This post is for anyone who is worried that their marriage is on the brink of collapse. If you’re worried about divorce, if you’re wondering whether your marriage is doomed, or if you want to know whether there’s still hope to turn things around before it’s too late… well, keep reading!
OK, now, let’s dive into the 4 signs of an impending divorce….
The first sign of trouble in a marriage is CRITICISM or COMPLAINING. Essentially, this refers to situations where one partner gets upset at the actions or behaviour of their spouse, and places the blame on them or their personality. For instance, let’s say you aren’t really the type to help out much with housework, and rarely clean up the kitchen after dinner…. If your spouse responded by saying, “You never help with the dishes. You’re such a lazy slob,” then that would the type of criticism that often indicates an unhealthy marriage.
Secondly, and this one often goes hand in hand with criticism, sign #2 is DEFENSIVENESS. So if we stick with the example I just mentioned, where your spouse calls you a “lazy slob,” a defensive reaction would be if you said in response, “Give me a break, you’re such a mess in the kitchen.. If I cooked dinner there would barely be any dishes at all.” In other words, defensiveness is when one spouse responds to their partner’s critical remarks by turning things around and attempting to shift the blame back on their partner.
Sign #3 that a marriage is heading for divorce is CONTEMPT. Now the word “contempt” can mean a lot of things, but in this case it’s basically any time one partner has a negative opinion of their spouse, and believes themselves to be superior… so, for instance, statements like “you’re a moron” or “you’re just clueless aren’t you” are both good examples of this sort of toxic contempt. In fact, this is actually what researchers believe to be the single biggest predictor of divorce… so, this is one that you really want to address immediately if it becomes an issue in your marriage.
And lastly, sign #4 is pretty straightforward… it’s EMOTIONAL WITHDRAWAL or “stonewalling”. In other words, if your partner simply becomes distant and doesn’t really appear to be listening or taking in what you’re saying when you try to bring up a point of contention or a complaint. This is often associated with men, and studies have shown that around 85% of the time it’s the male partner who is guilty of emotionally withdrawing. Sometimes this is because men are unwilling to confront problems or accept their partner’s criticism, and sometimes more a result of his wife having unfair or unreasonable expectations or bringing up the topic in a “nagging” sort of way. Regardless, whether it’s the man or woman who is doing the stonewalling, it’s bad news for a the future of any marriage when it happens regularly.
An unhealthy marriage, tends to have a lot more of “negative” encounters for every “positive” interaction. Basically, if you and your spouse get along and enjoy one another’s company the vast majority of the time… and you only argue or get upset at one another once in a while, then your marriage has a healthy ratio of positive to negative encounters.
Unfortunately, for a lot of you reading this right now, your ratio is probably far lower than that ideal 5:1 ratio that researchers have found to be the magic number for the typical happy marriage. Relax, though… don’t panic quite yet, folks, even if you recognized all 4 of these signs in your own marriage. For most of you, you could very well be able to avoid divorce and dramatically improve the dynamics of your marriage before it’s too late.
How do you do that? Well, that’s a big topic that I can’t cover here… of course one of my first recommendations is to register for Brad Browning's best-selling Mend the Marriage program, which you can try risk-free for 60 days, immediately. The program is basically a comprehensive guide to turning your relationship around -- even if your spouse is unwilling to put in the effort, or has already said they want a divorce -- and it will give you a clear plan to put the marriage back on the right track. You can get all the details and sign up by clicking this link.
I sincerely hope that this is going to help some of you save your marriage while you still can… it’s a tough situation to be in, so I sympathize with anyone who is facing a marriage on the brink.