As part of one of the many U.S. marriages that end in divorce, I can tell you firsthand that getting married was much easier than the subsequent uncoupling. But even more difficult than dealing with the forms, attorney fees, and gamut of negative emotions, was wondering whether or not I should get a divorce. I agonized over it. Was it a huge mistake, something I would regret for the rest of my life? Was I a failure? What would my family think? I spent my days searching for signs that I was making the right decision.
There isn’t always just one catastrophic event that causes a divorce. More often than note, the signs you should get a divorce are there for a long time but it takes a while for them push you past your tipping point. And divorce is never something that should be decided upon lightly, especially when children are involved. Telling your spouse “I’ve had it!” or “That’s it, we’re through!” can feel oddly therapeutic and seem like a quick fix to your problems, but ultimatums are rarely the answer. After all, your marriage vows meant something at some point, and you shouldn’t throw them away without at least trying to fix the relationship. That being said, some marriages can’t be mended and are meant to end (hopefully on peaceful terms). If you’re wondering whether you should put an end to your marriage, here are seven signs that divorce really may be the right option for you and your spouse.
1. You Lead Separate Lives
Uncoupling isn’t just a trendy celebrity way of announcing a divorce. It’s an actual term that means becoming disconnected, which can manifest in a relationship when couples lead completely separate lives. And as Elayne Savage, psychotherapist and author of Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple, told Woman’s Day, it can be a big warning sign. "If you're no longer spending any time together, if one or both of you is spending all your time at work, with friends, online – and if feels like a relief not to be with each other – it's a sign that you've already disengaged from the marriage."
2. You And Your Spouse Are Contemptuous Of Each Other
If you snap at your partner over breakfast, is that being contemptuous or just cranky? Psychologist and marriage researcher John Gottman explained the difference to Psychology Today, noting that the former means making your SO feel inferior, “through body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body movement.” Gottman added that contempt between couples is, “the single most important sign that the marriage is in trouble.”
3. Your Partner Is Cheating On You
Don’t get me wrong; forgiveness is an admirable trait. If you want to make things work after an affair, that’s totally OK. But there’s also nothing wrong with saying, “Screw this! I’m out!” For some, the damage done to a relationship through cheating is irreparable. Similarly, if you’re cheating on your partner, don’t be surprised if they decide to call it quits.
4. Your Partner Is Trying To Control You
An abusive relationship isn’t limited to physical harm. Some abusers psychologically torment their partners by trying to control every move they make. Isolating someone from friends and family or demanding to know their whereabouts at all times are just a few signs of a controlling partner. If you feel unsafe around your SO for any reason, turn to a professional therapist or the National Domestic Violence Hotline to safely extricate yourself from the relationship.
5. You Argue With Your Spouse Non-Stop
"While some couples may think fighting is the sign of a bad relationship, it is actually is very important,” therapist Dana Ward explained to Huffington Post. “The key is fighting with a purpose." This means avoiding unproductive arguments (enough with the dirty dishes), which can be discouraging, emotionally draining, and even demeaning.
6. The Intimacy Has Disappeared
Just to clarify, intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex. Being intimate with your spouse is about sharing thoughts and feelings, as well as connecting physically. When that important contact disappears, couples tend to feel distant from each other. There are ways to restore intimacy to a marriage, but both partners have to commit to changing things for the better.
7. You Feel Like You’ve Tried Everything
There’s a very real possibility that you and your partner have tried everything you can think of – mediation, counseling, self-help books – and things still won’t return to the way they were. Remember, this doesn’t make you a failure. It’s also important to know that divorce doesn’t have to get dirty, as there are plenty of ways to make the process as smooth as possible.