There are a lot of different things that go into a couple's decision to get divorced. It's usually not just one thing that makes someone want to start the process — it's typically a combination of the little things that slowly build up and impact the relationship over time. Every marriage is different. But according to experts, there are actually a few moments couples go through
before getting divorced.
"You'll know when a marriage is reaching its
breaking point," divorce attorney, Steven J. Mandel, tells Bustle. "Most of the time there will be a trigger that will push one party to rush to the lawyers to file for divorce, whether it's an affair, imprudent spending, or a moment where the spouse may feel slighted or disrespected." There's always a "last straw."
There are many
questions you can ask yourself to see if your marriage is worth saving or not. According to Mandel, the most simple question to ask yourself is, am I happy? "It's such a simple concept," he says. "But an answer of, 'no' speaks volumes to the type of relationship you're in."
In addition to unhappiness, people usually feel "every emotion possible" in the
moments leading up to the divorce. There's anger, fear, resentment, frustration, and sadness. Here are some common moments couples go through before getting divorced, according to experts.
They Start Questioning The Relationship
"The most notable moment that all couples go through before a divorce is when they suddenly begin to question everything,"
Damian Turco, attorney and founder of Turco Legal, tells Bustle. "After several years of a happy and loving marriage, doubts begin rolling through their minds." They start asking themselves, should they get a divorce? Is there still love there? What will happen to the kids? How do you even start the process? According to Turco, this is usually a time when emotions are running high and "nagging questions" linger at the back of their minds.
Couples who are thinking about divorce, typically find themselves feeling stuck and uncertain that the relationship can move forward in a healthy way. For instance, some people really can't
move on from infidelity. Trust issues and resentment can weigh a marriage down. "While this moment can be a turning point for couples, it doesn’t mean they don’t still love each other," Susan Block, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "A lot of times, even as they’re walking out of the courtroom after finalizing their divorce, there's still a feeling of love there for some couples." But sometimes love isn't enough to help you move forward in a healthy way.
They Make A Promise To Try Everything They Can To Work It Out
"Before getting to the point of separation or divorce, there’s a moment where couples make a proclamation that they want to explore every option to resolve their issues," Block says. Some may turn to self-help books, while others try going away together to reignite the spark. Some couples may even go to
marriage counseling to see if the relationship can be repaired at all. "They want to leave no stone unturned, especially if there are kids in the picture," Block says. "They want to feel that they tried everything and made any last attempts to repair the relationship before closing the book on the marriage."
They Start Separating Their Finances
"People act divorced long before they actually get divorced," divorce lawyer,
Russell D. Knight, tells Bustle. For instance, one person may have an affair while another moves out. But according to Knight, there's no bigger sign of an inevitable divorce than financial separation. "A separate financial life may mean using a private credit card or depositing money into a separate single-person account," he says. "Either way, this is always the straw that breaks the camel's back. Once a person starts living separate financially from their spouse they have made a no-going-back decision."
There's A Breakdown In Communication
Having open communication in your relationship is important if you want it to last. As family law attorney,
Melissa Fecak, Esq., tells Bustle, couples who eventually get divorced typically see a breakdown in communication. "Many of my clients speak about how they were no longer communicating completely or effectively (some don't communicate at all)," Fecak says. "Communication is truly a cornerstone of a successful relationship." Even if a couple does decide to get divorced, communication is still essential especially if kids are involved. "Parents who are going to co-parent need to be able to speak to one another," she says. "This often takes some education during the divorce process. If they had this before, they likely would not have divorced."
Fights Start Getting Personal
Even the happiest couples fight sometimes. When you're in a healthy relationship, you should feel like you can express your feelings and opinions regardless of whether your partner agrees. "A healthy relationship is one where you feel 'safe,' not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense as well," Mandel says. "If couples don’t know how to argue productively, that is often a major factor in leading to a divorce."
Fighting productively means coming together and talking out your issues as a team. But if you start name-calling or pointing out each other's flaws just to be hurtful, it may be a sign that your marriage is headed towards divorce.
It's not uncommon for people to go back and forth on their decision to follow through with a divorce. It's not only expensive, but it can be a completely draining process. "What many of my clients have had in common is the indecision of whether to follow through or try to stick it out," Fecak says. According to her, this indecision often comes from a place of fear. There's a fear of the unknown, a fear of being alone, a fear over financial implications, and for some, a fear of how their kids will be impacted. "This fear can be crippling," Fecak says. Because of this, it may take years before a couple decides it's finally time to end things once and for all.
Making the decision to get divorced isn't easy. Everyone's situation is different. But these moments are very telling and happen to couples that eventually get divorced. So if you find yourself going through any of these, you may want to think about whether your partner really is the one for you.