Long before I signed the "official" divorce papers, I noticed and experienced more than a few red flag moments that made me realize my marriage was over. Some of them were completely obvious but others were, well, not so much. It's not easy to recognize and accept the relationship you thought would last forever, is dead. It's downright humbling and sad as hell to admit, actually, even to yourself. I mean, no one goes into a marriage knowing it will fail, but some people just aren't good together. Unfortunately, it's not always clear until you've made a promise in front of your family and friends.
My first marriage began shortly after my high school graduation. As two naive, hopeful kids in love, my (then) husband and I refused to believe we'd end in divorce (like our families said we would when they protested our engagement). For four long years we tried to salvage our relationship the best we knew how but, in the end, it wasn't enough. We lacked key relationship elements in all the right places and contributed too much to what made our relationship so wrong. When it came down to it, those two naive, hopeful kids in love couldn't be more wrong for each other.
Relationships are hard regardless, but at a time when my now ex-husband and I should've figured out who we were and what we wanted out life, making a relationship work was nearly impossible. He took a full-time job as a land surveyor while I hopped from gig to gig, looking for my place in the world. Our finances we a constant issue and, aside from all the love that brought us together, we had little else connecting us to one another. I look back on this time with much regret, because I missed out on getting to know myself (and I denied him that right, too).
When we finally split we realized we had committed to something far bigger than we appreciated or could handle. While I'm grateful for the experience now (because all the steps led to my now husband of nearly 10 years), I'm also thankful I recognized the red flag moments our marriage was done. It's not easy to say goodbye to someone you love, but I'm positive it was for the best. With that, here are some signs I knew my marriage was, well, doomed:
When We Stopped Talking To Each Other
Not long after we were Mr. and Mrs., my new husband and I began to drift apart. It was gradual at first, as conflicting work schedules interfered with our time together. However, by the time I realized how much the distance impacted us, it was too late. No matter how we tried to recover from those months of non-communication, we couldn't. Ultimately, the damage had been done.
At (barely) 18 years old, I see how immature we were and how immature I was. Communication was something we thought we worked at, but we didn't work hard enough.
When We Spent More Time Apart Than Together
With our opposing schedules, the first Christmas season we spent mostly with our friends, but separately. He with his, and me with mine. It was strange time where we hadn't been talking much, the arguments had drained us both, and time away felt better than time together.
I can't speak for him, but when the choice was given to go out with him or do something on my own, I'd have chosen the latter. Our marriage was riddled with holes that I carefully stepped around, hoping not to fall in. No matter how much I cared for him, not at any point did it feel "easy."
When We Couldn't Agree On Much Of Anything
Back in high school we disagreed regularly. So, honestly, why would I think it'd be any different as a married couple? Reality check: it wasn't. It got worse, actually. Because, you know, life and being a responsible adult is more than going to class and spending nights and weekends together while our parents paid the bills. The longer we remained married, the more I saw how completely different we were and how, despite our best intentions, we were all wrong for one another.
When Friends Took Precedence Over Our Relationship
During a pivotal point of our relationship, when we tried to decide whether or not to separate, my husband had spent all of his free time traveling with friends while I worked. His decision to choose friends over his marriage (a decision I probably would have made took to be honest) shows how low on the priority totem poll our marriage really was. We weren't ready for that level of commitment when we got married, and we weren't ready four years later, either.
When We Stopped Trying
You know all those sweet things that happen when you're first in love? The things you hope will last and will define your love for decades to come? Those things became non-existent in my marriage. Not only did we stop talking to each other, but we gave up on nearly every aspect of staying in love. No more celebrations for birthdays or date nights. No more cuddling or "for no reason" letters declaring our love. We stopped trying to truly live our lives together and, as a result, we fell out of love.
When Little Things Became Big Things
It wasn't just the continuous arguments that were red flags. It was everything. Anything that ended up being remotely "wrong" was blown out of proportion. We couldn't find a way to come together or to be together, without making the little things very, very big things.
Eventually, we both came to the conclusion that this thing — our relationship — was the big thing that wasn't working. At all.
When It Felt "Over"
The biggest red flag moment I can pinpoint was the moment, not long after our nuptials, when I experienced this palpable gut feeling. I knew I loved this man, but that love was the only thing I was sure of. There were so many issues I had to actively ignore in order to stay married and "prove people wrong," but in doing so, I actually made those issues worse.
At the end of four years, when the fight had exhausted us both, a calm came over me and I knew: it was over. It was sad to think of giving up on our future together, but I just knew it was for the best. Turns out, I was right.