After experiencing two divorces I have become quite in tune with the behavior of someone as they build up the courage to officially declare that they want a divorce. I’ve seen it from both perspectives, the person being left and the one deciding to leave and I can confidently say that there are some very obvious things people do once they have set their mind on wanting a divorce. Awareness of these signs may allow you some time to give it all you have as a last-ditch effort of salvaging your marriage or at least mentally prepare yourself for what is about to happen
1. Leary of Large Purchases Together
So, you have been happily house shopping together for the last few months and all of a sudden, your spouse decides that they are no longer interested in purchasing at this time. Or one of your cars dies and you need a replacement, but your spouse keeps insisting that only one of your names should go on the title. If your spouse is contemplating a divorce they will no longer want to be financially tied to you, therefore they will want to avoid any large purchases in which both of you will be responsible.
When I was married to my second husband we were in the process of a couple of large decisions. The first was that we were trying to decide on purchasing a house together. After some hunting, we put an offer in on a house that we both loved. That evening I had a bad panic attack and my anxiety was on high alert. I initially thought that I was just nervous about not having the offer accepted, but when what I was fearing happened and our offer was countered I actually felt relieved. That was when I realized that maybe this was a bad time to be purchasing a home and that I needed to sit and really think about if this was really the life I wanted to live. I told my ex that I didn’t want to counter the offer and that we should give the house hunt a break.
The second financial decision we were trying to make was purchasing a new car for me, because mine was old and falling apart. By the time I found a car I liked I had already processed my thoughts and was mentally preparing myself to ask for a divorce. When we went to sign the papers and purchase it I insisted that only my name go on the title. I told him that I really wanted to own my own car, as I had never been able to do that in the past. Although this was partly true, the reality was that I didn’t want his name on the title because I knew that it would be a sticky point when separating our assets in the divorce process.
If your spouse has always been willing to be tied to you financially, but is all of a sudden taking steps to cut those ties or not create new ones they may be secretly wanting a divorce.
2. Getting All of Your Finances in Order
This is another big one that coincides with not wanting to share in large purchases. If your spouse starts to hide money or separate your accounts you may be in the final stages of divorce preparation. For many people one of the most difficult parts of getting a divorce is the financial aspect. The most fights and ugly situations come from couples trying to separate their assets and decide who gets what. If your spouse randomly decides that he needs his own bank account aside from your shared one, wants a separate phone plan, or is suddenly is being secretive with his money he may be getting your finances in order to make the divorce go smoother.
3. Change of Mind Regarding Children
From the beginning you two have always talked of having children. Seemingly out of nowhere your spouse has stated that they don’t think that they want kids after all. Everyone knows that having children is a lifelong commitment. No matter what happens in the future between you and your spouse, your children are going to tie you two together forever. As someone who is contemplating divorce, the idea of having a baby would be completely taken off of the table because they wouldn’t want to have anything permanently linking you two together. If this has always been the next step in your lives together but it has suddenly been ripped out from under you, your spouse may want a divorce.
4. Becoming Distant and Withdrawn
This sign is tricky because it can actually be the symptom of various causes, but when in combination with the other signs it may mean that divorce is in the near future. While in the decision-making process some people need to mentally distance themselves from their spouse in order to cope with their feelings and assess what life will be like without them there. Cutting off emotions and the daily interactions that you have both become accustomed to may be your spouse’s way of protecting himself from feeling more pain than necessary. If your spouse is distant and withdrawn it could also be depression, guilt, stress, or another issue all together. Have a conversation and see what is causing them to act this way.
5. Overly Critical of You
Up until now your spouse has always been your biggest supporter and cheerleader, but recently it seems like you can’t do anything right in his eyes. When contemplating divorce there are a couple of reasons why your spouse may become critical of you. First, they are feeling pent up anxiety and anger about the things that have gone wrong in your marriage leading up until this point. They may not know the best way to approach the subject, so they are taking out their frustrations on the little things you do to annoy them, rather than addressing the major issues in the relationship. Secondly, no matter who initiates a divorce, it is very painful on both ends. As the person thinking of filing, your spouse may be putting you down and picking fights with you out of guilt. He feels bad that he is considering hurting you in this way and is trying to find reasons you are at fault so that they can ease that guilt.
6. Casually Bringing Up the Subject of Divorce
Is your spouse slipping the idea of divorce into your conversations? Maybe it’s a story about a work colleague going through a divorce, asking your view on the subject in general, or interjecting the “D” word into your fights. If it becomes a consistent topic in your daily conversations or fights, your spouse may be trying to gauge your reaction and mentally prepare you for what they are contemplating.
7. Starts Sabotaging the Relationship
Another way your spouse may be showing you that he is thinking of a divorce is if he starts doing things that are destructive and out of character. It is extremely difficult to ask the person you promised to love forever for a divorce. Some people subconsciously start doing things that sabotage the marriage so that they don’t have to be the one to initiate it or to assure that you are on the same page when they gather up the courage to go through with it. Some of these behaviors may be staying out late drinking on a regular basis when they never used to, flirting with other people in front of you, having text, phone, or online conversations with inappropriate people, drunkenly kissing another person, etc. If your spouse starts doing things that are causing a lot of turmoil or are making you wonder if you even know who they truly are, they may want a divorce and are just too scared of hurting you to actually go through with filing the papers.
There can be other reasons why your spouse is doing these things but if you feel yourself resonating with a few of these signs, it may be a smart idea to address what is going on. Maybe you will find that they are struggling with something else but if you do discover that your spouse is unhappy with your marriage, this at least gives you some time to hash things out and see if there is anything you can both do to save your marriage.
When your husband files for divorce it is easy to think that that he has already moved on, isn’t sad about it, or seems completely over it. The truth is, he has just had more time to process the idea and go through the stages of grief before you even realized what was happening. It isn’t that they don’t care or don’t place value on the years that you have spent together, it is more likely that while giving you signs that they were heading this direction they have had time to come to terms with the idea and emotionally prepare for it. Divorce is one of the worst things a person can go through. It is devastating, flips your life and future upside down, and hurts like a bi*#h. If you feel that your marriage may be going down this path and are seeing your partner exhibiting some of these signs now is the time to reach out and try to resolve issues or do some soul-searching of your own to discover if divorce really is best for you. Check out my post: Why Are We So Quick To Divorce, for some tips on how you may be able to salvage your marriage if you aren’t ready to give up yet. Whatever happens, know that you are not alone in this and that life can and will be good again! Good luck and best wishes! ❤