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.
Here is my list of telltale signs that 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!
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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 …
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