2020 was arguably one of the most challenging years in modern history—not just for our society as a whole but on an extremely personal and individual level as well. Many relationships went through the wringer, and problems that seemed easy to ignore in the busyness of day-to-day life were brought into sharp focus.
While every couple faces challenges, some issues are more difficult to move past. No two relationships are the same, and no two marriages end in exactly the same way, but there are some commonalities among most marriages that end in dissolution. These signs are by no means steppingstones on an inevitable path to divorce—if we can recognize the warning signs, we can often take a critical second look at our relationships and make genuine efforts to repair them.
That being said, healing looks different for everyone. For some, the best way to move forward is to let go of a relationship that cannot be repaired. Below, we’ve outlined 10 common warning signs that you may be headed for divorce.
You Are Constantly on the Defensive
Do you always feel ready for a fight? Do you feel like your spouse does nothing but criticize you? Do you lash out in return? Feeling constantly defensive around your partner is a bad sign—and chances are, they’re feeling the same way.
When two people in a marriage always feel like they have to defend themselves, conflicts are bound to escalate. This leaves both spouses feeling unheard, misunderstood, and disconnected. Left unaddressed, these issues can quickly destroy a marriage.
Most of Your Interactions Are Negative
Research shows that most happy couples have a healthy balance of positive and negative interactions. Specifically, a 20:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions has been found to be the ideal standard. This means that for every 20 positive interactions, a healthy and happy couple has 1 negative interaction.
If you’ve realized that most of your interactions with your spouse are negative—or if you can’t remember the last time you had a positive interaction with your spouse—this is a serious red flag. Negative interactions can be small (think: constant annoyance or a single cutting remark) or large (a huge blowout fight), but if they’re the predominant type of interaction between you and your partner, your marriage may be in trouble.
You Live Separate Lives
It’s normal and healthy for individuals in a relationship to have separate interests, hobbies, and friends. But if you find that you don’t really share anything with your spouse—and you don’t care—this could be a warning sign that your relationship isn’t as strong as it could be.
Sleeping in separate bedrooms, going on solo trips, spending hours engaged in your work or hobbies—none of these things are necessarily bad on their own. But if you find yourself living more like roommates than romantic partners, it likely means the initial spark is gone.
You Actively Look for Ways to Avoid Your Spouse
If interacting with your partner always feels like a chore or if being around them typically leads to a fight, you might find yourself looking for ways to avoid your spouse. Maybe you start working longer and longer hours or simply leave the room whenever they’re around. Either way, active avoidance is a warning sign you shouldn’t ignore.
It may seem obvious, but happy couples enjoy each other’s company. If you can’t stand to be around them, or if it just feels easier to avoid speaking so as not to get into an argument, your relationship could be in serious trouble.
You Feel Contempt for Your Spouse
Respect is a critical component of a strong relationship. While it’s not uncommon to say things you don’t mean in the heat of an argument, speaking to or treating your spouse with legitimate contempt (and vice versa) typically means the respect is gone. When one spouse stops respecting or valuing the other, this usually has serious detrimental effects on the relationship.
Ask yourself if you feel like your spouse is worthy of your respect. Do you feel that your spouse values and respects you? Once lost, respect can be rebuilt, but the healing process will likely be difficult and will require effort on both sides.
There Is No Trust
Cheating is a dealbreaker for many people for a very valid reason: when one person cheats on another—whether it’s a physical or emotional affair—it destroys trust. And once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to gain it back.
If you find yourself unable to trust your partner, or if you feel that they don’t trust you, it’s likely to cause serious problems in your marriage. When both spouses agree to work together, trust can be rebuilt. However, if you have taken serious steps to rebuild that trust and haven’t been able to, it could be a sign that you are headed toward divorce.
Physical Intimacy Is a Thing of the Past
Every couple is different, and the honeymoon phase does not last forever. While it’s normal for couples to go through phases and experience misaligned sex drives at some point in time, when one or both spouses lose all interest in physical intimacy, it could be a sign that things are not headed in the right direction.
Physical intimacy doesn’t just refer to sex, either. If you don’t feel any desire to be close to your partner or if you can’t remember the last time you held hands or cuddled on the couch, there may be something lacking in your relationship. It’s important for both partners in a relationship to clearly communicate their needs and, importantly, to listen to those needs with openness and respect. When this doesn’t happen, the marriage may quickly deteriorate.
Your Values Have Changed
It’s a common adage: the only constant is change. While it’s normal (and even healthy) for individuals to change and grow over time, couples must change and grow together to succeed. Often, when one person’s values or priorities change, it can cause fissures in the foundation of a relationship.
Maybe you thought you wanted kids when you first got married, but now you’re not so sure. Maybe your spouse wants to move to be closer to his family, but you have built a career and a life where you live. It is possible to overcome these challenges together but doing so can be difficult.
Your Loved Ones Have Expressed Concerns
Yes, no one knows what a relationship is really like except the people in it, but your friends and family can often see things from the outside that you can’t. The people closest to you want what is best for you; listen to their concerns and take them into account, especially if you’re already feeling unhappy or worrying about the strength of your marriage.
Your Gut Is Telling You to Leave
Our instincts are powerful, but we often push them aside in favor of logical thinking. While there is nothing wrong with looking at your relationship from a rational point of view, you shouldn’t ignore your gut. If your instincts are telling you that your relationship is over, talk to your trusted family members or friends or even a licensed therapist who can help you evaluate your marriage and weigh the pros and cons of leaving.
If you would like to speak to one of our compassionate and experienced Dallas divorce lawyers during a confidential, no-obligation consultation, please contact Garza Law Firm today.