You feel like your marriage is strong. You assume that you and your spouse are not going to get divorced any time soon. Moreover, if you do start heading that way, you think that you will see the warning signs well in advance.
You might. Some couples do, and every relationship is different. However, it’s important to remember that a lot of common events suddenly push couples in the direction of divorce. Some of them are things you can’t predict. Others are intentional choices that you make, not realizing they may end your marriage. It can come as a surprise.
To help you see these red flags as soon as they show up, here are six such life events:
1. Getting a new job
A new job changes the dynamics and the family schedule. If you suddenly have to work and travel a lot more, taking you away from your family, that can end a marriage.
2. Having a child
Some couples think that they are ready to have a child when they’re really not. The child adds a lot of stress to the relationship and the parents fail to connect with one another in the way that they used to.
3. Getting sick
A serious illness like cancer can contribute to the end of a marriage. Not only does it create a lot of financial pressure, but one spouse may have to become a caretaker. That’s not necessarily a role they want in life or the married relationship they signed up for.
4. Going through traumatic events
Couples can’t always support each other the way they want to. They may even hinder the process. One common example is the death of a child. It’s too much for many people to take. “Recollections can be triggered by the presence of the other person, and even just being with them becomes painful in and of itself,” noted one expert.
5. Spending time apart
Couples who are forced to live apart — due to work obligations, for instance — often find themselves drifting apart romantically. They try to make the long-distance thing work, but it’s hard.
6. Sending the kids to college
In 18 years of raising kids, some couples find that they work well together as parents, but they don’t have that much of a connection to one another anymore. When they become empty-nesters and the kids head to school, they don’t know how to go back to being a couple. They want different things in life and they break up.
You don’t expect to get divorced, but it happens. If you find yourself facing the end of your marriage, make sure you know about all of the legal steps you need to take.