Allison Maxim* What are the signs pointing towards divorce as an appropriate solution to marital problems?
1. You’re getting into frequent arguments
Disagreements can be part of a healthy marriage when they serve as opportunities to compromise and grow. Unfortunately, sometimes arguments include unhealthy behavior, like blaming, name calling, and even emotional or physical abuse. If arguments with your spouse tend to turn nasty, it may be time to consider a change.
John Gottman, a leading relationship researcher, found that he could predict with 93% accuracy whether a couple would end up getting divorced. He says it all comes down to four behaviors: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. If these behaviors are the norm in your relationship and you have tried and failed to avoid them, it’s a good sign that your marriage may be unraveling.
2. The negatives outweigh the positives
A rough patch is one thing; all couples experience them from time to time. If you feel like there is constantly a black cloud over your marriage, though, you might want to evaluate it further. When you list the positives and negatives of your marriage, which list is longer? Make sure to approach this with a level head and take into consideration recent life changes and stressors which may currently be influencing your relationship (like a recent career change or the arrival of a new baby).
3. Your children are being negatively affected
Children are incredibly perceptive, especially when it comes to the most important adults in their lives. For many couples in unhappy marriages, it takes having a negative impact on their kids for them to realize it is time for a change. If your child has witnessed countless fights between you and your spouse, you may want to reflect upon the impact witnessing this conflict is having on them.
It’s been found that, in some situations, children’s emotional well-being actually improves after their parents are divorced.
In fact, one study shows that 82% of children who have experienced family breakups said they would prefer that their parents split if they are unhappy. Most parents want to model healthy relationships for your kids; if yours is coming across as less-than-healthy lately, it may be time to think about the next step.
4. Your self-esteem has taken a nosedive
Does your partner build you up and appreciate your best qualities, or are they critical of you? Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves, especially within their marriage. Even if you do feel appreciated by your partner, constant conflict within a relationship can sometimes cause us to feel like we aren’t good enough to live up to the expectations of a healthy marriage. If your self-esteem has taken a hit lately, it may mean you are not in the right relationship.
5. Your values are incompatible
Maybe you had big dreams when you got married and they’ve fizzled out as you realized your spouse doesn’t share them. It’s also common for couples to acknowledge their differences initially and assume they will eventually get on the same page; maybe this was the case for your relationship and you could never meet in the middle.
Regardless of the circumstances, incompatible values can cause a lot of tension in a marriage, and they can make it difficult to see a future together. If you want a big family, for example, but your spouse has decided he or she does not want children, you may be unable to reconcile your differing aspirations.
This may be a good time to step back and evaluate whether you’re willing to compromise to stay in your marriage.
6. You’ve grown apart
Sometimes spouses start on the same path in life and end up with diverging goals. As the saying goes, “You either grow together, or you grow apart.” If you and your spouse don’t share the same connection you had initially, it can cause major issues in your marriage.
Emotional distance between spouses can make it very difficult to communicate your wants and needs to each other. To further complicate things, a lack of communication has consistently been found to be one of the primary causes of divorce. If you and your spouse feel like you just aren’t getting through to each other anymore, you may want to consider separating.
7. You’ve Made Changes and Nothing Has Helped
Many couples give therapy a try before deciding to call it quits. Some also try to make daily changes that will make them both happier. If you feel you’ve tried it all and nothing has made your relationship stronger, it may be a red flag that you’ve exhausted all options and should start considering divorce. No one wants to be unhappy forever; you have to draw the line somewhere.
Taking the Next Step
Once you start considering divorce, you should contact a family divorce attorney who can explain your options. If you have a cooperative spouse, it’s possible to have a Friendly Divorce and ensure each spouse has their financial and emotional needs met. However, some of the communication issues you’ve been having with your partner can make for a difficult divorce. It’s essential to find a family law attorney who makes you feel heard and fights for your rights, so you can get back to feeling like your old self in no time.
About the Author:
Allison Maxim is an experienced divorce attorney and Managing Partner of Maxim Law, PLCC in St. Paul, Minnesota. Allison takes a problem-solving approach to her cases and works closely with each client to develop a strategy that will maximize results.