When certain couples get divorced, it doesn't always come a surprise, but there are other splits that cause us to scratch our heads in bewilderment — they seemed so happy! Unfortunately, there's more to marriage than just getting along, and there are some telltale signs a couple could get divorced even if they seem happy. They might not seem as obvious from the outside, but relationships are complex, and if certain components aren't working, the union is not likely to last.
"Seemingly happy couples get divorced often times because they avoid issues in the relationship," says counselor Margaret Bell, MA over email. "They are pretending that everything is okay, in hopes that through pretending everything will be okay. However, this does not solve the underlying issues and problems. Also, couples can appear happy but you never know what goes on behind closed doors and the unhappiness that is being masked."
Every relationship is different and it's hard to predict for sure who will make it and who will have to head to court. However, there are a number of indicators that tend to be pretty accurate. Here are 11 telltale signs even a happy couple is likely headed for divorce.
1. They Don't Talk About The Future
A couple can love spending time together and be very happy in the moment, but if they do not communicate their long-term vision and plan, then it can easily fall apart. "Topics that involve settling down and setting up the foundation of your life can easily become deal breakers for a marriage, such as where to buy a house, whether or not to have children, which holidays to celebrate, and whose family you will spend them with," says psychotherapist Lindsey Huttner, LCSW over email.
2. They Don't Deal With Stress Well
"Couples can spend years together before this becomes a bigger issue," says Huttner. "If a partner does not handle stress well, their spouse can probably let this slide for a while if there aren't any major life stressors happening However, at some point, a partner could lose their job, their parent could pass away, or a financial hardship occurs, and they do not cope with this stressor well at all."
3. There's Distance Between Them
Distance can really be a key factor in driving a wedge in a marriage. "Whether this is a new job that requires frequent travel or just working long hours at the office, this may lead to feeling emotionally distant," says Huttner. "This often causes spouses to feel they are not connected or leaves them longing for connection from another person outside the marriage."
4. There's No Romance
Some couples end up being more like friends than lovers, spending ample time together, but without romance or sexual intimacy. "They get along great in their relationship and function like a well-oiled machine in their routines together," says Huttner. "This is more common than people realize and can lead to the desire to have that romantic sexual connection with someone else."
5. They Avoid Fighting
Fighting all the time isn't good for a relationship, but neither is avoiding issues. "It keeps you safe, but it doesn't help your relationship grow," says Bell. "For a relationship to have staying power, a couple has to find a way that works for both of them to talk about their issues, even if it's something like not doing the dishes."
6. They Have Different Family Values
Some couples have different core or social values about family. Someone might be an only child, but then they marry someone from a huge extended family. One may be more private and like to have alone time with their spouse, while the other may love having their family as guests. "They may disagree about the boundaries and family visits," says relationship counselor Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH over email. "Unless they discuss a compromise and respect each other’s feelings, they will end in divorce or live in deep resentment."
7. There Are Issues With Money
"Money issues are a major cause of divorce," says Young. "If one or the other spouse feels 'entitled' to the other one’s paycheck, there will be rows. Overspending, gambling, and credit card debt fall into this category. Both parties need to be on the same page when it comes to budget, spending, saving and resource management."
8. They Take Each Other For Granted
A coupe could be happy, but one spouse may not appreciate the other. "Taking a spouse for granted is a sure sign that the relationship will deteriorate," says Young. "If one person takes the contributions of the other person for granted — whether they be financial, emotional, etc. — there are bound to be hurt feelings and resentment."
9. They Have Differing Political Or Religious Viewpoints
Politics and religion can also be reasons a marriage ends in divorce. "Unless there is a healthy mutual respect for opposing views and beliefs, a couple might head for the divorce court any time after an election or religious holiday if they don’t feel appreciated, valued, and included," says Young.
10. They Don't Have Meaningful Discussions
A couple can be happy, but if all they talk about is the weather, sports or gossip, the relationship isn't likely to last. "It doesn't connect and invest you in your partner," says Bell. Deep topics are important in sustaining a relationship.
11. They're Pretending
Some couples might seem happy, but they could be pretending to be that way, whether it's just to others or even to themselves. "Perhaps they seem happy so that others do not know that their relationship is in trouble," says Bell. "Maybe they are pretending towards each other that they are happy, when in fact you are not. We often pretend we are happy hoping to fool ourselves. If we pretend long enough, then maybe it'll come true. This doesn't work in relationships."