Signs Your Marriage is Over
There’s no denying that relationships are thorny. Even the most stable of marriages will experience highs and lows that are both intense and frightening. It’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one contemplating divorce. A 2015 survey found that half of all married couples had considered divorce. As a result of the pandemic, the number of people who are interested in divorce has increased.
However, deciding whether or not to call it quits on your marriage is a significant life decision. As Jen Libby, MSW, LCSW, a family therapist who works with families going through a divorce, says, “I have never met anyone who approaches the subject lightly.” “I also haven’t met many people who haven’t contemplated divorce at some point in their marriage — even in seemingly healthy relationships.” Then there are the obvious signs of divorce, such as Libby points out.
Divorce can be caused by various factors, including a lack of effort to compromise, a refusal to open up emotionally, and even a desire for intimacy from an outside partner. You may have to wait a while before you notice some of the more subtle signs your marriage is over. However, many of these warning signs may indicate that you and your spouse need help, whether it’s from a family member, close friend, or a marriage counselor.
The divorce process can be sped up if you and your spouse can agree that your marriage is over and work together toward a solution that is fair for everyone, says Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder, a matrimonial and family law attorney.
Some of the most frequent indications that a divorce is imminent are listed below, based on relationship experts’ advice.
1. LACK OF INTIMACY
Rozin-Golinder says it’s a sure sign of divorce when couples aren’t spending time together.
Every couple indeed experiences dry spells from time to time, but sometimes the problem extends beyond that. According to matrimonial lawyer Dawn Cardi, one of the telltale signs of a failing marriage is “a clear lack of interest in sex and no communication about it and no action to address it.” Sex hasn’t worked in a long time as a trigger, “basically.”
2. BEGINNING TO DOUBT YOURSELF
Self-doubt can set in when your partner no longer values or prioritizes you. When you’re constantly being slighted and told that your thoughts aren’t appreciated, you’ll carry these feelings into your work, family, and other social situations, which can make you feel insignificant and unsure of your abilities, says Maria Sullivan, a relationship expert and vice president of Dating.com.
According to Sullivan, a partner who makes you feel like you’re to blame is the worst. Because marriage is about compromise and working things out, a significant other’s unwillingness to accept this may indicate that they no longer want to be in a relationship.
3. YOU ARE TWO DISTINCT PEOPLE
Rozin-Golinder points out that “some people divorce because they are no longer the same people they were when they married.” However, she says it doesn’t mean you must hate each other. Instead, you may have drifted apart and had different priorities.
Taking the stance that “we don’t hate each other, we just aren’t meant to be anymore,” as Rozin-Golinder advises, “can soften the blow and make things easier.”
4. A FORM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HAS TAKEN PLACE
As Libby points out, any form of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse indicates that you should consider ending your relationship with your partner.
One domestic violence incident is likely to lead to more incidents in the future. Whenever you are unsure about something, Dr. Brown advises that you ask yourself this question: The question is whether or not you’d encourage your daughter to stay in an abusive marriage if she were your child. A “resounding ‘no,'” Dr. Brown hopes, is the answer.
Lithman also believes that “when your health and safety are compromised by staying in the marriage,” there should be no doubt about the need to end the union.
5. YOUR PARTNER IS NO LONGER MAKING AN EFFORT
Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, says marriages face various challenges and that spouses must commit to solving the issue, not just one. Bowman says, “One partner can’t do all the trying on their own.” “That’s not how you go anywhere.”
When your partner isn’t living up to their end of the bargain, it’s normal and common to feel that something is missing. However, it is impossible to have an effective dialogue unless you and your partner are both willing to participate.
6. YOU CONSTANTLY TRASH TALK YOUR PARTNER
A less-than-obvious sign that you should think about ending your marriage, according to Libby, is “your tendency to trash-talk your partner whenever the opportunity arises.” Complaining to your friends about something your husband does that annoys you occasionally is very different from constantly complaining about him. As a result, both of you may lack respect for one another.
Libby advises that if you decide to divorce and you have children, you should refrain from criticizing the other parent in front of them. The dynamics of relationships are frequently revealed to children, according to Libby. “Especially in cases of infidelity, they usually know more than you think. As a result, you must remain available for communication while also exercising caution in your language.”
7. YOU NO LONGER FEEL THE NEED TO MAKE AN EFFORT
Attempting benefits both parties. Marriage counseling and reinvigorating your relationship could be another sign that you need a divorce attorney. “It’s time to pack it in if you’ve got too much pent-up resentment to care about moving past these problems,” Sullivan suggests.
Your lack of effort could result from your belief that you are not to blame. Dr. Gary Brown, a couples therapist in Los Angeles, says, “Sometimes we may think that most of the fault in our marriages is with our partner.” “You can bet on a 50/50 outcome. When spouses take full responsibility for their respective 50% of the problems, the situation improves “During the union.” But, of course, if you’re unwilling to admit your flaws in the relationship, that’s a red flag.
8. YOU’RE HAVING LESS FACE-TO-FACE TIME
An overly busy work schedule or excessive phone use can indicate that a marriage is in danger, especially if it is deliberate. According to Cardi B, “distancing” occurs when a person’s workload steadily increases, particularly during the holiday season.
According to Elayne Savage, Ph.D., author of Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple, couples nearing the end of their marriage often uncouple or disconnect from one another. You have already disengaged from your marriage if you no longer spend time together, if one or both of you spend all of your time at work, with friends, or on the internet — and if it feels good not to be with each other.
9. YOU DON’T LISTEN OR SUPPORT TO EACH OTHER
According to psychologist and life coach Sydney Ceruto, Ph.D., “actively hearing what your spouse is saying is vital to the survival of a marriage.” It’s a sign that you don’t care about your partner’s feelings and thoughts when neither of you takes the time to listen attentively when they speak. It’s common for one or both spouses to find someone else to confide in, which can lead to infidelity.
Both partners in a healthy marriage collaborate on everything from parenting to running the household to supporting one another’s personal goals. But, for the reasons outlined by Savage, “It’s a bad sign if you’re no longer working together on day-to-day issues if you’ve started to drift apart from each other. It’s a bad sign when you’re married that you don’t have personal, intimate conversations, especially when you’re around other people.”
10. SOMEONE HAS UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
As a New York City family and divorce attorney-mediator and author of Fight Less, Love More, Laurie Puhn says one spouse may begin to believe that if things had been different in the past, they wouldn’t be experiencing the current difficulties they’re experiencing — and this can lead to disappointment.
Claudio concurs and adds, “Ceruto is correct.” “Having realistic expectations about one’s spouse greatly influences one’s ability or inability to adapt to change in married life. The breakdown of a marriage is inevitable when disillusionment sets in when preconceived expectations are not met, resulting in enormous dissatisfaction and making compromise impossible.”
11. NO COMPROMISING IN TERMS OF WANTS AND NEEDS
When you’re married, you must work hard to meet your spouse’s needs while also ensuring that your own are being met. It’s a never-ending dance that necessitates a constant exchange of information. Dr. Bryce Kaye, Ph.D., author of The Marriage First Aid Kit, says that if your partner refuses to listen to what you need (time, affection, sex, help with children) or refuses to share their own needs, you’re not in a good place.
A similar issue may arise if you begin to feel that there is no overlap in your interests (or no effort is being made to find any). As Savage puts it, “couples should be able to share experiences they’re excited about, even if someone isn’t personally interested in the activity” If your spouse is unwilling to compromise, it may be a sign that they are dissatisfied with their marriage.
12. YOU’RE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT YOUR FUTURE
Sometimes, people get together, and one of them has a plan that they don’t tell their other half. You may want to avoid marriages where “your life agendas [and] timelines do not and never will align,” says Talia Litman, a certified family therapist.
If one of you is sure you want a child, and the other categorically refuses, you’re probably in trouble. There are many areas of compromise in a long-term relationship. “It’s possible to work through the “will we or won’t we have children?” question if someone is close to either side of the fence. On the other hand, you may end up divorced if you don’t get pregnant, and having a child is a lifelong goal, “According to Bowman.
Dr. Brown concurs, adding: “If you want children, but your partner doesn’t, that could spell the end of your relationship. You must ask yourself whether or not you are willing to give up on something so fundamental as family. If your spouse is adamant about starting a family but isn’t, you may want to reevaluate whether or not your union will last.”
13. LACK OF RESPECT IN THE RELATIONSHIP
Healthy marriages are characterized by their partners’ mutual respect for one another. You’re not in a healthy relationship if one of you constantly feels ignored and rejected. At this point in marriage, “you’re no longer civil, and all discourse is either attacking or defending,” says Savage. “It’s toxic.”
Contempt may even develop as a result of this lack of regard. In Ceruto’s view, hate is poisonous to a marriage because it conveys disgust and superiority at such a deep level. Condescension is an attack on one’s self-esteem fueled by negative thoughts about one’s spouse, as she explains. Savage says that resentment can lead to a lack of intimacy and connection in a relationship because it takes up so much space.
The good news is that getting a divorce may improve your relationship with your ex-spouse. It’s okay, says Libby, if you both end up being more sociable and happier because of your divorce.
14. FIGHTING MORE FREQUENTLY THAN IN THE PAST
Some couples can work through difficulties in their marriage without resorting to fighting. However, there are “high conflict” marriages that Dr. Brown refers to as “toxic and destructively emotional experiences” where “almost every issue has become toxic and destructive.” To paraphrase him: “The prognosis for a healthy marriage is almost zero if this cycle continues without some forms of effective intervention.”
In the opinion of Puhn, it’s a problem if you constantly have arguments that never end. As she puts it, “Marriage is all about being able to communicate effectively and effectively resolving conflicts.” According to my research, divorced couples are more likely to feel hopeless if they cannot resolve their arguments.
15. ONE OF YOU COMMITS ADULTERY
Cheating is an unavoidable part of many relationships. This will be no surprise to you if maintaining your relationship requires a high level of trust.
Because even if the betrayal happened just once, it might be best if you and your spouse can move on for everyone else’s well-being, even if the betrayal occurred just once.
16. ONE SPOUSE IS CHEATING
Bowman says it’s possible that your partner isn’t cut out for it despite their apparent desire for marriage. Their cheating and untrustworthiness may also be blamed on you for being too controlling or jealous.
Dr. Brown says that if your spouse has had multiple affairs, “it is highly improbable that there will be enough goodwill for your marriage to be viable.” No matter how long you stay married, you will never be able to trust your spouse again if they have cheated on you so many times. In Litman’s words, if you “can’t get past a major breach of trust in the marriage despite many efforts and discussions,” it may be too late to save your marriage.
17. SOMEONE FILES FOR DIVORCE
A divorce filing can serve as a powerful wake-up call for many couples. However, according to Rozin-Golinder, divorced couples are more likely to reconcile than you think.
When a divorce is filed, “people realize this isn’t what they want and want to work on the marriage and salvage it,” says she. In some cases, “I have had cases that have been litigated for a long period, only to end in a reconciliation at the final court appearance.” But unfortunately, after a divorce has been finalized, she’s also witnessed couples remarry. As she puts it: “Sometimes, it takes a big step toward a change to realize that the loss of the marriage is not what people want after all.”
But if you’ve gotten this far in your divorce and neither party will budge, there’s no turning back now. So do your best to overcome this difficult time while remaining true to yourself.