Potential Indicators Of Divorce

Updated January 19, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It isn’t always easy to determine when a marriage is over. Most have their ups and downs, but just when we think we can’t resolve our differences, an opportunity appears that allows us to repair the damage and move forward. However, there are some red-flag circumstances that indicate your time together may be ending for good. 

If you feel like you’ve put every effort into keeping your marriage together and it’s just not getting any better, it might be time to investigate when it’s time to call it quits. Keep in mind that every marriage is unique, and there are many factors that contribute to its state. Those complexities should always be considered when weighing whether you’ll stay and try to work on it or leave the marriage and move on. 

Factors That May Indicate It’s Time To Divorce

The Relationship Has Become Abusive

Most people are familiar with the idea of physical abuse, where one partner physically hurts the other, but there are multiple kinds of abuse, and all of them can irrecoverably harm a marriage. Other types of abuse that could take place within marriage include verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse.

Physical abuse leaves visible signs of violent behavior, which can make it easier to recognize. But all abuse is hurtful and wrong within any type of relationship. If you believe that you are in an abusive relationship, you should take immediate action. If you are experiencing physical abuse, remove yourself from the situation as soon as you can safely, and reach out for assistance.

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

One Of You Has Cheated

Unfaithfulness in a marriage can be an extremely difficult thing to overcome. When one spouse cheats, the trust in a marriage is often broken and lost. Therefore, even if the spouse that cheated says that they will stop cheating and work to earn back their partner’s trust, it’s likely still difficult for the other partner to trust what they say.

Some couples choose to try and salvage a marriage after a partner is unfaithful. But in these cases, it usually takes substantial work on the part of both spouses and can take time to rebuild trust. This involves a willingness of both parties to work on the marriage. Without this, the marriage may fail or continue in an unhealthy pattern. At that time, it could be a sign that it’s time to split up.

The Aftermath Of A Divorce Can Be Complicated

It Seems That All You Do Is Argue

It’s normal for couples to have disagreements. However, if you can’t agree on anything, especially the big decisions that you need to make together, it could be an indicator of divorce. Compromise is an important part of relationships. You might have heard the advice that both partners in a marriage need to give a little. 

While that can be helpful advice, there are some situations where the advice doesn’t apply. For example, many of the major decisions in life are not things that compromises can be made on. One example of this is having children. If you want kids and your spouse decides that they don’t, the options are one or the other. 

If you’re finding that you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on these big decisions, it might be a sign that your marriage is not going to be a successful one.

You Don’t Respect Each Other.

A good marriage needs love, but it also needs respect. If you and your spouse don’t respect each other, it may be difficult for you to move forward together. You may find that you’re always questioning each other’s motives or actions. You may also find that over time, the bulk of your communications become based on criticism. This is hurtful behavior that can have you both putting up walls in your marriage.

If your spouse knows that you don’t respect them, it may begin to negatively hurt their self-esteem. Or it could cause them to start looking for respect from other sources. They may throw themselves into their work more if they feel that they are respected and appreciated by their coworkers. Or they may start looking for another person that respects them to fill that need. This is a situation that could potentially lead to an affair. While a lack of respect for each other isn’t an appropriate excuse for cheating within the relationship, it could easily become a justification for the behavior. 

You Haven’t Transitioned To Your Own Life Together

Your parents may be some of the most important people to you, but if they rank higher on your list than your spouse, it could be a sign that you’re headed for divorce. (And vice versa for them.)

There are many reasons why parents may interfere in their child’s marriage. If your spouse relies heavily on the advice of their parents and won’t make a decision without involving them, it could be a sign that they don’t respect your values and opinions. It may be difficult for the two of you to come together as a couple and your own family unit if your spouse refuses to set boundaries with their parents.

If you try to talk with them about the situation and they’re still unresponsive, you may be left with a difficult decision: you can continue with the way things are and deal with it, or you can end the relationship.

What If You Want To Stay Together?

Recognizing the signs that it may be over in your relationship doesn’t mean you need to rush out and begin the process (except in cases when one party is in danger). There are things that you and your spouse can do to improve your marriage and stay together. 

The Aftermath Of A Divorce Can Be Complicated

Get Counseling

Trying couples therapy is often an instrumental part of repairing a marriage. A therapist can help you and your partner get to the root of the problems in your marriage and learn how to work together to overcome the obstacles that you’ve been facing. If it’s a source of difficulty, marriage counseling may also be able to help the two of you reconnect with each other on an intimate level. 

Work On Forgiveness

Forgiveness is often a crucial part of a successful marriage. There will likely be times when you each do or say something that has a negative impact on the other, and it’s important to learn how to apologize when you’re in the wrong. If your marriage is struggling and you want it to work out, you may need to begin taking responsibility for things that you’ve done to contribute to strife within the marriage. 

On the flip side, it will also help you to learn how to forgive your spouse when they do something hurtful or unproductive for moving the marriage forward. Even if they don’t ask you for forgiveness, it will help you and your relationship.

Remember that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean restoration. For example, if you or your spouse has broken trust in your relationship, you may forgive each other but still have work to do on the relationship before it’s functioning successfully.

Focus On Reconnecting

Sometimes couples feel like they have grown apart, but they still love each other. This can be a good sign that you need to work on reconnecting with each other. Spend time together. Work on improving your communication. Sometimes instead of ending your marriage, you just need to put some more work into it.


If you decide that your marriage is over, it can help to figure out a plan before jumping into action. Think through the logistics of what separation will look like and what steps you need to take.

In divorces involving children, don’t forget to focus on what this transition will look and feel like for them. Work with your spouse to determine what will be in the best interest of your children as you move forward with splitting up. Remember, just because the two of you are ready to be done does not mean that is what your children want, and they may have difficulty communicating and processing the feelings associated with your separation. Many couples choose to hire a therapist to speak with their children during their separation. A psychologist who specializes in helping children and adolescents can provide invaluable support and teach them how to cope with the difficult emotions that may follow the divorce. 

If you’ve spoken to a couple’s counselor, but you still decide that separation is necessary, you’ll need to care for your mental health to move forward outside of the relationship. One of the best ways to do so is to speak to a therapist to navigate the process of divorce and care for yourself. 

Many people choose online therapy during challenging times such as a divorce because of its convenience, affordability, and effectiveness. Platforms like BetterHelp can provide a resource for you to find a licensed, accredited mental health professional that fits your needs. With online therapy, you can speak to a therapist on your time anywhere with an internet connection. If you need to reach out in between sessions, you can leave a text for your therapist, and they’ll respond as soon as possible. 

There is no need to endure the difficulties of a divorce on your own. With therapy, you can begin the road to healing and move forward. 

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