Wendy Jaffe, author of 'The Divorce Lawyers' Guide to Staying Married', tells you the signs you're heading for divorce:
Age at Marriage
I interviewed 100 attorneys and not a single one recommended getting married at a young age. Not one. When it came to giving marital advice, many divorce attorneys warned against getting married before the age of twenty-five, and several others suggested that people wait until they are least thirty before tying the knot.
Attraction of Opposites
We have all heard the old saying that "opposites attract." They may attract, but they don't seem to stick. In fact, while many divorce attorneys mentioned that it is fine and healthy to have different interests, spouses need to be more alike than different to make it to a silver wedding anniversary.
I learned something about the connection between sex and divorce. Many divorce clients confess to living in a sexless or nearly sexless marriage for years. You read that right. Not days or weeks without sex, but many, many years. Errol Zavett, an attorney practicing in Chicago, told me about a case he handled where the couple had been married twenty years and had never consummated their marriage.
The Grass Is Greener
"Many clients get divorced because they think that somewhere else the grass is greener. After spending a lot of time in this business I can tell you that the grass is not greener."
The In-Law Factor
"In-laws are one of the biggest causes of divorce. Parents won’t leave their kids alone. Parents ought to take a course on how to be in-laws." Baxter Davis, Atlanta, Ga.
Nearly one hundred divorce attorneys agreed that while many of their clients blamed their divorce on infidelity, the infidelity itself wasn't the "cause" of the divorce. Stated another way, divorce lawyers rarely see marriages that are otherwise healthy and happy but for the infidelity.
"Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence, and second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience." Dennis Wasser, Los Angeles, CA (quoting Oscar Wilde) Statistics show that second marriages are successful only about one-third of the time. Unlike first marriages that fail for many different reasons, most second marriages typically fail for one of two reasons. Reason one is that people fall victim to the clone syndrome and marry a second spouse that is very similar to their first spouse. … The second reason for the high rate of second marriage failure is that raising stepchildren, and dealing with former spouses, is so difficult that many second marriages collapse under the pressure.
The Marriage Fix
Many divorce attorneys cited "marriage will change my spouse" as a common unrealistic expectation that frequently leads to divorce. Magicians can turn doves into rabbits but the priest, minister, or judge that performs the marriage ceremony doesn't have the power to change essential attributes of the bride and groom.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
"In one-third of the cases that I see there is some evidence of alcohol, illegal drug or prescription drug abuse." Maurice Kutner, Miami, FL. Newport Beach, California attorney Steven Briggs said that in the seventies he witnessed a lot of marriages that were victims of alcoholism. In the eighties cocaine was a common marriage buster and in the nineties his clients were complaining that their spouse was addicted to a prescription drug. Whatever the addiction, the effect is the same. If left untreated, the addiction can ultimately destroy the marriage.
According to an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times titled "Can Success in Marriage Be Predicted?" couples that were most vulnerable to disillusionment had brief courtships. In a whirlwind romance, it's easy to paint an unrealistically rosy picture of the relationship that can't be sustained.
Couples grow apart because one or both spouses ignored the growing apart symptoms until the growing apart was a fait accompli. What are the symptoms of growing apart, one of the most common causes of divorce? I discussed that question with many of the family law attorneys that I interviewed. Their examples fell into eight scenarios: The Kidaholic, The Workaholic, The Hobbyaholic, Age, Marriages Between Opposites, Changes in Goals and Values, Intellectual and Social Differences, and Marriages between Straight and Gay Spouses.
Bill Hunnicutt, a family law expert in Denver, said, "People don't listen anymore. Spouses need to take the cotton out of their ears and put it in their mouth for a while." Minneapolis attorney Ed Winer said, "Many people get divorced because they never form that communication bridge, and they lose patience with each other. They don't spend the intellectual capital to come up with joint solutions to their problems."
Lack of Commitment
Several of the divorced people that I interviewed told me that they had serious doubts about their future spouses before the wedding date but felt that the “train had already left the station.” Many of these people conceded that they mistakenly thought that it would be easier to go through with the ceremony and obtain a divorce if things did not work out, than to phone guests with the news that the wedding was off.