When one spouse files for divorce, the other can feel blindsided —until weeks and months later, they look back and see all the red flags they were missing, or ignoring, or repeatedly turned down for sex. For years. In my case, my ex threatened to leave for months. I was pregnant, and couldn’t believe it — until he left his wedding ring on a shelf where he knew I’d see it. No subtlety there!
The Wall Street Journal quoted me on this topic recently, so here you have it:
My list of telltale signs your husband or wife is planning to leave you and wants divorce
- They stop arguing with you. If you’ve been bickering (or screaming) for years about certain issues, and they suddenly stop, they may very well have thrown in the towel.
- He or she spends more time with their own friends or family members than before — and less with you. You may have been your husband or wife’s primary comfort and friend, but now you have been replaced with other people (or a lover, for that matter).
- Become evasive or stop caring about future plans, whether planning vacations, holidays, home repairs — all now irrelevant because they are out of there.
- Sudden focus on their appearance such as plastic surgery, major weight-loss, new wardrobe all may be signs of a new lease on life — without you.
- They act secretive about their phone messages, texts, mail and emails. There may be an affair at play, or they may be waiting for a call from their lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, or spending time researching alimony law.
- Sudden interest in the family finances, after leaving the money management to the other spouse.
- Rejiggering of assets or credit — say, taking out large sums from a home equity line, unusually high spending on a joint credit card (or worse, one in the other spouse’s name), or withdrawal from investment accounts. Opening of new accounts or credit cards in their name only is another sign.
- Lots of talk about how poorly their business is doing, which might be planting notions that he has fewer assets and income than in actuality.
- Refusal of a stay-at-home parent to get a job, or a lesser-earning spouse to take a higher-paying position — ensuring higher child support or spousal maintenance.
- Sudden interest in the kids — if they are thinking of leaving, and want to make sure they get lots of visitation time with the children, they show uncharacteristic interest in sports, religious, school and other activities, as well as ensure the kids spend lots of time with their side of the family.
- Aggressive insistence to relocate to be near their extended family.
- Sex stops, or sex starts to suck. If you’re still having sex, but the other partner stops caring about your pleasure, or intimate connection, they are checked out emotionally, and a divorce may be next. (Though I did report on weird cases where that chemistry outlives the marriage. Rare, weird but possible!
My ultimate divorce checklist
If you’re now headed for divorce, here is a roundup of info you need to know:
- Call a lawyer. Whether you’re going through divorce, a breakup with your kids’ dad, negotiating child support or visitation schedules, or otherwise have legal questions, head to Avvo. You can read reviews and find a qualified lawyer in your area. You can also ask legal questions of attorneys in your FOR FREE.
- Get cash in your name alone. Related article: Every woman needs $5,ooo cash in her own name, even if it’s secret
- Pay attention to your credit. This is the most-overlooked, and one of the most important parts of your financial picture in divorce. don’t eff it up. Related article: Credit tips if your divorcing or thinking about separating
- Start thinking about how you will make more money. Gun for a promotion at work. Start a side gig. Launch that business you’ve been yammering about. Switch careers. You will need more money, and you need to set a positive example for your kids about how to to that. Figure out how to sell your wedding ring. Set big, scary goals, and go for it.
- Shore up your support system. This may mean your current circle of friends and family. Maybe you reach out to an acquaintance who recently went through divorce, or find a therapist, or reach out to the leader of your house of worship. This is going to be hard, and you need support. Related: Join my Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms, for those with big goals, positive mindsets, and no victim mentalities (no income requirement!)
- Seek advice about how to tell your kids you’re separating. Related article: 6 tips for talking to kids about divorce
- Stop fighting with him. You’ve already been fighting. It will get you no where now. Just stop, and take practical, calm steps to move forward to untangle the relationship. You will be co-parenting for the rest of your lives. You need a new dynamic. Initiate the change. Related: Podcast-How to get days to stay involved post-divorce
- Slow your roll. Don’t run out of the house screaming. Don’t go on a spending spree, quit your job, or other rash moves. Divorce is trauma, and you, your kids and your soon-to-be ex will fare better on the other side if you are calm, deliberate and kind to yourself and him.
- Remember: This will be hard. Also: It will get better. In fact, this new phase of life will be amazing.
Related topics about divorce
How about you? What signs did you show that you were ready to leave you? What did your ex do to signal he was ready for divorce? Share in the comments …