People ask me why divorce is so painful, I always answer with this, it generally isn't recent sharp pain, but a dull slow death, an awareness that all is not right between you and your spouse. Not everyone has a slow demise sometimes one person is blindsided by the divorce announcement, but even then usually in hindsight the divorced shocked spouse, can pin point some of these shifts that they maybe even chose to turn a blind eye to.
I am going to guesstimate that usually a spouse takes between one and two full calendar years to mull over the divorce prospects, the couple may during this time seek counseling as a last resort, sometimes the dialogue is purely internal, and people will keep thoughts and feelings about their marriage and happiness inside right up until the end. Here are a few shifts in behaviors you either may be doing or maybe seeing your spouse engage in.
1. Words: Words don't speak louder than actions but when certain words start vanishing from peoples vocabulary this isn't a great sign. The words "I love you" so simple yet as a marriage starts to fall apart our willingness to say those three little words diminishes. As do compliments, pet names etc.Sometimes what you are not hearing tells you more than what you are hearing from your spouse.
2. Sex: Not always a sure fire indicator sometimes couples have sex up to, or even after filing for divorce as a kind of stress relief, but generally either the frequency or intimacy of sex will slowly but surely decline, excuses will come in all forms, tiredness, headache, age, work, we will often find creative yet telling ways to avoid intimacy in marriages that are on the slippery slope to divorce.
3. Affairs: An awful high percentage of people will as their marriages fade and troubles increase, look for or be open to emotional or sexual affairs with other people. We will crave attention, crave excitement and if lacking sex in marriage, will use this as an excuse to justify getting sex else where. Along with this behavior will come the late nights, the over protectiveness of their phone, laptop, and there preoccupation spending more and more time on their phone or away from the home usually.
4. Emotional outbursts and highs and lows: this period I found myself in ,and you will probably feel some of this or see it in your spouse, emotional highs and lows, an instability of emotions where you are happy then sad, then confused, then you may flip flop whether you want to just suck up the misery and stay in the marriage, or run as far from it as possible, looking for new happiness. This is all normal, divorce is a serious and life altering decision and it will come with a lot of issues, especially if children are involved, not easy to uncombined or detangle 10-15-20 years of life with another person.
5. Financial shifts: Sometimes you or your spouse are actually already one and a half feet out of the door, and this tell tale sign, requires shifting or moving of money and assets, which is a very non morally correct thing to engage in. However for what ever reason some people will start siphoning assets, monies and disposing or hiding them in a way that will benefit them after filing for divorce, most states assets are split on date of divorce filing so what had been going on before filing, people can often get away with. Secrecy involving money wages, bonuses income all don't bode well, if you see this behavior maybe time for very long talk with your spouse.
6. Loneliness: Robin Williams is quoted as saying "I used to think the worst thing in life is ending up alone, it's not, the worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone" sadly this period is often characterized by this deep seated emotion. You could feel alone and married very easily, once someone withdraws, or you withdraw even with that little piece of paper you still have the feeling of emptiness and sorrow, which makes you feel very much alone.
7. Time: Often during this time, you or your spouse will be making a shift in where and how they spend their time. During this period, family time, date nights, anything you enjoyed doing as a couple you will start to avoid, finding ways to spend time physically apart as you are drifting more emotionally apart also.
If you are experiencing these feelings or seeing them in your spouse, the best course of action no matter how hard it maybe is to communicate, seek counseling, find a therapist or a life coach, but speak either together or separately to someone. Not all divorces can be halted but sometimes you can reverse this slow demise and find continued peace with your spouse. If you are headed for divorce and know that is the outcome, open honest communication, will lessen the severity and the animosity surrounding divorce and you can both feel better divorcing amicably for for the sake of your children and yourself.