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It’s no secret that approx. 50% of marriages end in divorce, but how can you tell when your marriage is doomed? Are there signs that a marriage has gone past a certain point of repair where it just cannot be saved? How does one determine if a marriage is worth salvaging? Oftentimes, particularly during high conflict marriages where there seems to be no resolve, couples may want to count their losses, and move on. For many, the decision to divorce is not an easy one, and there are ways to help identify the best steps to take for each unique relationship and situation.If you’ve invested years into your marriage, you may believe that it’s worth salvaging. However, there are marriages that simply cannot go on any longer. It’s during these times that it’s important to know when to let go, says Bryce Kaye, Ph.D.
Other times, there may be more information needed by a couple before they are able to decide if they should dissolve their marriage. Racheal Tasker (couple’s therapist) talks about observations made by colleagues in the field that can aid in making more informed decisions about when to consider calling it quits on a marriage.
Many couples have turned to outside professionals for assistance concerning their marriage. It is often helpful to speak with a therapist when considering a divorce, as this third person can help the couple explore their feelings, options, and make the decision to work things out (with more help from their therapist) or transition into a new situation. While it is ultimately the decision of the couple whether to work on their relationship or not, there are certain marital characteristics that are red flags that a marriage is headed toward divorce. These indicators include:
• Couples continuing to blame one another for various issues
• Multiple outside affairs
• A decrease in the emotional connection
• The use of substance abuse in the marriage
• One spouse is interested in fighting for the marriage and seeking help, while the other is not
These are just a few indicators that the marriage is in trouble. Another telltale sign is when couples are constantly yell at one another, or are emotionally abusive to each other. Couples should not rely on a therapist to tell them that their divorce is over, but to guide them toward the decision on their own. Although a therapist can provide sound and reasonable advice, and help couples who have decided to fight for and salvage their marriages (or divorce), it’s the couples themselves who are enduring the marital hardships and frustrations, and are the only ones to determine when they’ve had enough and are just too emotionally, financially, or psychologically drained. Only the couple can truly say whether they have the energy and determination to put towards salvaging the relationship. For example, says Kaye, if one or both of the spouses refuse to put forth any effort into saving the marriage, the problems will not fix themselves.
When the trust, love, and care that was once the basis and foundation of a marriage begins to give way, couples may have a difficult time seeing a point in trying to stay together. This can create a toxic environment in the home, and may lead to abuse between couples (if not already present). When such behaviors, including disrespect for one another, distrust, and betrayal are present in a marriage, couples disconnect emotionally. This is a defense mechanism against the pain that’s associated with a marriage where a lack of trust has formed. This can bring about feelings of hopelessness towards the marriage, or oneself. To that end, according to Kaye, when one spouse begins to openly share these marital problems with family and friends, the clock starts ticking—and it’s just a matter of time before the marriage begins to unravel.
Deeply rooted arguments filled with verbal attacks, put downs, the use of words that minimize the other spouse’s values and sense of purpose combined with an unwillingness to forgive are also red flags that seal the deal when divorce is on the table.
Are There Any Signs of Recovery?
When one or both spouses become hopeful and somewhat optimistic that the marriage is worth salvaging, then the couple may want to capitalize on those areas to see what they can use to build on to save their marriage.
Couples who have the slightest bit of faith in their marriages, where one or both are willing to resolve their marital problems, rather than allow the marriage to fade away provide a ray of hope. But in the majority of cases, when couples are unwilling to change their behavior that leads to thoughts of divorce, it will be difficult to turn the marriage around. Some other signs that further indicate it’s time for a divorce are indicated below.
Differences in Values
When your core values are drastically different from your spouses and it’s challenging to find common ground, couples will have a more difficult time moving forward with a successful marriage. When there are drastically different values and beliefs systems, it makes if more difficult for both parties to feel happy in the marriage.
Ongoing Deeply Rooted Arguments
Ongoing, deeply rooted arguments are one way to ruin the magic in a relationship. If a marriage is filled with more negative interactions than positive, the hurtful arguments and other abusive behavior patterns will lead to toxic and unhealthy relationship patterns. Personal insults are also associated with several arguments and disagreements.
Deeply rooted, out of control, high-conflict arguments should be infrequent occurrences, not a normal part of a relationship. Whenever a spouse makes their partner feel devalued by their choice of words on an ongoing basis, this minimizes the roles in the marriage, and this is difficult to recover from.
Feeling Emotionally Drained
An unhealthy marriage can take its toll on a couple, and result in a host of different psychological and emotional challenges. Emotional exhaustion is usually one of the final signs that a divorce is imminent, especially if the couple has been to marriage counseling, have tried multiple techniques, and still feel drained rather than refreshed. A divorce might be the only way to salvage one’s emotional health at this point in a relationship.
When one partner is emotionally checked out of the marriage, it’s a key indicator that the couple should consider moving forward with the divorce, according to Tasker.
Infidelity is something that often triggers a divorce, as it feels like a betrayal, and causes distrust and other factors that can shake the foundation of a marriage that is based upon monogamy. This is considered one of the more critical signs that the marriage may be over. It truly depends upon the belief systems of the couple, and whether or not they are able to forgive and start rebuilding the trust that was lost in the relationship.
If despite all of a couple’s efforts, they were not able to hold the marriage together due to some or all of the signs indicated above, it just might be time to throw in the towel and move on. Sometimes remaining in toxic situations can begin to take its toll on the human body, which then lends itself to other health risks that simply are not worth taking.
Have you found yourself questioning whether or not it’s time to get a divorce? There are several professionals available to help you along this path. Please do not hesitate to reach out.