Signs It's High Time That You Filed for Divorce, According to a Therapist

When news broke yesterday that Brangelina is no more, the world gave a collective groan. Love is dead, Mercury's in retrograde, nothing will ever be the same, and everything is awful. 


But in the rubble of yet another failed celebrity marriage are some real life lessons to learn, says Manhattan-based licensed marriage and family therapist Elisabeth Mandel. Namely? A cautionary tale for married couples to reevaluate their relationship and see if they can be doing better.

"People need to communicate their concerns beyond, 'Oh, I'm worried about you doing this,'" she tells us. "People have to make their requests very specific."

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But what does that mean? If you're upset your man's not around a lot, don't just say you want him around more -- tell him you want him to check in, say, three times a night and let you know when he's coming home. Or if he is shy about doing his share of the parenting workload, agree that he'll pick up the kids from soccer practice three times a week, not just "more often."

But in all things, tact is so important, and you can't try micromanaging your partner. Mandel suggests saying something like, "'I know XYZ is important to you and I want you to do what you want, but it worries me when you go out for hours and don't check in for a couple of hours.'"

If things still don't work, Mandel recommends going to couple's counseling. "People often make the mistake of asking for non-specific things," she says. "I tell couples to break it down, what can they do to address this concern in a concrete way that is essentially quantifiable and absolute?"

Your Marriage Isn't Your Relationship

Mandel tells us that one of the biggest thing couples forget is that once you tie the knot, you don't just go home from your wedding full of cake and champagne. You're married -- and legally bound to another human being. And that's a lot of pressure.

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"Marriage is a psychological change," Mandel says. "It becomes less about how the couple is in control of their life, and how the government kind of becomes a parental figure overseeing the marriage." So, she theorizes, if Brad had impulses to rebel, then marriage adds additional stress to their relationship. And joking about "the old ball and chain" doesn't help.

"It doesn't affirm marriage in a positive way -- people need to celebrate their marriage."

Know When to Walk Away

If opening the channels of communication and seeing a therapist haven't worked, there are other warning signs to look out for. 

Mandel says it may be time to talk to a lawyer if your partner:

-continues to pull away

-doesn't make an effort to comply with your specific requests

-doesn't want to have sex with you anymore

-repeatedly threatens divorce

Love is tricky in the best of circumstances, and Mandel notes that when kids come along, things are that much more complicated. 

"Unfortunately the reality is, when heterosexual couples have kids, men feel neglected when children get all of the attention," Mandel says. "They don't adjust well, so the highest incident of an affair is within the first year for the first child. Women have to identify themselves as a spouse, you can't neglect your spouse and give it up for the identity of being a parent."

But, you say, this is SO UNFAIR to the woman. Hold on to your feminist hats, because in this day and age, relationships are about equity. So, yes, while you should make your partner feel included, it's his job to step up his game with childcare. 

"So many men tell me, 'My kids are my wife's life, I don't fit anymore.' Including him takes more work, but it's worth the payoff. Being in a healthy relationship makes you feel safe and secure and loved."


Image via Splash News
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