Is it time to walk away?
The reasons couples decide to divorce run the gamut — no two couples split for the exact same reason. Some can no longer figure out how to communicate and others just start hating each other so much they can’t even sit on the couch together for the duration of a sitcom. Yet, knowing when you must abort the mission is tough. After all, you’ve made a commitment that explicitly said you’d stick it out with each other “for better, for worse” — but the worst thing you can do is sacrifice your own health, happiness, and mental clarity. Here are some signs it may be time to walk away.
1) If you and your spouse recognized your issues were too big to handle on your own and you agreed to work things out in couple’s therapy, it’s safe to assume that at on time, you both wanted to save your marriage. But if you started therapy and your spouse bailed on sessions or is completely uninterested and disconnected when he or she does attend, it’s over. “When one spouse disengages, marriage becomes an uphill battle,” explains, a family and divorce attorney based outside Boston, Massachusetts. “One spouse cannot keep the marriage together.” It’s a 2-person committment, so when one is checked out , it’s nearly impossible to get back on the same page.
2) If you and your spouse always planned to start a family — and then suddenly buying a bigger house or dreamily debating baby names is no more simply because one person doesn’t want that anymore — that’s bad news. “When you planned your whole life to include children and your spouse suddenly doesn’t want that, they’re telling you they want a divorce,” says. After all, having a child means that you and your spouse are connected forever. If your spouse knows that he wants a future without you in it, deciding to not have children could be sealing that deal.
3) When your spouse’s behavior puts your own financial resources and credit rating at risk and they refuse to acknowledge the problem, dimish your concerns, or they just outright lie to you — it’s over. “If there’s been fiscal malfeasance in your marriage, you must protect yourself,” says Tamara Paris-Robinson, an expert in high-conflict and protracted divorce proceedings and transitions. “When your spouse has used joint funds to purchase things you did not agree to or to pay for a ‘second life’ that you don’t know about, you’re at risk.” And that “second life” doesn’t just mean supporting a mistress — it also could point to substance abuse, excessive shopping, gambling, strip clubs, or porn. “It’s extremely difficult to rebuild trust after that type of financial abuse in the relationship, even with therapy. Your finances impact your future quality life and when someone violates your ability to be solvent or to save for your future your only viable option may be to file for divorce.”
4) Ask yourself this: Are you inexplicably under the weather all the time. You know, feeling queasy or dealing with unexplained body aches and pains … And how does the thought of seeing your husband and spending time with him making? Does that make you feel so uneasy that you’re nauseous? Stress is a funny thing, and when you ignore it long enough, it will find way to make you pay attention. “Trusting your gut is another rule of thumb,” says divorce coach Tamara Harris Robinson. “If your stomach is constantly uneasy when you’re with your spouse, you need to pay attention to that.”
5) Every woman has that one deal breaker, a breach in the relationship that you know you can’t bounce back from. It’s a different trigger for everyone, but they’re all equally troubling — things like hiding a gambling addiction to leaning on a colleague of the opposite sex for emotional support. “If that line is crossed and no amount of apology can make the offense go away, then it’s time to get divorced,” says Monique Honoman, author of the High Road has Less Traffic. “There are just some wounds that time can’t heal.”
6) When all you think about is setting your partner on fire whenever you see his face — either in person or in your minds-eye — and that blood boiling hatred is so intense that you can’t even fake it around your kids (or anyone for that matter), that’s not good. “When contempt comes out in the form of sarcasm, name calling, and eye rolling, just to name a few, it’s difficult to fix because contempt is the result of behavioral or communication problems that should have been addressed or worked eons before you got to this point,” explains Cindy Doyle, a couples counselor based in Austin, Texas.
7) This is a tricky one to recognize, because if you are indeed being gaslighted, you probably don’t know it — which is the goal of the person gaslighting you. “Gaslighting is a manipulative technique used to gain power and control over someone. This can include feelings and emotions being minimized or dismissed as histrionic, questioning of events or memories, or being told these events and memories are false, and telling the individual that they’re crazy,” explains Doyle. “And victims of this technique then feel crazy due to their reality constantly being questioned.” The worst part is once you realize what’s happening, the odds that your husband will respond to therapy or admit the behavior needs to change is unlikely. “Those who demonstrate this type of behavior don’t take ownership of it.”
8) If you’ve caught your husband having an affair, he promised to stop, and then you caught him again — that’s problematic. “Those that keep cheating can’t have true empathy. That’s shown by the way they keep hurting you with these transgressions,” says Gary Brown, Ph.D., a counselor in Los Angeles. “It will be painful but you have to let them go. They’re only going to hurt you again.”
9) Lisa Byrne, a certified divorce financial analyst, says you should ask yourself these questions: Is your spouse the first person you go to when you need advice? Solace? A boost of confidence? Do you enjoy similar activities or does he support you when you want to do something different? Does he encourage your career and help you navigate important business decisions? Do you talk about 1-year, 5-year, and 20-year plans? Do they sync? Do you discuss money? Budgets? Does he have your back? Does he tell you when you’re wrong and give you constructive — not destructive — feedback? Does he step up when you’re down and vice versa? Do you have the same values and do you talk about them?
If you found yourself answering “no” to the majority of these questions, it might be time to get out of your marriage, she says.