Divorce coach on the signs you should call it quits on your marriage

Always bickering and stuck in a three-year relationship rut? The signs you should call it quits on your marriage, revealed by a divorce coach

  • There are a few factors that need to be considered before ending a marriage
  • These signs may point to whether differences have become irreconcilable 
  • Some issues couples may face include problematic communication styles
  • Divorce coach Prudence Henschke explains some of the recognisable signs 

Walking down the aisle and saying ‘I do’ is something most couples hope might be forever.

But the reality is more than half of Australian marriages end in divorce.

Melbourne-based divorce coach Prudence Henschke specialises in helping people calmly navigate relationship break-ups.

‘Making the decision to call it quits on a marriage is always difficult, and should never be undertaken lightly and not without professional help,’ she told FEMAIL.

From clashing views to being stuck in a three-year relationship rut, here the coach reveals some of the signs that may suggest it could be time to consider divorce.

Melbourne-based divorce coach Prudence Henschke (pictured) specialises in helping people calmly navigate relationship break-ups

1. Small irritations have become more intense

In the first flush of romance, often referred to as the honeymoon period, there’s nothing your partner can do wrong.

However, a few years in, the little things that may have only previously irked, start to feel more annoying and over time can build into something more intense.

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Ms Henschke explained that around the three-year mark, it’s normal for feelings in a relationship to change.

‘The rose-coloured glasses are removed and doubt can creep in. Suddenly you realise your partner won’t fix your problems and the things you loved about them can now start to irritate you,’ she said.

‘At this point, it can seem as if everything is wrong with your marriage, and you may feel the relationship has no future.’ 

A few years into a relationship little things that may have only previously irked, start to feel more annoying and over time can to build into something more intense (stock image)

Moving through this phase may require a decision such as whether to separate, live parallel lives or move forward together.

‘If you do decide to stay in the marriage work is required,’ Ms Henschke said.

‘The work is as much on yourself and recognising the role you have played in getting to that point, as together on your issues.

‘This is a time to educate yourself and gain skills to build the relationship you want. You may also need expert help at this point.’ 

2. Clashing views on non-negotiable needs

According to the expert, couples rarely sit down before they are married to talk about topics like work, money, children, parenting, sex, religion and politics.

But she said ‘having these boring conversations is crucial’ because not knowing each other’s values, needs and expectations early on, can be problematic down the track.

One example of a conflict arising from differing non-negotiable needs might be around the issue of returning to work after children.

A wife may have assumed her husband would support her financially to stay at home with their children.

‘Making the decision to call it quits on a marriage is always a difficult one, and should never be undertaken lightly and not without professional help,’ the expert said (stock image)

A husband may have assumed his wife would want to return to work after 12 months of maternity leave and have their children in childcare on a full-time basis

‘If there are contentious issues (which undoubtedly there will be) the way they are worked through as a couple will have a huge bearing on the happiness of the relationship overall.’ Ms Henschke said.

‘Effective communication is so crucial to healthy relationships. Understanding each other’s communication style is part of this process.’

3. Ongoing stress can damage the foundations of a relationship

What is the divorce rate in Australia? 

* According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average length of a marriage is 12 years

* In 2016, there were 46,604 granted down from the 48,517 divorces granted in 2015 

* The median age of Australian couples marrying for the first time has continued to slowly rise over the past two decades, with grooms now likely to be closer to 30 years and the bride in her late twenties

* Australian men and women are getting married later but also staying married longer, with the number of divorces granted declining over the last 20 years

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 

External stressors can definitely contribute to eroding the foundations of a marriage, Ms Henschke said.

Some common examples of these include work stress, financial difficulties, illnesses, the death of a loved one and caring for aged parents.

‘Successfully navigating these challenges comes down the being clear about expectations of one another and communication,’ she said.

‘Seeking outside support is also important – whether that be practical help to ease the strain of difficult circumstances or professional help to manage the emotions.’ 

4. Failing to appreciate each other

Ms Henschke said at best failure to appreciate can show up as the absence of words or tokens of gratitude.

At worst a failure to appreciate can manifest in negative words and patterns of communicating.

‘If there is a significant presence of negative communication patterns these are most likely to lead to the end of a relationship.

She explains John Gottman, an American psychologist renowned for his work on the marriage and divorce prediction coined the phrase ‘The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse’.

These communication patterns are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Based on his research contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce.

Ms Henschke (pictured) said all relationships have seasons

‘The antidote for contempt is to treat each other with respect and create a culture of appreciation,’ she said.

5. Your marriage has hit a boredom-rut

Relationships need to be nurtured and nourished in order to thrive.

‘If one person feels bored in the relationship, communicating that mindfully to the other person and working together on ways to spark their relationship is key,’ Ms Henschke said.

‘At the same time, each person in the relationship also needs to be responsible for creating their own happiness, fun and excitement (both in their lives and in the relationship).

‘Relationships have seasons. And it’s not always going to be summer,’ she concluded. 

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