You've probably all heard the saying that "marriage is work," but if it's too much work and there are tell-tale signs of trouble in paradise, it behooves you to be smart and protect yourself should divorce loom on the horizon.
In my many years as a divorce attorney, I have seen everything that could go wrong in a relationship and lead to the end of a marriage. And, while I'm not advocating looking for reasons to break up, I am advocating for protecting yourself. Take a look at some of these signs of trouble that have stood out for me and affected many of my clients over the years. If any or many of these signs are staring you in the face, it may be time to seek a lawyer for counsel to protect your rights and assets.
Mid-life crisis adventures: It happens to way too many people -- they feel as if they are getting too old too fast and do something dramatic to capture their youth. They go out and buy a motorcycle or a red car; they forget about their families and live the single life. Before you know it, your spouse is never home and during this "phase" of a mid-life crisis, he finds someone much younger than himself -- and you. If your spouse is going through a mid-life crisis, you should be on high alert for what he is doing to cope with this realization of his age.
Exploring new hobbies: Similar to mid-life crisis adventures, your spouse, after being set in her ways for years, decides to take a new class at the gym (something she has never done before) or joins a bowling league, despite never being an athletic or social type. It is completely OK to explore new activities but why is it a solo exploration? Why is your spouse doing this all without you? Could she not want to be around you? Is she not interested in growing your relationship anymore? Or could it be something else?
Your spouse wants "time away" from each other: If it is time for your annual vacation and your spouse feels the need to go to one destination while you go somewhere else, you need to question why. If your spouse thinks the two of you need time away from each other so he can get his mind straight or think about your relationship, the feeling may be genuine. But it could also be a flat out lie. While you "vacation" at home, your husband may be on a cruise -- with somebody else.
Your spouse is spending less and scaled down his lifestyle: If your dates nights are more of a frugal adventure or no longer exist, or you are finding your husband buying fewer luxuries than usual, there could be a problem. The money is possibly being spent on someone else or your spouse does not feel the need to spend money on you anymore. Of course, if you are struggling financially due to the economy, you may just be overreacting to your husband's responsible actions.
Hiding money and transactions: Another reason your spouse is spending less could be because her money is being saved in a separate bank account, which could be a tell-tale sign if traditionally you have had joint accounts. She could be stowing away money for pending legal fees in a divorce battle or to spend frivolously. Your spouse's new credit cards could have charges for items she may not want you to know about, especially if the money is being spent activities or gifts for someone else.
Uncharacteristic cell phone usage: We should all be familiar with this warning sign because this is how Tiger Woods got caught. If your spouse is constantly on his cell phone and you do not know who they are talking to, you should be suspicious.
Trying to be more attractive: You still love your husband regardless of his current appearance, but the feeling may not be mutual. Your spouse may be trying to impress somebody else because he is no longer interested in you.
Contacting old boyfriends/girlfriends: It may seem like your spouse is just trying to catch up with that old fling, but you never know when old emotions may boil to the surface and when innocent conversation turns into flirting, and more. If this is a common pattern, you could be in trouble.
Catching them in the act: All of these signs are speculation but if you find out for a fact that your spouse is cheating on you, your marriage is definitely in trouble, and in most cases, headed for divorce.
Bottom line: I hope all of you are in happy marriages but let's be honest, no marriage is perfect. Just be smart, work at keeping your marriage alive and exciting but don't put your head in the sand if red flags are waving in the wind.
Silvana D. Raso heads the family law practice at Englewood Cliffs, NJ-based Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A. where she counsels clients in all areas of matrimonial and family law.