You've heard it plenty: relationships are complicated. Even those couples you see on social media portraying perfect lives — marriages are not always what it seems. Even the most stable of couples will go through some lows, leaving them to ask themselves and each other, "Should we get a divorce?" Are you wondering the same? You're not alone. According to the CDC, the national average divorce and annulment rate in 2019 was roughly 2.7 people per 1,000. While that divorce rate is down significantly from 2000 (which saw 4 people divorced per 1,000), there's no denying, some marriages aren't forever.
Are you starting to assess your marriage and it's longevity? It's a huge decision that can't be taken with a grain of salt or made impulsively. "I have never met anyone who approaches the subject lightly," explains Jen Libby, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist who helps families through divorce. "I have also not met many individuals — even in seemingly healthy relationships — that haven't contemplated divorce at some point in their marriage." That said, Libby notes that there are some pretty obvious signs that you should consider divorce.
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert based in Sonoma County, California, says the key signs are: chronic conflict, stagnation (when you're no longer growing as a couple), emotional disconnection, and abuse (emotional, physical, spiritual, cultural, financial, or physical). "When a relationship becomes mired in constant conflict, the impact can be devastating on physical and mental health levels," she adds. "Many partners — particularly after child-rearing years come to a close — realize that they are no longer growing and changing as a couple. When one or both partners feel stuck in a stagnated marriage — and there is no genuine, desire for creating positive change — it’s important to consider that divorce may be the only healthy path forward."
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There's a lack of intimacy.
According matrimonial and family law attorney Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder, a lack of intimacy is one of the most obvious signs that a divorce is imminent.
Sure, every couple goes through dry spells, but sometimes it's more than that. A sign your marriage is failing is when "there is a definite lack of interest in sex and they don't communicate about it and don't do anything about it, or they are in very different places on it," says matrimonial lawyer Dawn Cardi. "Basically, the trigger is that sex is not working and hasn't worked in a while."
There's been an instance of domestic violence.
Libby cautions that physical, sexual, or psychological abuse in any form is an obvious sign you should consider divorce.
The reality is that, more likely than not, if there has been one incident of domestic violence, there will be more. According to Dr. Brown, if you are in doubt about this, ask yourself the following question: If you had a daughter who was the victim of domestic violence, would you encourage her to stay married? "Hopefully, your response would be a resounding, 'no,'" Dr. Brown says.
Litman agrees, noting that "when your health and safety are compromised by staying in the marriage" there should be no question about whether you should leave.
If you are the victim of domestic violence and need support, you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for help 24/7.
Your partner is no longer making an effort.
Marriages are often faced with a variety of challenges, and according to Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, both spouses have to commit to solving the issue, not just one. "One partner can't do all the trying on his or her own," says Bowman. "You can't go anywhere like that."
Maria Sullivan, relationship expert and vice president of Dating.com, agrees adding, "It’s normal and common to feel something is missing when your partner is failing to hold up their end of the bargain." From big issues to daily conversations, dialogues require two people, and they can't happen if your partner isn't willing to participate.
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You have no connection.
Dr. Manly has found that many people married to an emotionally disconnected partner suffer from feelings of isolation and hopelessness. That's no way to live your life.
"For those in emotionally disconnected marriages, partners often feel lonelier when the partner is present than when the partner is absent," Dr. Manly explains. "Although some partners choose to live in marriages where emotional disconnection is the norm because it 'works' for them, those who suffer from the negative effects of chronic emotional disconnection are wise to part ways."
Joni Ogle, licensed clinical social worker, certified sex addiction therapist, and CEO of The Heights Treatment, agrees. "Even if you and your partner are physically close, if you still feel lonely or disconnected from them, then it may be time to move on," Ogle says. "Loneliness can lead to depression and unhappiness in any relationship. If you feel like your partner doesn’t truly understand you or if they don’t make an effort to nurture the relationship, then it may be time to talk and see what will happen to your marriage."
You don't support or listen to each other.
"Actively hearing what your spouse is saying is vital to the survival of a marriage," says Sydney Ceruto, Ph.D., psychologist and life coach. "When neither spouse is taking the time to really hear what the other is expressing, you are demonstrating that your partner's thoughts and feelings do not matter to you." She says that this frequently leads to one or both spouses finding someone else to confide in, which can lead to infidelity.
In healthy marriages, both partners work as a team on everything from parenting to running the household to supporting each other's personal ambitions. Elayne Savage, Ph.D., author of Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple, points out, "If you've both started moving in completely separate orbits, or if you're not working together on day-to-day issues, it's a sign of serious trouble. Lack of personal, intimate exchange in a marriage is a very bad sign, especially if you are talking to others."
Someone has unrealistic expectations.
According to Laurie Puhn, a family and divorce attorney-mediator in New York City and author of Fight Less, Love More, one spouse may start to grasp onto the idea that if things were different from how they were in the past, then they wouldn't have the problems they're experiencing in the present — and this can lead to disappointment.
Ceruto agrees, adding, "The ability or inability to adapt to change in married life greatly depends on having realistic expectations about one's spouse. If disillusionment sets in when preconceived expectations are not met, it generates enormous dissatisfaction and makes compromise impossible, which leads to an irreparable breakdown of the marriage."
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There's no compromising in terms of wants and needs.
A major part of marriage involves trying to fulfill your partner's needs while also making sure your own needs are met. It's a lifelong dance, a give-and-take, and it requires constant communication. But if your partner continually refuses to listen to what you need (time, affection, sex, help with children), or refuses to share their own needs, you're not in a good place, says Dr. Bryce Kaye, Ph.D., author of The Marriage First Aid Kit.
Likewise, when you start to feel like there's zero overlap (or effort to try to find overlap) in your interests, you may have a problem. "Couples should be able to share experiences they're excited about, even if someone is not personally interested in the activity," Savage explains. If your partner is simply not interested in finding middle ground with you, this could be a sign of their unhappiness in the marriage.
You're not on the same page about your future.
Sometimes when two people get together, someone has a future plan in mind that they fail to relay to their partner before tying the knot. According to Talia Litman, a certified marriage and family therapist, you should probably be wary "when your life agendas and timelines don't and never will align" in a marriage.
"If you no longer share the same values or goals in life, this is a sign that your relationship may be on the rocks," Ogle points out. "This can be especially true when one partner wants to pursue a certain career or lifestyle while the other doesn’t."
There are many areas of compromise in a long-term relationship, but if one of you is absolutely sure you want a child and the other categorically refuses, you're likely in trouble. "If someone's close to either side of the will-we-or-won't-we-have-children fence, you can work through it. But if not, and having a child is a life goal of yours, you may be looking at the end of your marriage," Bowman says.
L.A.-based couples' therapist Dr. Gary Brown agrees, adding, "If you want children and your partner clearly does not, that may be a deal breaker. You need to ask yourself if you are willing to give up on something as basic as wanting (or not wanting) a family. If your partner strongly desires a family, and you do not, then you may need to consider whether or not your marriage can be viable in the long run."
There's a lack of respect in the relationship.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage is mutual respect. When that's gone and one partner consistently feels dismissed and rejected, you're not in a healthy relationship. "Marriages that reach this place are toxic — you're no longer civil, and all discourse is either attacking or defending," says Savage.
That disrespect may even turn into feelings of contempt. Ceruto says contempt is toxic to a marriage, because it conveys disgust and superiority on such a deep level. "Contempt is fueled by simmering negative thoughts about one's spouse and it arises in the form of an attack on someone's sense of self," she explains. And contempt can lead to resentment, which Savage says often takes up space in the relationship to the point where there's no room for connection or intimacy.
The good news is that a divorce could make you and your counterpart better towards each other. "Allow for the possibility that you both may turn out to be kinder, happier people as a result of the divorce," says Libby.
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One of you commits adultery.
For many couples, cheating is a non-negotiable. If trust is paramount for you to continue on in your relationship, this will come as no surprise.
"An affair can be a warning sign that a relationship is in trouble," says Megan Haase, a licensed mental health counselor based in Washington who has received training in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 3), and is a Gottman Leader for couples workshops. "When one partner has an affair it breaks the trust and commitment in the relationship and can cause intense emotional pain, anger, and feelings of betrayal."
TK points out that while some couples can work through infidelity and rebuild their relationship, it can be a lengthy process where both partners need to be committed to repairing the damage.
Even if it's just one time, if you will never look at your spouse the same way again or you'll live the rest of your lives not getting over the betrayal, it may mean that you need to move on for everyone's sake.
Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers Shape, What To Expect, Cafe Mom, TODAY, CBS News, HuffPo, The Bump, Health, Ask Men, and Best Gifts. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in parenting, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.
What is the number 1 predictor of divorce? ›
According to Gottman's research from 1994, contempt is the No. 1 predictor of divorce within the first 6 years of marriage. Research from 2019 also suggests that harboring contempt is a predictor of an illness and poor well-being.What are the signs that you need a divorce? ›
- Divorce Sign #1: Avoiding Your Partner and Walking on Eggshells. ...
- Divorce Sign #2: They Are No Longer Your “Partner” ...
- Divorce Sign #3: No Trust or Respect. ...
- Divorce Sign #4: You've Tried. ...
- Divorce Sign #5: You're Worried About What “Others” Will Think. ...
- Divorce Sign #6: Staying Together “For the Kids”
- There is an Emotional Distance. ...
- You Are More Like Roommates Than Spouses. ...
- There is a Lack of Intimacy. ...
- Your Spouse is Always Busy. ...
- There Are Signs Your Spouse is Cheating. ...
- Everything You Do Seems To Irritate Your Spouse. ...
- When It Is Time To Consult With A Divorce Lawyer.
- Lack of Sexual Intimacy. ...
- Frequently Feeling Angry with Your Spouse. ...
- Dreading Spending Alone-Time Together. ...
- Lack of Respect. ...
- Lack of Trust. ...
- Disliking Your Spouse. ...
- Visions of the Future Do Not Include Your Spouse.
The Four Horsemen are four communication habits that increase the likelihood of divorce, according to research by psychologist and renowned marriage researcher John Gottman, Ph. D. Those four behaviors are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.What is the most powerful predictor of divorce? ›
Contempt erodes the bond that holds a couple securely together. It's impossible to build connection when your relationship is deprived of respect. The existence of contempt is the biggest predictor of divorce.Is it better to divorce than stay in an unhappy marriage? ›
The study found that on average unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. Divorce did not typically reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, or increase a sense of mastery.How do you hint you want a divorce? ›
Use “I” statements, focus on neutral language, report how you feel, and be sympathetic about his/her feelings. Say “I know this is difficult to hear, but our marriage is finished and I want a divorce. I don't believe marital counseling will fix our relationship, but we might benefit from seeing individual therapists.”When should you end your relationship? ›
There's No Emotional Connection
One of the key signs your relationship is ending is that you are no longer vulnerable and open with your partner. A cornerstone of happy, healthy relationships is that both partners feel comfortable being truly open to sharing thoughts and opinions with one another.
- Getting married in your teens or after age 32. ...
- Having a husband who doesn't work full-time. ...
- Not finishing high school. ...
- Showing contempt for your partner. ...
- Being overly affectionate as newlyweds. ...
- Withdrawing during conflict.
What are the 3 I's that cause divorce? ›
Tess Brigham, a therapist, told Insider that over such a long marriage, tension can build up in one of three main relationship categories, or the three I's: incompatibility, infidelity, and irreconcilable differences.What are signs of contempt in marriage? ›
"Contempt is when you disregard your partner's feelings and treat them as someone who is not worthy of consideration," Mark says. "Mocking your partner, speaking to them with condescension, or using sarcasm for cruelty are all examples of contempt."At what point do most marriages end? ›
After all, almost 50% of first marriages, 60% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. While there are countless divorce studies with conflicting statistics, the data points to two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8.What is stonewalling in a marriage? ›
Stonewalling, one of the Four Horsemen, is Dr. John Gottman's term for one or both partners shutting down when feeling overwhelmed during conflict. Rather than confronting the issue, someone who is stonewalling will be unresponsive, making evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, or acting busy.When should you let go of your marriage? ›
- Bringing up past mistakes. You or your spouse continually refer to hurtful events in the past, and bring up old arguments.
- Lack of respect. ...
- Goals. ...
- Lack of support. ...
- Lack of communication. ...
- Decreased physical intimacy. ...
- Fighting over little things. ...
A 2015 study by the American Sociological Association revealed that women initiate 69 percent of all divorces in the U.S. Further, the same study found that college-educated women initiate divorce at an even higher rate of 90 percent.What personality type is most likely to divorce? ›
Unsurprisingly, the risk of divorce among narcissistic people is very high, predominantly because of their inability to see reality when it comes to the balance of relationship roles. Very often, when something goes wrong or there is any kind of a conflict, a narcissist tends to play the victim.What type of people are most likely to get divorced? ›
Married couples between the ages of 20 to 25 are 60% likely to get a divorce. Black women divorce at a higher rate (38.9%) than women of any other race. The military divorce rate is 3% on average. In 2019 alone, 30,608 military marriages ended in divorce.What are the four pillars of an unhappy marriage? ›
Usually, these four horsemen clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.What are the four horsemen that destroy marriages? ›
Gottman dubbed these, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. While most relationships will have some of these, healthy relationships don't use them nearly as often and do more to repair them when they are used.
Which age group is most likely to divorce? ›
According to information from the United States Census Bureau, adults between the ages of 55 and 64 are the most likely to divorce out of any age group.Why do unhappy couples stay married? ›
Fear. The threat of physical violence, further emotional abuse, harming your children by depriving them of a nuclear family, and concern about how friends and family will perceive them are commonly-cited reasons why people may choose to stay in an unhappy marriage.Who is happier after a divorce? ›
During a 20 year period, researchers found that women were happier and more satisfied with their lives after divorce.Is my life better after divorce? ›
While some may be happier after a divorce, research indicates most adults that divorce have lower levels of happiness and more psychological distress compared to married individuals. Divorce can bring up new conflicts between couples that cause more tension than when they were married.What to do before telling spouse you want a divorce? ›
- Never Threaten to Divorce Until You Are Ready to File. ...
- Organize Your Documents. ...
- Focus on Your Children. ...
- Make Sure You Have Three Months of Financial Resources. ...
- Obtain the Best Legal Advice You can Get. ...
- Make Sure You Have Available Credit.
- Do you still love your spouse on a deeper level? ...
- Are you still hopeful that your marriage will survive?
- Do you feel the issues you have with your spouse can be resolved?
- What was the catalyst that caused you to want to become separated from your partner?
- Where do you want to be in five years' time? It can sometimes help to look ahead and ask yourself what you want from life. ...
- Children. ...
- Find the support you need. ...
- Decide on your approach. ...
Your Feelings Are No More
It's OK to feel apathy once in a while but if apathy has become a status quo in your relationship, then it's a sign your relationship is beyond repair. If either of your basic attachment is no more, there's no point in salvaging the relationship.
Even ifyou were the one who initiated the split, there are five stages ofgrief that you will go through. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, according to Mental-Health-Matters. These are the natural ways for your heart to heal.What are relationship red flags? ›
Red flags in a relationship include excessive jealousy and frequent lying. You should also be wary of a partner who frequently criticizes you or puts you down. Another major red flag is an unwillingness to compromise — relationships shouldn't be one-sided.
Why is GREY divorce? ›
Gray (or grey) divorce refers to a divorce involving individuals who are 50 years of age or older. Many high-profile cases, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, have brought attention to the growing number of gray divorces.What are the two biggest reasons for divorce? ›
- Marital Infidelity. Different couples may respond to marital infidelity in different ways. ...
- Financial Disagreements. ...
- Weight Gain. ...
- Lack of Intimacy. ...
- Lack of Equality. ...
- Lack of Preparation. ...
- Poor Communication. ...
The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns.What destroys a marriage? ›
While this is obviously critically important, there are many other kinds of dishonesty that can destroy marriages. Honesty regarding things such as spending habits, internet relationships, and substance use or addiction can create cracks in a marriage that quickly become chasms.What is the average number of years married before divorce? ›
What is the average length of marriage? On average, the length of a marriage in the U.S. is seven to eight years. Some states have a higher rate than others, but the divorce rate for the country is around 50%.What is the divorce rate for sexless marriages? ›
Sexless marriage and divorce rates
According to some data, the divorce rate is around 50%.
Familiarity leads to liking; familiarity breeds contempt. The first proposition is supported by decades of research in psychology, whereas the second is supported by everyday experience: the disintegration of friendships, the demise of business relationships, and the prevalence of divorce.What is an example of criticism in a relationship? ›
A criticism might go something like this: “You never want to spend money on us! It's your fault we can never go away together because you spend all our money on useless things!” This is an outright attack on the partner's character. It is guaranteed to put them in defensive mode and sets the tone for war.What is an example of stonewalling in a relationship? ›
Examples Of Stonewalling
Your partner avoids getting into serious arguments by making up excuses or saying they are busy. Your partner likes to roll their eyes at your remarks and won't make eye contact. You rarely hear your partner say anything when you argue.
Lack of commitment is the most common reason given by divorcing couples according to a recent national survey. Here are the reasons given and their percentages: Lack of commitment 73% Argue too much 56%
How often do most 60 year olds make love? ›
In comparison, people in older age groups reported having sex less often. The average person aged 50 to 59 reported having sex 38 times per year, while people in their 60s reported having sex an average of 25 times per year.At what age are marriages more successful? ›
Dr. Fisher believes that marriages that take place when the couple is in their late 20s to mid 30s are most successful. "By the time we are getting to the late 20s we have a clear sense of who we are and what we want out of life," he explains.What is gaslighting in a marriage? ›
The term gaslighting became popular in the 1960s. It is used to describe the manipulation of another person's perception of reality. Gaslighting is a common tool used by narcissistic and abusive spouses to control their partners. When done correctly, gaslighting can make a spouse doubt their own senses and memory.What is bulldozing in a relationship? ›
'Bulldozers are people whose aggressive behaviour often intimidates you, the person you wish you could stand up to but feel you haven't got the confidence or the know-how to deal with. People who behave in this punchy, aggressive way are out to get their own way regardless of what other people think, do or say.What is emotional abandonment in marriage? ›
In the context of a marriage, the feelings of neglect, being left out, and not being heard are collectively referred to as emotional abandonment. It occurs when one partner is so preoccupied with their own concerns that they are unable to notice the struggles, concerns, or problems their partner is experiencing.How do you know it's time to let go? ›
- You don't feel safe, physically or emotionally.
- You're always making excuses for them.
- You don't like who you are around them.
- They drain your energy.
- You've outgrown them.
- There are more bad times than good.
- Your loved ones don't approve of them.
- You can't see a future with them.
What Is a Walkaway Wife? Also referred to as the "neglected wife syndrome" and "sudden divorce syndrome," walkaway wife syndrome is "nothing more than a term used to characterize a person who has decided they cannot stay in the marriage any longer," says Joshua Klapow, Ph.When it's time to let go of someone you love? ›
When you feel alone, unheard or disrespected. When the situation is holding you back from growing and being who you want to be. When you stay, hoping and expecting things to get better. When you cry more than you laugh and love.Which of the following is the #1 risk factor for divorce? ›
More often than not, however, an extramarital affair is cause for hurt feelings, broken trust, and potentially irreconcilable differences. It is no surprise, then, that marital infidelity is a leading cause of divorce.
A 2015 study by the American Sociological Association revealed that women initiate 69 percent of all divorces in the U.S. Further, the same study found that college-educated women initiate divorce at an even higher rate of 90 percent.
What year is highest risk of divorce? ›
While there are countless divorce studies with conflicting statistics, the data points to two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8. Of those two high-risk periods, there are two years in particular that stand out as the most common years for divorce — years 7 and 8.When should you walk away from marriage? ›
There are times you MUST leave—if there is ongoing abuse or if you are in danger of physical harm, you should only consider staying safe. Repeated bouts of addiction, cheating, emotional badgering, and severe financial abuse need to be handled with extreme care as well.What ends most marriages? ›
- Infidelity. Over half of all participants cited infidelity as a major reason for divorce and infidelity was the most often endorsed “final straw” reason. ...
- Substance abuse. ...
- Domestic violence. ...
- Financial hardship. ...
- Marriage expectations.
According to a recent survey of 191 CDFA professionals from across North America, the three leading causes of divorce are "basic incompatibility" (43%), "infidelity" (28%), and "money issues" (22%).Which house causes divorce? ›
The main house seen for divorce/separation is the 7th house, the main house for marriage, love, and romance. 7th House - Lord of the 7th house and planets in the 7th do not always work positively for marriage.How do you know divorce is the right choice? ›
You feel completely unloved or worse, you feel neglected and demeaned. Your spouse has let you down in some important way. Perhaps your spouse has not contributed financially to your marriage and is completely dependent on your financial support. Maybe you feel your spouse cannot be trusted.What is the timing of divorce in astrology? ›
TIMING OF SEPARATION IN ASTROLOGY
Divorce may also happen during the duration of the planets that afflicts the 4th house specially if they also own the 6th ,8th or 12th house. Divorce can also occur during the period of Rahu, Mars or Saturn if they are associated with 4th 7th or 12th house.
While many men are quick to say that their ex-wives took everything, including the dog—or that is what many country songs lead you to believe, anyway—the truth is that women often fare worse in a divorce.Are people who divorce happier? ›
Waite examined the couples who rated their marriage as “life in hell.” Of the couples who stayed married, 78 percent were happy with life five years later. Only 53 percent of those who chose to separate or divorce said they were happy.What age is more likely to divorce? ›
Although teens still face an elevated divorce risk relative to older adults, my analysis of more recent data shows that those who tie the knot after their early thirties are now more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late twenties. It's no mystery why people who marry as teens face a high risk of divorce.