3 signs you can save a relationship on the rocks, according to a divorce manager who helps some clients stay together

  • Alex Kapp, a divorce manager, helps people through break-ups.
  • But some of her clients stay together and work things out, which she also coaches them through.

Amid what’s been dubbed the year of divorce — with couples from Cardi B and Offset and Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner splitting in 2023 — you may be ending the year wondering if your own shaky relationship should be next.

So we asked a divorce manager for the signs that a relationship is salvageable.

Alex Kapp, who is based in Los Angeles, has been helping people work through divorce since 2019, filling the gap between a divorce lawyer and a therapist by providing coaching, and emotional and practical support. This can mean anything from helping clients with the emotions around splitting possessions and child custody, advising people on how to communicate with uncooperative soon-to-be-former spouses, to tackling paperwork.

She said that “conscious uncoupling,” a term used by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to describe their 2014 split, has helped to normalize divorce and made it more acceptable. But that doesn’t mean divorce is right for everyone, and some of her clients never end up taking the plunge.

She supports these clients as they work on their marriages and try to patch things up.

Kapp shared with Business Insider the signs she’s noticed in couples that suggest they could give it another shot instead of getting divorced.

You still love your partner

Kapp said most of her clients are past loving each other, and so divorce is usually right for them and their families. But if a client says they still love their partner, she’ll help them fight for the marriage — as long as there’s no abuse or manipulation.

“I have a current client who’s fighting really hard to save the marriage, and I will fight with that person because I think it’s worth fighting for,” she said.

“Every client, every divorce is different. It’s about finding the right combination of things to walk somebody through periods of pain or conflict,” she said. “It’s all about moving forward, no matter what that looks like.”

Communication has broken down

Kapp said that things can break down in a marriage with “the little choices we make,” and that communication is a big one of those.

“For instance, if you walk by each other in the house and you don’t look each other in the eye, all you have to do is put a hand on somebody or say ‘Hi, I love you’ to cause this huge shift in your relationship. You have to make the choice to be kind and engaged with each other — even if you don’t want to, even if you’re tired,” she said.

“Magic things can happen” with a little tweak in how you communicate, she said. She advises couples who have stopped communicating properly to try and fix that before divorcing.

Once communication is re-established, she said, couples can discuss “what’s missing, or what’s not firing on all cylinders.”

You have low self-esteem

If you have low self-esteem, you might not know what you deserve, or feel you don’t deserve to be loved or communicated with openly, Kapp said. This can lead a person to accept situations that are unpleasant or unfair, and think divorce is the only solution. But it may be the case that the relationship could be improved by expressing your needs.

Kapp works with clients to improve their self esteem to the point where they can ask for what they need, want, and deserve to make their marriage work for them before resorting to divorce.