Should I Get a Divorce? Signs Your Marriage is Over. (Updated!)

Learn if You Should Get a Divorce

When death is not what parts you, a new life on your own can be complicated, and the emotions surrounding it can quickly overwhelm you.

Top Reasons for Divorce

The reasons for even the most amicable divorce are nearly endless. While some reasons may be relatively innocuous, others can be devastating and destructive. There are no right or wrong reasons to split from your spouse, no matter how guilty you may feel for considering a future as a single person. When considering your current relationship, your safety and wellbeing should always be your top priorities.

Because so many people wonder whether their reasons for a divorce are truly valid, here are a few of the top causes of a divorce:

1. Abuse

Whether your spouse is physically, verbally, or emotionally harming you, abuse is never an excusable action in any relationship. All aspects of abuse are equally dangerous and detrimental to your health, so preparing to leave an abusive spouse often prompts substantial amounts of fear.

But for many individuals, the agony of abuse may equal your fear of leaving, due to the dangerous consequences that could follow.

2. Infidelity

Other marriages dissolve when one spouse falls in love with someone else, which could result in infidelity. For many, this behavior is an unforgivable offense. Affairs can lead to an excess of bitterness and a highly hostile divorce process, which stems from the pain of betrayal. However, falling in love with someone else could also just be a sign that the two of you have grown apart over the years.

3. Feeling trapped in the relationship

Sometimes, you can start to feel tied down within the confines of your current relationship. This trapped feeling can leave you feeling restless within the marriage and ready to pursue a change of pace. You may simply want more independence from your spouse, time for yourself, and time to explore your own unique hobbies and passions.

4. Breakdown in communication

When breakdowns in communication frequently occur between you and your spouse, you may be heading for divorce. It could mean more heated arguments and fights over details (such as who loaded the dishwasher), or major issues (such as your philosophy of life). Whether you argue about religion, politics, or parenting, you might find yourself miserable if you experience near-constant bickering.

5. Financial disagreements

One of the major contributing factors to divorce is disagreeing over finances. If you argue about how much money you have in the bank or object to your spouse’s spending habits, you can create a chasm that is impossible for many marriages to cross.

Of course, any combination of these contributing factors could lead to the eventual dissolution of your marriage. For some couples, it can be an amicable, organic next step in the relationship. For others, bitterness and hostility toward their spouse may be involved.

Have you tried to save the relationship?

If you do not feel you have done everything possible to save it, moving on from your marriage can be extremely difficult and heart-wrenching. With the exception of abuse, attempting to salvage the relationship can give you the peace of mind you need to set the stage for eventual healing.

The first step toward potentially saving the relationship is pinpointing the exact issue that is causing you or your spouse distress. This situation can reveal the next best path for the two of you to take, in order to potentially repair the relationship.

Improving your marriage can take several different routes, depending on the root cause of your issues. For many of these methods, your spouse will need to agree that there are issues in your relationship. The two of you could go to a family therapist or a marriage counselor, or you could buy some communication workbooks.

Even if your spouse does not agree to work toward reparation, you can still commit to making amends on your own. Sign yourself up for individual therapy, or find self-help books about healthy marriages. You may be able to brush up on more effective communication skills, or work through emotional baggage that would allow your marriage to experience more freedom.

During this stage, be certain to consider the implications of divorce for everyone involved. Even children will be greatly impacted by an impending divorce, so they should be involved in some of these efforts whenever possible.

How do you know when your marriage is officially over?

If you pay attention to the finer details of interactions with your spouse, they can help you determine if it truly is the end. No book or resource is a substitute for your own intuition, but it helps to know that you are not alone when you are struggling in your marriage.

The end often begins with one spouse wanting a divorce. You may be the one pursuing the divorce, with your spouse reluctantly tagging along. Or perhaps you are the one who is being dragged through the process, while your spouse eagerly awaits the finalization of it. On other occasions, divorce may be a mutual preference, so both of you can amicably negotiate and equitably settle your differences.

Your marriage is likely over when you decide that the pain of leaving your married life behind is significantly less than the pain of remaining in an unhappy union. Living under the same roof with another individual who causes you great anxiety, pain, or stress will eventually take its toll on your entire worldview. Therefore, the pain of staying becomes greater than the pain of leaving.

The emotional impact of divorce can greatly vary. You may feel celebratory and victorious about being free from your other half, depressed and mournful about losing your best friend, or anxious and worried about starting a newly single life. Regardless, the spectrum of emotions is almost endless.

There is no wrong response to this frequently painful process. Feeling your emotions can help you handle the end of your relationship in a healthy way.

Have you prepared for divorce?

If you and your spouse have made the decision that there is no way to save your relationship, it is time to start taking practical steps toward creating a single life for yourself. Divorce is a time-consuming, expensive process. Therefore, you will need to do a lot of work and research to start laying the foundation for a successful future.

By taking a few of these steps, you will get you started on the right path:

Round up important documents.

Creating a paper trail is one of the most time-consuming yet important aspects of crafting a divorce settlement. You will need to prove your marital income, show any assets you have, and tally up the total amount of marital debt you have both accrued.

In order to efficiently accomplish these tasks, it is important to compile a complete record of your financial history. Therefore, start putting together bank statements, income tax returns, mortgages, loan statements, credit card statements, and any other pertinent documents.

Without a clear look at your finances, it will be impossible for you to receive everything that you are entitled to during your divorce. It is a good idea to start the paper trail now, particularly if you feel that your spouse may not be willing to help you gather everything after the divorce is announced.

Think about how you will fund the divorce.

Divorces are not cheap, particularly if they are executed properly. Before you start filing paperwork, you need to make a plan about how you are going to pay for everything. Some individuals will need to start setting aside funds without their spouse’s knowledge. They may squirrel it away in hidden boxes and gift cards, or even stow it at a trusted friend’s house. Alternatively, you may need to open up a separate (and secret) savings account, which you regularly make cash contributions to.

However, you and your spouse may be on the same page regarding the split. If you are able to remain amicable, it may be a good time to openly discuss finances with one another. Will both of you contribute to the cost of the divorce? Planning for the expenses upfront can save you financial stress in the long run.

Research the type of divorce you will pursue.

Are you under the impression that all divorces are exactly the same? Many people do not realize that there are actually five different types of divorce that you can pursue.

Find a job.

Stay-at-home parents may have their work cut out for them, if they are planning to pursue a divorce in the near future. Especially if you have been out of the workforce for a long period of time, you may need to immediately start searching for gainful employment to support a single lifestyle.

Even if you do not believe you need a job right now, you may need to make preparations to return to school, obtain further training, or generally make yourself more valuable as an employee.

Prepare yourself for others’ emotional reactions.

While you have had time to process the complicated emotions that come with divorce, your friends and family members have not. You will need to brace yourself for their potential responses to your split. Remind yourself that you do not have to make them happy about your relationship decisions.

Children may struggle during this time, especially right after the divorce is announced. Since many kids blame themselves for their parents’ failed relationship, it is important to remind them that the divorce is not their fault. Therefore, it may also be a good idea to preemptively arrange for the children to see a therapist, which will offer them a safe place to process this potentially earth-shattering news.

Do you have a team to help you through the process?

Divorce (n): the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body.

If you pursue a divorce, the life you have now will be legally divided—no matter how long you may have been married. Even though your emotions may be running high, you must understand that every decision you make during the divorce will ultimately affect the rest of your life. To put it another way, divorce is a business deal, and you are the CEO. Regardless of how you feel, you have to make rational business decisions to protect your future.

First, you should hire a team of divorce professionals to help you make the process more manageable. If you are struggling with the emotional aspect of your divorce, the first person to add to your team may be a therapist. This person can help you find positive, constructive methods for coping with the tumultuous feelings you may be having. Usually, it is also beneficial to lean on close friends for support.

Second, you should hire a Divorce Financial Analyst. A DFA will help you analyze your financial situation, gather and prepare relevant financial materials, and craft a settlement that will make financial sense in the future. You should consider having a DFA on your team before hiring a divorce attorney. One of the first things that an attorney will do is ask you to gather complex financial information for a legally binding financial affidavit.

Finally, a competent divorce attorney will handle the legal aspects of your divorce. Make sure that you find an attorney who specializes in family law, as divorce has a complex set of rules that are different from other parts of the law. Having a divorce attorney will be essential for resolving your divorce, so it is crucial that you make a wise decision to help protect your interests during settlement negotiations.

Do you know the right method?

As painful as the process may be, it will end. If you make smart decisions and take everything one step at a time, know that the rest of your life lies ahead. You can do it.


In the beginning, many couples believe that a DIY divorce is in their best interests, because it can save them a lot of money. Unfortunately, it also involves a significant amount of paperwork and research. You can easily make lots of mistakes, which could cost you in the long run.


Litigation is one of the most common divorce methods, but it is also one of the most expensive. This method involves going to court, in order to finalize the details of your divorce settlement. It is frequently pursued when two spouses cannot agree on terms.


If you and your spouse can remain amicable, mediation is a popular option for saving money, since it is much less expensive than litigation. You will work with a neutral third party, who helps by reviewing a potential settlement and quickly reaching an agreement.

You may still hire a divorce attorney, but it is not necessary. If you cannot reach an agreement, you could still be required to go to court.


Arbitration is a combination of litigation and mediation. A couple will hire a private judge, who will hear the cases made by each divorce attorney before issuing final decisions. Similar to litigation, arbitration can be expensive.


This method is still relatively new. However, if both spouses can act civilly toward one another, it is a peaceful way to reach a settlement agreement. Going to court is not a part of this process, though both spouses do retain their own attorneys, in order to help them make decisions about finances, assets, and other key items.

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