will require a lot of strength, and I know that it’s hard not to want to hurt someone that is hurting you. There is often a sense of wanting revenge or to even the playing field, but I can tell you that this is not going to help anything. The first step is to identify that you are unhappy and you’ve recognized the signs that it’s time for divorce. Next, unless you’re being physically abused, do not rush. You need to collect the strength and prepare yourself to leave this relationship. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern where you breakup and get back together, so we need to make sure that you’re set up for success in breaking the cycle. The more time you take to do this well, the more time you give yourself to prepare, plan and feel confident in your actions, the less likely you will be to go back and step back into the same pattern.
You can begin by writing your spouse a letter. If they truly care about you, they will let you go and no longer hold you down. If they do, then you do not answer and you protect your dignity. The other option is to talk to them in person about your decision to leave. Prepare your speech in the mirror and practice what you want to say. This talk should not be longer than 30 minutes because the longer time you spend doing this, the easier it becomes to reconsider and change your mind about leaving. It’s hard to leave a relationship, and it’s especially hard to leave a toxic one. If it was easier, there would be fewer toxic relationships. Make sure that you incorporate a good support system that can be there for you afterwards. Tell the people you trust that you’re planning on doing this, and let them help you when you do. Remember that we are also here to help guide you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or a member of my team by clicking here for guidance.
When to know to divorce, even when the relationship isn’t toxic
A lot of people ask me how to navigate a situation in which the marriage isn’t necessarily toxic, but they are still unsure whether to keep fighting or to let it go. It’s a challenging thing to navigate, so I want to share some pointers with you that will help you determine the next step you need to take. I should tell you that after all of these years as a love and relationship coach, there is a common pattern that I’ve seen. Separation or divorce is often not the best answer. Many people think they will be happier after a divorce but the truth of the matter is that they’re not. Once the dust has settled and the novelty of being single has passed, many people regret losing what they had built with their partner. This is why I encourage clients to do everything that they’re willing to try to save their marriage before turning to divorce. Always remember that love is always a choice, but that marriage transcends love. It is a commitment to building a life with someone else even after the initial feelings of love, attraction, and desire had dissipated.
I am not telling you to not get a divorce if you know in your heart of hearts that it is what you need to do, but I do want to bring your attention to the importance of doing everything in your power now to keep you from winding up with regrets later on. In a culture that constantly tells us to seek new things, in the context of marriage, it is sometimes more productive to find ways to live with your partner’s shortcomings and limitations than try to change them. In fact, it is impossible to change anyone. The one person you have complete control over is yourself, so be careful not to give your partner the power to control your happiness or your sense of wellbeing in life.
It’s true that sometimes there are situations where you’ve already tried everything, and it still doesn’t show any signs of improvement. Take my client Julie for example. She had been in a relationship with her husband for 7 years. They had build a wonderful life together in Chicago, they were both successful in their careers and had a 2-year-old daughter that they both loved very much. Unfortunately for Julie, her partner had fallen in love with his resentment towards her following a mistake that she had made a few years back. His pride and ego had completely blinded him and shut her out entirely. He was simply unable to see all the sacrifices that Julie had been making for over a year, or appreciate the wonderful life that they had built together. They were no longer friends, he had actually moved in with another woman that he didn’t even love, just out of spite… He did this just to prove to Julie that he didn’t need her. So as you can see, It was time for Julie to let go, and to distance herself from the person that she loved because their dynamic had simply become too negative for her and for her little girl.
So if you’re still thinking, “Divorce or no divorce , there are some more indicators that it’s time to let go that we should take a look at. The key is to honor your emotions so that you can make choices that enable you to live a truly happy life. In some cases, you can be truly happy with your spouse, and in other cases, you can be truly happy if you recognize that it is time to get a divorce and move forward with your life. Ignoring, dismissing, or suppressing your emotions doesn’t get rid of them; it buries them. It tucks them away to fester and arise again at a later time. When you recognize and validate your emotions instead, you strip away the judgment—the “I’m bad,” “this is wrong,” or “I shouldn’t” responses—and allow your experiences to flow through you. It helps you quell the inner critic and live a more present and enjoyable life.
So let’s take a deeper look.
All the points I have gone over above are still applicable. So if you can’t see any good in each other, if you associate the relationship with negative memories and a feeling of claustrophobia, if there is a constant blame game going on between you, and, of course, if there are any signs of physical or emotional abuse, there is a problem. Now, in addition to that, pay attention to how your marriage affects your loved one. One of the top signs of divorce on the horizon is when you hurt your loved ones (children especially) more when you’re together than when you’re apart. Another thing to keep an eye on is when one partner despises the other, as we saw in Julie’s story, and can’t see any of the good in everything that you have built together.
Perhaps the biggest indicator that it’s time for a divorce is when you have knowingly tried every single solution available to you and your marriage has only gotten worse over time. Perhaps you have even gone through a trial separation or 6 months or even a year, and it hasn’t made a difference. When it comes to this, the formula is simple. You must detach yourself and ask, “What do I need to do to take care of myself?” And if your partner is not willing or is not able to continue fighting for this marriage, please don’t take rejection as a reflection of our self-worth. If your spouse rejects you or your choices, you are still worth every bit as much as you would be if you had not been rejected. Feel any feelings that go with rejection. Allow yourself to talk about your thoughts, but don’t forfeit your self-esteem to another’s disapproval or rejection of who you are or what you have done. Even if the most important person in your world rejects you, you are still real, and you are still okay. If you have done something inappropriate or you need to solve a problem or change a behavior, then take appropriate steps to take care of yourself. But don’t reject yourself, and don’t give so much power to other people’s rejection of you. It isn’t necessary
The thing is, one person alone cannot save a marriage. If you feel that you’re the only one trying and you aren’t being met halfway, you’re not going to be able to save it. I hate having to tell my clients that, but I will never hide the truth from you because you deserve a relationship where you are pulling in the same direction and cherish one another. Even if you feel that it would be such a shame to let go of this marriage after everything that you’ve put into it, if nothing you try works, and you are not being met halfway, it’s time to move on. I know that it’s scary but this too can be a wonderful blessing in disguise. There are so many people who have fought vehemently to keep their marriage alive with someone who wasn’t willing to do the same for them, and when they finally left the marriage, they realized that life had something much better in store for them. It can be terrifying to take that leap, but in doing so, you can open yourself up to happiness that you haven’t felt in ages. I do want to let you know that we have created a special program designed to help you when it’s time to move on. We created it to give you a powerful guide that will help you turn the page with grace and peace of mind. We know how challenging it can be, so we wanted to create something to make the process considerably easier for you. To access this program, all you have to do is click here.
What to do if you want to save your marriage when you see the signs divorce is coming
If you have gotten this far in this article and you know, based on everything we’ve gone through so far, that your marriage deserves a second shot, I want to congratulate you. It’s so easy to want to give up when things get tough but as I said above, divorce doesn’t always have to be the answer. There are so many cases (the majority of cases, even) in which a marriage can be saved. It IS possible to reconnect in a loving way, it IS possible to rebuild that complicity and that bond, and it IS possible to fall in love again. You just need to make sure that there is no abuse present, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough. I have seen couples bounce back from the most impossible situations, but mental and physical abuse is not excusable.
Now, let’s say that you want to fix this marriage because you have committed and you know that this marriage has the potential to be incredible fulfilling. You two have built a life together, maybe you have a house and kids already, and you’re willing to do what it takes to repair the damage with your spouse. So where to start?
The first step is to acknowledge and accept that this marriage is broken. If you’re reading this article, it means that you’re already at this step. You’re in a tough spot right now, but we are here to help. We need to make sure that your significant other also acknowledges that the marriage is broken and divorce is looming over your heads if things don’t change. To be on the same page and to be able to move forward, you have to acknowledge where each person is coming from, and to move forward together, you have to accept what happened. This way you can work together as a team and define the proper solutions based on the situation. It is helpful to think about is less as “You VS me” and more as “It’s us VS a problem.” You will also need to give each other space and time to collect your thoughts, explore what you want to say, and heal. Once you’re able to go through your healing process, it will be much easier to clearly express your feelings.
When things are particularly rough, we give our clients a tool that is called a Year of Patience, where you spend a year (or any predetermined amount of time) living a life independent of your partner. It allows you to see what life is like without each other. We often get so caught up in the day to day reality that we feel like our partner is to blame for all of our problems when in reality, some issues and frustrations have nothing to do with them. If you remove him or her from the equation, you can put things into perspective. This helps you to see that life without them isn’t necessarily better. In fact, in many cases, it feels worse! Far too often I see couples pull the plug too early. They think, “Am I headed for divorce,” and they end things before they properly analyze the situation. In some cases, people will try for a while and then give up because it’s hard. The thing is, marriage takes work! That’s part of the commitment. It isn’t always going to be easy. I will tell you this: It is much easier to repair a marriage while you’re still together than if you’ve already divorced.
The next thing we need to explore is healthy communication. We have written an extensive article on how to rebuild communication in a marriage, and I encourage you to read it by clicking here. Communication is key to a successful marriage, and so is setting realistic expectations. If you two have had a couple of years of hard times together, it is not realistic to expect your marriage to be fixed after a week apart, especially if there is no proper communication! A realistic expectation would be to work on yourselves independently, then little by little, start to date and get to know each other again. In addition to that, make sure you aren’t making assumptions about your partner’s expectations. Again: communicate, communicate, communicate!
When you begin dating again, you have to work on rebuilding passion and intimacy. The best way to do this is to approach this as if you were dating each other for the first time. In all the years that have passed, you have both grown, so I encourage you to work on rediscovering each other like you did when you first met. Have fun and come up with new experiences to share. You don’t need to be doing anything over the top, but challenge yourself to incorporate a sense of freshness and romance into your daily lives. We have to work on making every day life feel special. Share positive moments in your every day activities (and in the bedroom) so that you can both start to associate your marriage with positive emotions over time.
As we are nearing the end of this article, I want to give you a list of some bullet points that will set you out on a path towards success in love. Each relationship is so unique, so I encourage you to reach out to us for one on one coaching, but these will help you to get started!
▪ Use constructive criticism and pay attention to the way you speak to your partner. Say, “I love you,” “Thank you,” “I understand,” “ I am proud of you” “We don’t spend time together like we used to.” Avoid phrasing such as; “You just never have any time for me, do you!” Avoid starting your sentences with, “You always…” “You never,” or “You’re a…”
▪ Practice mirroring. When your partner is expressing a concern or their unhappiness about something, repeat what they say back to them so that they see that they’re being heard. “So what you’re saying is that…” This way, they see that you understand and that their words are being received.
▪ Understand the importance of space. Some people need it more than others, and some people think that it’s a bad sign if their partner needs some time to themselves regularly. It’s actually very healthy to have alone time. It allows you to focus on your own projects and goals, and on taking care of yourself. When you’re together, it’s even better because you have the opportunity to miss each other.
▪ Don’t forget to date. One of the most common things that break a marriage apart is when the two partners don’t make time for each other. They neglect their bond and don’t do anything to make each other feel special anymore. There should always be time for the other person, even if it’s just having your coffees together in the morning before work!
▪ Touch more. A lot of couples stop touching long before they separate. If things have gotten really bad, reintroduce touch little by little. Sit closer together on the couch, touch your partner’s arm when you’re talking. When two people touch a chemical is released. It’s called oxytocin, aka “the bonding chemical.”
▪ Make sure things are fair. Responsibilities should be balanced so that no resentment can be harbored. Speaking of resentment, make sure that you’re both open and communicative when things are wrong. Pent up feelings are poisonous!
▪ Focus on recognizing your own flaws and making improvements. Trying to make your partner change makes them become more defensive and resistant. Both of you must become better to save a failing marriage.
▪ Another thing that you can do when you want to repair a damaged relationship is to reintroduce humor! I know it might sound a little odd, but think about it. Doesn’t it feel good to laugh with your partner and to see them smiling? Now is the ideal time to work on creating a positive environment and de-escalating the situation.
▪ Make a list of what you feel needs to change and have your partner do that same. Share your lists and come up with solutions together.
▪ Take a moment every day to remember something that brought you joy with your spouse. Remind yourself of the good times. It is human nature to focus on the negative, so don’t let it stamp out all the good things you shared and continue to share.
There is hope, even when you see some signs you should divorce
I hope that this article has helped to give you some clarity. In the majority of cases, a marriage can be saved if you’re willing to put in the hard work that it will take. There are, however, some cases in which the marriage causes more damage than good, and things have become so toxic that it would be wise to turn the page and move on. I know how challenging all of this feels right now, but I truly want you to know that we are here for you. Whether you need help patching things back out and setting out on a new path, or you need help moving on, you have come to the right place.
Join the Happily Committed Project and set yourself up for long term happiness in love. We can work together to ask you targeted questions that help us to develop an in-depth understanding of your story, and then we can use this information and analysis to create the ideal plan of action for you.
Remember, this can be an incredible blessing in disguise, and I am excited for what the future holds for you!
I sincerely wish you all the very best in life and love.
Your coach when you see the signs of divorce,