How to Know When It's Time to Consider Divorce


No marriage is perfect, and it’s only natural for the average spouse to wonder about divorce. But as I type these words, I realize I never thought I’d be one of “those people” who would even consider divorce. I always thought my husband and I had an unshakable bond, and were destined to be together. But after seven years of trying to be the person he wants me to be and coming to the realization that I went into this marriage thinking I could “fix” my husband’s less desirable traits, I’ve found myself googling phrases like “How do you know when you’re ready to divorce” and “common reasons for divorce.” After combing through uncountable websites, I have distilled my findings down to the following. I plan to use this list with my therapist as I pursue this as a possibility in the future.

If divorce is on your mind, let me save you the trouble of going through the research.

  • You’re Constantly on the Defensive

    You don’t trust your partner not to hurt your feelings. You can’t trust them to listen to your point of view and not blow you off immediately. If you feel as though you can never be fully honest with your partner, it may be time to consider therapy or divorce. This is a symptom of a severe communication breakdown or emotional abuse.

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  • Sex Troubles

    If you and your partner are not on the same page when it comes to sex, and neither of you is willing to adjust things (frequency, trying out a new kink, etc.), consider this a warning sign that the relationship is in serious trouble. Sex is often the glue that holds a relationship together and allows adults to enjoy one another.

  • The Same Issues Never Get Resolved

    This ties into the paragraph above. If you are going around and around on the same issues with your partner, and nothing changes on either side, divorce may be something to consider. We’re talking, of course, about serious issues, not something like what color to paint the bedroom or which cereal to buy. Some examples would be sex life, whether or not to have children, financial struggles, etc.

  • You’d Be Happier Alone

    If you could wave a magic wand and be divorced, financially stable, with the custody arrangement you want, would you cast that spell? All things being equal, would you be happier alone? Not with someone else, but alone? If the answer is yes, then it is worth considering splitting from your partner.

  • Faithfulness

    Not all marriages have to be monogamous. Some people are very happy in polyamorous relationships. However, there have to be rules and buy-in from both people in the marriage. If one of the spouses expects the other to be monogamous and the other thinks it’s OK to have a one-night stand once in a while, as long as it’s emotionally meaningless, then there is a storm cloud of trouble brewing. This is not to say that if one of you cheats that the marriage automatically has to end. Many couples are able to return from that place stronger than they were before, assuming that both parties understand the expectations and ground rules of the marriage that they have mutually agreed upon.

  • Your Relationship Is Abusive

    If you are in a physically abusive relationship, get out. It might not be easy, but you owe it to yourself to do so. Many of us are in emotionally abusive relationships and don’t know it. If you think your partner may be emotionally abusive, check out to find out how to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Speaking with someone and describing the relationship can help you understand how certain behaviors are abusive.

  • Your Self-Awareness

    This is not a decision to take lightly. It’s incredibly important that you ask yourself the following questions before you go any further.

    – Do you still have feelings for your partner?

    – Are you truly ready for this step, or are you using it as a threat?

    – Are you at peace with this decision?

    – Do you accept the consequences of divorce (financial, effect on the children, etc.)?

    – Are you ready to assume 100 percent control of your life?

  • Personally, after all my research, I am considering divorce.

    But I am not sure yet. This is a momentous decision and I still have a lot of self-reflection left to do. I also believe that with enough therapy, we may be able to salvage our relationship and move on. I hope this list has provided you with some clarity on your own situation.

    This essay originally appeared on our sister site and was republished with permission.