Covid and economic-related stresses contributed to higher 2020 divorce rates, with U.S. numbers jumping 34% and newlywed separations doubling to 10%, according to a Daily Mail report.
While divorce rates overall have been falling to record lows over the past decade, overall marriage rates are lower, with younger generations preferring to delay marriage — or forgo marriage altogether.
Thinking of divorce? How to make that very tough decision.
Signs you are ready for divorce
Perhaps you are worried that your spouse senses your eagerness to leave the marriage — or you are contemplating leaving the relationship. Here are signs that the marriage is ready to end.
1. You stop arguing.
Each of you is totally over this relationship, is no longer interested in fighting to keep it alive — and therefore stop actually fighting. The fire is gone.
2. You prefer to spend more time with your friends or family than your husband or wife.
Humans need companionship, community and connection. If you don’t get those relationships from your partner you will seek them out from other people who love and care for.
3. You stop making future plans — whether with your spouse, or in your own mind you stop envisioning a future.
If your heart is not in a future with your partner, you stop making plans for the future — travel, home improvement, retirement.
4. You regret getting married.
If you feel like this person ruined your life, or your life would otherwise have been better if you had not chosen your husband or wife, there is not a lot that can turn that sentiment around.
5. You have reason to be secretive about your phone.
Flirting with an ex or co-worker? Communicating with a divorce attorney or real estate agent in coordinating a new house or apartment? Sharing your plans to leave your marriage with your brother or BFF?
Of course you would be shy about your spouse seeing these texts hinting at the end of the marriage.
6. You start worrying about money in the event you find yourself single.
Fact: Everyone is poorer after divorce. Whether you worry that leaving your breadwinner husband or wife will leave you broke — or that you will face hefty child support or alimony bills, money is a big and real worry for those contemplating divorce. Dividing retirement funds, selling the family home, supporting now two households and other expenses are stressful — and expensive. Learn more about total costs of divorce.
7. Your spouse is showing signs he or she is ready for divorce.
We elaborate on these signs of divorce in this post (which more or less mirror what you may be feeling).
We also put together a guide on how to ask for a divorce.
3 reasons for when you should consider a divorce
There are a few times when you must get divorced:
- Divorce is necessary if your spouse is abusive to you, your children, pets or anyone else. This includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and financial abuse.
- You have to get divorced if your spouse wants to get divorced. You very likely can’t change his or her mind — and even if you could get him to stay, that rarely works out long-term.
- Marriage breakdown that he or she refuses to address or work on. It’s over!
This post explores the research behind the most common causes of divorce.
If you have a reasonably low-conflict divorce, you can file your own divorce papers quickly and online. Read our reviews of the best online divorce paper services.
Should I leave my husband / wife and get a divorce?
In addition to the emotional questions listed above, there are many other parts of divorce outside of the relationship itself. As you make your decision, ask these questions:
- What will your life look like after the divorce? While you may be poorer short-term after a breakup, most people do financially recover, or at least become stable. Many people stay in miserable marriages because they believe that the immediate lower lifestyle is not worth it. But many people report that leaving an unhappy union is worth the financial struggle. How property is divided after divorce
- Are you prepared to be away from your children for half the time — or more? While equally shared parenting is becoming the norm, it is still common for one parent to be legally allowed to see the kids for a minority of the time.
- Are you prepared to have the kids all the time? It is not uncommon for one parent who is granted minority time with the kids (the father, usually), to move away or otherwise not see the children. This leaves the time, logistical, financial and emotional responsibility on the remaining parent. Are you ready for that to be you?
- Are you ready to co-parent with this person? The marriage may end, but you are in it for the rest of your lives if you have children with your husband or wife. This means that you may not be able to move to another location, must continue to compromise on parenting issues and otherwise negotiate with your spouse.
To get a sense of the divorce process, get this free w0rksheet:
Regardless of your path, make sure you get the support you need and deserve. You may find that with your current family and friends, a new tribe of strong single women friends, or a trusted therapist. Connect with a certified mental health professional through BetterHelp.com. Read our review.
You, your kids, and your husband are all best served by seeking out an amicable, low-conflict, collaborative, mediated or uncontested divorce if at all possible.
Divorcing a narcissist husband
Rebecca Zung, top-rated divorce attorney and divorced mom herself, has a whole video course on how to divorce a narcissist, which I review in How to Negotiate With a Narcissist. Her tips include:
- Have a plan ready to execute before you tell your husband or wife you want a divorce:
- Prepare a new place to live
- Have your own cash money saved
- Hire a divorce attorney
- Decide what parenting plan you want
- Take your time to learn how to negotiate with a narcissist and win — to save yourself countless dollars, untold sums of stress and the potential to lose everything.
- Tell them in person that you are divorcing them as you walk out the door, or pack up in the middle of the night or while they are out of town, and have them served with divorce papers the next day. Do not give them a chance to manipulate you.
Divorcing your alcoholic husband
If your husband is an alcoholic or addict and is either actively using, or is in recovery but you worry will relapse, first, accept that it is not your job to save him. You are not responsible for his wellbeing, and in fact, were likely a co-dependent enabler. No more!
Take steps to protect you and your kids financially, physically and emotionally. It is OK and even healthy to be hopeful that you will one day have an amicable co-parenting relationship if and when he is sober, but until then you must work with your attorney to secure the wellbeing of you and the kids.
Divorcing your bipolar husband
Similar to addicts, living with and divorcing a bipolar spouse is very stressful, unpredictable and possibly dangerous for you, your kids, and your spouse. You are not responsible for their behavior and can only protect yourself and your kids.
Divorcing a husband who won’t work
If your husband refuses to work, you may find yourself paying child support or alimony — at least for a short time. Judges are increasingly intolerant of divorced people who try to live off of payments from their exes, and yours may be ordered to work. Because our culture is a sexist one, there is less tolerance for men who do not work and live off of women’s income.
What are the advantages if I should ended up getting a divorce?
Divorce of course gives unhappily married people the opportunity to leave a miserable marriage. Divorce also allows people in abusive relationships to leave.
Many people are much happier after divorce.
- More control over your home and life. If your spouse’s bad money habits were a source of contention, now you can have control of how much you spend and save. If they were a slob or neat-freak, now you can control how messy or clean your home is.
- Date without cheating on a spouse. You are single now. Best dating sites and apps for single parents
- Start anew. Many people thrill in starting a new life, on their own terms.
What are the disadvantages if I should ended up getting a divorce?
Both parties are almost always poorer after divorce. It takes more money to support two homes than one, after all.
While the effects of divorce on children is misunderstood, it is hard on children when their parents live in two separate homes — especially when the parenting schedule is lop-sided.
Stress on extended family and friends. People who know and love both of you may feel torn to choose one side, or otherwise suffer a stressed relationship with one or both partners.
You may be lonely after divorce. Though you may have been lonely while married.
Not everyone wants a divorce. You may wish you were still married.
You may miss your kids while they are with their other parent.
Regardless of your path, make sure you get the support you need and deserve. You may find that with your current family and friends, a new tribe of strong single women friends, or a trusted therapist.