5 Relationship Red Flags That Mean Divorce Might Be in Your Future
Therapists say if you fight over this one thing, your risk is high.
Divorce isn't something that sneaks up on you. In most cases, there are tip-offs that it's coming—and often, they're doled out over the course of years, if not decades. Common culprits of trouble include infidelity, conflict, financial issues, and, sometimes, simply falling out of love. The key to avoiding a split, if you think the relationship is worth saving, is picking up on those issues early and resolving them. That could mean seeing a couples therapist or having honest conversations about how you can each do better. But first, you have to spot the signs. Keep reading to hear from therapists about the red flags that mean divorce might be in your future.
READ THIS NEXT: 6 Passive-Aggressive Comments That Mean Your Partner Wants to Break Up.
Your partner no longer responds to your requests.
In a strong relationship, each partner will be concerned with the other's needs and respond to them. However, if your marriage is veering toward divorce, then these requests might go unnoticed.
"Examples include saying, 'it would mean so much to me if you gave me a back rub,' and your partner never makes time for this activity," says Lauren Napolitano, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in Philadelphia. "Or, 'it hurts my feelings that you don't wear your wedding ring,' and your partner doesn't quickly throw on their wedding ring."
If these simple requests are ignored, it shows your partner is not motivated to make you feel happy or loved, Napolitano explains. The same concept works in reverse: If you're not paying attention or heeding your partner's requests, it could mean your love is waning.
Your partner is dismissive of you.
Dismissive words and behaviors are also signs of trouble ahead. "In a healthy marriage, when one spouse is upset about something or has a concern and attempts to discuss it, ideally, this is met with support, an open heart, and an open mind," says Alyse Freda-Colon, LCSW, founder of Coaching With Alyse. "If you find your spouse saying you're ridiculous or what you're bringing up is stupid or that you should stop feeling the way you feel, or turning it around and blaming you, those are all red flags." They indicate a lack of respect, which can be difficult to fix.
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Signs Your Marriage Is Divorce-Proof, According to Therapists.
You fight about the division of labor.
Those arguments you have about unloading the dishwasher might be more significant than you think. "The division of labor is one of the most significant sources of resentment and conflict in a relationship," says Lisa Lawless, Ph.D., CEO of Holistic Wisdom. "If one partner does most household tasks and life planning for the partnership and assumes the role of a parent to the other partner, a great deal of resentment will often build."
It's also important to keep in mind that a partner's mental load can be just as stressful as the actual labor, notes Lawless. "For example, if a couple were to take a trip, it would not just include the job of making the reservations, but the mental load of planning the details around the trip, such as transportation, packing, household arrangements such as stopping mail or having the plants watered."
If your partner has brought up this issue multiple times, resentment could be growing, and a divorce could be brewing.
There is contempt between the two of you.
Greyson Smith, MA, LPCC, therapist at A Shared Heart Counseling, calls expressions of contempt the biggest red flag of a possible divorce.
"When we speak with disrespect towards our partners, engage in name-calling, mock, or use passive-aggressive body language like rolling our eyes, we are sending a signal of disrespect towards our partner," says Smith. "If contempt is present in your relationship, it demonstrates that your partner does not have the capacity to care about your needs, at least right now, and cannot accept that you are a human being experiencing pain."
Oddly enough, contempt is often a power move to get back in control of a declining relationship, Smith explains. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the contentious partner is willing to turn things around. "They will likely be resistant to marriage counseling, which makes breaking out of that destructive pattern less likely," says Smith.
For more relationship advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You never fight.
If you think a relationship that's free of conflict is divorce-proof, think again. Couples who never fight may also be on the brink.
"Conflict represents a level of emotional engagement that is necessary for a relationship and shows that a couple is willing to try reaching each other and, even though there might not be a resolution, they are at least working to find connection with each other," says Smith. "The couples that do not fight often have become so entrenched in their patterns that they have completely given up, have stopped trying to reach for their spouse, and they probably have a lot of history of their needs not being met that backs up that withdrawal."
In other words, a lack of conflict signals a lack of hope. If you see this pattern in your relationship, chat with an expert ASAP.