You love your spouse. You aren’t thinking about divorce. You may not be as connected as you once were, but that’s normal. Yes, the honeymoon is over and you’re content, but now that you think about, you realize you used to talk or text a few times a day, or at least discuss your day with each other at night. Not anymore. When you are together, it’s different. You’re on your cell phone or tablet, and the television is always on.
Your partner is spending more time away from home. Sometimes it’s a happy hour with colleagues, dinner with college friends, or watching the game at the bar. You don’t really suspect an affair, but your intimate moments are getting fewer and farther apart.
Is Your Spouse Considering a Divorce?
If you are facing this common dilemma among couples content in their marriages, but seeing that the excitement has definitely worn off, what do you do? You don’t want to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but you also don’t want to be caught blindsided.
The first thing you should know is that you are far from alone. At Robinson & Henry, P.C., we’ve represented dozens of people whose spouses abruptly wanted out, and almost every one of them had the same concerns prior to the demand.
1. Trust your Instincts
Don’t ignore your intuition and don’t convince yourself you’re imagining things. You created a life with your partner, and you know him or her better than he or she knows themselves. Seriously, you find his car keys before he knows he needs them.
You know when something’s not right. And even if your spouse has visions of being the world’s best secret agent, you know when he or she is hiding something. Trust your gut. If you think it’s more than just marriage malaise, it probably is.
2. What Do You Really Want?
Be honest with yourself. If you believe your partner is considering divorce, determine what you genuinely want. Most of my clients’ typical first reaction was “I don’t want a divorce. I have a great life and I’m happy.”
But are you happy? If you are going to fight for your marriage, be sure it’s not about your ego, and it’s not about keeping your marriage together because everything else in your life is upside down.
3. Talk About It
It’s highly unlikely that time alone will resolve your relationship issues. Don’t wait for your partner to walk through the door with romantic getaway plans. It’s not just his or her responsibility to start the discussion.
You don’t have to be confrontational. Just get the conversation started. Many men have a hard time talking about their feelings and insecurities, even to their spouses. Women can bottle up their emotions or turn to friends for support, especially if they feel neglected. Don’t just retreat to your separate corners when you are home together.
And you may have to keep poking the dragon before you get to the roots of the problem. Your partner may not be ready to talk, or he or she may not even know the true cause of the discontent. Don’t be satisfied with “I’m fine, or “I just need some time alone.”
4. Find a Support Network
Your friends are most likely grappling with the same issues. If a friend went through the same process, buy her coffee or margaritas and talk about it. Lean on your book club or running group for emotional support.
Knowing that even if the worst comes to pass, and your partner does file for divorce, being part of a community can ease the transition. You know you won’t be alone.
5. Take an Honest Look at Your Finances
Where is your money? What do you own? What do you owe? Not knowing the details of your family’s finances can cause anxiety because the unknown is pretty scary. You probably have an idea of how much you make as a couple, and generally where your investments are and how much life insurance you have.
But if you are worried about a potential divorce, details become increasingly important. Even if you’re wrong, and you discover that your partner isn’t thinking about divorce, knowing more about your family’s finances isn’t a bad idea.
How many of the following questions can you answer without rummaging through those papers piled on your desk?
- How much does your spouse make each year, and if there are bonuses, what could that be this year?
- If he or she has a business, what is it worth, and how much of the business does your partner own? What about stock options or other benefits?
- Does your spouse have a 401K account? How about an IRA? More than one?
- What other investment accounts does your spouse have?
- How much life insurance do you and your spouse have? Who are the beneficiaries?
- How much do you owe? What are your mortgage and car payments, and how much is left to pay?
- How much do you owe together in credit card debt?
- What property do you and your spouse have separately from before you were married?
- Do you have valuable personal property? Do you know about how much it is worth?
You don’t need to walk around with the answers to all these questions memorized, but it should get you thinking.
Another financial consideration is how you would make ends meet on your own? With a good lawyer on your side, the legal process will equitably separate your marital assets, including your family’s ongoing income. But spousal support rarely lasts forever, and your half of the family assets may not be worth as much as you think.
6. Explore Your Employment Options
If you end up divorcing, and your share of the marital assets is not enough to support you after the divorce, you may have to re-enter the job market.
If you think about it as a new beginning, it can be an exciting opportunity. You supported yourself before meeting your marriage, and you can do it again. Find things you are passionate about and how they translate into employment options.
If you’ve been out of the job market for a significant amount of time, it’s likely you’ll need education or training to compete for today’s best positions.
Contact an Experienced Denver Divorce Attorney
So what do you do if your instincts were right and your spouse wants a divorce? Talk to a lawyer. Ask your friends for recommendations. Don’t try to tackle the legal divorce process on your own.
Nothing can fully prepare you for the considerable life disruption a divorce causes, but if you follow the steps above, you’ll be better prepared for the physical separation, the legal process, and life after divorce. Schedule a consultation today!