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Four Signs That Indicate a Looming Divorce in NY

by | May 23, 2023 | Divorce Long Island, NY

Every couple fights – in fact, healthy disagreements are important for any relationship between two equals. But how do you know when these go arguments too far? How can you tell when you’re on the brink of a divorce?

World-renowned psychologist and marriage therapist John Gottman names the “four horsemen of the divorce apocalypse” that he says serve as a reliable indication that you may be doing real damage to your relationship.

#1. Defensiveness of a Spouse

It’s common for many people to become defensive when they perceive criticism, especially if they didn’t learn how to accept and work through it as a child. This often shows up in a marriage as one or both people over-explaining why they did something, making themselves the victim, or deflecting blame onto the other person.

When you become defensive after your spouse has let you know of an issue, this can make them feel like you didn’t hear what they were saying or purposely weren’t listening. Feeling unheard, or like your partner can’t understand where you’re coming from or isn’t willing to try to see your point of view repeatedly can cause resentment toward a spouse to build. This can become a pattern, making it even harder to communicate with one another to rectify the situation. A lack of communication is a death knell for any relationship.

#2. Criticism is Different Than a Valid Issue

People in healthy, successful marriages understand the difference between criticism and a complaint. Complaints are valid issues whereas criticism shows up as an attack of a person’s character that extends far beyond making someone aware of an issue that needs to be addressed.

In relationships, frequent criticism can break down the positive feelings partners have for each other and themselves. A building resentment of the criticism makes it difficult to connect with one another on a foundational level, which is necessary for a good relationship – especially if you’re married. Each partner needs to feel like your partner knows you well enough to understand that you’re not hurting them or ignoring their needs on purpose.

If this is no longer the case and your spouse frequently blames you instead of the problem, it’s a sure sign that your relationship is on the rocks and you could be headed for divorce without quick intervention.

#3. Treating a Spouse with Contempt

Contempt is when resentment grows and becomes disgust. It’s usually directed at one spouse, but both partners can grow to be contemptuous of one another. In severe cases, contempt can show up as emotional and verbal abuse.

For example, a complaint might sound like this:

“It’s difficult for me when I’m watching the kids all day and I don’t get a break when you come home from work.”

If this were a criticism, it might be phrased differently, such as:

“You never give me a break from the kids after I’ve been watching them all day. You don’t care if I’m tired.”

And contempt might sound like:

“I knew you wouldn’t give me a break from the kids today. People like you don’t understand how hard it is to be a stay-at-home parent. I should have known it would be like this when we got married.”

As you can see, contempt can be extremely hurtful. It does much more than express one partner’s frustration and goes further than blaming the other for it. Contempt cuts deeply and it becomes difficult to believe a person who says they love you sometimes, but shows contempt toward you at others.

#4. Stonewalling is Emotional Abuse

Stonewalling is a type of emotional abuse that involves denying a person basic human recognition. It includes the silent treatment, but you don’t have to be silent to stonewall your partner.

Stonewalling involves suddenly disengaging from the conflict or conversation and either refusing to communicate or giving short, abrupt answers and appearing as though you no longer care about the issue – or even the other person.

When To Enlist the Help of An Experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer

If you suspect you’re headed toward a divorce, you don’t have to wait until you’re actually getting one to reach out for help from a Long Island, NY divorce lawyer. And you shouldn’t. Getting legal help early is one of the best ways to protect your best interests and come away with the best possible outcome.

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we can help you navigate the difficult process of planning for divorce. We’ll start by going over all your options and helping you to understand the possible benefits or consequences of each. Contact us today for more info by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
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Paul Carmichael
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