No, You Weren’t Blindsided With Divorce — You Just Didn’t Notice The Signs

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unhappy woman

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My friend Gary* has been going through a divorce, and it’s not been good for him. Gary is completely shocked by how it all went down. It was something that he didn’t see coming.

The last time I saw him, I remember him pacing across my friend’s kitchen floor, asking me, "How could she do this?" 

Honestly, I’m kind of amazed that his soon-to-be-ex, Charlene*, hadn’t killed him by now. Most of our friends were in the same boat with me. Charlene had the patience of a Tibetan monk and a saint put into the same room.

You see, Gary didn’t do any housework. He also had a pretty bad drug addiction, wouldn’t help with their kid, and cheated on her shortly after she gave birth. His favorite pastime was to be trashy for trashy’s sake — an affront to Charlene’s traditionally preppy way of life.

Somehow, Gary was still shocked about the papers.

Gary is not the exception to the rule on divorces. He shouldn’t have been surprised that he was getting served papers. What I’ve found is that most people tend to see breakups before the people involved in them do. This is especially true with divorce.

RELATED: Top 10 Reasons Why Divorce Is So Common These Days

Most "blindsided" breakups are actually the end result of a person refusing to acknowledge problems in a relationship.

We’ve all heard about Walkaway Wives: women who are married to men, beg them for help around the house, are patently ignored, then stop nagging them. Then, just as the husband thinks things are getting better, he’s served with papers and she’s totally done.

Among women, "blindsiding" is usually what happens during Spousal Abandonment Syndrome — when a man leaves for another woman. She often had an idea that he was cheating. She just never expected him to leave.

Most of the men who have experienced Walkaway Wife Syndrome are shocked, absolutely shocked that a breakup happened. The same can be said of Spousal Abandonment Syndrome. Unsurprisingly, friends aren’t usually shocked.

There are usually signs that things aren’t going well.

Divorces aren’t something that most women or men go into a marriage thinking will be their fate. That’s not the way marriage goes. Everyone thinks that person will be their "forever," for the most part.

That’s why it’s important to keep up on signs that your partner may not be happy. We want to prevent a divorce, right? Among my friends who "blindsided" their partner with papers, there were always signs that something was wrong.

The ones I noticed were most common in divorces included:

  • The divorcing person stopped nagging their partner or asking them to do things. This is not the good sign you think it is. It means that they have all but given up on you changing. They no longer want to fight for the relationship.
  • Sex stopped. Also never a good sign. This is a sign that your partner no longer craves to be bonded with you in that way.
  • Conversations stopped. At this point, your love life has basically entirely decoupled. No talking means that they no longer want to create memories with you.
  • Your partner complained to their friends (or even publicly) a lot about the state of their marriage. Most people try to keep their issues under wraps. If your partner is upset to the point that they are telling others they’re miserable, it’s a sign your marriage is in dire straits.
  • Money has started to go missing. This tends to be a sign that your partner is either cheating or putting aside money for a new apartment without you.
  • Your partner has all but begged you to get professional help. Usually, this is something that falls on deaf ears, waved away with, "We don’t need that."
  • The workload is patently uneven. I don’t believe that people don’t see how much their partner does for them. You’re telling me you pull your weight when your partner goes to work and then does all the housework? Uh uh. Nope. I don’t believe that.
  • Others warned you that they were going to leave if you kept it up. A lot of people tend to warn friends when their actions are out of line. If you didn’t listen, don’t be shocked if your spouse leaves.
  • Their friends and family hate you. This is a sign that they’ve heard about how you treated them, and what they heard isn’t good.
  • Your partner has been showing signs of cheating. This is a sign of Spousal Abandonment Syndrome.
  • There has been casual talk about divorce in your house. If your partner has mentioned divorce, you need to listen to them.

RELATED: The Simple Way To Decide If You Should Get Divorced Or Not

What I’ve noticed with some “blindsided” spouses is that they knew things were bad, but didn’t expect their partner to leave.

This was definitely what happened with Gary. Gary knew Charlene wasn’t happy with him. She had developed a drinking habit, was regularly making comments about how lazy he was and basically stopped talking to him while at home.

Gary even admitted it to us later. He said, "I know I wasn’t the best husband, but I didn’t expect her to actually leave."

Yes, Gary. Yes, things were that bad.

Also, why were you okay with treating your wife like s*** when you knew she was already upset? Did you think this would never catch up to you? I mean, you sowed bad karma.

There are also a lot of people who aren’t "blindsided" but are trying to cover up scandals on their end due to narcissistic tendencies.

This is usually seen in the form of a man who shrugs and goes, "Look at how unreasonable my ex is! She’s so crazy, she got a divorce and doesn’t even want to give me a chance anymore! It was out of thin air, I tell ya!"

As it turns out, a lot of exes would prefer to play the victim to an unreasonable spouse’s whims than they would own up to their own issues. This is a trademark issue of people who have the need to save face 24/7.

RELATED: 10 Brutally Honest Signs Your Marriage Is Flat-Out Over

Are there true blindside divorces?

Yes, but they’re exceedingly rare. They typically happen when you marry people-pleasers who have a deep dislike of confrontation. People like this don’t like to say they’re unhappy because they often had consequences for it.

People pleasers basically go on in a relationship until they break. By the time they are ready to confront you, they are no longer interested in being with you. Their resentment has all but boiled over and exploded.

A people pleaser who cheats on their spouse will often blindside the spouse and everyone around them. Why? Because they want to be seen as the good partner, even when they cheated on their spouse and left.

Still, those breakups are fairly rare. If you hear about a blindside, it may be time to hit the pause button. It may not be as blindsided as you think it is.

RELATED: The 4 Behaviors That Cause 90% Of All Divorces

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.