Most of us don’t walk down the aisle at our weddings thinking there’s an expiration date for our love. We don’t say, “I do,” while planning to end our marriages in six years, three days, and 12 hours. But building a healthy marriage and keeping it together is not easy. At some point, you may have to know when your relationship is over so you can move on. In this article, we will explore several ways of knowing that it’s time to file the divorce petition.
The Four Horseman
Researcher John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert, has come up with a system for knowing when a relationship is doomed. The four indicators he chose are sometimes called the four horsemen of the Apocalypse:
- Criticism. One partner attacks the other person’s character instead of their behavior.
- Defensiveness. Once a party engages in defensive behavior, he or she stops listening to their partner.
- Contempt. People may use passive-aggressive things like rolling their eyes or sneering at their spouse to show disrespect and contempt.
- Stonewalling. When one partner walks away during a disagreement or refuses to engage, he or she is stonewalling. This tactic can shut down communication quickly. According to John Gottman, couples who stonewall each other are more likely to divorce.
Most relationships go through phases where these types of behavior crop up. However, when these behaviors become the norm, you may need to assess whether your marriage is over.
Other Signs a Marriage Is Over
All marriages are unique, so it can be challenging to pick just a few behaviors that predict failure. However, if you can answer “yes” to the following questions, it may be time to seeking counseling:
- Do you walk on eggshells when your spouse is around?
- Are you irritated by behavior you accepted early in the relationship?
- Has subtle and overt verbal abuse become the norm in your relationship?
- When you are stressed, do you turn to someone other than your spouse for relief?
- Have you or your spouse started acting like someone who is single?
- Do you and your spouse avoid physical and eye contact?
- Do you worry and feel anxious about your relationship all the time?
For some people, the end of a marriage is a sad day. For others, it’s more of an Independence Day.
If Your Marriage Is Over, We Can Help
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Southern California Coast.