A cropped shot of person filling out a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form.

When to Ask for a Divorce: When You Know, You Know

When You Know, You Know: When to Ask for a Divorce

Sometimes, our intuition is our best friend. Deciding on divorce is an extremely difficult decision, as it will inevitably alter the path of your life as you know it. Even if two spouses are both saddened at the idea of ending a marriage, it can be impossible to ignore that nagging gut feeling…regardless of how badly you want it to go away.

For some couples considering divorce, splitting up might be avoidable through couples counseling, mediation, or simply taking time apart. In many cases, time alone with your thoughts can offer you needed clarity and ultimately prevent the dissolution of your marriage. For others, however, putting off the end of a marriage might feel a lot like spinning your wheels in the sand.

This isn't to say that these couples are worse off than those who end up staying together. No matter what the final result is, it's important to remember that you're doing what's best for both you and your partner. What feels difficult now won't stay that way forever, and in the long run, you'll likely find that you're better off trusting your gut.

10 Signs That Your Marriage Might Be Over

It can be difficult to decide what to do in times of marital uncertainty. Keep reading to learn 10 common signs that divorce could be the best option for you and your partner.

#1. You avoid your partner’s presence.

You’ve probably heard of the term “companionable silence.” For many long-term couples, this is a comfortable and common part of their daily existence. From quiet and peaceful at-home dinners to doing your own thing while sharing the living room, many married people contentedly coexist throughout their marriage.

Presence plays a major role in any relationship as it can affect your emotional, sexual, and physical connection. If you can’t be in your partner’s presence without experiencing feelings of irritation or discomfort, the odds of surviving a lifetime with that person will likely keep you bogged down in misery.

If you find yourself going out of your way to avoid your partner—whether it’s consciously choosing to read in the far room or timing your return home so you don’t have to see them before they leave for a social commitment—this could be a sign that your marriage is coming to an inevitable end.

#2. You find it easier to keep problematic feelings to yourself.

In moderation, fighting is a healthy part of any marriage. While not always a pleasant means of communication, the occasional argument is still a form of communication that can lead to closure and enhanced understanding between partners.

If you’ve found yourself putting your foot in your mouth rather than addressing the things that bother you, this might be a sign that divorce is on the horizon. A healthy marriage requires that both parties communicate in a way that results in growth and renewed connection.

If you find that you've stopped confiding in your partner about troubling parts of your day or your personal struggles (such as something upsetting that happened at work), this can lead to diminished trust and slowly chip away at your relationship. At the end of the day, communication is key. While struggling or even failing to communicate is a normal part of marriage, the inability to try is a telltale sign that you are fundamentally unhappy in the partnership.

#3. You’ve stopped making an effort.

Remember those sweet little notes and "Surprise! I brought you a coffee" visits? While it's normal for the honeymoon phase to fade over time, making an effort is a crucial component of any relationship.

Whether it’s making an effort to communicate, executing romantic gestures, or simply exhibiting acts of thoughtfulness (such as cleaning up around the house while you let your partner sleep in), effort goes a long way in marriage.

If you find yourself no longer caring about your partner’s needs and feelings, it might be time to accept the likelihood that your marriage has a definite expiration date.

#4. One or both of you are struggling with mental health conditions.

It's no secret that an unhealthy marriage can be devastating to mental health. In these cases, it's common for things to go from bad to worse. Common symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Constantly criticizing each other
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Feeling on edge around your partner
  • Feeling lonely
  • Unusual intensity during bad moments in marriage

Some couples find counseling helpful to ascend from difficult lows; however, in some cases, suffering from mental health conditions is a sign that your marriage might be over. It truly depends on your foundational connection and each partner’s willingness to acknowledge and work on challenges within the marriage.

#5. You’re chronically unhappy around your spouse.

When is the last time you smiled at something your spouse said or did? Even couples in long-term marriages have things to smile about throughout their week, whether it’s a witty comment or an offer to cook a partner’s favorite dinner.

If you find yourself chronically unhappy around your spouse but struggle to identify a reason why, this could be a sign that your relationship is beyond repair. While it’s normal to feel irritated or even despise your partner in certain moments throughout marriage (we all make mistakes, after all), it’s normal to count on the joyful moments, too.

#6. You no longer recognize your spouse.

Many believe that marriage is like being married to slightly different people over time. As you can imagine, a lifelong commitment tends to change people. In many cases, this is a positive and healthy sign of growth and evolvement in your partnership.

Even those who choose to remain single will evolve similarly throughout their lifetime. After all, no person acts the same way at age 60 as they did at age 21. Sadly, there is also a possibility of drifting apart during these changes. Many couples find themselves unable to recognize their partner as they reflect on their past relationship.

“He wasn’t always so arrogant,” she argues. “She wasn’t always so moody,” he complains. No matter what trait it is that makes your spouse unrecognizable, it’s important to acknowledge the distinction between a marital rough patch and an irrevocable personality shift.

If the person you’re waking up to each morning doesn’t seem to be the same person you married, this could indicate the need to have a candid conversation regarding the future of your marriage.

#7. Your relationship lacks friendship.

Ask any couple that has been married for decades, and they’ll likely agree that friendship is the foundation of any good marriage. This isn’t to say that romantic and sexual chemistry cease to exist or aren’t important. It simply means that it can be difficult to stay with a lifelong companion whom you love…but don’t like.

As wonderful as romantic chemistry can feel, friendship is a crucial building block of marriage, especially as time passes. Many couples are surprised to realize that the iconic “spark” isn’t limited to sexual attraction, but also applies to friendship.

Unlike romantic attraction, which can be fickle or short-lived, friendship often offers both partners a sense of comfort, emotional stability, and unconditional love in the marriage. If your marriage lacks a sense of friendship, this could be a sign of an unhealthy marriage.

#8. Your arguments are predictable.

Nothing is more tiring than having the same argument over and over…and over. Do you find yourself stuck in an exhausting cycle of having the same fights with your spouse? This may be indicative of a lack of progress and personal growth.

No one deserves to be trapped in the same merry-go-round of misery day after day—or year after year, or decade after decade. If you feel like you’ve been spinning on a skipping record, this may be a sign that divorce is the healthiest path forward.

#9. You feel lonely around them.

Do you feel less lonely by yourself than you do around your spouse? This can tell you a lot about your needs—and in some cases, reveal feelings that you haven’t consciously acknowledged yet.

You shouldn't have to settle for a lonely and unfulfilling marriage. If you're less lonely in your own company than in the company of your partner, it might be time to examine why you feel that way.

#10. You’re excited by the thought of single life.

It’s normal to feel excited at the thought of new opportunities. But if the thrill of singledom overshadows any sorrow or remorse you feel at the idea of divorce, this could be a sign that your marriage is over.

Many couples struggle to weigh the pros and cons of divorce. After all, it’s a life-altering decision that will impact each partner significantly moving forward. However, if the allure of single life is a no-brainer for you, this could mean that your partnership is already over, even before any paperwork is served.

It’s important to check in with yourself and ask what it is you truly want. As long as you take care to thoroughly consider what comes next and avoid making impulsive decisions, this is an excellent way to establish what it is you truly desire for your future.

We’re Here to Protect Your Best Interests

While divorce is a difficult step for most couples, the decision to take that step is often just as challenging. At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, our skilled divorce attorneys exercise a comprehensive knowledge of family law to make the transition as seamless and pain-free as possible for our clients.

Navigating the ups and downs of divorce proceedings can be tiring and overwhelming. You don’t have to do it on your own. Call (949) 565-4158 to request your consultation today.