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10 Alarming Signs Your Wife Wants to Leave You 

Maybe you’ve noticed your wife is acting a bit differently lately. It may be more than just a rough patch that all marriages go through – this feels somehow worse. You may think your wife wants to leave you.

It’s alarming for this thought to even cross your mind, but you can’t help but assume the worst. People get divorced for various reasons, whether it’s because of commitment issues, lack of compatibility, financial trouble, intimacy issues, or a combination of factors. Every marriage is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, people express their unhappiness by engaging in different behaviors in their marriage. What’s interesting is that these behaviors can be compiled into a list. If your wife is thinking about ending the marriage, she may be engaging in some behaviors listed below.

If your wife wants to leave you, these are some tell-tale signs to look out for. This does not automatically mean that she does want to leave. Unless your wife specifically states that she wants a divorce, there is still hope. It’s important to know the signs to watch out for if your wife wants to leave you so you can address the situation before it’s too late.

Alarming Signs To Watch Out For

1. Extra focus on her appearance

If your wife has been extra attentive to how she looks, it’s not necessarily a bad sign. She may have started working out more often and eating healthier. Maybe she flosses her teeth more regularly and sticks to a stricter skincare regimen. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, especially if this increases your attraction toward her. It can be exciting when your wife comes home after a shopping spree with new outfits and lingerie! It can also signify that she’s planning on putting herself back on the market, though. If she’s thinking about leaving you and getting back into dating, it’s likely she’s going to want to spruce up her appearance. Especially if your wife is engaging in other behaviors on this list, it’s a definite sign that your wife has divorce on her mind.

2. Working later than usual on a more frequent basis

It could be that your wife has had a lot of extra responsibility at work. It could also be that she’s looking for a reason not to come home to you. If your wife is working more hours and seems to be making excuses for why she has so much work to do, it may be because she’s avoiding you. Especially if your wife is not exactly a workaholic, it’s a warning sign if she’s spending a lot more time at work. There could be other reasons why she’s working late, of course. Maybe she’s going after a big promotion, or she genuinely has a lot of extra work on her plate. She could be trying to catch up after falling behind, or maybe her company downsized, and now she’s doing twice as much work as before. Whatever the case may be, it’s a red flag if your wife is working later than usual and things don’t seem to be going well in your marriage.

3. Spending more time with friends

While the both of you must have your own lives, if your wife is spending a lot more time with her friends than usual, that could be another warning sign. Your wife may be planning to leave you and using her friends as an excuse not to be around you. If this is the case, she’s probably discussing the issue with her friends! She may need that extra moral support to be able to discuss her feelings in confidence. Be wary that depending on who her friends are, they may try to convince her that leaving you is the right thing to do. Though it’s not your place to intervene, if you notice that your wife spends all of her free time with her friends and doesn’t leave any time for you, she may be thinking of leaving you. 

4. Making excuses not to spend quality time together

You may feel like your wife looks for any excuse not to spend time with you. This is another red flag that your marriage might be in trouble. Whether it’s spending time with friends or having work obligations, your wife always has a reason not to be around you. Instead of being upfront about needing space from you, your wife makes excuses for why she can’t give you her full attention. This makes you feel incredibly rejected and hurt. If your wife is bad at lying or making excuses, it can feel even more hurtful when she’s struggling to come up with a decent reason why she can’t spend time with you. The truth may be that she doesn’t want to be around you because your wife wants separation and is trying to create that distance.

5. Withholding affection or intimacy

Intimacy is the glue that keeps a marriage together; it’s what separates marriage from plain old friendship. It’s also the first thing to suffer when a marriage is in trouble. If your wife is withholding affection from you, it could be because of various reasons unrelated to her wanting to leave you. But if you’re already suspicious that she no longer wants to be with you, a lack of affection or intimacy is a huge warning sign. She doesn’t want to hold your hand or hug you anymore. You also notice that she doesn’t reciprocate your affection and that she doesn’t want to get intimate with you. She might even reject your advances coldly, leaving you feeling confused and unwanted. If this is something you can relate to, it may signify that your wife no longer wants to be with you. 

6. Doesn’t say “I Love You.”

Similar to withholding physical affection, your wife may withhold verbal affection. You notice that she tends to be hesitant to say the L-word. She doesn’t want to tell you that she loves you because, at this point, she’s not sure if she still does! If you tell her wife that you love her and she doesn’t say it back, this is a clear sign that her feelings for you have faded. Even if she does say “I love you,” it seems forced and not genuine. It seems as if she’s just going through the motions and telling you what you want to hear. If it seems like it’s a chore for your wife to tell you that she loves you, she may not mean what she says. If she can’t even express her feelings for you, it’s a sign that your wife wants to leave you.

7. Becoming more secretive

When you notice your wife becoming more secretive towards you, the best-case scenario is that she’s planning a surprise birthday party for you. However, the worst-case scenario is that she’s planning on leaving you. Your wife is more secretive lately, and it’s making you suspicious, and you have every right to be. Maybe you used to know what your wife was up to and how she was spending her time, but now you’re completely in the dark. She may be hiding her whereabouts from you because she’s making arrangements to leave you. You may notice that she’s changed the password to her phone and computer even though it’s something you were both open about before. She may be more secretive because she’s started seeing someone else and doesn’t want you to find out. She may even be more secretive because she’s been meeting with a divorce lawyer to discuss how to go about serving you with divorce papers. It’s best not to catastrophize if you notice your wife is a lot more secretive than she used to be, but be aware that there must be some reason to explain her secretive behavior. 

8. Ignoring your whereabouts and no longer having an interest in your life

If your wife wants to leave you, another tell-tale sign is that she no longer seems to care about your whereabouts or your life in general. Your wife may ignore your whereabouts completely and just doesn’t seem interested in knowing what you’re up to. You often checked in with each other about where you were, what you were doing, and who you were with, but your wife changed that for the relationship. She set a new precedent and made it so that neither of you knew what was going on with the other person. You try to check in with her and let her know your plans for the day, and she doesn’t seem interested. She used to want to know how your day at work went, and she used to seem to care about your hobbies, but now she doesn’t. It’s as if she wants nothing to do with you anymore. If this is what you’ve been experiencing, it’s time to consider that your wife is unhappy and wants to leave.

9. She no longer enjoys your company

It’s normal for marriages to have ebbs and flows and go through rough patches. But if lately, your wife acts like she can’t stand to be in the same room as you, there might be a problem. There’s no other explanation for the way your wife is acting other than she just does not enjoy your company anymore. Everything you say annoys her, and everything you do puts her on edge. This feels like more than just a rough patch; it truly feels like your wife cannot stand your company. You may feel defeated and like your confidence is lower because of this. You don’t understand how the love of your life could act as if she just doesn’t like you as a person anymore. This is a sure sign that your wife is thinking of separation. 

10. Making alternative financial arrangements

Another sign that your wife is plotting to leave you is that you catch her making alternative financial arrangements. Suddenly, she’s putting money into a separate bank account or lying about how much money is coming in so that she can stash it in a secret savings account. It doesn’t seem like she’s putting money away for any other reason, such as a surprise vacation fund, so the only explanation is that she’s planning to leave. She may be using the money to pay for lawyer fees or plan her future life as a newly single person. Either way, if she’s making alternative financial arrangements in secret, it will spell trouble for your marriage.

Other Factors to Consider if you think your wife wants to leave you

There are, of course, other explanations for the various strange behaviors your wife has been exhibiting lately. While you should always trust your gut, you can’t always assume the worst. Other factors at work can explain why your wife has been acting as if she will leave you. You can consider many logical questions if you’re thinking to yourself, does my wife want to leave me?

Is your wife stressed out at work?

If your wife is simply more stressed out than usual, it may explain some of her behaviors. She might be working longer hours because she needs to catch up to keep her job. Working more than usual can come with a lot of impacts on marriage including less time for intimacy.

 Is your wife suffering from depression or other mental illness?

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can significantly affect a person’s well-being. Suffering from mental illness can vastly affect a person’s personality, so if your wife is struggling with her mental health, it’s no wonder she’s been acting so different lately. She may be focusing more on her appearance or trying to exercise more often to feel better. She may just need a confidence boost to combat the depression. Depression or other mental illness would also explain why she seems distant from you and doesn’t mean it when she says, “I love you.” It might not be her fault – if she’s truly struggling, she probably feels numb to her emotions and can’t express them properly.  

Is your wife struggling with addiction?

It would make sense for your wife to be acting more secretively if she’s struggling with an active addiction. Suffering from addiction can be a major source of shame for people struggling with that, so it would explain why your wife has been hiding from you. She doesn’t want you to know her whereabouts because she’s out purchasing drugs or alcohol. She doesn’t want to be around you anymore so that you don’t pick up on the fact that she’s under the influence. If she’s secretly putting money away for an unknown reason, it could be because she needs funds for her addiction and doesn’t want you to know. 

Is your wife preparing for the worst due to trauma?

If your wife has a history of trauma, such as a tumultuous childhood or bad experiences with past relationships, she may just be preparing for the worst. If you and your wife have been growing apart or having arguments lately, she may be waiting for the other shoe to drop. She may be preparing to leave you if you decide that you want to leave her. She wants to make sure that she beats you to the punch. Becoming distant from you could be a trauma response. She is simply gearing up and protecting herself from potential harm, even if it’s imagined. In this case, it’s important to consider whether or not this type of behavior would make sense in her specific situation.

What to do if your wife wants to leave you

Don’t assume the worst

When you assume that your wife wants a divorce, you want to give up, but the worst thing you can do is assume! Many reasons would explain your wife’s behavior, and you truly won’t know what’s going on in her head until you talk to her about it. Assuming the worst is a recipe for disaster. You will be put on the defensive and will act in ways that only push her away further. Try not to catastrophize the situation or assume that divorce is imminent. It’s hard not to do so when there are so many warning signs present in the marriage, but jumping to conclusions will only worsen when it comes to sitting down and discussing the situation.

Practice healthy communication

So you’re suspicious that your wife wants to leave you. You’ve read about all of the warning signs and possible other explanations. Now what? Well, the answer is that you have to communicate with your wife! Confrontation does not have to be negative. There are ways to approach the situation directly to promote healthy communication and prevent defensiveness. There are a few rules to abide by to ensure communication goes smoothly. 

– Use “I statements .”Tell your wife how her actions make you feel without blaming her for your emotions. Let your wife know how her behavior affects you, and be upfront about your concerns. 

– Be direct. Don’t be afraid to specifically ask your wife what her intentions are. It may be best to avoid asking her, “Do you want to leave me?” Especially if you’re not ready for an honest answer. Instead, you can ask what her feelings are about the marriage and if the marriage makes her happy or unhappy. Express your desire to fix the marriage and ask her what you can be doing differently to create positive change.

– Don’t blame her or accuse her of anything. Even if her actions hurt your feelings, you need to own your emotions. Blaming her for your feelings and accusing her of wrongdoing will only put her on the defensive. You want to avoid pushing her away at all costs. 

– Be understanding. Though you may not like hearing what your wife has to say, the point of healthy communication is to better understand where the other person is coming from. Have empathy for your wife and anything she may be going through. She may be dealing with quite a bit of inner turmoil that you are unaware of. It’s best to try to understand her feelings to work through your marital issues.

Seek couples therapy

Couples therapy is an excellent resource if you find out that your wife wants space but not divorce. Couples therapy can help you work through your issues and get to the root causes of your unhappiness. A trained therapist will know how to navigate the situation. A couple’s therapist can also evaluate the situation from a non-judgemental standpoint to figure out where things went wrong and how to fix them. There is no shame in seeking couples therapy, especially if you want to save your marriage. You should get help if you and your wife are willing and able to attend couples therapy together. You may feel alone in your situation, but a couples therapist is someone that can be there for you through this trying time.


If you’re afraid that your wife will leave you, it’s important to know the signs. Being aware of what’s going on in your marriage will better equip you to handle the situation with care. Remember not to jump to conclusions even if it seems set in stone that your wife wants to divorce. Try to have hope that the situation will improve. With the right tools and resources to address your marital issues, you might be surprised at how quickly your marriage turns for the better!

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Sofia Bolanos

Sofia Bolanos has over seven years of experience in the mental health field and is an avid peer support counselor and volunteer. She also works closely with homeless populations in the San Francisco Bay Area and provides resources and support to vulnerable individuals within the community. Her goal is to utilize her gift of insight to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. As part of her commitment to that goal, she facilitates a monthly support group in which couples are strongly encouraged to attend. She received a B.A. in Sociology from San Francisco State University and is on track to continue her graduate studies in 2023. In addition to her passions for writing and helping others in their healing journeys, she enjoys oil painting, contemporary dance, plant care, and spending quality time with her dog.

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