Sometimes it’s easy to tell whether or not a marriage can make it long-term, but most of the time we choose to ignore the signs that are often right in front of us. Accepting that a marriage is over is definitely not an easy thing to do, especially if you still love your partner. However, there are some red flags that can tell you everything you need to know about your marriage.
Read on about the experience of 5 divorcées that reveal the signs that made them realize their marriage wasn’t going to work anymore!
“I lost my voice in the relationship”
“Early in our marriage, we fought a lot about me not ‘respecting him,’ so over the years I was being programmed to think that the problem was me having something (anything) to say when it came to making decisions for the family. The quieter I got, the less we would fight. To him, we were perfect. He even suggested we be marriage mentors with the new found ‘zen’ in our marriage.
But when I got tired of being silent, it all fell apart. It wasn’t until after counseling that I realized everything about me would always be too loud under the control of a narcissist who couldn’t stand to be out-shined.”—Taccara Mart
Why it’s a red flag: Therapists agree that communication is the glue that holds any relationships together.
“Couples who find it difficult to discuss topics with each other, without making assumptions or getting offended, have a harder time staying together,” says Celeste Holbrook, PhD, sexual health consultant and educator. “The good news is that all couples have to learn how to communicate well and it is always a work in progress.”
Additionally, if you have problems in understanding each other, a solution would be trying to find a communication tool, like therapy or through patient listening and giving in once in a while.
“He stopped referring to me by my name”
“A sign that my husband and I were headed for divorce was his annoying way of referring to me as ‘she’ instead of by my name. The first time I remember it happening was on our honeymoon, and it was about then that I realized I’d made a terrible mistake marrying that man. I’ve since learned it’s an abuser’s way of dehumanizing his victim and shredding her self-worth.”—Susan Helene Gottfried
Why it’s a red flag: Lack of respect is an issue that tears couples apart, marriage counselors say.
“Having respect for each other and the marriage is an important aspect in a healthy marriage,” explains Dawn Michael, PhD, certified sexuality counselor, clinical sexologist and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me. “When you begin to lose respect for your spouse, it’s important to get to the core of why you are feeling this way and talk it out with your spouse.”
Red flag: “Realizing we had different expectations”
“A few months into our marriage, my now-ex insisted it was time for me to begin taking on more ‘wifely duties.’ I realized he’d brought an entire set of expectations to the marriage that we’d never discussed. I certainly didn’t agree to morph into June Cleaver after the vows. It was a huge problem and something I should have recognized the moment I said yes for the sake of it being ‘the next logical step.’” —Tara Eisenhard, divorce coach, mediator, author of The D-Word.
Why it’s a red flag: To communicate successfully, you must be a good listener first.
As Dr. Holbrook explains, unmet expectations happen often because expectations are not communicated. “I used to find myself upset when my partner picked me up from the airport by simply pulling up to the curb in the car,” she explains. “I felt silly for getting my feelings hurt, but I knew I had an expectation that he would park and meet me in person at security for a big hug. Once I was able to voice my expectation, he gladly obliged! He had no idea that his far more practical approach was causing an issue. Once we talked about it he changed his behavior and I felt much more of a priority and happy that I had voiced my expectation.”
“My wife no longer said ‘thank you’”
“My wife completely stopped appreciating anything I was doing for her. I would bring her coffee in bed every single Saturday and Sunday morning and I think after a while she just got used to it. She used to smile at me with grateful eyes and even sometimes would welcome me back into bed with her, even just to cuddle. She started taking me for granted and it hurt deeper than anything else. I knew we weren’t going to make it, I think from that point on.”—Evan Bradshaw
Why it’s a red flag: Forgetting to appreciate your partner is one of the common behaviors that end relationships and marriages.
“It’s a universal thing, when people stop paying attention and stop noticing their spouse, the relationship is over, even if they haven’t noticed yet,” says Lisa Orban, author of It’ll Feel Better when it Quits Hurting & Wine Comes in Six-Packs. “When a person doesn’t feel appreciated, they will start looking for it somewhere else, everyone needs someone who will pat them on the head and give them their cookie, someone who makes them feel validated.”
She explains that if one partner needs to start looking outside the relationship for appreciation or validation because they do not get it from their partner (even if it doesn’t lead to actual cheating), the glue that holds two people together dissolves.
“My husband refused to address issues from his past that were harming our marriage”
“My husband, who was raised in a home with an alcoholic father, had many unresolved issues. He does to this day, and may never be able to be honest enough in therapy to get past them. Often, he would have fits of rage. His level of anxiety, depression, self-deprecation, fear, and low self-esteem weighed heavily on him and still do. I never knew what would set him off. Would it be something I said or did? Something that one of the kids did? I was walking on eggshells all the time and soon my own anxiety started to build. I eventually had physical symptoms of anxiety, which made me take a good look at my life. I grew weary of trying to be the best at everything while feeling like the worst. Eventually, I got myself into therapy and began to change. He didn’t like that I was regaining the free spirit I was in my younger years, but nobody was going to hold me back. But, believe me, he tried. He accused me of being gay, of lying to him, and more.
Leaving him was the best decision for me and maybe he’ll see in the future that it was for him as well.”—Stephanie Dandrio
Why it’s a red flag: Addiction of any kind is very difficult to overcome, even if you’re not the person who had the addiction yourself. For example, it’s clear that the spouse was still dealing with the long-term effects his father’s addiction had on his life.
“If they are in recovery or getting help and it’s something that they openly discuss, then you can get through it,” Rudi Rahbar, PsyD, clinical psychologist who specializes in couples and families.
“If it’s something they deny or are hiding, most likely they need to seek out help and they will not be the best version of themselves for the relationship.”
Dr. Rahbar also points out that the issues involving the addiction experience will take priority when the relationship should be a priority, because they’re still dealing with the issues this experience has caused in this person’s life. “In these circumstances, most likely the relationship will not survive, or you will need to make a lot of sacrifices to keep the relationship afloat.”