Is It Normal to Contemplate Divorce When You're Married?


…And when does it cross over into red-flag territory? (Photo: Shutterstock)

While I think my husband Chris is an all-around awesome guy, there have definitely been times when I…haven’t.

We fight just like everyone else, and topics have ranged from Chris’s apparent allergy to cleaning to my total spaciness to more serious stuff. We have an awesome marriage 99 percent of the time, but we’ve had our issues.

I’d be lying if I said the D-word has never been dropped in our relationship. And while it’s not a regular thing, I’ve definitely thought at least once about what it would be like to not be married to him anymore.


“Uh…I hope so,” one married friend told me. “I’ve even looked up apartments for rent after one fight with my husband. I wasn’t planning to leave him, but I liked knowing I had options.”

“Oh, yeah, I think about divorcing my husband, like, once a month,” another said. “It doesn’t mean I’m actually going to do it, but sometimes it makes me feel better when he pisses me off.”

Related: 4 Ways to Fight Fair

Okay, so I’m not alone: While a few of my married friends were shocked (shocked!) that anyone would think about divorce on a whim, the majority have either thought about divorcing their S.O.s or actually said it out loud in the heat of the moment. I have some buddies who regularly joke about it, shouting things like “grounds for divorce!” when their husbands do something boneheaded. But most of them treat the D-word like the atom bomb that it is, keeping their thoughts under wraps and only saying it when they think they actually mean it.


It’s completely normal to think about divorcing your S.O. at some point, but it’s definitely a sign that something is off on some level, says Atlanta-based psychologist and relationship coach Jared DeFife, Ph.D. “All thoughts of divorce should be seen as an important warning sign and a signal to proactively address the health of your marriage,” he says.

Related: 9 Ways Therapists Can Tell If Your Relationship Won’t Work

If you’re having divorce thoughts—even if they’re fleeting—it’s also crucial to take a look at what’s happening in your life, as well as your relationship, to get some perspective, he says. Have you or your S.O. been stressed out at work? Are you overdue for a vacation together? Are you regularly being affectionate with each other? Has there been a betrayal of your trust that you need to discuss? Figuring out your feelings and actually communicating them to your partner is key, he says. Otherwise, they can build over time and create even more of a problem.

However, DeFife says it may be time to consider taking action when you’re thinking of leaving your marriage after your emotional, physical, or financial safety has been threatened, or you feel confident that you’ve exhausted every remedy to improve your marriage and yourself.


She asked for a divorce after she felt she and her husband had tried everything to improve their marriage. They separated for a few months but eventually ended up reconciling. “I realized we had some things to work through, but some of it was actually about my issues, which was hard to see at the time,” she told me. She ended up back with her husband and says their break was “crucial” to the strength of their relationship.

Related: 10 Ways to Build Trust in Your Relationship

Luckily, Chris and I have never gone down that path. I know we’re both invested in our relationship, but it’s good to know that my rare fantasies about the single life don’t mean that we’re totally screwed.

Korin Miller is a writer, SEO nerd, wife, and mom to a little 2-year-old dude named Miles. Korin has worked for The Washington Post, New York Daily News, and Cosmopolitan, where she learned more than anyone ever should about sex. She has an unhealthy addiction to gifs.

By Korin Miller

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