Before tying the knot, more experienced couples often tell the engaged pair that marriage is full of “ups and downs.” The age-old advice is meant to encourage younger married couples during the rocky moments of matrimony. It’s true—not every moment of every day in a marriage is sunny.
But how do you know if your marriage has hit a rocky patch or if the writing is on the wall when it comes to divorce? When should you stop trying to wait out the rough times and just move on?
Here are six generally recognizable signs that it might be time to consider a divorce:
- Always Flying solo. When your marriage starts to feel more like a roommate situation, it may be time to consider a different route. If you find that you are spending more time with friends, or even online, than with your spouse, there is a problem. It is true that many healthy marriages have partners with very different interests and activities, but there needs to be at least some time spent together for a marriage to survive.
- Only one person trying. If you realize that your marriage is heading down a dark path but you are the only one trying to turn it around, you could be fighting a losing battle. When it comes to romantic relationships, the only thing worse than anger is disinterest. A spouse that does not want to engage in therapeutic exercises or even in an argument with you is one that has likely already checked out of the marriage. If you find yourself spinning your wheels when it comes to engaging your partner, you may need to focus your energy on going a different direction alone.
- Loss of respect. Spouses may not always agree on every detail of life but they should have an underlying respect for one other. This means supporting each other in their career ambitions, parenting decisions, and personal goals. When a spouse begins belittling a husband or wife in these and other areas, the time clock on the marriage starts to run out. This loss of respect can mean verbal abuse in some cases and can be very damaging to the other spouse over time. Of course married couples say things that they later regret to each other—but a pattern of disrespect regarding the same issues is a sign of a marriage with numbered days.
- Serial adultery. Not all incidents of unfaithfulness result in divorce. In many cases, the wronged partner is willing to work through the issue in order to repair the marriage. Sometimes people really do make mistakes and learn from them. When a spouse continues to commit adulterous acts, however, it is a sure sign that something is beyond help in the marriage. Many times it just means that the marriage is not the right fit for either party and it is time to move on.
- All take, no give. A marriage is about consistent hard work day in and day out—from both sides. If the needs of only one partner are met, the marriage is not viable in the long run. If you find that you are always the one accommodating the needs of your spouse, with no support in return, you could be facing an impending separation. Think about your friendships, and even relationships with family members—if all those people do is take advantage of you, the connection often ends. The same is true of a marriage, particularly since every aspect of your daily life is affected by the health of that bond. No one should be a doormat, especially under the guise of unconditional love.
- Disagreement on having kids. Sometimes spouses disagree on the timing of starting a family, or when to add another child, or even when to stop having kids. These issues can be resolved when both sides communicate and compromise. What cannot reach a middle ground is the issue of having kids at all. If one member of a marriage has building a family on his or her list of life goals, and one does not, divorce is imminent. Deciding to have children is a deal-breaker when it comes to marriages. A partner that pretends to be “okay” with no kids, or with kids for that matter, will feel resentment toward a spouse later on in life.
There are thousands of valid reasons to stay married, and many less to get a divorce. If you find yourself facing the situations mentioned here, you should take a look at your marriage and decide if it is worth staying in it. There is a big difference between unhappy moments in a marriage and patterns that are unlikely to change. Seek help from a therapist at the first sign you may be heading for divorce. If your partner will not go with you, go alone. If you cannot find a resolution, contact a divorce attorney to help you review your options before moving forward.
Sometimes happily ever after is not an option. You are not a failure if you recognize that your life can improve after ridding it of a toxic marriage. Both spouses will find more happiness in the long run if obvious signs are recognized and handled in a rational way.