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Understanding “Invisible Divorce”

By Nottage and Ward on October 23, 2019

It is a well-known fact that about 50% of marriages in the U.S. ultimately end in divorce. While that statistic may imply that the other half of marriages where couples stay together are happy and healthy relationships, this is not always the case.

There are times when a couple may be married in name only and has been living a life knowingly or unknowingly separated from each other while still living together. This phenomenon is known as invisible divorce.

What Is Invisible Divorce?

The primary indicator of an invisible divorce is that even though the couple is legally married, they no longer share emotional or physical intimacy as they did earlier in the relationship. Their lives tend to resemble the relationship between co-workers or roommates, rather than an affectionate and married couple.

Many couples living in an invisible divorce still love their spouses, since they have a long-shared history together and probably have had children. However, they may also harbor resentment or just a passive indifference when it comes to their feelings about their spouse. In both instances, the bond that once joined the couple does not exist.

Couples may have various reasons for staying in such a marriage. There may be cultural, family, or financial pressures. However, some couples are in the middle of an invisible divorce and don’t even realize it.

Signs of Invisible Divorce

Signs that you might be invisibly divorced from your spouse include:

  • There’s no intimacy anymore. Warm conversations, laughs, loving looks, feelings of closeness, and even bedroom romance have dissipated.
  • You’re not friends with each other. Though your spouse doesn’t need to be your best friend to have a successful, loving marriage, you should be able to count on them to be one of the closest people in your life. If you don’t feel like you can turn to your spouse anymore in a time of need or crisis, then any friendship you may have had may be gone.
  • You don’t actively communicate your problems any longer. A happy marriage requires clear and honest communication. If you’ve stopped discussing the relationship, and ways to improve it altogether, you’ve implicitly conceded that you don’t wish to work on it any longer.
  • You are keeping problems at home to yourself. Things at home are so out of order, there’s no way to explain your circumstances without revealing to others that your marriage is in trouble. You keep your invisible divorce to yourself because you’re reluctant to face friends and family, who may challenge you to take further action in your relationship.
  • You continue to rationalize the situation. “The kids love her,” or, “He’s great about helping around the house,” are great ways to talk about the qualities of your spouse, but they’re something to build and maintain a relationship between two individuals.
  • You have secrets. And you think your spouse does, as well. At some point, you both made the conscious decision to keep each other in the dark when it came to certain things.
  • There is a lack of mutual respect. Respect for one another is key to any successful marriage. Being married to someone you hold in low regard will ultimately lead to you losing any respect you have for yourself.

You Need a Family Law Attorney

If you are in a troubled marriage where the love has gone, you have options to take control of your life. If you are in Chicago, and need advice on how to carry out divorce proceedings or mediation, contact Nottage and Ward, LLP, at (312) 332-2915 . Our firm was founded in 1988, and our Chicago family law attorneys have more than 25 years of experience helping families through difficult times. Contact us today, and see how we can help you!

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