Should I Get a Divorce? Experts Say These Are the Signs That You Should

Stonewalling is a serious red flag.

should i get a divorce - is my marriage over
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Getting married ranks high when it comes to the happiest days of a person's life. A wedding day, after all, is usually a joyous celebration and, one hopes, an indicator of what's to come. But sometimes fairy tales don't always end up like you imagined. After months of never-ending fights or failed sessions with a marriage counselor, finding the spark again seems almost impossible. When you've reached that point, you might find yourself thinking, “should I get a divorce?” or “is my marriage over?”

A number of things can weave a path straight to divorce: not putting in the effort to compromise, shutting down emotionally, pushing your partner away, and even seeking intimacy from an outside partner. Some of the signs you should get a divorce, however, are a lot more subtle and may take some time for you to see.

Here are some of the most common signs that it’s time to get a divorce, according to relationship experts.

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You start to feel self-doubt.

When your partner no longer prioritizes you — or worse, devalues you — self-doubt can start to creep in. "Constantly being put down and told that your thoughts aren’t valued can cause you to transfer these feelings into your career, family and other social settings – leaving you feeling insignificant and doubting all the abilities you were once confident in," Maria Sullivan, relationship expert and vice president of Dating.com, says. When your relationship starts negatively affecting your self-worth, maybe it's time to call it quits.

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You find that you’re asking all of the questions.

"Are you the one driving conversations – constantly asking how your partner’s day went or if they are interested in a date night?" Sullivan asks. "It’s normal and common to feel something is missing when your partner is failing to hold up their end of the bargain." If your partner is simply not interested in keeping a conversation with you, this could be a sign of their unhappiness in the marriage.

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You’re always the one being blamed.

"When your partner begins to make you feel like everything is your fault, instead of hearing and listening to you as well, it’s time to look elsewhere as they don’t have your best interest at heart," Sullivan explains.

When a partner is unwilling to look at themselves in the mirror and realize that marriage is about compromise and working things out, it could be an indicative that they are no longer meant to be in a relationship.

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You can picture life without them.

"If you can picture living a life without your partner, without any associated negative feelings, it’s time to consider a divorce," Sullivan explains. You know things are bad when you feel nothing anymore.

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You no longer care about fi the problem.

If you're no longer interested in marriage counseling or regaining that spark, it could be another sign that you need to get a divorce lawyer. "If you have too much pent up resentment to care about moving past these problems, it’s time to pack it in," Sullivan says.

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You experience deep-rooted personality changes.

Sullivan explains that people go through different experiences each day and those experiences can then make them change. And although that's understandable, if it's reached the point where you no longer have things in common or don't see eye to eye, it could be a sign that it's time to call it quits.

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You don't listen to each other.

"Actively hearing what your spouse is saying is vital to the survival of a marriage," Sydney Ceruto, Ph.D., psychologist and life coach, says. "When neither spouse is taking the time to really hear what the other is expressing, you are demonstrating that your partner's thoughts and feelings do not matter to you." She says that this frequently leads to one or both spouse's finding someone else to confide in, which can lead to infidelity and divorce.

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Someone has unrealistic expectations.

"The ability or inability to adapt to change in married life greatly depends on having realistic expectations about one's spouse," Ceruto says. According to Lauri Puhn, a family and divorce attorney-mediator in New York City, and author of Fight Less Love Perfect, one spouse may start to grasp onto the idea that if things were different from how they were in the past, then they wouldn't have the problems they're experiencing in the present — and this can lead to disappointment. "If disillusionment sets in when preconceived expectations are not met, it generates enormous dissatisfaction and makes compromise impossible, which leads to an irreparable breakdown of the marriage," Ceruto says.

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The blending of your families failed.

Failed relationships with children, step children, parents, in-laws, and siblings are all major sources of marriage failure, according to Ceruto. "Raising and integrating step children, and ties to extended family, dramatically increases stress in the home and can cause major rifts in a marriage, permanently sending each partner to separate 'corners' and ultimately leading to dissolution of the marriage," she says.

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One person starts stonewalling.

According Ceruto, stonewalling occurs when one partner withdraws from the discussion or interaction in a marriage and emotionally shuts down. "Rather than confronting the marital issue, the spouse may tune out, turn away from, or engage in distracting behaviors, indicating their lack of interest in the marriage," Ceruto says.

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There's no effort to share common interests.

Differences in personalities lead to doing things separately — that's to be expected. But when there's zero overlap (or effort to try to find overlap) you may have a problem: "Couples should be able to share experiences they're excited about, even if someone is not personally interested in the activity," says Elayne Savage, Ph.D., author of Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple.

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Signs of contempt start to show.

Even though these signs might not mean the marriage is over yet, Ceruto says contempt is toxic to a marriage, because it conveys disgust and superiority on such a deep level: "Contempt is fueled by simmering negative thoughts about one's spouse and it arises in the form of an attack on someone's sense of self," she says. And contempt can lead to resentment, which Savage says often takes up space in the relationship to the point that there's no room for connection or intimacy.

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You're depressed.

"After a while of working on your marriage and seeing no improvement, your mental health can take a big hit," Puhn says. She recommends that you pay attention to your own mental health and if you're experiencing symptoms of depression. If working to save your marriage for years leads to personal suffering, then you could be headed towards a divorce.

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Someone has a hidden agenda.

It's not necessarily malicious, but Savage says that sometimes when two people get together, someone has a future plan in mind that they fail to relay to their partner before tying the knot. When two partners aren't on the same page (say about having children or where they want to live), it can lead to serious issues.

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You disagree about whether to have children or not.

Speaking of children, there are many areas of compromise in a marriage, such as who is responsible for dealing with the finances, where you should spend the holidays, or how to handle family issues. But if one of you is absolutely sure you want a child and the other categorically refuses, you're in trouble. "If someone's close to either side of the will-we-or-won't-we-have-children fence, you can work through it. But if not, and having a child is a life goal of yours, you may be looking at the end of your marriage," Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After says.

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Your unfaithful spouse keeps an ex-lover as a friend.

Infidelity is an enormous hurdle for a marriage to overcome, but just ending the affair is not enough, says Bryce Kaye, Ph.D., author of The Marriage First Aid Kit. For a marriage to get past adultery completely, the unfaithful half of the couple cannot maintain a "friendship" with the former lover. No matter what he or she says about the innocence of such a relationship, "nothing good can come out of it," Kaye says.

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You've already "uncoupled."

Couples whose marriages are nearly over often uncouple, or disconnect from each other, before it legally ends, says Savage: "If you're no longer spending any time together, if one or both of you is spending all your time at work, with friends, online — and if feels like a relief not to be with each other — it's a sign that you've already disengaged from the marriage."

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You're no longer a team.

In healthy marriages, both partners work as a team on everything from parenting to running the household to supporting each other's personal ambitions. "If you've both started moving in completely separate orbits, or if you're not working together on day-to-day issues, it's a sign of serious trouble," Savage says.

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There's no compromising in terms of wants and needs.

A major part of marriage involves trying to fulfill your partner's needs while also making sure your own needs are met. It's a lifelong dance, a give-and-take, and it requires constant communication. But if your partner continually refuses to listen to what you need (time, affection, sex, help with children), or refuses to share his own needs, you're not in a good place, Dr. Kaye says.

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One spouse refuses to try.

Some marriages encounter seemingly insurmountable problems like infidelity, the loss of a family member, or a long sexual drought — and rebound from them. But, according to Bowman, the marriage can be in trouble unless both spouses commit to solving the issue. "One partner can't do all the trying on his or her own," Bowman says. "You can't go anywhere like that." A good rule of thumb: If it's been a year with no progress on a number of important issues, then it may be time to call it quits.

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There's a lack of respect in the relationship.

One of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage is mutual respect, Savage says. When that's gone and one partner consistently feels dismissed and rejected, you're not in a healthy relationship. "Marriages that reach this place are toxic — you're no longer civil, and all discourse is either attacking or defending."

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One spouse is a serial cheater.

"Some men — and stereotypically this is men — are just not cut out for marriage; they are unable to remain monogamous, even if they seemed to have wanted to get married," Bowman says. They also may put the blame for their philandering and untrustworthiness on you, usually for being too jealous or controlling. If couple's do recover from an affair, "there are regrets, apologies, and a promise to put an end to it and seek counseling." Not so with the serial cheater: That's a problem you can't fix, and likely spells the end of your marriage.

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You no longer communicate with each other.

No problem in a marriage can be solved without open, honest communication. If you've reached a point where all you ever talk about is mundane things, like who needs to buy milk, divorce could be in your future, says Savage: "Lack of personal, intimate exchange in a marriage is a very bad sign, especially if you are talking to others."

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You're fighting more frequently than in the past.

According to Puhn, the arguments are redundant and never get resolved: "You are arguing over the same issue and it increases in frequency. And there is no resolution. It doesn't go anywhere." Puhn says at the bottom of this and most relationship problems is communication. "It's all about knowing good communication skills and how to resolve conflicts. My research shows that 69% of divorcing couples have reported unresolved arguments which lead to feelings of hopelessness."

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You've had a decrease in frequency and quality of intimacy.

Sure, every couple goes through dry spells, but sometimes it's more than that. "There is a definite lack of interest in sex and they don't communicate about it and don't do anything about it," says Dawn Cardi, a matrimonial lawyer of 28 years. "Or they are in very different places on it. Basically, the trigger is that sex is not working and hasn't worked in a while."

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You're having less face-to-face time.

Over-scheduling commitments or spending more time on your phone is a strong indicator that a marriage is in jeopardy when it is intentional on one or both spouses parts. "Look, there's a certain amount of work that a person has to do but if you see it's becoming more and more and more, and it continues to increase, especially over the holidays, that's called distancing," Cardi says. When one partner is unwilling to spend any personal time on the two of you, she says, you have a problem. "If you don't spend any time together you can't have intimacy," she says. "You can't just e-mail each other to keep your marriage together."

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One partner changes their spending habits.

According to Cardi, from a lawyer's perspective, shifting around bank accounts is far more telling than a spouse may let on. "People will come to me and say, 'My husband changed accounts. He's moving money.' That's a sign to me that he's already ready to get out of the marriage and move onto the divorce stage."

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You're constantly daydreaming about being single ...

... or being with someone else. According to Puhn, this is the most serious sign of all because daydreaming often happens right before the divorce. "Daydreaming happens because all the other things make you start to feel hopeless," she says. "You begin to think what would life be like if you weren't together. Maybe you don't actually want to get divorced, you want to stay together, but you are so disillusioned that you allow yourself to wonder what would today be like." Which usually leaves you open for an affair, she added. "If you are daydreaming, you have the greater responsibility to lead the charge or go to counseling."

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