Divorce is a difficult decision to make, but sometimes it can be the only healthy option. If you think it might be time to end your marriage, there are various signs that you can look for to determine when to divorce. It’s never easy to file for divorce, but there are certain situations in which staying in the relationship would have far more negative consequences than leaving. This guide will explain the basic signs that you need a divorce, helping you make an informed decision about when it’s time to contact a divorce attorney.
1) Excessive Negative Interactions
Social psychologists have known for years that it’s not necessarily the severity of disagreements but the quantity that indicates the need for a divorce. The magic ratio in any happy relationship is five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. You know when to divorce partially by weighing your positive interactions against the negative ones. This advice contradicts the popular misconception that small arguments are insignificant as indicators of marital problems. If you find that you have significantly more negative interactions with your partner than positive interactions, it may be a sign that you need a divorce and should contact a divorce attorney.
2) Argument Severity
Even the magic ratio has its limitations. The existence of more positive interactions than negative ones should not be taken as proof that you don’t need a divorce. Very severe and hurtful arguments are one of the most crucial signs to get a divorce. Many couples don’t know when to divorce and stay in unhealthy relationships because they rarely argue, ignoring the fact that those arguments are filled with hurtful or abusive behaviors. The severity of arguments can be an indication that you need a divorce, particularly if the arguments tend to devolve into personal insults rather than topical disagreement. Arguing about things is a normal part of any marriage, but it should not be a frequent occurrence, and you should never feel devalued by the other person during the argument. One of the hallmarks of a successful marriage is being able to stick to a single topic of disagreement without generalizing small problems into larger issues with the relationship. If you can’t resolve conflicts this way, it may be time to contact a divorce attorney.
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3) Different Values
While people with different belief systems often manage to maintain successful marriages, those couples tend to do so by finding common ground in shared values. Knowing when to divorce revolves around knowing when you reach a point where your core values are so different from your partner’s that you will never be able to find common ground. For example, if one partner greatly values having a large family, while the other puts a higher value on achieving career success, it is likely that they will eventually need a divorce unless those values change. Sometimes knowing when to divorce requires looking toward the future and determining whether each person’s idea of what that future looks like is acceptable to the other. If your partner wants a future you could never be happy with, it may be a sign you need a divorce.
4) Marriage Counseling Isn’t Working
Marriage counseling is a great way to work on your problems and receive the invaluable input of an objective third party with training in dispute resolution. Numerous marriages are saved each year through marriage counseling, but both partners must be equally committed to the process for marriage counseling to work. If your spouse isn’t committed and you still want to save your marriage, try the Lone Ranger Track of Mort Fertel’s Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp. If you have been involved in marriage counseling for at least several months with no signs of progress, that standstill can be a strong indicator of when to divorce. Knowing when to divorce requires first making an effort to fix the problems in the marriage so neither party has regrets.
One of the most crucial indicators of when to divorce is if one or both partners have gone outside the marriage to pursue another relationship. While some couples manage to recover from the pain that an affair causes, others take it as validation that they need to end it. Even after a major issue such as an affair, knowing when to divorce is still largely a matter of timing. Marriage counseling can help you determine whether your marriage can survive an affair, or whether you should start thinking about when to divorce. Unfaithfulness destroys the trust in a relationship, so often marriage counseling is not enough to rebuild that trust, and a divorce becomes the only option.
6) Other Signs to Get a Divorce
It may seem strange, but many people consult a divorce attorney before they have made a decision about when to divorce. Some couples even hire a divorce attorney while they are pursuing marriage counseling. Although hiring a divorce attorney prior to deciding when to divorce or whether to divorce at all may seem counterproductive, a divorce attorney can actually be a great resource. Your divorce attorney has likely worked with hundreds of couples over the years and may be able to provide you with information on when to divorce and whether your situation can be solved with divorce or a separation. Your divorce attorney may even recommend a temporary separation to give both parties some breathing room. Many couples actually decide to stay together after consulting a divorce attorney and engaging in a trial period of separation.
Related Article: 8 Tips on How to Save Your Marriage From Divorce
7) Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion is often the final sign that you need a divorce. When you go through marriage counseling, apply all the techniques to your relationship, and you still feel drained, a divorce can be the only way to salvage your emotional health. When one or both parties check out of the relationship emotionally, it means that there is very little chance that you will be able to find a solution to your marital problems. Marriage requires a commitment from both parties, so one of the most reliable signs for when to divorce is when one or both partners have given up.
You can learn more on how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.