Do you feel like your marriage is spiraling towards divorce? Have you been through a prior divorce and think your current marriage is headed in the same direction? Do you have a child, sibling, or friend who appears to be in a failing marriage? If so, you will want to pay close attention to the information provided to you in this blog post. There are warning signs that you can look for in almost every failing marriage. The key is to pick up on those warning signs to do something about the underlying problems in the relationship before it is too late.
Many of the warning signs of divorce can be seen before you even get married. Yes, before bad habits set in that can ruin your marriage, you can identify and deal with personality traits and characteristics that more readily lead couples to divorce. The key to this whole discussion is honest with yourself to admit to having some features or tendencies that could present problems to you and your future spouse.
Characteristic #1: Being Ego/Self Centered
Suppose you are a person who frequently concerns himself with his interests primarily. If he does not readily think of others or believes himself to be the center of the universe, you are more likely to have marital issues that can lead to divorce than other people. This probably makes sense to just about every person reading this blog post, including those of us who may have the personality defects I talked about at the outset. So if identifying the problem isn’t tricky, where do the issues come in?
The problem is that it is difficult actually to act on that problem that has been identified. Knowing that you concern yourself primarily is easy enough to remember but doing something about it is challenging. If you have become accustomed to looking out for yourself first and foremost, don’t have much concern about other people (other than how they can help you in some way) and generally dismiss the needs of others as being less important than your own needs. Marriage will be very tough for you. On top of that, having kids and raising a family will be even more challenging for you.
Do you have the ability to admit to yourself that focusing on your self-interests could be detrimental to your marriage? I’m willing to guess that even if you have this ability, it will take a great deal of effort to break free of this habit. The reality is that marriage is an institution requiring you to be on the same page as your spouse and work in tandem with that person for the relationship to be successful.
You can go through the motions of a so-so marriage for a relatively long time. After a while, a problem will develop, and you all won’t have the foundation to fall back on to save the relationship. That or one of you will become bored with the marriage and find it better to move on rather than work to improve your relationship. Either way, a divorce will be in your future if you cannot identify and then act on your propensity to act out of self-interest rather than your family’s interests.
Characteristic #2: You’ve been divorced before
This may not be a personality trait or a character flaw, but it is something that you should be aware of as you enter into a marriage. If you are marrying someone who has been divorced before, it is more likely that they could get a divorce in the future. I’m not saying that people who have been divorced have a better than average chance of getting divorced for a second time. Still, I am saying that people who have already gone through a divorce will likely have fewer hang-ups when considering divorce as a viable option.
Some families view divorce as not being an option. Other families that we come into contact with seem to have every adult in the family with a divorce or two in their history. There are a lot of reasons that can go towards explaining this phenomenon. Still, I think the families where divorce has never been an option to solve marital problems tend to create people that will never, ever consider getting a divorce. If a person’s first instinct is to look for a divorce attorney at the first sign of trouble, you can view this as a warning sign for a divorce.
Characteristic #3: You are not a person who likes to work to solve a problem
Another simpler way of saying this is that you are lazy. The common trait that I have identified with you this morning that people who have successful marriages tend to have is motivation to work on problems. Work = effort. Effort = something that most lazy people do not like to put forth. Lazy does not necessarily equal dumb or misguided. You may have a healthy view of relationships and have no problem identifying your weaknesses and how to deal with them. However, if you are incapable of dealing with those challenges through effort, you may have never identified the problems in the first place.
Identifying whether or not you are lazy takes effort in and of itself. You may be willing to put forth a great deal of effort at work because you are good at what you do. It may be helpful to put forth a great deal of effort working out on your upper body because your arms are already fit. However, you seem to skip leg days with some regularity because your legs are weaker, and therefore, it is more difficult for you to work those muscles out. Use whatever metaphors you like; the bottom line is that if you struggle with something, you are less likely to work on that thing,
So, if you have noticed that something is not quite right in your relationship but that you or your spouse are not willing to work on that thing (preferably together), you can certainly take that as a warning sign that you are moving towards a divorce. A divorce is not something that has to occur or is inevitable. There are not countless factors working against you in a relationship. On the contrary, if you and your spouse (by far the two most important factors) are willing to work to fix your problems, you can save your marriage from divorce. If not, then this is maybe the most crucial warning sign that you should take heed of.
Money fights and money problems
Money can’t buy happiness in a marriage, but the lack of money or a plan to build financial peace can certainly be a warning sign of an impending divorce. This is not to say that rich people do not get divorced. They do. This is not to say that if you don’t make as much money as you would like, you will get divorced at a higher rate than if you made $20,000 more per year. However, you do need to have the same goals with money that your spouse does.
For instance, do you and your spouse have different views about debt and how to utilize debt to build personal wealth? If so, then this could be a warning sign that your marriage is headed towards a divorce. I see families where one spouse is keen on paying off debt, cutting up credit cards, and staying away from other loans. When the other spouse has no issue with using debt to make simple purchases, takes out car loans every couple of years, and doesn’t hesitate to open up store credit cards to get reduced prices at the register, this can be a significant problem.
I would recommend that you talk to your spouse early in your marriage about what you want to focus on in your family. If your spouse wants their credit score to be as high as possible, this may not be a good thing for your marriage. After all, a credit score allows you to take more debt easier in a vicious cycle. A high credit score is not a sign of great personal wealth or even a good plan for growing financial security in your family. A high credit score can often signify that you lack personal wealth or a method to obtain it. Talk to your spouse about how they were raised to treat debt and how they have interacted with debt to this point.
Another issue that I have observed some families struggle with during marriages is getting on a budget. A budget may seem like just another way to keep you from being able to live life according to your terms. It may be that. However, a budget permits you to spend money in a particular area rather than wondering where all your hard-earned money went at the end of the month.
Marriage and family counselors will often use budgeting as a means by which spouses can begin to work on family problems together. Something as simple as defining the family goals, where the money goes towards accomplishing those goals, and then set limits on the other areas of your life can be a soothing practice for people experiencing marital problems. If you have a spouse unwilling to submit to any financial planning/budgeting exercises, then I would argue that you don’t have financial problems- you have marital issues.
Infidelity as a warning sign
Finally, I wanted to touch on infidelity as a warning sign for divorce. This is probably the first warning sign that most of us consider why people ultimately get divorced. The advent of social media and the internet, in general, has made engaging in extramarital affairs easier than ever. The sad part is that these affairs can destroy a marriage easier than any other factor or warning sign that I have listed for you so far. There is something visceral about being cheated on that can rob you of any remaining trust you have in your spouse. Without that trust, the marriage fades away on its own.
If you suspect that your spouse is engaging in inappropriate behavior, you should address the problem head-on. There is no use in guessing a problem, acting suspiciously towards your spouse, yet not directly identifying the concern with them. Your fears may be unfounded, yet there may still be communication or trust issues underlying your initial suspicions that need to be worked on. Whatever the case is, there is no use in acting suspiciously towards your spouse but not discussing the problem with them.
The last thing that I will caution you on regarding infidelity is that we are more in control of this issue than any other one that I have listed today. It may be hard to avoid a situation that we know could lead us into trouble. At that moment, nothing may seem to make more sense than to do something that we know is not right or beneficial for our family. If you or your spouse can come to this understanding, then your marriage can be saved. However, if you are not willing to do so, this warning sign may more readily move you and your spouse to divorce than any other factor I have listed today in this blog post.
Questions about divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material that we presented today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office, where we can answer your questions and address your specific issues directly with you.