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Should YOU leave your marriage?

From Adele‘s album inspired by her divorce to Ioan Gruffud’s very public marriage breakdown, the subject of relationships ending is front and centre in the news. 

But when do you know when a marriage can be salvaged, and when is it time to walk away? 

Speaking to FEMAIL, three UK-based relationship experts shared their advice on the questions you need to ask before turning your back on a relationship – and help break down the issues that can and cannot be overcome. 

They also shared their advice on what to do if you do feel it’s time to walk away, including how to address the issue with children.  

From Adele’s album inspired by her divorce to Ioan Gruffud’s very public marriage breakdown, the subject of relationships ending is front and centre in the news. Pictured, Adele and her ex-husband in 2013 

IDENTIFY THE RED FLAGS

The first step is acknowledging the issues that are driving you to the brink of divorce. 

Remember: Divorce is NOT the only solution 

Vihan Patel said: ‘It is worth noting that an unhappy marriage doesn’t always mean divorce is on the cards – plenty of married couples look to living separately as a solution to problems they have identified.

‘Divorce doesn’t need to be the only solution.’

Rachael Lloyd, eharmony’s relationship expert, explained: ‘When a relationship is coming to an end, red flags can take a range of forms: dishonesty, avoiding spending time together, or feeling like your partner dampens your mood, self-esteem or self-belief. Or perhaps the realisation that their values just aren’t what you thought they were.’

Relationship expert Margaret Bankole added: 

  • You no longer feel the same about each other
  • You are making each other miserable. One or both parties is no longer willing to make it work or pull out all the stops to make it work
  • You are stifling each other, want different things. Different outlook on life
  • You are both pulling in different directions and are no longer willing to compromise or be there for each other 
  • Unfaithfulness which the other party is unwilling to forgive

CAN THE ‘RED FLAG’ BE TURNED ‘AMBER?  

Relationship expert Vihan Patel explained that not all red flags necessarily spell the end of a relationship.   

‘There are a lot of red flags that indicate a problem in a relationship but that doesn’t necessarily mean those red flags are worth ending the relationship for,’ he said.

‘Cheating, lack of communication, lack of trust and an unresolved problematic past are – in my opinion – the biggest red flags to be aware of in a relationship. 

‘However, that is not to say that these issues cannot be resolved with a little effort from those in the relationship and time. 

‘Making your concerns clear and setting boundaries is a great way to turn red flags amber and eventually eliminate them altogether.’

THE RED FLAGS THAT SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED

There are, of course, some red flags that should not be ignored such as signs of abusive behaviour.

Rachel said: ‘Any signs of abuse – be that physical or emotional – are a clear sign a marriage should end.  These are not issues that can be worked through and the damage is already done.

‘It’s important to be aware of less “obvious” signs of emotional abuse too.  This can come in many forms from gaslighting – where your spouse makes you question your own sense of reality – to narcissistic tendencies such as negging, where you’re constantly being put down by your partner.’

GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO CHANGE   

Before ending it for good, give your spouse a chance to work on improving so you can both be happy.

Rachel explained:   What’s important to remember is that every relationship (even those that look Instagram- perfect) requires effort on both sides.

ASK YOURSELF FOUR KEY QUESTIONS 

Vihan Patel says you need to ask yourself four key questions: 

  • What is the main reason you want to leave? 
  • How do you feel the majority of the time (happy or sad)? 
  • Are you always having fights about the same things? 
  • Do you think change will happen in the long term?

He said: ‘Asking these questions, and answering honestly, will likely help you come to a helpful conclusion. 

‘For example, if you spend the majority of your time unhappy, are having fights about the same issues time and time again and don’t think that your significant other will be able to make changes and stick to them, it may be time to accept the truth, speak to your partner and make some big decisions.’

 

‘Relationships shouldn’t be hard work, but they do require elements of compromise and individual input. 

‘Always ask yourself if you’ve done your best to communicate your needs and concerns to your partner – we can all fall into the trap of assuming they’re a mind-reader.

‘Have you given them a chance to hear on your concerns and act on them? 

‘Have you spoken about how you’ve noticed a change in your relationship and that you’d like to address the issues individually and as a couple? 

‘Have you considered couples therapy if these worries are difficult to verbalise?

‘However it’s important to evaluate if there is something fundamentally wrong with your compatibility or if the relationship is breaking down due to lack of communication and ability to prioritise each other.’

Vihan agrees: ‘I think a good way to look at this is to have a plan of action, if it has reached a point where you are questioning your relationship then perhaps list your concerns/needs and give yourself a timeframe.

‘Express those concerns/needs to your significant other and clarify what you want and your timeframe. If your partner hasn’t met those needs by the time you specified, reassess the situation and either increase the time frame (if you feel that your partner has made adequate changes so far) or be honest with both yourself and your partner that it simply isn’t going to work.

Alice Evans has spoken publicly about the breakdown of her marriage to Ioan Gruffudd. The couple are in the news again this week after he went public with his new girlfriend

Alice Evans has spoken publicly about the breakdown of her marriage to Ioan Gruffudd. The couple are in the news again this week after he went public with his new girlfriend

DON’T BAD MOUTH YOUR PARTNER IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN 

Vihan said: ‘Your happiness comes first (as does your child’s if you’re a parent), and general life can work around that.

‘With a child involved I think guarded communication is a good option. Your child shouldn’t be left in the dark completely, with one parent leaving the house in the dead of night, but that is not to say they necessarily need to hear every small detail of the separation.

‘Explain to them that, first and foremost, they are not to blame and, at least to begin with, things will change as little as possible. 

‘Whether you have had an amicable split or not, put aside your differences with your partner at least when your child is around. The child never should hear one parent bad mouthing the other. That can wait for friends at the pub.’

LET GO OF GUILT 

Rachel said: ‘Guilt is a normal and natural reaction to what is one of the biggest life decisions imaginable. Add children into the mix and it can be all-consuming. 

‘Societal expectations don’t help, with images of the happily married, nuclear family still very much the dominant norm.

‘However, if somebody is seriously considering leaving a marriage, there are likely some very good reasons. It’s not often a snap decision.

‘As such, you need to think longer term about the benefit to yourself and your children.

‘Yes, it will be an emotional rollercoaster and people’s feelings will get hurt in the process. However, a divorce can sometimes mean positive change and your children deserve seeing the happiest version of you.’  


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