10 Signs Your Marriage is at Risk for a January Divorce
January 10, 2022
More divorces are filed in the month of January than all the other months combined.
Let that sink.
Why January is the month for divorce
I think there are a number of reasons for this. Some have waited because they don’t want to ruin the holidays. Maybe they have kids and they want them to have one last Christmas together as a family. January is also a time we naturally think of ‘new’ and ‘change’. It’s a new year, we have new resolutions and we make commitments to change – our weight, our exercise habits, our work/family balance, etc. So for someone seriously contemplating divorce and just waiting for the right time to move forward, it’s common to plan to get through the holidays and then in January, drop the Divorce Bomb.
Often one spouse is really surprised when it happens. They say they didn’t see it coming, but they’re also not necessarily surprised that their spouse isn’t happy either. They’re just surprised that they’re unhappy enough to do something so drastic. We can get pretty complacent with feeling frustrated or unhappy, or even flat out miserable. If you know your marriage isn’t going well, putting your head in the sand can cost you big.
Now, some will say they don’t want to rock the proverbial boat.
Rock the boat
I’m telling you, this is the time to absolutely rock the boat.
Tell your spouse you’re concerned the marriage is in trouble.
Let them know you want to do anything you can to make things better, including going to see a marriage counselor. Time is your asset here and waiting for the bomb to go off is dangerous.
Recognizing your risk
Based on my years as a licensed marriage therapist, here are 10 things I think are good leading indicators that your marriage could be at risk for the January Divorce Bomb. Now, not all of these are required for your marriage to be in trouble, nor does any one or more of them mean you are destined for divorce. It does mean, in my opinion, your relationship is at greater risk for divorce. Let’s see if you recognize any of these.
1. Lack of sexual intimacy – Some people struggle with sexual intimacy for years and it doesn’t necessarily mean a divorce is coming, but it can be cumulative.
2. Contempt – If your spouse is obviously annoyed by even your very presence. Eye rolling, passive aggressive behavior, smugness, refusal to engage, and sarcasm are all examples of contemptuous behavior and they are a good indication you’re in trouble.
3. Being polite but not authentic – He or she treats you like a visiting aunt, just enough attention to get business taken care of, but let’s not go any deeper than that.
4. Avoiding tough topics – Because what’s the point? Why start a discussion that is destined to turn into an argument?
5. Time avoidance – Avoiding your partner, working late, going out with friends, staying gone as long as possible, whenever possible.
6. Hiding or locking the phone – I would be especially mindful if this is new behavior. Maybe your spouse is having conversations they don’t want you to see or making plans they don’t want you to know about.
7. Moving funds, opening bank accounts, change in jobs, or getting a job if they haven’t been working – Especially if they aren’t including you in these tasks or decisions.
8. Lack of physical affection and lack of playfulness – Is there a lack of a general sense of playfulness and joy with each other?
9. More criticism and complaining than normal – I generally try to avoid the word ‘normal’ but has the level of criticism and complaining increased?
10. Putting off big decisions – Conversations like where to go for vacation this summer or Spring Break, because your spouse may not plan to be a party to those events in the coming year.
Ready for what’s next
Collectively, these signs are indicative of a marriage that is likely in trouble. If you are seeing your own marriage in this list, especially if it’s for an extended period, it’s time to do something different. Even if the divorce bomb isn’t dropped on you in January, you can be certain you are not headed in a great place.
Call a marriage therapist. Do something. Find someone who can show you how to make your marriage better.
How healthy is your marriage?
ready to have a conversation?
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The silent treatment is a pretty common response I see in couples therapy. It happens when you are so angry, disappointed, let down, and you don’t feel like you have any other way to let your partner know just how upset you really are.
A lot of the therapy work I do is helping couples and partners understand what their contributions to the relationship are, and how they can start making changes for the better, specifically with communication. Specifically, when communicating with your spouse, it’s important to make sure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.