The Warning Signs of Divorce
11 Early Warning Signs Of Divorce Most People Miss
Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
A marriage doesn't usually go from "'til death do us part" to "drop dead, we're getting divorced" with nary a red flag in between. But would you recognize the flags if you saw them? Here, 11 early warning signs divorced people say they should have acted on—but didn't.
He didn't care about my feelings.
Kristin Smith*, of Great Falls, Virginia, says that her soon-to-be ex-husband's lack of interest in her life is what initially stood out. "He didn't get any joy out of making me happy. Whether it was showing up hours late to a fundraiser I organized, or not picking me up from oral surgery because he was too busy, it was all about him. Mother's Day and my birthday were often barely acknowledged, and I shed a lot of tears on special days like that," she says. "My husband watched me cry and cry over him. Loving people should not want to watch the ones they love cry." Because Kristin is the child of divorce and didn't want to entertain the idea herself, she hung in there for 26 years. "When you're in love with someone it's easy to see the bad in them and still defend them," she says. "As my marriage counselor told me, kindness is forgiving someone once or twice and enabling is forgiving the same bad behavior over and over again."
We were drifting apart—and we didn't care.
"There came a point in our relationship when I felt like my wife no longer supported me," says Joseph Trout*, of Norcross, Georgia. "I couldn't even tell her about my day without her saying that whatever had gone wrong was probably my fault. So I basically stopped communicating with her altogether." Then they stopped spending time together and became less intimate. For example, "I like watching TV after work and my wife would rather surf the web," he says. "We should have found something to do together, but we didn't. I wish I had gotten our disagreements out in the open and worked harder at improving our marriage."
Photo by Tooga/Getty Images
I dumped all of my complaints on him.
"When I was first married I would call my husband three times a day to tell him I loved him or was thinking about him," recalls Tiffany Lanier*, of Solvang, California. "It was always something sweet. But near the end of our marriage, I was overwhelmed at home and would instead call to complain: the dog threw up on the rug, the washing machine was broken, etc." Looking back, Tiffany wishes that she had found someone else to share her frustrations with, like a friend, sister, or therapist. "I'm not saying that you can't tell your husband what's bothering you, but your husband shouldn't be the punching bag for all the other frustrations in your life."
MORE: What Your Facebook Posts Say About Your Relationship
He put me down.
"My ex-husband belittled my appearance, goals, and ambitions, and thought nothing of checking out other women in my presence," says Honorée Corder of Austin, Texas, author ofIf Divorce is a Game, These are the Rules. "I chose to ignore it all because I thought that I was somehow to blame, rather than taking it as a sign that we weren't right for each other."
He went out all the time—without me.
"He never wanted to do anything I wanted to do," says Maggie Harris*, of Tampa, Florida. "All he cared about was fishing and playing pool. If I wanted to do something, his attitude was, 'See you when you get home.' " It took Maggie several years to realize that he was an alcoholic because he hid it so well. "I would think he had been drinking, and he would pass it off as something else: He was tired or he strained his back. As the drinking got worse, he became verbally abusive, but then he would come home, apologize, and I would convince myself that we could resolve our issues," she says. Alexandra Rose*, of Northglenn, Colorado, experienced something similar. "My husband was out drinking all the time and never helped with the kids or our house," she says. "I chose to ignore his alcoholism and drug use, his indifference, and poor parenting skills because I wanted our kids to have a two-parent family."
We fought about little things.
For Tiffany, another sign that something was wrong were the arguments about meaningless things. "My kids loved to drink water, so I bought cases of bottled water for them since that's what was most practical for us. But my ex was obsessed with the idea that I was wasting money, and it turned into a huge blow-out," she says. Of course, the battles weren't really about the water. "As my therapist helped me realize, we often act out in some form instead of calmly discussing the root of what's actually bothering us."
MORE: 10 Little Things Connected Couples Do
He couldn't communicate.
"Our marriage was fine as long as I didn't say anything that my husband disagreed with," says Kristin. "If he disagreed with me, there was absolutely zero negotiation. Rather than try to resolve conflict, he would say he was too busy with work or would sit silently and refuse to respond when I spoke to him—sometimes for weeks. But when he wanted something, or if something was important to him, I listened and respected it." During their divorce proceedings, Kristen realized that the whole marriage revolved around him. "Those first arguments and signs of immature, selfish, controlling communications were big red flags that I was too young to recognize."
Photo by John Lund/Getty Images
He had a bad temper.
"Soon after we got married, my ex's tone changed and he was quick to anger," says Laurie Lyons*, of Pasadena, California. "If I gave him an answer he didn't like, he would just repeat the question louder and louder to try to intimidate me. I thought I could handle it or that he would mellow out, but that never happened." Four years into their marriage, her husband stopped working, and Laurie had to support their family for three years. "It was too much to handle, and I finally realized I deserved better."
I made excuses to not go home.
When Karen Clover*, of McKinney, Texas started making up reasons to put off going home at night, something was amiss. "When I said, 'I do,' that meant for life, so I chose to ignore the warning signs." Karen says her ex called her names and put her down, despised her family, and made up rules that she had to follow but he didn't.
I let other people take priority over my husband.
Valerie Jones*, of Glen Allen, Virginia, says, "My ex-husband and I never made sure we had date night, private time, or special moments. Our careers and our children became the priority," she says. "A decade later we realized we weren't even friends any more. We were roommates who raised children together. A couple of years before our divorce, I forgot about our anniversary, which was totally unlike me." Tiffany had a similar experience. She says she put her kids first, her career second, and helping anyone else who needed her third—her ex-husband came in dead last by default. "I remember one time he asked me to stop writing an email and come watch a movie with him," recalls Tiffany. "I said I had to write an email because our friend’s father had just died. My husband's response was, 'Someone is always dying.' And it was true. I'd been to six funerals that fall. Helping someone through a tragedy is obviously a great need, but I was helping too many people. Sometimes you can destroy the things that are the most important to you because you put everyone else first."
I ignored my gut.
Courtney Klein moved to another country to be with her then boyfriend who, "treated me as a 'trophy' girlfriend, then wife, pressuring me to dress sexily so he could show me off," she says. "I felt very vulnerable and because I didn't have a support system overseas, I allowed myself to become totally dependent on him. In retrospect, I should have left before we got married." She admits now that when she walked down the aisle on their wedding day, her gut told her to run, but she ignored it. "It was more than just nerves. It was a gut feeling that I was making an absolutely huge mistake," says Courtney. "Over my life I've come to recognize that feeling and trust it to help guide me. Live and learn!"
*Names have been changed.
Video: Signs Your Marriage Is Over: The 6 Stages of Marriage
How to Cope with an Eating Disorder in College
The Best Date Movies of All Time
How to Be Popular in School While on a Budget
How to Avoid Baggage Fees
Read the full report here
7 Surprising Sources of Protein That Aren’t Meat or Dairy
Finding Out I Was Pregnant While Addicted to Heroin Was a Blessing In Disguise
How to Advertise Locally
How to Produce Your First Burlesque Show
Red Pepper and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
How Vertigo Changed My Life
Managing Diabetes Burnout With Exercise: How Running 5Ks Helps Me Cope
Why this is the perfect thank you email to send after a job interview
Penicillin V Potassium
16 Fashionable DIY Heels Makeover