Marriage is a tricky business. The partners’ ways of relating to and interacting with each other are unique within each marriage, and all marriages have their ups and downs.
However, especially in a long-term marriage, the partners in a particular marriage develop a finely-tuned sense of the cadence and rhythm of their partner’s behavior. What if you notice that there has been a distinct change? Perhaps she’s more vague about where she’s going or when she’ll be home. Or maybe he has become much more concerned about his appearance. How do you decide what to make of the change, and what to do about it?
First, get out a piece of paper and write down everything you’ve noticed. When did it start? What are the specific differences? What are the details of each event or action? What happened before and after?
Next, assess where you are yourself with regard to your marriage. Are you dissatisfied or alienated yourself? Or do you want to save your marriage at any cost?
Finally, take stock of the state of your communication with your spouse. Does there continue to be a basic level of trust and commitment within your marriage, or have those components broken down?
With this information in hand, consider bringing in one or both of the following: an insightful marriage counselor and/or an experienced divorce attorney. Get as much guidance and information as you can from these professionals before you make any decisions or take any steps you may later come to regret.
Ask the marriage counselor: What does your gut tell you about what I’m observing? Are there things about my marital situation that look hopeful to you? If I want to have a conversation with my spouse about trying to save our marriage, how should I go about it? What can I be doing differently if I am committed to saving my marriage?
Ask the attorney: What is your advice based on the information that I’ve shared with you? What are the legal methods that I can utilize to gather more data about what is going on? What does the divorce process look like? What are the things that I should or should not be doing during this ambiguous period of time when it’s not clear what will happen with my marriage?
Instead of reacting emotionally and perhaps disastrously, take a thoughtful, step-by-step approach to assessing your situation and deciding on your best course of action.