No one gets married with the thought of, “I wonder when we’ll get divorced,” going through their mind. The day we exchange our vows, we’re totally vested in doing whatever it takes to keep the marriage going for years to come. The issue is that real life hardly ever presents those perfect storybook answers to keep a marriage going.

The good news is that the divorce rate seems to be decreasing universally across America, by as much as 18%. The bad news is that it’s still very common. In 2019, odds are that 1 in 4 marriages will end in divorce. That’s a problem in and of itself, but there’s a worse, unspoken problem that isn’t commonly addressed. That problem is marriages that should end in divorce but don’t.

If you find that any of the following describes the state of your marriage, you need to consider ending the marriage now. None of these scenarios mean that you’re the one to blame. It simply means that you’re capable of finding more happiness in your life.

You’re Suffering From Emotional or Physical Abuse

There’s no excuse for this behavior. There’s no way to spin it in a positive light. If your spouse is abusing you in any way, whether it’s by physically assaulting you or attacking you emotionally, you need to end things now.

The sad truth is that many women suffer from domestic abuse, but many of them choose to suffer in silence. The U.S. National Institute of Justice reported that only 25% of all instances involving domestic abuse will be reported to the police. With over 4.7 million instances of domestic violence occurring every year, this means that nearly 3.6 million women won’t speak up about the abuse they suffer.

Overcoming Fear to Take Action

The primary reason that many women keep quiet about their abuse seems to be an overwhelming fear of several things:

  • Fear that their partner will seek vengeance
  • Fear that their children will suffer if they speak up
  • Fear that they will be judged by society
  • Fear that no one will care about their situation

All of these are understandable fears but consider this – if you don’t act to create a better environment for yourself and your children, who will?

Your Partner Has Been (and Continues to Be) Unfaithful

While only 17% of all divorces result from extramarital affairs, it’s still one of the number one reasons to call it quits. It makes sense. If your partner isn’t willing to stick with the commitment they made when you exchanged your vows, why would you stay in the relationship? Here’s the tricky part – it may or may not be a good thing.

Deciding Whether or Not to Divorce Over an Affair

People cheat for a variety of reasons. A desire for something new, a loss of intimacy, as an act of revenge, or even as a cry for help. While you should always keep the divorce option on the table after you discover your partner’s affair, consider the following first:

  1. Does your partner legitimately feel regret for their actions?
  2. Is their regret based on the fact that they hurt you, rather than that they got caught?
  3. Is this the first instance of infidelity?
  4. Are you both truly committed to improving your relationship from here on out?

If you can answer yes to all four of these questions, you don’t have to file for divorce immediately. In some cases, an affair can actually be the catalyst that propels couples to acknowledge the problems in their marriage and work towards fixing them. However, be aware that you are taking a gamble either way. In cases where there was at least one instance of adultery, around 45% of cheaters end up cheating again.

All Your Children See is the Two of You Fighting

If you’re a parent, and you and your spouse are always fighting, it might actually be a good idea to divorce. Even if both of you are willing to stick it out, the potential damage to your children may make it a terrible idea to remain married in the long run.

Why This is Grounds for Divorce

Contrary to the belief that children in married households will develop better than children of divorced parents, this isn’t necessarily the case. In households where parents are constantly fighting, or parents ignore their children, several developmental issues can arise:

  • Constant Anxiety – Children feel the exact same pressures and tensions you do, but don’t know how to handle these emotions
  • Issues with Self-Worth – Children can start to blame themselves for how their parents behave. This can lead children to believe that they are damaged or worthless.
  • Difficulty Processing Emotions – This can result in disorders like dysthymia, which can lead to problems with drugs or alcohol down the road.
  • Relationship Problems – If the only example of relationships your children see is you and your spouse at each other’s throats, this can turn them away from bonding with other people. Intimate connections are an obvious victim but friendships and workplace relationships can suffer as well.

If you and your spouse can’t find a way to resolve your disputes in a way that doesn’t involve fighting, screaming, or ignoring each other, you should consider divorce for the sake of your children.

You’re Both Going in Different Directions

Your partner may not ever abuse you, has always been faithful, and sets a great example for your children. Even if all of the above is true, your marriage just may not be leading to the kind of life you want for yourself. If you find that your vision of your ideal future is completely different, from your spouse’s, you need to ask yourself if permanent separation is the best option.

Why is This a Big Deal?

Don’t misunderstand me – you and your spouse are going to have differences of opinion about many, many things. That’s perfectly fine. What isn’t okay is when your life goals and their goals don’t align at all. This is especially common in couples who have certain career expectations that require a lot of sacrifice on their spouse’s part.

It’s definitely a better idea to find the middle ground if you can. If you can’t, you could find yourself dealing with even worse problems down the line. Some of these problems might include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness about yourself or bitterness that you didn’t live up to your potential
  • Resentment towards your spouse for trapping you in this lifestyle
  • Underlying tensions manifesting in more frequent fights about other aspects of your life
  • A constant feeling of unhappiness because this isn’t the life you want

The good news is that most of these issues can be resolved through honest, effective communication. The bad news is that it’s not always the case. If you find that you and your spouse can’t agree on which road to share, then you may need to just follow your own path.