12 Signs You Should Consider Getting A Divorce
The short answer: It's not an easy decision.
When things in a marriage start to go awry and you’ve reached the point of considering divorce, you may be considering something else: if a split is the right decision or not. After all, no one arrives at the end of their marriage easily; you don’t just throw around a bombshell like, “Should I get a divorce?”
The short answer is: It’s never an easy decision. Deciding to file for divorce sets in motion a variety of concrete challenges—from hammering out custody agreements to figuring out who gets to stay in the house—so it’s essential to be realistic and keep a level head when you’re weighing whether or not you should follow through.
But if you and your spouse have utilized the resources available to help you make a thoughtful decision about your relationship, you can feel more solid about moving forward. As Virginia Williamson, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Fairfield, Connecticut, says, “It’s important to have sound self care practices in place as you go through the process of divorce.” (These will come in handy when you’re ready to tell your partner you want a divorce, too.)
That’s why we talked to expert marriage counselors for their best advice for how to know it’s time for you to move on to the next chapter and file for divorce. Hopefully these signs will give you insight to whether or not it’s worth working out.
1. You aren’t fighting—but you aren’t communicating, either.
“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 also be a sign that you’ve both given up on being understood,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist and the author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today.
Relationship therapist Dr. Susan Edelman agrees. “A major red flag is when your partner won’t discuss your problems or won’t go to couples therapy with you to work on your issues,” she says. If neither of you care enough to want to work things out, it may be a sign that the marriage has run its course.”
2. You feel indifferent.
Prolonged feelings of indifference toward your spouse are a major sign that something is off in your marriage, Williamson explains. When you stop caring about what the other person thinks and feels, you’ve lost the ability to listen and connect—which won’t be easy to fix.
3. You’re bitter about the relationship.
If negative thoughts have begun to override the way you see your partner, things may be headed for divorce. “Rather than feeling affection, you feel bitter and regretful about your relationship,” explains Edelman. This goes hand-in-hand with no longer wanting to talk things out because you’re likely too angry or resentful.
4. There’s no physical intimacy.
It’s no secret that sex changes after marriage. “While sex in long-term relationships isn’t the easy, self-igniting excitement it was in the beginning, it’s still the heartbeat of your relationship,” says Tessina. “If you haven’t learned how to keep your sex life alive, and it sputters out, you open a wound in the relationship that could invite an affair,” she warns. If you think you’re headed for divorce because of lack of sex in the relationship, it’s always possible to seek out counseling to find out what’s not working. But if you’re past the point of feeling attracted to your partner, divorce may be the next step.
5. There’s also no emotional intimacy.
Feeling close to your long-term partner goes far beyond the physicality of the relationship. Williamson stresses that the depletion of emotional intimacy is equally as big of a sign as the more apparent lack of sex. If you feel like you can’t connect with your spouse on a deeper level—or don’t want to—you’ve lost an important part of the marriage.
6. You’re only parents, not partners.
If you’ve focused so much on creating a family and raising your kids, and left your relationship by the wayside, you may find that you’ve lost your connection completely. “Your spousal relationship is vital. It’s the foundation your family is built on,” Tessina says. But if you’ve become so into your role as parents that you forget to be partners, intense feelings of frustration and neglect may take over and signal a need for an end.
7. You can’t escape the drama.
Tessina points out that people who grew up in a household with parents who created a lot of drama will likely do the same when their relationship feels like it’s on the rocks. “Fighting, cold silences, leaving and returning—that type of drama is never necessary,” she says. “If you can’t figure out how to sit down as an adult and talk about what the solution might be, the drama will consume the relationship and lead to divorce.”
8. You’re doubting not only the relationship, but yourself.
While Williamson says ambivalence is a natural part of divorce, “If you cannot be the person and partner you would like to be, it is worth taking a look at whether the relationship is sustainable,” she says. Plus, if your personality has changed so drastically that you can no longer find things to relate to with your spouse, the marriage may not work out longterm.
9. Things feel out of control.
Whether it’s because of money problems, because someone is working too much, or because someone has started to display signs of addiction or compulsion, when things start to feel out of control and the problems are larger than the two of you, it’s time to either get help or get out, says Tessina.
10. You or your partner have shut down.
Stonewalling—defined as the complete withdrawal from interaction within a relationship—is a huge sign that things may not be able to be worked out. Edelman says that partners who resist working on the relationship because they have become emotionally unavailable may not be capable of getting back to a place where they feel like they can be vulnerable. once that wall is up, it’s hard to come down.
11. Marriage counseling hasn’t helped.
All of our experts recommend counseling before coming to a conclusion to dissolve a marriage, but sometimes it’s not enough.“Getting counseling early, before the drama sets in, will help you create a successful marriage together,” says Tessina. But Edelman warns that once the love has turned to hate, it’s too late.
12. You can picture life without them.
“If you can picture living a life without your partner, without any associated negative feelings, it’s time to consider a divorce,” Maria Sullivan, relationship expert and vice president of Dating.com told Woman’s Day. When you’re no longer committed to building a future with your spouse, it may be time to enter a new chapter on your own.
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