“I never saw it coming,” a tearful New Jersey man confessed to me a week ago. “I thought we were doing well and then she told me she is moving out.”
A surprisingly large number of men and fathers in New Jersey express shock and dismay at being told that their wife wants to get a divorce. No doubt, many of them truly are dumbfounded. But as I talk with a new client, often it becomes obvious that she had been dropping clues for a while: Her behavior or attitude changed, she tried avoiding having sex, or she suddenly started talking about taking a job far away.
In reality, there are a number of warning signs that a marriage is on its way to family court. I thought it would be useful for men and fathers in New Jersey to list nine of the most-common clues a wife will drop overtly or indirectly that, for her, the marriage is on the rocks and is over.
1 – The arguments stop. If you and your spouse have been arguing, bickering or just picking at each other and she stops responding or doesn’t do it anymore, it is entirely possible that she simply stopped caring and are planning to split.
2 – She spends less time with you and more time with her friends. For the entire time you were dating, engaged and married, you were the best friend and primary source of comfort to your wife. Now, you have been replaced by her family and friends or even a lover.
3 – She avoids making plans. Whether they involve simple things such as making repairs to the home or more complicated like planning a summer vacation trip, they become irrelevant or unimportant to her.
4 – She begins focusing on how she looks. It could take the form of cosmetic surgery. Joining a weight-loss program or buying new clothes, it is likely she is planning a new life for herself that doesn’t include you.
5 – Her phone becomes off-limits to you. She might be having an affair or waiting for a call from an attorney or real estate agent with apartments for her to view and doesn’t want you to see what she is up to.
6 – She talks about how poorly her job or business is doing. By poor-mouthing herself, she may be trying to have you believe that her financial position is deteriorating as a ploy to increase the amount of spousal or child support she plans to ask for in the divorce.
7 – She might turn down a promotion or overtime. This may also mean she is attempting to lessen their financial responsibility for outstanding bills or for supporting your children.
8 – She takes a sudden interest in being active in your children’s life. One sign she may be thinking of leaving and wants to fight for sole custody or lots of visitation time is that she suddenly shows an interest in the kid’s sports, school or other activities along with scheduling lots of time for the kids to be with her side of the family.
9 – Sex stops or becomes bad. Often, the first sign is that her once-active libido and pleasure in having sex declines or disappears entirely. It means she has checked out emotionally as well as physically.
No single sign means that your wife is thinking about getting a divorce, nor does an absence of any of these nine means a marriage is kaput. But once a few of them begin appearing, it may be time to act. For instance, have a heartfelt talk with her about problems she sees. Suggest counseling and, if she agrees, be an active participant and deal with issues she raises. You might also think about opening your own bank account and making copies of key documents you might need.
If you think it’s possible that your wife is considering a divorce and have questions about both the financial impact on you and your financial obligations, please call me or one of our experienced family law attorneys for men and fathers in New Jersey. Reach us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.
You may also want to consider joining our support group for men and fathers going through a divorce in New Jersey. It meets regularly and you do not have to be a client to participate.