5 signs your relationship is heading off the rails, according to a divorce lawyer.

When people step foot into my office, it's because their marriage has reached a crisis point. 

As a divorce lawyer, it's usually the big things that bring people to see me: there may have been infidelity or substance abuse in the relationship, or there may have been domestic violence or trauma. But for most, it is little things, left unaddressed, that eventually build to crisis.

It's natural to see the signs of these little things when you’ve worked with separating families for years, but they're much harder to recognise when you're in the relationship

Being aware of the warning signs, and seeking early support, is the best way to maintain a healthy relationship and avoid stepping foot into a divorce lawyer's office down the track.

Watch: 3 Dating Mistakes Women Make After Divorce. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube.

There are the five signs a marriage might be heading off the tracks: 

Repetitious arguments.

It is natural for couples to have occasional differences in opinion and disagreements, but if you’re having repetitive arguments without resolution, it may suggest a significant disconnect. It can also later manifest to ignoring each other to avoid another argument. While avoiding arguments might seem like a solution, it isn't conducive to a long-term healthy relationship.

Each of you may need to do some self-reflection and soul-searching (by yourself and with your partner) to truly understand what is causing the same old argument. There are a range of communication in marriage courses available through various providers, with both in person and online course formats available.


No common interests outside of your kids. 

For couples who have kids, most of your daily routines and even aspects of your marriage are based around your children. When children grow up and move out, it creates a void that can leave you and your partner feeling unsure of your purpose. 

You're left to redefine not just your days but also your relationship with each other. 

Sadly, the empty nester stage comes with a high risk of divorce – almost one-third of couples who are divorcing are over the age of 50 with adult children. Being proactive about forging common interests and hobbies together outside of your kids will assist with connectedness in the later years of marriage.

Counsellors are a great source of support if you are experiencing major life changes like empty nester syndrome and struggling to cope with the changes and emotions.

Lack of intimacy. 

Intimacy is crucial for marriages, as physical closeness serves to strengthen the emotional bond between a couple. Factors such as hectic schedules, stress and parenting responsibilities can contribute to a decline in intimacy during certain seasons, but if there is a long-term absence of physical intimacy, it may be an indicator of marital challenges.

GPs are a great source of support and help if there are barriers to intimacy due to medical or health issues.

Unequal input and contributions. 

When one partner feels they contribute more to the relationship or takes on more responsibility in the marriage, it can alter their view of the other person and lead to resentment. Resentment can compound to the point of divorce (studies show that resentment is one of the leading causes of divorce). Each couple needs to find their own way to carry the responsibilities of day-to-day life in the marriage, in a way that shares the load and allows each person to feel equal and valued. 


Create a family schedule to allocate household chores and jobs so everyone is contributing

Financial infidelity. 

Money can be a challenging topic for couples but no matter how difficult it feels, couples should be able to be open and honest about money and discuss and agree on how to manage money for the household, whether that be by having individual bank accounts, or sharing joint bank accounts, or a combination – there is no one size fits all approach as each relationship is unique. If your spouse lies about finances, it undermines trust and can be a clear indicator of future tension and conflict.

Financial counsellors can provide practical help with budgets and money management tips.

No one ever plans on going through a separation or divorce, and anyone who has been through the process will share that it is incredibly challenging and difficult. 

Taking heed of early warning signs is the best way to avoid your marriage ending in divorce. For those who are journeying through separation and divorce professional advice and support can make all the difference. 

Carolyn Devries is the founder of New Way Lawyers – Australia’s first non-profit law firm. Carolyn has also founded a Facebook group called Lunch with A Lawyer where people can ask their family law questions for free. 

Feature image: Getty.

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