What causes two people that have lived together to split up? This is a question that many divorcees ask themselves after breaking up their marriages. The truth is, several red flags predict divorce before it eventually happens, and you can notice them if you pay attention.
People break up their marriage for various reasons. If you have ever been in a relationship, you can probably name a few. The reasons for divorce are always subject to debate. You read about them online, in magazines, and there are dedicated TV and radio shows about this topic.
Because of the widespread talk about divorce, you would think that couples have an in-depth understanding of its core causes. However, this isn’t the case because most of them are either unaware or overlook the red flags that predict divorce.
Most of these flags are subtle – not the inexcusable reasons like infidelity and domestic violence. Over time, they develop into significant issues that, if left unaddressed, eventually lead up to divorce.
Here are some early warning signs that may indicate that your marriage is on its last days.
Defensiveness in a relationship comes from a perceived attack from your partner, followed by your counter-complaint. People with this trait usually act like victims and don’t like taking responsibility for their mistakes. Such behaviours include uttering phrases like ‘it’s not my fault…’, ‘I can’t believe that you did…’, ‘You’re lucky to have…’, etc.
Moreover, defensiveness can involve cross-complaining. This is when you recall something your partner did wrong in the past when they complain against you. After this, you ignore your spouse’s complaint. Other defensive traits are using yeses, followed by buts, and repeating yourself without listening to what your partner is saying.
The best solution to defensiveness is calming down and paying attention to your partner’s perspective. Keep in mind that nobody is perfect. Try to speak honestly and listen attentively. After every talk, remember to validate your spouse by letting them know you understand their emotions.
Lack of Communication
Another indicator that predicts divorce is a lack of communication between partners. When you begin feeling that ‘I’m not going to tell her that…’, ‘she mustn’t know this…, and so on, it could be setting up your marriage for divorce. You can also increase the risk of separation by stopping communication about little things, such as failing to empty the trash can or messing up your home’s organization.
Some relationships go through complete withdrawal from communication, also known as stonewalling. Spouses mostly use this strategy to avoid conflict when they feel overwhelmed. Stonewalling is an indicator of arrogance, disapproval, disconnection, and distancing. It is expressed in many forms, including giving the silent treatment, changing the subject, incoherent mutterings, and storming out.
Avoidance of conflicts by failing to communicate is ineffective. With time, all the things you hold back widen the communication gap in your marriage. The antidote to this red flag is learning to see the signs that your partner is overwhelmed. Also, never hold back if you see something unpleasant. You can take a break and agree to resume talking when both of you are at ease.
Criticism occurs when you talk about your partner in a way that shows something is inherently wrong with them. For example, you can say ‘you always do this…’, ‘you never…’, ‘you’re the type of person who…’, etc., it might also involve attacking your partner’s character or personality.
In most cases, criticism is always met with counter-criticism. When you begin to degrade one another regularly, be assured that your relationship is on its last days. Picking on each other frequently develops into a bad habit. A marriage fraught with endless criticism from either or both parties cannot last.
Often, criticism happens when either spouse tries to prove the other wrong or attempts to win an argument. While it is inevitable to criticize the other party in a relationship, do it in a way that doesn’t attack their personality. For instance, if you see something unpleasant, tell them about it, how it makes you feel, and that they need to change it politely.
Contempt is perhaps the most damaging red flag that shows marriage is nearing its end. Being contemptible to your partner means that you are disrespectful and don’t value their opinion or presence. It also shows that you think you are superior to them. Simply put, contempt involves using statements and behaviours, both verbal and nonverbal, to assert superiority to your spouse.
Examples of contemptible behaviours include name-calling, being hostile, eye-rolling, sneering, sarcasm, snide remarks, insensitive jokes, and mocking your partner. If you are in a relationship headed for divorce, these forms of contempt can become part of your daily communication.
The problem with contempt is that it hurts the mental wellbeing of the partner being attacked, especially their self-esteem. It can also make them feel that they are being manipulated.
As a couple, it is essential to work towards eliminating contemptible behaviours. If your spouse is contemptuous towards you, it’s not a matter of you will split up; it’s when. Keep in mind that a marriage needs appreciation, kindness, respect, and tolerance to make it last.
Although the four red flags mentioned above indicate that divorce is close, they don’t necessarily mean that your marriage can’t survive. It is advisable to take immediate action if you notice any of them. Start by talking to your spouse as we have suggested, and make it known that their actions could hurt your relationship.
Sometimes, your partner may not realise they are hurting you through criticism, defensiveness, etc.After talking to your spouse, consider going to a marriage counsellor for therapy sessions.
It is also worth noting that some people don’t change. Whether you are in a marriage or serious relationship, be sure to avoid people who exhibit these red flags repeatedly, even after you talk and reconcile. This way, you will save yourself from the stresses of a toxic relationship.