Every relationship is different. No one can tell you when it is time for a divorce, only the individuals in the relationship understand its complex dynamics, and whether elements of your relationship are beneficial or detrimental for everyone involved. As much as friends, family, or even acquaintances think they know what is good for you, only you can decide when divorce is the right answer. There are questions that you can ask yourself to decide if your relationship is hitting a rough patch or if your marriage has become an unhealthy relationship in need of real change to put your life on a more positive path. If you are experiencing two or more of the 7 signs it is time for a divorce, it may be time to do some serious thinking and potentially separate for good.
1. Who Am I in My Marriage?
In every relationship, there is a level of compromise. As your relationship grows in your marriage, you assume certain roles. As time goes by, the roles that you have assumed in your marriage can slowly change you into a person that you no longer recognize. You become the moneymaker, the child caretaker, the chef, the house cleaner, the person who makes sure that everything stays status quo. Your partner is also going through these transitions – they are natural and inevitable.
In stronger relationships, people grow through this journey of transition together and continue to find balance in their partnership. In other situations, you may begin to grow apart and as you grow apart, you lose touch with whom you were originally and who you were at your core when the relationship began. Your relationship may have changed you to a different person, someone you no longer recognize. This problem is compounded by the fact your partner has become a different person and the reasons you were originally drawn to each other may not exist anymore. You start to sacrifice your time, your beliefs, your passions, and more to address other priorities to sustain the marriage. Then as problems arise, to keep the peace you compromise well beyond your comfort zone and stop standing by your original passions and convictions.
Priorities in your marriage become maintaining your image and lifestyle as a couple and a family. The more the relationship evolves, and busy schedules send you in different directions; the more the individual and mutual passions and feelings get lost and the marriage becomes a business rather than a romantic relationship.
Marriage can be a lonely place when you no longer know whom you are or how you feel. In most cases, you do not realize that you have lost your identity in the marriage until it is too late.
2. I Have Lost Hope That Things Can Change.
When your relationship has gone through strife and turmoil and the solutions you have tried do not seem to fix the problems, you slowly begin to accept that there is no solution to the problems. Soon you may find raising legitimate issues and having open dialogue about problems gives way to just wanting to keep the peace or just the opposite. You may have never fought and now you find yourself fighting all the time with your partner. Regardless of how you handle problems that arise in your relationship – open dialogue, vacations, counseling – one thing becomes a constant you have lost hope that things will ever get better.
You have resigned yourself to accepting things will not improve and you try to make the best of a bad situation by ignoring the fact that you have stopped trying to fix your marriage. You are just trying to survive your marriage.
3. I Have Become Complacent With Unhappiness.
After trying every method to resolve the strife and unhappiness, you have now accepted things will not change and you may not even care if they change. You are now resigned, and you start to look for things to fill the void outside of the marriage. This is usually the time when couples take on new interests to avoid spending time with each other. In some cases, this unhappiness in your relationship can lead to choices that are more destructive. These choices can include purposeful avoidance of your partner or home, more time spent with friends (some you normally would not spend significant time with or have their own agendas), or you may begin abuse drugs or alcohol.
This is also the time in the marriage when couples begin emotional and sometimes physical affairs. Regardless how the affairs begin, the reason they start is because you feel a disconnection with your partner and are no longer trying to fix it. You are trying to keep the business running at any cost. Depending on how unhappy the marriage is, in some cases couples agree to allow each other to date outside of the marriage. The goal is often to keep the business of marriage running even if the romance has died and you are openly agreeing with each other that there is no point to resolving the unhappiness. You both agree that whatever the other person must do to remain happy, and most importantly to keep the business running. You agree to date other people openly or without sharing details.
4. I Am Tired Of Pretending That Everything Is “OK”.
Managing a family, a career, a home, and everything that goes with it can be incredibly taxing and sometimes overwhelming job for anyone. Managing a struggling relationship can make these daily efforts daunting and if not resolved, can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse.
The people in your life that truly know you and care about you can see that you are struggling and want to help but the idea of also having to manage your friends and family along with everything else feels impossible. Rather than take this help, you avoid contact with these people, develop complex stories, excuses, and fabrications just to maintain appearances. The goal is to keep appearances for the sake of your relationship and to keep the business running smoothly.
You now find yourself having to manage your deceptions (including the ones you create for yourself) rather than your relationship. Your real friends and family (the ones who really care about your well-being), will see right through the deception and increase the pressure to resolve your relationship problems. Ultimately, this house of cards you create will inevitably come crashing down and somewhere deep within you; you know it.
Your health and stability are more important than “saving face”. If all else has failed in your relationship, you may have started lying to friends, and family for the sake of keeping up appearances. When you cannot be honest with yourself or your family, then separation from your spouse may be the only answer available to you.
5. I Am Tired Of Resentment And Feeling Angry in My Marriage.
As issues in your marriage build and time passes, you slowly find yourself resentful of your partner and your marriage. You start to lose interest in the relationship and working on problems seems like a burden instead of a positive aspect of your relationship. You find yourself angry with your partner most of the time and you resent that the relationship has taken you from the person you use to be and the enjoyment you had in life. You may start to fantasize about what life would be if you were no longer married. You are less interested in working on the relationship and you see that your partner is also uninterested which can lead to more anger and resentment.
You stop spending time with friends or even argue over certain relationships you have with others as they are a “bad influence” on you. Things that you used to be passionate about fall by the wayside. You may also stop spending time on your relationship, becoming more like roommates than best friends and partners.
You may start to wonder why you are sacrificing yourself for an arrangement that no longer makes you happy. You tell yourself that your feelings and ideas are not important, just the family, and possibly the appearance of familial stability. If you voice your thoughts or feelings, it may lead to tension and fighting, and as a marriage deteriorates, it is easier to suppress your feelings for the “good of the marriage” and to keep the peace.
6. I Realize “Staying For The Kids” Is Unhealthy For Everyone.
When you have problems in your marriage it’s apparent to everyone around you regardless how well you think you hide them. Your children are smarter than you think and quickly notice the behavior of their parents. The idea of putting your children through a divorce sounds like your worst nightmare. You want your children to feel safe, loved, and have every opportunity, but if your home and marriage is filled with tension, fighting or awkward silences you are creating the opposite environment for your children. Unhappy parents cause children to have anxiety and act out in ways that sometimes parents do not notice until it is too late.
The truth is your children know you are unhappy. Your children fear the stress and tension in their parents and begin to mirror their parent’s behavior through avoidance and creating false realities to keep up appearances for their friends and other family members. Your children see the false pretenses and mimic their parent’s behavior in their own lives.
In reality, people do not stay in bad marriages because they believe it is what is best for their children. They stay in bad marriages because they personally do not want to be separated from their kids or feel that a “stable home environment” inherently means mom, dad, and the kids all live under 1 roof. Children want their parents to be happy above all else. If you have been unsuccessful in resolving your marital challenges, it may be time to consider what is truly best for your children.
7. I Am Not Afraid to Acknowledge That My Marriage Did Not Work, and I Am Ready To Move On.
Finally, if you have experienced some or all of these topics, you may have already concluded that it is time to move on and separate. Moving on means choosing a healthy path for your sake and the sake of others including your spouse, family and children. A transition like this is significantly emotional and it’s difficult to fathom the effects of such a significant life change. Your spouse may disagree with the idea of separation and may make it difficult often guilting you into staying. Financial considerations often keep couples together regardless of how unhappy the relationship may be. You may be afraid to tell family and friends out of fear that the separation will hurt them and cause more strife. While you are focused on the needs of your family and planning for your future, you may need legal help to guide you through the complexities of separating from your spouse. There are free resources made available to people who need advice on the first steps of separation from your spouse.
You need to be able to focus on you first so you are able to take care of the rest of your life – especially if you have children. If there is one thing above all that you need to know is that separation and divorce is not failure, and it’s not something you should feel ashamed of. Staying in an unhealthy relationship out of fear is far more detrimental than accepting your marriage did not work, and you are now choosing the healthiest path for everyone involved. In the end, you are doing what is right for you, your spouse and your children. Delaying separation for years can cause more pain and family issues. Resolving the problem sooner than later is the healthiest choice to put everyone on a happier path for a successful future.