40 Signs You’ll Get Divorced in Your 40s
Don't ignore these signs you're on a one-way path to splitsville.
When most people tie the knot, that “I do” uttered at the altar is rarely followed with a “for now.” However, while divorces have been on the decline for some time now, there’s one group buying more tickets to Splitsville than ever before: those over 40. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, between 1990 and 2015, the divorce rate for married couples between ages 40 and 49 spiked a shocking 14 percent.
And while there’s no single way to tell that your marriage is on its last legs, there are ample signs that can tip you off to something amiss. So before you plan that vow renewal, make sure you know these signs you’ll get divorced over 40. And if you’re worried that a divorce is in your future, check out these 40 Reasons Getting Divorced in Your 40s Isn’t So Bad.
Your only connection to your spouse is your kids.
Having kids can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not enough to base an entire relationship on.
“No one wants a broken family but if the only reason you are with your spouse is for the kids, you are likely headed for divorce when your kids grow up,” says Julie Fanning, LCSW, of Holding Hope Services.
“By the time your kids become self-sufficient, you have also have spent a lot of time in a relationship you may be unhappy in, role-modeling for your kids that unhappy is how relationships work.” Luckily, even if your marriage ends, there’s an upside: just check out these 40 Reasons Why Being Single in Your 40s is the Greatest Thing Ever.
Your identity is totally tied to your spouse.
For many people, their spouse is their best friend, their biggest cheerleader, their confidante, and their primary source of emotional support. Unfortunately, not knowing who you are other than as a member of said partnership is a sure sign that a divorce may be looming on the horizon.
“As a therapist, one of my favorite questions is to ask someone who they are with the qualification that they can’t use any roles in answering the question. The individual cannot use mother, wife, husband, significant other, daughter or their career as part of their answer. If someone is unable to answer this question—and many people struggle with this—then this might mean an individual is lacking something in their main relationship,” says Fanning. “Instead of sharing themselves with their partner, they have lost themselves.”
You dread spending time with your significant other.
If you drag your feet at the office, grab a drink with friends instead of having date nights, or generally do whatever you can to avoid your spouse, that’s a good sign your marriage may be reaching its natural conclusion.
“People generally need around four positive interactions to offset every one negative interaction with someone,” says Fanning. “If you have started to dread seeing your significant other, your negative interactions probably so far outweigh your positive interactions that without some intent for positivity the relationship may be over.”
Your sex life has fizzled out.
While you may not have the can’t-keep-your-hands-off-one-another kind of passion you had when you first got together by the time you’re in your 40s, if you simply have no interest in having sex with your partner, don’t be surprised if a divorce is on the way.
“If you haven’t learned how to keep your sex life alive, and it sputters out, you open a wound in the relationship that invites an affair. If you haven’t had sex with your partner in a while, start talking about what’s not working—or divorce could be the solution,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. “While sex can change as we get older, and it’s not the heart-pounding experience of young love, it can still be tender, affectionate and very enjoyable. It’s important to learn how to talk about sex and intimacy, how to ask for what you want or need, and how to change what you’ve always done to something new that works better.”
Your spouse is openly disrespectful to you.
Respect is essential in any relationship, but especially so in a marriage. By the time you reach your 40s, you and your spouse are old enough and mature enough to have conversations in which you don’t put each other down or act openly disrespectful to one another.
“Nothing says dead on arrival more than a general lack of respect shown by your partner with no effort to disguise it
or hide it,” says warns marriage, relationship, and sexual coach John Wilder, author of Sex Education for Adults, Secrets To Amazing Sex and Happily Ever After Too. “It is only a matter of time before they ask for a divorce.” And for more ways to make the most of this pivotal period, check out these 40 Things to Let Go of in Your 40s.
You and your spouse don’t talk anymore.
Conversation is the lifeblood of any good relationship, and when it dries up, so do your chances of staying together in the long run.
“General withdrawal and minimal conversation” are surefire signs that your relationship is on its last legs, according to Wilder. If your spouse is behaving this way, “They just don’t care anymore.” However, by the time your relationship gets to this stage, it may be too late to do much about it. “They may be waiting to save up enough money before moving out,” says Wilder.
You talk about divorce frequently.
Divorce isn’t something to be taken lightly, so if you or your spouse throws it out as a suggestion every time you fight, it’s likely those threats may eventually come to fruition.
“Fighting is not a predictor of divorce. What is a predictor of divorce? Talking about divorce!,” says relationship therapist and author Dr. Caroline Madden, MFT.
“In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful. The first couple of times you do this in an argument, you get the result you want—you strike fear in the heart of your partner that s/he will be abandoned. Eventually, however, your partner starts thinking to him/herself, ‘What would my life be like?'” So, why is this such a clear-cut sign that your relationship is doomed? “Your partner is now starting to think of his/her life without you in it,” explains Madden. “S/he starts to invest less, care less, and check out of the relationship. This isn’t done because s/he doesn’t love you; it is simple self-preservation!”
You spend more time apart than together.
It’s great to have different interests and friends as a married couple. However, when this means you spend more time without your partner than with him or her, you could be headed for a split.
“If you and your partner spend most of your time apart, your relationship is at risk. Not having common interests or connecting on a regular basis as a couple is hazardous to its health,” says couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares, MS, LMFT, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work.
Your spouse stops expressing her concerns to you.
“Many women go radio silent after years of attempts to improve the relationship. If she no longer is talking about it, and a specific solution has not been implemented, she may be planning her exit,” says Doares. “Many men are blindsided by their wives asking for a divorce because everything is just fine for him. Women instigate about 80 percent of divorces—many after years of feeling unheard or having their concerns minimized.”
Your kids have already left home.
While your kids shouldn’t be the only thing keeping you and your spouse together, if they’ve already left home by the time you’re in your 40s, that might be an indication your marriage won’t be around for much longer, either.
“The empty nest phase is a particularly vulnerable time for a marriage,” says Doares. “Many years have been spent on the kids and now that buffer is being removed. For many, this signals a time to rethink everything in their lives, including the marriage.” And for a positive spin on this phase in your life, discover The 40 Best Things About Being in Your 40s.
Your spouse gets a new group of friends.
They say misery loves company—and if your spouse has found him or herself some miserably married friends to hang out with, that’s a good indication your marriage isn’t on solid ground.
If “your spouse starts being good friends with people who are divorced or miserable in their marriages,” that’s a good sign your marriage may be ending sooner rather than later, says Elliott Katz, author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man.
You’re always nit-picking.
Nobody likes being criticized—especially when it seems to be the primary form of communication between you and your partner. “One sign that your relationship is in danger of heading towards divorce is if there is consistent contempt and criticism towards each other. Both are very damaging to the individual and the relationships. Research has shown that these two behaviors if not stopped can predict divorce,” says therapist Irene Schreiner, LMFT.
Your kids are the sole focus of your relationship.
Parenting can be a great bonding experience, but if it comes at the cost of your relationship with your spouse, you could be staring down a divorce in the near future. “If you have been completely focused on raising the kids and have fully ignored your relationship,” that’s a good sign a divorce may be on the horizon, says Schreiner. “Kids can be binding to relationships but as they grow up and need you less the marriage becomes less stable if the kids are the only focus.”
Your spouse has stopped trying to change things for the better.
“Another sign that your relationship is in danger of heading towards divorce is if the wife has been complaining about needing things to change and has stopped without those things improving,” says Schreiner. “Women complain because they believe they can enact change. If they have lost hope that things will change they no longer feel the need to complain about those things.”
You got married young.
While it may have seemed romantic to get married right out of high school or college, doing so might actually increase your risk of being one of those couples who calls it quits in their 40s. In fact, waiting until 25 to tie the knot slashes your risk of getting divorced when compared to couples who got married at 20.
Your parents divorced.
Even if you swear you’re nothing like your parents, that doesn’t mean your relationship won’t follow their example.
According to research published in the Journal of Family Psychology, women whose parents divorced were less committed to their marriage and were less confident in their ability to stay married than those whose parents stayed married.
You’re not on the same page about your future.
Whether you imagine yourself having kids over 40, you hope to move to a new country, or you want to quit your job and start a new career, if your spouse isn’t on the same page about those goals, that’s a good sign you might be signing divorce papers in the near future. While compromises can be made on some of your smaller goals, not seeing eye-to-eye on the bigger ones can quickly become a deal breaker. And if you’re eager to take the next step in your career, check out the 20 Best Jobs if You’re Over 40.
“If your spouse is having an active affair and doesn’t want to drop it, it’s pretty much impossible for the marriage to last,” says relationship therapist Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC, cofounder of The Marriage Restoration Project. And if you worry your spouse isn’t faithful, check out these 30 Things People Will Say if They Want to Cheat.
Your parents fought a lot.
Coming from a home where major arguments were the norm could be a predictor that you and your spouse aren’t going to be together indefinitely. Even if your parents didn’t split, if they fought a lot, that might be a sign that you’ll get a divorce, according to a study published in Marriage & Family Review.
You’re not interested in furthering your education.
A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to keeping a marriage intact. According to research published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more educated the members of a couple are, the lower their risk of divorcing. In fact, among college graduates, the divorce rate is around 30 percent, while for those who never finished high school, it’s over 50 percent.
You never fight.
While constant fighting is never a good sign, a lack of fighting can indicate a lack of overall communication, and may be a sign that you’re not in it for the long haul.
“If you’ve been fighting, or dread fighting, moving into a phase of not talking meaningfully at all can feel like a relief—but it could be a sign that you’ve both given up on being understood,” says Tessina. “When this happens, divorce is often the next step if you don’t get counseling and figure out how to talk to each other without fighting. Often, couples who are older have given up on communicating because they don’t want to fight, and they haven’t learned how to work together to solve problems.”
However, not all fights are deal breakers—just check out the 30 Dumbest Arguments You Have With Your Spouse.
You’re frequently stressed out.
It should come as no surprise to most people that stress doesn’t generally make relationships healthier. In fact, the results of a multinational study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reveals that while manageable daily stress isn’t necessarily linked to higher divorce rates, having high overall stress is often a trigger for divorce.
You got married later in life.
While getting married when you’ve only just entered adulthood may increase your risk of divorce, so does getting married later in life. According to research conducted by University of Utah professor Nicholas H. Wolfinger, getting married after age 32 increases your chance of getting a divorce.
You stop being partners and simply become parents.
Do you call your spouse “mom” or “dad”? Do your longest talks have to do with what kind of bento box you’re sending your kid to school with? If so, you could be on the road to divorce.
“Your man and wife relationship is vital—it’s the foundation your family is built on. Don’t get so into your role as parents that you forget to be partners,” says Tessina.
You try to control one another’s behavior.
“Trying to get your partner to change who they are or how they do things is controlling. You try to eliminate your anxiety or discomfort by trying to get your partner to behave the way you think they should. However, most people don’t like to be controlled. In fact, what you will create is push back and hostility,” says Doares.
You were hyper-affectionate early on.
While, from the outside, it may seem like a good sign when couples can’t get enough of one another, it may actually be a predictor of discontent further down the line.
One study published in Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes reveals that really leaning into that newlywed phase—like not being able to keep your hands off of one another—may actually be a good predictor that you’ll get divorced later.
You were married before.
While getting remarried in your 40s may seem like a new chance for a shot at happiness, it may also be a significant predictor that you’ll divorce again. According to a study published in the Journal of Population Research, if you and your spouse were married to other people at some point, you’re up to 90 percent more likely to divorce than those on their first marriage.
You don’t express your romantic side anymore.
Those little romantic gestures, like bringing home flowers or complimenting your spouse’s appearance, may seem small, but they can add up to big trouble if you quit doing them. When you stop investing in your romance, you start becoming more friends than partners—a major predictor that a split is on its way.
You’re constantly keeping score.
A surefire sign you’re on the road to a divorce in your 40s? “You don’t get mad; you get even,” says Doares. Keeping track of every insult or slight and attempting to get back at your partner are never signs of a healthy relationship—or one that can last.
“You feel justified in your actions because you have been hurt,” says Doares. “Retaliation can be direct by blatantly scorekeeping or one-upmanship. This is when you are purposely nasty. It can also be indirect by behaving in a passive-aggressive manner. This is when you don’t say or do something you should.” And if you’re certain a split is in your future, check out the 40 Best Ways to Prepare for Divorce.
Your conversations don’t go anywhere.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is never a good sign in a relationship. In fact, it could be a sign that you’ll be getting a divorce before your 50th rolls around.
“Frequent and pervasive arguing and conflict with few if any interactions/conversations that are positive and productive” are signs you’re likely to be single again before you know it, according to psychotherapist, relationship coach, and divorce mediator Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC.
“These are all signs that divorce is in your future because the glue that holds your relationship together and makes it important is gone. The bad greatly outweighs the good, and one or both of you will eventually decide you are better off without the other.
You’ll hang out with anyone—except your partner.
Making time to spend with friends is a great way to maintain those relationships you had before you tied the knot. However, if you’re spending time with those people at the expense of your relationship, your marriage could be headed toward a divorce.
“Pursuing individual interests or with friends and family groups that don’t include your partner” is a good sign your relationship isn’t long for this world, according to Coleman.
You have different financial styles.
Money isn’t everything in a marriage, but pretending like it’s not a factor won’t make you or your partner any happier. In fact, according to one poll, financial issues were at the root of up to 21 percent of divorces. And if you want to be smarter with money, check out these 40 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Paycheck.
Your wife makes more money than you.
However, it’s not just having different financial priorities that can steer you toward a split. Research published by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research reveals that couples in which the woman was the breadwinner—making 60 percent or more of the couple’s total income—that partnership is twice as likely to end in divorce compared to relationships where the woman doesn’t contribute financially.
You have twins.
Double the fun, or double the stress? According to researchers at the University of Birmingham, it’s the latter. A study from the university reveals that having multiples is a good sign that divorce may be right around the bend. In fact, having more than one baby at a time ups your chances of divorcing by as much as 17 percent.
You rewrite history.
If you’ve convinced yourself that even those halcyon days in your 20s weren’t as good as you thought, you might be headed for a divorce in your 40s. “A common result when you focus on the negatives in the relationship,” says Doares. “If you are unhappy in your relationship, you can convince yourself that it was never good; the two of you were wrong from the start and you never loved each other. You will then act on these beliefs and make your relationship worse.”
You and your spouse have a significant age gap.
While dating an older man or woman at 20 may have seemed fun and a little taboo, getting married to that person might increase your risk of splitting in your 40s.
Research published in the journal Economic Inquiry reveals that a five-year age gap increases a couple’s likelihood of divorcing by 18 percent, while a 10-year age gap increases their chance of divorcing by 39 percent.
You don’t express gratitude to your partner.
A little gratitude can go a long way in a marriage. Conversely, a lack thereof can kill it quickly. “The most common, and the most insidious, damaging behavior for a relationship” is neglect, says Doares. “Letting the day-to-day routine take over and being too tired to spend quality time with each other is often the beginning of the end….You show your priorities by how you spend your time. If you aren’t taking care of your marriage, how can you expect it to survive, let alone thrive?”
You didn’t live together before you got married.
Living together is a major commitment, but testing the waters before you tie the knot might be a good idea if you want to stay married. In fact, according to research published by the Council on Contemporary Families, cohabitation prior to getting married was associated with a decreased likelihood of divorce.
You frequently watch explicit material.
Everyone fantasizes from time to time, but if those fantasies are strictly tied to your porn-watching habits, you could be signing divorce papers before you know it.
Researchers from the University of Oklahoma‘s department of sociology have found a link between porn consumption and divorce risk. However, when female partners stopped watching as much porn, their risk of a divorce diminished.
Counseling isn’t helping.
Counseling can be a great tool for couples eager to make their marriages work, but it isn’t magic. If you’ve been putting in the time with your partner in therapy and truly committing to change but aren’t feeling any closer to him or her, that’s a good sign your marriage is done for. And for a look on the brighter side of things, check out these 40 Reasons You’re a Better Parent After 40.
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