16 Subtle Warning Signs Of Divorce Even The Smartest People Miss

It might be the beginning of the end for your relationship.

sad couple ALIAKSANDRKAZLOUSKY / Shutterstock

Truly, no one can predict each and every divorce, although some situations are more obvious than others.

As marriage and couples counselor Larry Michel explains, “Statistically, the two most common reasons cited for divorce are infidelity and financial issues. Right behind that are a dozen more ‘excuses’ for separating or divorce.”

Aside from the numerous rationalizations couples use as grounds for divorce, Michel says that “perhaps the only healthy reason to consciously uncouple is lack of a shared vision, radically different values and no vision for the partnership.”


There are a few early signs of a failing marriage to be on the lookout for, because if you notice any of these in your relationship, you may be headed there.

Here are 16 subtle warning signs of divorce even the smartest people miss.

1. You go to bed at separate times

If you and your partner always do this, it isn't a big deal. After all, some people are just on different sleep schedules, and it may be a good arrangement for certain couples.

But if you and your partner always retired together at night and suddenly are not (and it's not because your partner's work schedule changed), there could be trouble brewing.


subtle warning signs of divorcePhoto: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels

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2. You avoid sex

If you're hearing, "I'm tired honey" frequently, or you're the one saying those three words in an attempt to reject sex, it's a sign of a larger issue in your relationship.

While sex is not the most important part of a marriage or relationship, going out of your way to avoid it with your partner isn't good. You won't always be in the mood, of course, but relationships are all about communication, which seems to be lacking.


3. Your partner picks up a new hobby that takes up all their time

If your loved one takes on a hobby that is new and becomes all-consuming, to the point where you rarely spend time with them, it may be a bad sign. There's nothing wrong with having hobbies, but they should never detract from your marriage.

4. You start to ask permission to do every little thing

This is one subtle warning sign of divorce: you didn't feel you had to, but now feel you must ask your spouse's permission to do things, whether they are big or small.

It may be that your partner is trying to control you, or it could be an issue you're creating on your own. Either way, it's not good.

5. Your partner spends a lot of time on social media

If social media habits start to take over, be very wary of what's going on in your partner's social media world. They may not necessarily be cheating, but could be seeking social interaction outside of you to an extreme. They may also be feeling lonely.


No matter the reason, spending a lot of time on social media should be cause for concern, especially when it begins to affect your partnership.



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6. You take too many selfies

When people are heading toward a breakup, are in the divorce process, or are feeling neglected by their partner, the selfie count goes up. A selfie you share with others is sharing a part of you and is a way to connect by sharing your face, although not in an intimate way like how a relationship would function.


A selfie can make you feel empowered and attractive. But too many selfies may suggest that you're not feeling so attractive and validated in your relationship; therefore, you would like others to appreciate you. Looking towards the outside for approval rather than looking inward is a warning sign of divorce.

7. One of you is taking a spiritual journey — alone

If one partner starts to delve deep into a religion or spiritual path that the other partner is not "in on," this is a clear sign of two people taking very huge and, most likely, permanent paths.

Michel adds, “Divergent values are at the core of why marriages or committed partnerships struggle and dismantle themselves.” When you're not on the same page as something as deep as spirituality, consider it a warning.

8. You're having trouble at work

If one spouse is having difficulty at work, there may be more going on in their head that doesn't include work, but instead, marital dissatisfaction. It's easy to blame the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and just being busy, for the dissolution of a marriage, but sometimes, it goes much deeper than that.


When your marital problems are spilling over into your professional life, consider it the nudge you need to think about your relationship.



9. Your spouse is working a lot more

If your spouse is MIA and constantly working, they may indeed be working. Either way, it's a sign of martial trouble. Either your spouse is diving into work to avoid home life or isn't working as much as they are claiming to.

The point is that it appears they are working more to avoid spending time with you, and that's not healthy behavior.


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10. Your spouse suddenly changes their appearance

Is your spouse doing a makeover or in a rush to lose weight? Do they not want to exercise with you or not want to dress up and show off their new look for you?

That new look may not actually be for you and, instead, could be for someone else. It's all the more reason to consider it a subtle sign of divorce.

11. Your partner is talking about new things

Is your spouse's conversation suddenly different? Are they chatting about new topics unfamiliar to you? Perhaps they are even bringing up topics you swore as a couple to never bring up.


If this is the case, there may be new people in your partner's life you don't even know about, influencing their topics of conversation.

subtle warning signs of divorcePhoto: Timur Weber / Pexels

12. You have family drama

If either your family or your spouse's family detests the other partner, this is a huge red flag. When you marry someone, you're marrying their family in a way, as you will end up spending plenty of time with one another. And when either partner's family doesn't like the spouse, it can lead to some major issues.


It may seem like it won't affect your marriage in the beginning, but love doesn't conquer family drama.

13. You're physically present but emotionally absent

If you or your partner are present with each other, but are absent — as in, not listening to each other speak, sitting next to each other but being overly engaged in tech or phone, not being affectionate but are in the same room together — it's one of the biggest signs of a failing marriage.

Relationships require active listening, open communication, and physical and emotional affection to make things last. Unfortunately, a lack of emotional presence points to a divide in your marriage.



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14. Your spouse has a new friend they confide in

While it's completely normal to have friends or close loved ones that people confide in, being married means you have a permanent confidante at your side. But if your spouse has a new friend they confide in often, consider this a glaring warning sign of impending divorce.

15. You don't spend quality time together

A lack of quality time can wreak havoc on a relationship. It shows that one or both partners in the marriage don't consider it a priority to be with one another, and are, essentially, living separate lives while under the same roof.

Did the two of you used to spend quality time together and now everything is a separate event? Divorce is likely in the cards unless you start to have fun together again — and not just fun apart from each other.


16. You have a fear of being vulnerable

If one of you is afraid to share either things that happen or are scared to reveal your feelings, there's trouble in paradise. Happy couples may not like sharing certain things with their partners, but they still do — and those worried feelings are not so pressing or huge.

subtle warning signs of divorcePhoto: Cody Portraits / Pexels

When considering the larger picture, “Infidelity and dishonesty, financial issues, inequality, health and appearance issues, lack of intimacy, physical and emotional abuse are all the result of divergent values and lack of a shared vision that is unresolvable with even the most conscious and compassionate communication,” MIchel concludes.


The bottom line, as Michel reveals, is that “The same stories and beliefs that determine the values and visions are typically also the very reason why shame, blame, guilt, resentment, and judgment fuel the dismantling behaviors. With these emotions present, no relationship can stand the test of time."

If the issues between you and your spouse are above this threshold though, there is the chance you two can work things through, and that right there is hopeful.

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Laura Lifshitz is a former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate currently writing about divorce, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, and marriage. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Working Mother, PopSugar, and more.