Throughout the last decade, the general public has borne witness to several shocking celebrity divorces. From Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, most of the world has been surprised when seemingly perfect couples decide to call it quits. Although we’ve been jolted by nearly every high-profile separation announcement, it’s likely those in the marriage noticed warning signs months before they filed for divorce and told the public.
Similarly, outside the star-studded world, regular people like you and I can experience signs that a relationship is going south without anyone else noticing. Marriage troubles are often private matters, so it’s important you recognize the top warning signs—and understand how to navigate them.
Here are the top seven warning signs your marriage may be headed for divorce:
1. Unhappiness Lingers
It’s normal to experience unhappiness from time to time. Life can get stressful, fights happen, and your partner can say the wrong things. However, if you’re in a constant state of sadness, apathy, or depression for months on end due to your partner, it’s a sign to either sit down with a therapist or consider divorce. During times when divorce is a more likely answer, you may feel like your partner is hostile, unresponsive, lazy, or incompetent.
2. Criticism Is at an All-Time High
Although it’s normal to criticize one another once in a while, it’s concerning when it happens multiple times daily. Your relationship can seriously suffer if you’re criticizing each other more than you’re complimenting one another. According to the Gottman Institute, successful relationships follow a so-called “magic ratio” of five positive to one negative interaction. More negative interactions causing feelings of loneliness, isolation, or dismissiveness than positive interactions such as expressing interest, affection, and appreciation, are indicative of a relationship heading south.
3. Fighting Becomes Frequent
In addition to an increase in criticism, a rise in the frequency and number of fights is a warning sign the relationship is causing more harm than good. Editor and content ambassador at women-oriented relationship blog Romantific Samantha Moss tells online divorce platform It’s Over Easy that two major signs include:
- If everything ends in a fight, no matter what you’re discussing, it’s a major predictor of divorce.
- If every small fight turns into a big fight, or if arguments are avoided completely, you may be heading toward divorce.
4. Communication Worsens
When your marriage is coming to an end, communication deteriorates. Oftentimes, spouses become defensive, responding to certain arguments with harmful remarks. At this stage, contempt, disrespect, and anger permeates most conversations. Such responses can cause your partner to feel unheard and disconnected. While some relationships may experience heightened conflict, others may cease communication entirely. When one partner completely shuts down and remains silent while the other attempts to flesh out the issues, it’s called stonewalling. This typically means the silent partner has stopped putting effort into fixing the relationship.
5. Lack of Physical Intimacy
Physical intimacy—whether sexual or affectionate—is essential for a healthy relationship. A Binghamton University study finds couples who engage in touch have more positive relationships. Another study concludes that physical affection also facilitates conflict resolution. Couples who lack or abstain from physical intimacy typically no longer have a romantic interest in one another. Each partner has stopped putting in effort and trying to make the marriage work.
6. Infidelity Occurs
The American Psychological Association states 53 percent of couples who experienced infidelity were divorced within five years—even after therapy. Although some marriages can survive a breach of trust, others simply can’t recover. In such cases, trust is broken, and feelings of betrayal dominate the mind. You can’t stop obsessing about the affair, and can’t let it go. If you don’t think you can get over such painful emotions, it’s a sign to get a divorce. If your significant other is a serial cheater who won’t stop having affair after affair, it’s also a good idea to consider ending the relationship.
7. Single Thinking Prevails
For some, the idea of being single and dating other people is more desirable than marriage. If you or your partner begin fantasizing about being in a relationship with another person and imagining intimate details of what the relationship could be like, it’s time to consider if you want to remain in your marriage. Family and divorce attorney-mediator and “Fight Less, Love More” author Laurie Puhn tells Woman’s Day magazine: “Daydreaming happens because all the other things make you start to feel hopeless. You begin to think what would life be like if you weren't together? Maybe you don't actually want to get divorced—you want to stay together, but you are so disillusioned that you allow yourself to wonder what would today be like, which usually leaves you open for an affair.”
If you’ve noticed two to three of these warning signs, divorce may be imminent. If you’re considering divorce, find divorce professionals specializing in finance, real estate, mental health, or legal to support to guide you through the journey. Search for a divorce expert in your area today!
Gregory C. Frank is the CEO and Founder of DivorceForce.