The signs of divorce might not always be as obvious as you’d think. Even couples that seem inseparable—like the iconic Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt—can’t always reconcile their differences.
While shouting matches, never-ending fights, and infidelity may seem like clear signs that a split is on the way, some of these signs will be a lot more subtle. And it’s not always clear what the line is between typical relationship problems and the impending divorce.
So how do you know for sure that your marriage is going south? It’s possible to get your relationship back on track, but not all fractured relationships can be fixed. Knowing the early signs of a divorce can help you get ahead of the curve and prepare for the ensuing emotional, legal, and personal shift.
Here are some of the most common—and the commonly missed—signs you are ready for a divorce.
You’re Not Happy
While every relationship has its ups and downs, you should be happy at the end of the day. Even if you disagree, things should still be peaceful most of the time.
Are you unsatisfied with the relationship? Do you wish you were with somebody else—or even completely alone?
Being unhappy and feeling out of place is a clear sign that your marriage might not be right for you anymore.
Your Arguments Are Full of Contempt
Arguments are a normal part of day to day life as a couple. Things can get heated—and sometimes, people say things that they don’t mean.
But underneath it all, you and your partner should still care about each other. If you sense legitimate vitriol or contempt in your arguments, things could be going downhill.
If you feel like your spouse isn’t viewing you or treating you with respect, it’s time to move on.
You Have Trust Issues
This issue comes down to a communication barrier. If you don’t trust your partner, then you won’t feel like you can be vulnerable. Trust is the basis for any good relationship.
Trust issues can often stem from a fear of cheating, but it can also come from a fear of intimacy—sharing your fears, hopes, dreams, and flaws with another person.
If you’re not feeling like you can trust your partner, or that your partner trusts you, then not all of your marriage needs are being met. It might be time to start considering divorce.
Your Instincts Are Warning You
In personal situations like this, your instincts can be your best friend. If you notice that your stomach is always in a knot and you have a feeling that you shouldn’t be there—don’t push those feelings down.
If your gut tells you something is wrong, listen to your gut. If you’re still not completely sure, check in with your family, friends, or a trusted therapist who can help you evaluate these feelings.
You’ve Been Feeling Defensive
Do you feel like you always have to walk around with your guard up? If you’ve been feeling naturally defensive around your spouse, that could be a bad sign.
Feeling defensive—or noticing that your partner feels defensive around you—can be exhausting in a relationship. The cycle of defensiveness will only make arguments even worse, and it can ultimately destroy a relationship.
You’re Getting an Overload of Criticism
If your partner is overloading you with constant criticism, this could be a sign that things are going downhill.
This criticism isn’t framed in a constructive way. For example, they might call you lazy or say that you never pitch in around the house, rather than ask you if you might take out the garbage more often.
Instead of having a helpful conversation, your partner might imply that you’re incapable of doing a certain thing or behaving a certain way, whether it’s warranted or not. This is a clear sign that you’re not getting the respect you need in a relationship.
Are You Experiencing More Than 2 or 3 of These Signs?
If reading these signs makes you feel a pit in your stomach, it’s time to start listening to those feelings. If your partner ticks of more than two or three of these signs, you need to act.
Take a moment and consider: Can you imagine living the next 20 years with this person? What about 50? What about a lifetime?
And more importantly, what will that life look like?
Sometimes, action can mean having a conversation with your partner or seeing a therapist. But other times, it might mean it’s time to consider a divorce.
Breaking up a marriage can be one of the hardest parts of your life—physically, emotionally, and mentally—but think about your happiness for the long term.
Consider consulting a lawyer to help you through the process and represent your best interests through this tumultuous time. Learn more here about how a lawyer can stand by your side during divorce proceedings—and to get you the settlement that you deserve.
Signs of Divorce You Can’t Ignore
These signs of divorce—both obvious and subtle—are ones that you can’t afford to ignore. For the sake of your happiness, well being, and your future moving forward, if you notice that these indicators are all too familiar, it might be time to consider taking action.
No matter how difficult things may seem now, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. A fractured or deteriorating relationship may not be fixable, but you can always emerge on the other end a stronger and more resilient person—free to move on with your life and create a path towards a better future.