When to Get a Divorce: Watch for 9 Silent Signs of Separation

Silence instead of fights, “you and I” instead of “we” – the signs that it’s time for a divorce may be subtle, but they’re there. Filing seems like such a dramatic final step of a marriage. However, some relationships actually benefit from a separation.

Over the years, we’ve helped many couples realize when to get a divorce instead of yet another mediation. Here’s some of what we’ve learned.

Scroll through the checklist below, and see if your relationship bears any of these silent warning signs. If so, then a divorce may be what's best for you and your family.

The 9 Silent Signs of Separation Checklist

  1. You're Actively Avoiding Your Partner
  2. They Don't Act Like Your Partner
  3. You Don't Trust or Respect Your Partner
  4. You've Tried and Tried and Tried ... But Nothing Changes
  5. You're Worried About What Others Might Think
  6. You're Staying Together For the Kids
  7. It's Cheaper to Stay Together
  8. You Daydream About Single Life or Dating
  9. You're Thinking About Separation, If Not Divorce

Divorce Sign #1: Avoiding Your Partner and Walking on Eggshells

If you’re avoiding your spouse on a daily basis, then it’s probably the end of the marriage. Typically, people avoid confrontations with their partner either because:

  • They can’t care enough to want to fix the situation, or
  • They’re afraid for their mental or physical health if they confront the situation.

If you are too afraid to be your true self in front of your spouse at any point because you’re scared of being mocked or abused, then you should file for divorce.

Remember: Abuse is not just physical. It can be emotional, too. (And, if you need help, then know that you can always call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.)

Even if you want to separate due to a partner’s abuse, you aren’t required to wait until you can record them or file a police report to divorce them.

Maryland is a “no fault” divorce state. In court, you aren’t required to prove any cause for divorce if you file a no-fault divorce. So, if you can’t prove abuse, infidelity, or other negative spousal behavior, you can still seek legal separation.

Divorce Sign #2: They Are No Longer Your “Partner”

When you hear some silly gossip or get a dose of bad news, you always go to your best friend to share. You know it’s time to get a divorce when your spouse is neither that partner, nor a friend.

Disconnect within a marriage can lead to feelings of loneliness. This loneliness only decays the marriage bond faster. Stay too long, and you’ll feel trapped – leading to a messier, more expensive divorce.

Don’t be afraid to be alone if you divorce from your spouse. After all, you’re already feeling alone, even with your partner. You deserve more than to feel lonely within your marriage forever.

Divorce Sign #3: No Trust or Respect

If you are unable to forgive something in particular that your spouse did to upset you, then it is a sign that the marriage cannot be repaired.

And, it’s okay if that line is crossed due to something other people think is small or insignificant.

For example, cheating means different things to different people, and your feelings regarding your spouse’s behavior are valid. After all, infidelity does not always have to be physical – flirtation with others is seeking emotional validation outside of your spouse.

Flirtatious Facebook messaging or suspect texts with exes can qualify as emotionally cheating, which can be part of adultery per Maryland law. Legal adultery in Maryland needs proven disposition and opportunity.

  • Disposition is a demonstrated desire to cheat on the married spouse. Disposition could be proven through recorded public displays of affection, text messages, and other evidence.
  • Opportunity shows that the spouse had a reasonable chance to cheat. If someone was seen entering your spouse’s apartment at 11 PM and didn’t leave until the next morning, then that incident may help prove opportunity.

Something as large as infidelity isn’t required for you to have lost respect in the relationship, though. Your marriage may have been irreparably damaged for other past issues, such as financial mismanagement or addictive behaviors.

Constantly bringing up past issues in arguments – or when you or your partner use these past mistakes against each other – marks an unhealthy partnership.

In the end, some mistakes cannot be fixed with apologies or promises to change. You have every right to want to leave that behind.

Divorce Sign #4: You’ve Tried. And Tried. And Tried.

If you have made the effort, had those uncomfortable conversations, promised changes, promised counseling, and yet nothing comes from it … then realize that nothing may ever come from it.

If you’re still feeling emotionally divorced from your partner no matter what you do, then it may be time to legally divorce, as well.

After all, it is so easy to feel safe in a long-standing relationship, and it’s normal to be afraid of losing that familiarity. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” as the saying goes.

And, we’re not saying that every emotion has to be fireworks and butterflies in your stomach. It’s okay to be casually comfortable with your partner!

But, if you no longer find joy or simple happiness with your partner, or even feel resentful of them, then it’s time to file for divorce. You deserve to be with someone with whom you're happy, not just be in a comforting habit with the one that you have.

Divorce Sign #5: You’re Worried About What “Others” Will Think

Couples that are in unhealthy relationships would often both like to split, but are worried about what their family, friends, and neighbors might think. But, a divorce isn't for your neighbors; it's for you.

A divorce is a well-thought out decision made by two people. Actress and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow called it a “conscious uncoupling.”

In other words, a divorce can be a split that is not overrun by anger and emotions, but rather a thoughtful decision made by you and your partner to each live better lives.

In such a situation, nobody will judge you. After all, 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in a divorce. A conscious uncoupling, done while working alongside your partner, can help with the process of dividing assets and helping your children through the process.

Maryland divorce law helps with that sort of process through no-fault and uncontested divorce filings: A relatively quick, painless, and cheaper way to separate when both parties cooperate together. It's even easier if children aren't involved. Speaking of which...

Divorce Sign #6: Staying Together “For the Kids”

While your kids may be your everything, they are not your everything in your relationship. You married your partner, not your children. You deserve a spouse – not just a co-parent.

Communication researcher Tamara Afifi says that while your children may be sad for a while after your marriage ends, they tend to heal better in the long run than those kids whose parents stay together in a stressful household with constant fighting.

The single most damaging thing to kids during a divorce is parent conflict, especially if they're asked to pick a "favorite parent." Don’t put your kids in that situation – a judge during a custody hearing won’t like it if (when) they find out.

Divorce Sign #7: It’s “Cheaper” to Stay Together

Some people think that divorce only creates extra expenses, and that it’s cheaper to run one household rather than two.

Everyday expenses must be considered, of course. However, if you’re only staying with your partner to save money, then it might be time to get your financial documents in order and make a budget for what you can spend on your divorce and potentially child custody.

Your happiness – and possibly your family’s happiness – should not be contingent on preconceived notions of affordability. After all, alimony and child support exist for a reason.

Divorce Sign #8: You’re Already Thinking About Life After Divorce

Have you caught yourself making bullet lists about the next phase of your life, without your current spouse? Do you find yourself creating "fake" dating profiles, just to see what's out there?

Thinking about divorce enough to actually start to research and plan it is a sign you’re ready to move on.

That said, your daydream about finally ridding yourself of a dead-weight spouse may stay a just a fantasy, even after divorce is final.

Getting a divorce does not mean that your ex will completely be out of your life -- especially with children. Separating from your partner means diving assets and custody of your children.

But then, if you’ve already realized that reality and you’ve continued to draw up contingency plans? It’s probably (definitely) time to get divorced.

You may not realize it, but you’ve already made a decision to end your current marriage. Daydreaming about what life would be like outside of your marriage is a strong sign you should put your action behind your thoughts.

Divorce Sign #9: Separation or Divorce?

Perhaps you’ve realized that a change must be made, but you think divorce is a step too far.

For some, marital issues can be seasonal, going away when the problem disappears or therapy permanently resolves it.

In these cases, separation – living apart from your spouse and not having marital relations – can temporarily solve a problem. Such an action offers people breathing room and space for their own thoughts, and the ability to show initiative to resolve the conflicts.

However, this option is not for everyone. If there’s abuse, drug use or alcoholism, infidelity, or a plain inability to overcome the past – then a divorce may be the better option.

And, while separation is a viable option, it can put you at risk if your spouse is taking advantage of you financially. Filing for divorce can safeguard your assets – whether it be finances, property, or childrenaccording to Jeff Landers, a divorce strategist.

Ultimately, divorce protects you and your assets. In many cases, it’s less expensive than supporting your separated spouse financially – indefinitely.

Choosing Divorce When It’s Time

There is no “one size fits all” for deciding a divorce. Whether it's a slow burn decision or a catastrophic action that triggers your separation, a divorce should be a positive step toward a better life for everyone – for you and your former partner.

While the unknown is frightening, a bout of courage could be your ticket to a new, happier life. At the end of the day, remember that what matters most is your personal well-being, and the safety of you and your family. Divorce is a season in life; this, too, shall pass, and you will be better for it.

While everything above is crucial to consider when contemplating divorce, there are so many other signs that you may need a divorce.

If you would like help having a clearer image of what divorce would look like for you and your family, please let us know.

We can help you get your first look at your new life.

[CHECKLIST] If you need a family lawyer or domestic legal counsel in Maryland, learn the 8 questions you must ask before retaining.