Guys, it’s no secret – marriage in the west is fraught with risks. The divorce rate is said to be around 50%, the woman is usually the one who files, and often times the guy never sees it coming. Though the stereotype is the mid-life crisis husband who leaves his wife for a young bimbo and drives off with her in his new sports car, divorce attorneys nationwide can dispute that hackneyed and bogus statistic. For the past few decades, thousands upon thousands of divorce cases now begin with a shell-shocked man walking into a law office asking for help on a divorce he doesn’t even want.
Their tales are similar: the wife, typically in her late thirties to early forties, decides that she no longer wants to be a wife and/or mother and demands a divorce. She wants to pursue the greener grass, wherever and whatever she thinks that is. Contrary to what feminists say, these women aren’t usually suffering from abuse, they just aren’t “haaaapy” anymore. Like it or not, the cultural environment facilitates their abandonment of “till death do us part.” However short sighted it may be for a middle-aged woman with an aging body and fading beauty to get divorced, this decision is anything but sudden or capricious.
By the time an unsuspecting husband learns of her plan, she’s probably been constructing it for the past several months, or even years. There may or may not be another man in the picture, but regardless, when a husband is effectively given his marital pink slip, there is no negotiating it back – it’s over. It matters not whether he’s kept up his end of the bargain, been a great dad or even if she was unfaithful to him. Every state in America recognizes no fault divorce, which makes getting out of a lifetime commitment easier and relatively hassle free. So what’s a guy to do?
A young man getting married in the Western world today can’t possibly determine who the love of his life will be ten to fifteen years from their wedding day. The person you divorce is not the same person you married. But the last thing a man in the middle of newlywed marital bliss thinks about are things like divorce or the subsequent financial and personal peril. If it’s too late for you to do a prenuptial agreement or you don’t have the balls to ask for one before you tie the knot, here are a few warning signs you should watch for to see if she’s planning an escape down the road.
1. She takes an unexplained interest in your assets
Is she photographing your personal property, suddenly interested in documents, tax returns, pay stubs and other mundane concerns? It’s sensible to keep good records and to know where they are, but unless your wife was always conscious of records and receipts since the beginning of the marriage, modification of that behavior to that of a forensic accountant is a major indicator.
Why is she suddenly interested in the financial matters when before, she let you handle everything? Chances are she read a few things and learned that accurate records are going to be essential during a divorce proceeding. That, and she wants to be able to identify any assets that she did not already know about. If you own a small business and she’s never been part of it, watch for snooping around in that area – it isn’t innocent curiosity.
2. She starts packing a financial parachute
It may start with taking cash back at the grocery store during checkout over a period of weeks. She could progress to withdrawing more money than necessary for a regular given expense. Next, she’s stepped up spending compared to her usual shopping habits.
Why the increased shopping? She’s building a stash of things she can either keep or sell on eBay after the divorce. These will most often be things you will not want – expensive purses, handbags, clothes, etc. She might even push for redecoration of the house and new furniture. Sure, wives tend to do this anyway, but be extra paranoid if you already spent money on any remodeling within the last couple of years. It could be preparation for property division in her favor or sprucing up the house she gets to live in after you’re gone.
3. She suggests moving to a community property state
If you live in an equitable distribution state and file for a divorce, the court will divide property based on a number of different factors including record of ownership, time it was acquired, length of the marriage, type of property, obligations to the property, among several other factors. In a community property state however, generally speaking it’s a lot easier to split things up – she gets half.
Equitable distribution states are not always better but be skeptical if there’s little reason to move to a community property state. Likewise, watch for a push to move to a state or location with more favorable divorce laws.
4. She loses her job and has no interest in getting a new one
If she had a regular job but no longer does and shows no interest in finding a new one, this could be preparation for a more favorable alimony settlement from divorce. Yes, there are plenty of women who remain stay at home moms, but if your wife has regularly had some type of employment either out of necessity or personal desire, watch for changes in this behavior.
If she’s planning something, she will cease working in a valid manner that doesn’t risk losing a lucrative alimony award. Watch for her job contract ending, layoffs, or quitting to go to school. If you asked her to quit and she complied, be extra careful. Also, the longer she’s been unemployed, the better for her. Bonus if she’s got other reasons for remaining unemployed – age, illness, and lack of skills are a few common reasons.
Time wise, the sweet spot for alimony is often right about a year of unemployment. That’s probably when you can expect the papers to drop in your lap.
5. She ramps up bad behavior
Is she nagging you more than usual? Does she criticize you in front of friends when she never used to? Has she accused you of having an affair, even though you’ve been faithful? These might not be ordinary shit tests, but extra pressure to get you to embrace the idea of divorce and, she thinks, to move the process along speedily once the papers are filed.
Along the way, she may also go back and forth between tearing you down, then building you back up again – after you’ve bought her some kind of gift or concession like the good, loving husband you’re trying to be. She can do this for months with the goal of acquiring things and driving you nuts to the point where you’ll finally be ready to sign anything.
6. She sees a psychologist without your knowledge
This is a big one that ordinarily shouldn’t be a secret to a husband, especially if children are in the picture. She may (or may not) need this kind of care, but if she’s paying cash to see someone in this field and hiding it from you, she could be setting up a claim for spousal abuse and/or a favorable custody decision.
If you discover something like this, look for indications of how long she’s been going to appointments. Months or years of treatment are needed for credibility in court. Find out if the practitioner often testifies in divorce proceedings.
If after several years of marriage your wife one day surprises you with a demand for divorce, remember at that point, no amount of negotiation or deal-making can win her back. It’s a done deal, she checked out a long time ago. Presenting logic and facts won’t go very far with a woman who is past her sexual prime but somehow still thinks she’s got it with single young men.
Should you discover or think you discovered something, do not attempt to first broach the subject with her, even subtly. Keep in mind most men tend to be bad liars and unless trained, they are also terrible at elicitation-type questioning. Talk to a competent divorce attorney immediately, before you spill the beans. If it turns out you were right, and she was in fact planning divorce, you will lose the critical element of surprise by bringing it up over dinner.
And no, learning about this subject isn’t “inviting a divorce” any more than buying life insurance is “inviting death.” Even if you’ve done the all the right things it could still happen to you. That said, you can still watch for the signs and take measures to protect yourself.