When you met your partner, everything was going well. More than well, in fact. You did not expect any red flags that predict divorce.
You had an all-consuming desire to be with them all the time and do everything together.
The sex was amazing.
Life was amazing.
However, as time went on, this bright flames of this fire dimmed a little.
At first, you would fight. ALOT.
As time when on you both got tired of fighting. You became housemates rather than lovers.
One day she left.
Somehow you missed all the red flags that predict divorce.
Why 50% of marriages end in divorce.
Sadly, if you are currently married, there will be a 50% chance you may divorce.
If the relationship between you and your partner ultimately breaks down, there is a high chance that it’s due to one of the following reasons;
In this piece, we have singled out 4 red communication flags that you should watch out for on that journey so that your once passionate relationship doesn’t turn into a mangled heap of charred metal. These 4 signs of relationship distress are;
- Shutting down
Red flags to look out for when heading towards divorce
When you are trapped in the heat of a rocky relationship, you might not be able to realize that things are spiralling out of control very quickly. The red flags that predict divorce may not be obvious in the moment. If you don’t resolve them soon enough, your relationship might end2.
No relationship is free of conflict. Here are 4 warning signs to watch out for that can predict the demise of yours. If you spot the red flags that predict divorce early, you can turn your relationship around.
Divorce red flag 1: Unwarranted or unfair criticism
When you are in a relationship with someone, you are bound to pick up on some of the bad traits of their personality. In a normal and healthy setting, you can chalk these off and accept the person as they are.
In an unhealthy setting, you will criticise your partner.
Conversations or fights begin with phrases like
- “you always…”
- “you never…”
- “you’re the type of person who…”
- “why are you so…”
Chances are your partner will not take this lying down. They will also say equally hurtful things, setting off a back and forth between both of you.
You should, therefore, try to talk about the exact behaviour that you don’t like. What you should avoid is a scathing verbal attack on the person.
For example, Jake has an erectile dysfunction problem which makes it hard to have sex when he’s tired. When his wife Eve doesn’t reciprocate his advances, he gets very angry and blames her for their lack of sex life.
Out of frustration Jake often says;
- “You’re the reason we don’t have sex”
- “You are never in the mood”
- “I cant believe how selfish you are”
It ends up leading to a big fight with both parties saying things they will ultimately regret.
Instead of Jake blaming Eve for their lack of a sex life, he can explain to her that he would like to show his love towards her more often. Letting her know that the timing is important will help her understand that’s it’s neither their fault they just need to work together as a team.
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Divorce red flag 2: Contempt or disrespect towards your partner
Being contemptible to your partner means that you don’t show them any respect regarding the issue at hand. This is another red flag of divorce that you need to address before it becomes toxic.
When the relationship starts to turn sour, contempt rears its head. Not only can it be in the way you speak, but it also shows up in other forms.
Here is how to know if you or your partner are showing contempt to one another.
- Sarcastic and snide remarks
- Inappropriate and ill-natured humour
- Eye rolling in response to them
If you have been mired in a relationship in a downward curve, these forms of contempt become a daily affair in your communication.
This sets the relationship down a dark path because this kind of communication is hurtful to your partner’s mental wellbeing and sense of self.
Eve tells Jake to stop leaving his things lying around once he’s through the door. He rolls his eyes, and mutters something incomprehensible under his breath.
This is sure to leave Eve feeling underappreciated and undervalued in the relationship.
When you recognize these destructive patterns of communication, you need to find ways of stopping them.
Talk to your partner more respectfully. Don’t hold things in because they erupt with destructive harmfulness that contemptible remarks have.
Divorce red flag 3: Defensiveness
Conflict between partners might make one or both of the individuals involved defensive. This means that they will find ways of deflecting blame or responsibility to their partner.
Whenever the interaction between them involves talking about a problem, one party always perceives it as an attack and is ready to deflect it.
- “It’s not my fault that you…”
- “I didn’t… you did”
- “After all I do around here you have the nerve to…”
- “You’re lucky that I…”
- “I can’t believe you think that…”
In some instances, one partner can make themselves the victim – derailing the entire point of the conversation.
For such a case, you need to listen carefully to your partner. They, too, know that you aren’t perfect but a sign that you have listened and willing to change goes a long way in fostering a healthy relationship and avoiding divorce.
Divorce red flag 4: Shutting down
There are instances when you feel your partner isn’t being responsive when you’re having a conversation. They either get up and leave or they just respond in clipped, short or monosyllabic answers such as
- “It’s Ok…”
- “I don’t care…”
- “Just leave me alone…”
- “Do whatever you want…”
- “End of conversation…”
- “Stop talking…”
- “Get out of my face…”
- “That’s enough…”
- “I’ve had it!”
The silent treatment or shutting down emotions is very common when it comes to the deep sensitive topics like intimacy. It is a huge red flag that predicts divorce.
Silence may seem harmless but once communication has broken down completely it’s hard to get back. Sometimes having a disagreement can be healthy. Extended bouts of the silent treatment is a very serious red flag of divorce.
Many people do this because they would rather avoid the conversation than partake in the brewing conflict. In this bid to remain neutral, your partner might instead appear to be trying to create distance from you3.
This is especially true when the conversation is heated and emotions are running high. When your partner shuts down or stonewalls you, it appears as if they are giving you the silent treatment.
Jakes Erectile Dysfunction has been getting worse. In recent weeks, he has been avoiding Eve in the bedroom. Eve is starting to feel frustrated and like the intimate connection is weakening.
She wonders why he won’t get help.
She wonders if he’s given up on their relationship.
She wonders if he’s cheating on her.
She feels hurt however when the subject comes up she tells him
“Nevermind, It’s ok”.
What Eve is really thinking is
“IT’S NOT OK!”
Jake also stonewalls Eve when she brings up the subject of his sexual difficulties. He replies back with…
“Just leave me alone. Do you think I want this? I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
Or worse, he ignores the problem completely. If not identified early, this kind of behaviour can spell disaster for your relationship.
What you need to do is take a step back whenever the initial signs of this stonewalling show up. After your emotions have calmed down, you can try to tackle the problem again in a more direct and open manner.
Avoiding divorce when the sex is bad.
Several studies have documented evidence that conflicts between couples lead to a wide range of sexual disturbances, including erectile dysfunction4.
One of the Erectile Dysfunction assessment questions asked is if you are still attracted to your partner and if your relationship is otherwise healthy. An unhealthy relationship outside of the bedroom ultimately affects the relationship inside the bedroom.
These 4 warning signs show you that your relationship is on the rocks. By taking a closer look at how you and your partner interact, you can be able to gauge the health of your relationship and sex life. Address these red flags that predict divorce before it becomes too late.
By learning to recognize the limits, you can develop a more effective way of communication even when you’re embroiled in an argument where the emotions are running high.
Recognition of your problems also pushes you to get more specialized intervention so that you can have a healthier relationship with your partner5.
If you are experiencing relationship turmoil due to sexual dysfunction, speak to us at the UK Men’s Health Clinic to gain access to help.
- Boddi, V., Fanni, E., Castellini, G., Fisher, A.D., Corona, G. and Maggi, M., 2015. Conflicts within the family and within the couple as contextual factors in the determinism of male sexual dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine, 12(12), pp.2425-2435. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26608700/
- Albrecht, S.L. and Kunz, P.R., 1980. The decision to divorce: A social exchange perspective. Journal of Divorce, 3(4), pp.319-337. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J279v03n04_02
- McDaniel, S.H., Hepworth, J., Campbell, T.L. and Lorenz, A., 2005. Recognizing the signs of strain: Counseling couples in primary care. https://page-one.springer.com/pdf/preview/10.1007/0-387-26310-1_14
- Rastrelli, G. and Maggi, M., 2017. Erectile dysfunction in fit and healthy young men: psychological or pathological?. Translational andrology and urology, 6(1), p.79. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313296/#__sec9title
- Christensen, A. and Heavey, C.L., 1999. Interventions for couples. Annual review of psychology, 50(1), pp.165-190. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.50.1.165