As someone who specialises in helping people successfully navigate divorce and establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship, and having been divorced myself, I understand how you are feeling and have been where you are now.
You should know, however, I am not an advocate for divorce if the marriage can be saved. I am an advocate for:
- living a full and happy life in a relationship that allows you, your partner and your children to thrive!
- making hard choices for the greater good and setting the right example to protect our children and the next generation. Afterall, an amicable divorce is a million times better than an unhappy marriage.
Below are the red flags to look out for if you think your marriage might be over:
- Effort is no longer a two-way street. Marriages that work are 50/50 with each partner taking 100% responsibility for their 50%. When faced with the inevitable challenges of marriage you both need to be committed to solving the issue, not just one. If either of you are no longer interested in making things work and meeting your partner halfway then it is time to have a serious conversation.
- You are more interested in winning than finding a solution. Marriages require a common goal and compromise, if you or your partner are more interested in winning than resolving the issue then you have reached a stalemate for which you cannot progress. It will either result in the other taking more responsibility or digging their heels in. Either way this is not a happy union and a sign that you need to look at what’s going on.
- You are distancing yourself. Deliberately over-scheduling commitments or spending more time on your phone or with others is a strong indicator that a marriage is in trouble. We all have other commitments outside of marriage and need our own space, but when the focus is on everything but spending time together there is a problem. This avoidance strategy doesn’t help you, the problems will still be there and probably show up when you’re next spending time together. There is a reason divorce rates go up after school holidays and Christmas.
- A lack of sex and intimacy. Every couple goes through dry spells, but if there is a definite lack of interest in sex and you don't talk about it and don't do anything to resolve it then your marriage is in jeopardy. Sex and intimacy is important in the health of a marriage. If you are not having that connection chances are one or both of you will find it with someone else. Happy people don’t cheat.
- There is no compromise. A happy marriage involves trying to fulfil your partner's needs while also making sure your own are met. It requires give and take. However, if either of you refuse to listen or refuse to share your own needs, you're not in a good place. Likewise, if you start to feel like there's no overlap, you may have a problem. No middle ground leads to an unhappy marriage.
- You want different things. When you first start out you are on the same page or at least you should be otherwise there is a big conversation that was missed. But in long term relationships we grow as individuals, which can be at different speeds and in different directions. This can lead to wanting different things, which neither of you is willing to compromise on. In which case, it may be time to look at whether this marriage is right for both of you.
- Avoidance. This occurs when one partner withdraws from the discussion or interaction in a marriage and emotionally shuts down. Rather than confronting the issue, the spouse may tune out, turn away from, or engage in distracting behaviour, indicating their lack of interest. The opposite to love is not hate but rather indifference.
- You have lost respect for one another. A crucial aspect of a healthy marriage is mutual respect. When that's gone and one partner constantly feels dismissed and rejected, it will inevitably develop into a toxic relationship, based on a pattern of attacking and defending. With all this ill feeling your marriage will suffer. A successful marriage requires good communication and a willingness from both sides to resolve any conflict not provoke them.
- You are fighting physically. The reality is that one incident of domestic violence, often leads to more and will usually escalate. When your safety is compromised it is time to leave. If you are not sure what to do, ask if this was happening to your son or daughter or a friend would you tell them to stay? You don’t have to face this alone, there is help available. Refuge provides a 24/7 helpline - 0808 2000 247.
- You are daydreaming of being single or with someone else. Daydreaming often happens just before a divorce. If you are beginning to imagine what life would be like if you weren't together this is a worrying sign. Even if you think you don't actually want to end your marriage, daydreaming can still be a bad sign and often lead to an affair. If you are daydreaming, you have the greater responsibility to lead the charge.