Sometimes a client will tell us they were surprised when their spouse told them they wanted a divorce. They may say they knew their marriage wasn’t going well, but they didn’t think things had gone “this far.”
But, in truth, if your spouse has taken steps to initiate separation and divorce planning, there probably were signs of this that you missed. Very few people decide to upend their lives by ending a marriage without a lot of forethought.
You should know the signs that someone is planning for a divorce, especially if you are unhappy in your marriage or you suspect that your spouse is. Divorce is often as much a financial upheaval as an emotional one. You need to take steps to protect your financial interests if there may be a divorce in your future, which includes consulting and likely engaging a divorce lawyer.
General Signs of an Unhappy Marriage and Potential Divorce
In a recent Psychology Today article, Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in divorce and other family issues, said if you suspect your spouse is thinking about divorce, you’re probably seeing signs you shouldn’t ignore. These include:
- Your spouse is spending less time with you and isn’t interested in where you are or what you’re doing. This will likely extend to a lack of physical intimacy.
- If your spouse is suddenly hiding their social media, email and/or phone activity you should be more curious about what’s on their mind.
- Always “busy.” A spouse whose time is always spoken for – more time at work, helping a friend, or “at the gym” – may be having an affair. Even without an affair, it’s another form of detachment.
- Your spouse shrugs off bad things that happen to you, such as a bad performance review at work. He or she may tell you it doesn’t matter, or you should “get over it.” Your spouse doesn’t care about your feelings and may even resent you bothering them with it.
These and the other issues Buscho raises need to be discussed, she says. “Stay calm and focused, even if the marriage may already be past the point of rescue. Ask your partner if he/she is willing to work on the relationship, repair it, or go to marriage counseling. If your partner refuses, then divorce is almost inevitable.”
Signs Your Spouse is Cheating on You
Some of the issues above may indicate that your spouse is having an affair, Robert Weiss, Ph.D., LCSW, says in another Psychology Today article. His 10 signs your spouse is cheating include a partner who:
- Improves their appearance. Suddenly exercising and eating healthier could be a sign they are trying to appear more attractive to someone. This is especially a concern if they are the same around you, but they try to look significantly better for work or certain social events.
- Guards their phone. If your partner never relinquishes possession of their phone and suddenly starts deleting texts and clearing their computer’s browser history, they’re engaged in some kind of communications they don’t want you to know about.
- Changes their schedule. A sudden need to work late or to travel for business should raise suspicion, especially if it’s not related to a major job change. Flat tires, dead batteries, traffic jams and similar excuses for being late or missing engagements may also signal infidelity.
- Fades away emotionally. In addition to not being physically intimate, your partner may suddenly seem less emotionally vulnerable with you and not want to deal with you on an emotional level. This is a strong indication that their emotional focus has shifted to someone else.
Weiss warns that a spouse who displays signs of cheating might not be having an affair. “But these remain indications that something is wrong in their life and/or your relationship. It might not be cheating, but there is almost certainly something that you and your significant other (need) to talk about.”
Behavior With Money That Could Signal Divorce
As we suggested above, divorce is a financial matter. And someone who understands this and is thinking about divorce is likely to move some money around. Some clues to look for are:
- Significant changes in bank accounts, such as large cash withdrawals. Another sign of different priorities is a change in paycheck deposits or retirement plan contributions.
- New accounts, which you may spot via new statements in the mail, indicating putting money beyond your reach.
- Changes to passwords, PINS, etc., that lock you out of joint accounts. Some institutions require periodic password changes, but not telling you of a change could be a sign of problems.
- New credit card offers or bills, which may mean your spouse is working to establish credit in their own name in anticipation of divorce.
- Tax returns, retirement fund statements or other important papers going missing. If you’re planning for divorce, you want to gather records to get a full picture of your financial status. A spouse doing this and blocking your access to these records means business.
Behavior Toward Children When Considering Divorce
A mother or father who sees divorce in their future may decide they’ll need to be ready to show how big a factor they are in their children’s lives to get a share of custody.
You might have reason for concern if suddenly your spouse:
- Becomes involved in the children’s school activities, such as by attending events or meeting with teachers, when they hadn’t before.
- Takes over chores involving the child, like doctor appointments or driving to and picking up from activities.
- Takes an interest in knowing who your child’s friends are.
- Initiates special one-on-one time with your child, like “father-daughter” days.
Contact a Raleigh Divorce Law Firm Today
If you recognize signs that your spouse is considering divorce, and you can’t get straight answers about what is going on, you need to think about protecting yourself. A divorce attorney from Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh, N.C., can answer your questions and tell you what you should be doing to prepare yourself and your children for a divorce. Whatever lies ahead, we can make sure it is fair to you. Contact us now at (919) 829-1006 or online.