4 signs your marriage may be heading for a divorce

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Divorce

If your spouse hits you out of the blue with a divorce request, it will make getting the divorce settlement you need more challenging. They may have been preparing for some time.  You, by contrast, may be left so shocked by this news that you cannot focus on all the things you will need to sort out in the divorce. It could mean you emerge with a less favorable deal than you could have got were you better prepared.

Psychologist Dr. John M. Gottman spent years studying the warning signs of divorce. He has come up with a list of things to watch out for which he terms the  Four Horsemen of Divorce. They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Let’s look at them more closely:


There is a big difference between complaining about someone’s actions and criticizing them. For example, your spouse is late again. You could tell them how you don’t like them being late because it means you are left standing about in the cold, or because it makes the journey more pressured. That’s OK – it’s a complaint. If it becomes, “You are so selfish, you always leave me waiting, I bet you do it on purpose just to wind me up” then that’s criticism and it’s not a helpful way to communicate.

The occasional slip-up is normal, but when criticism becomes the default mode, then you have a problem.


You complain that you aren’t feeling well, but your spouse offers you mockery instead of concern. “What? Man flu, again? Call an ambulance, my man has a headache. You men are so weak.” Making someone feel their complaints are invalid, or making them feel stupid or worthless is not part of a loving relationship. If contempt is rife in your marriage, it’s a worrying sign.


When people feel attacked they are likely to reply defensively. In some cases, their form of defense may be to attack back. Relationships don’t function well when this occurs because the verbal battles can leave both parties feeling upset and exhausted.


You are trying to ask your partner something and they just ignore you, pretending they are busy or did not hear. This should not happen in a healthy relationship. People tend to do it when things between them have deteriorated to a dangerous degree. 

If these things happen from time to time then you should not be too worried. Everyone slips up occasionally. If they become the norm, it may be time to start considering a divorce. Seeking experienced legal guidance can make the divorce process much easier.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.