Your gut has been telling you that things haven’t been right between you and your spouse for quite some time now. You used to be so close, you two shared everything under the sun, it felt like you were perfectly synced, and you were so happy together.
These days, however, it feels like there is a huge disconnect between you and It’s been really hard to find the bond that used to exist between you… So what’s going on here? Is this the beginning of the end? Has the end already come? Or is this just a bump in the road?
As a love and relationship coach, many people come to me for help with restoring a broken relationship but sometimes a person just wants to know if their relationship has fallen apart beyond repair.
I spoke to a woman just this morning who has found herself in this situation, and it made me want to write this article for you today. There are a variety of different indicators that can serve as signs your marriage over, but you’ve got to be able to spot them.
If you want to know whether or not it is time to let go of this relationship, you have come to the right place. My goal is to provide you with tools and answers to your burning questions, especially in such a tumultuous period.
Choosing to end a marriage is a very big decision, so it is very important to do the research that will help you to make a well-informed decision. The good news is that you are already on the right path because you have made the effort to seek out information that will help you!
Looking for signs your marriage is over
So many people struggle with the decision of whether to stay or leave a relationship, and it can be very difficult to feel confident in your decision. That is why it is so important to take your time and really analyze the situation, your options, and what you truly want.
Many times, I see that people are hesitant about leaving the relationship even when they know that they should. Why? Well, some people are terrified of making the wrong choice and winding up with crippling regret… but other people choose to stay in an unhappy relationship out of fear of how it might affect other people.
For example, I remember working with David who had been with his fiancée for 12 years. The beginning of their relationship was beautiful and fulfilling for both of them but with time, things started to fall apart. To paraphrase for you, this ended in a separation.
They were apart for about nine months, and during this time David explored other relationships and worked on getting to know himself better.
Then he realized how much his ex was suffering as a result of his decision to leave. She became depressed and allowed her life to fall apart, and at the end of this nine month period David decided to take her back. When I asked him to tell me about his decision to do so, I remember him saying, “I just couldn’t stand to see her hurting.”
As you can see, his reason for getting back in the relationship and staying with this person was because he was worried about what her life would be like he were to leave for good. This is a very common situation. Many people also choose to stay out of fear of disappointing their family, or because they don’t want to hurt the people they care about.
Another very common reason why people choose to stay despite seeing very clear signs of marriage is over is the fear of being alone. The thought of being on their own terrifies them, and they choose to remain in an unhappy relationship over being single.
At the end of the day, when you have a big decision like this to make, the absolute best thing you can do is to make sure that you take your time and really analyze the situation.
As you know, types of decisions should never be rushed, so the more information you have and the more time you take to reflect, the better. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest signs your marriage is over.
Is my marriage over: Here’s how to tell
After all of these years that I’ve spent working with individuals and couples alike, I have been able to identify patterns in failing marriages. As I said above, the key to making informed decisions is to do as much research as possible.
When the decision feels so hard to make that it seems that you are paralyzed and don’t know how to move forward, it is often because you don’t have enough information. However, as time goes on and you are proactive about analyzing the situation, the choice becomes much clearer.
So here are some signs of a failing marriage to help you get a clear idea of what is going on right now.
When your marriage is over: Opponents vs teammates
When people ask me about how to know when your marriage is over, I bring their attention to the dynamic between them and their husband or wife. Do they operate as a team, or is there a sense of disconnect in which the desire for justice seems to take precedence.
A sign of a failing marriage is when one person consistently chooses justice or revenge over forgiveness. When their partner makes a mistake, they feel the need to make him or her back down or pay for whatever it is that they did wrong.
One thing that we often forget in relationships is that each and every single one of us is human. This means that no one is perfect… and to err it is to be human. Sure, being faced with your partner’s mistakes can be frustrating at times, but when you are in a committed relationship it’s all about operating as a team. If you are feeling vengeful toward your partner (or vice versa), and if forgiveness doesn’t seem to have a seat at the table, then you are looking at one of the signs your marriage is over.
A married couple should be working to overcome obstacles and challenges in their relationship by pinpointing the source and working together to find a long-term solution. When a person is constantly seeking justice, it can quickly undermine the bond between two people and make them feel further apart. What’s more, the more this happens, the more tension and resentment will squeeze their way between you and your husband or wife.
How to know when your marriage is over: The feeling of isolation
One of the biggest signs a marriage is failing or over is when there is a perpetual sense of isolation. One or both of you feel very alone and the complicity and closeness that used to exist between you seem to have dissipated. It’s very hard to maintain a relationship and overcome the challenges that we all inevitably face if we do not feel connected to our partners.
When tensions have undermined the bond between you, you can quickly end up feeling disconnected and alone.
The more alone a person feels in the relationship, the less inclined they will be to want to rectify the problems the relationship is facing. Unfortunately, the feeling of isolation makes it very easy for someone to want to pull the plug on the relationship instead of work together to fix it.
A warped Image of the relationship is a sign of a failing marriage
If you feel like your relationship has been battered by waves of challenges in an ocean of conflict for quite some time now, it would not be shocking if you started to see the relationship in a different way.
When a person or a couple is faced with challenge after challenge, it becomes dangerously easy to forget that a marriage is a relationship… not a project to be completed or a problem to solve.
Challenges are inevitable in any relationship, especially when the honeymoon phase passes. A lot of people make the mistake of confusing the end of the honeymoon phase with the end of the relationship… the truth is that relationships involve and mature, and there is usually a catalyst that pushes the relationship into a more mature state.
It’s perfectly normal for a relationship to begin to change after time, and it doesn’t always mean that the marriage is over. That said, if you see the marriage as nothing but a burden or a problem that needs solving, it can mean that things are falling apart.
Signs of a failing marriage: Lack of desire to understand
When people ask me, “When is a marriage over,” another thing I highlight is the way the two people in the relationship choose to try to understand each other. As I was saying above, challenges and disagreements are inevitable in any serious relationship, but if one partner consistently refuses to try to understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings and desires, then there is a problem.
When you choose to be with someone, you’re choosing to do what is necessary to maintain your bond. This entails seeking understanding when it is not present…
Because disagreements are inevitable, the way a person chooses to approach the situation is very telling about whether or not the relationship is on the brink of divorce. Without understanding, there is no closeness.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to take advice from or listen to people that they feel understand them. In simple terms, a person will not listen to someone who does not understand them. When we apply this concept to a relationship, it’s easy to see why understanding someone is so important. If your partner does not feel understood by you, then they will not perceive you as credible and will discredit your opinion. This creates a downward spiral that results in even more distance between you.
So if you are wondering about when a marriage is over, pay attention to how well you understand each other, and how much you care to understand each other.
The blame game: A sign of a failing marriage
Once again, one of the pillars of successful and healthy relationships is the bond between you. When people feel like a team, they have a much easier time overcoming obstacles. Now, when every single argument turns into a blame game and both partners are pointing fingers, the marriage becomes very threatened.
Similarly, when past transgressions or shortcomings are constantly brought up (especially in the heat of an argument), this will damage the bond between you even further.
A couple who has a healthy relationship will seek to build each other up, work past flaws, and navigate through disagreements together. In a failing marriage, one or both partners no longer see any good or praiseworthy character traits in the other person. Seeing your husband or wife in a negative light only makes it easier to point out more character flaws or mistakes in behavior.
When do you know your marriage is over: No one takes responsibility
Following in line with my previous point about the blame game, another indicator that a marriage is over is when either the husband or the wife refuses to take responsibility for their actions and their mistakes. Instead of accepting that they did something wrong and making a conscious effort to implement long-term solutions, the person will find ways to make it everybody else’s fault (and more specifically, their spouse’s fault).
I worked with a couple a few weeks ago who live in Santa Barbara, California. They have been married for about seven years and they were teetering on the brink of divorce when it came to light that the husband, Clark, had had an affair. I was working with both of them because they wanted to repair their marriage and I remember Clark saying to his wife, Alicia, “Well I never would have done it if you’d stop telling me to lose weight because I looked better before! I don’t know why you have to make me feel so unattractive all the time.”
Though she may have lacked a bit of tact in her approach, he was trying to deflect blame and not take responsibility for the mistake he had made. When a person is unable to take responsibility, apologize, and make the effort to change, they will lose credibility in their partner’s eyes, their partner will not feel respected, and the divide between them will continue to grow.
Humility and willingness to change are crucial elements of a happy and stable relationship. These are some of the key elements required to overcome challenges and repair damage in a marriage.
When your marriage is over, there are only negative memories
Another one of the most common signs a marriage is over is when you or your significant other only has negative memories associated with the marriage. It’s true that as human beings we tend to fixate on negative memories and for some reason, they often stand out in our minds in clearer focus than our positive memories do… but when it seems like there are no positive memories at all, the threat of separation is very close.
People often hold on to positive memories because they serve has an example of what the future could be like. These memories make it easier to remember the relationship’s potential, and can serve as motivation to fight through a challenging period. Of course, when it feels like there are no positive memories to hold on to, it becomes very easy to lose that sense of motivation and hope for the future. A person can easily think, “Why am I even fighting for this?”
In order to have a fulfilling relationship that withstands the test of time, both people in the marriage have to look at each other and feel a sense of inspiration, satisfaction and joy. If there aren’t any positive emotions being associated with the marriage, the marriage is on fragile ground.
The dangers of resentment when you’re asking, “Is my marriage over?”
One of the most destructive things that can creep into a relationship over time is the feeling of resentment. As I said above, every single one of us makes mistakes and we are all human. That said, if forgiveness is no longer present and one or both partners has been keeping mental lists of all of their spouse’s mistakes or wrongdoings, the divide between the two of them is going to continue to grow.
When one of you is so resentful that hurting or schooling the other becomes more important than their common project and what do you’ve built as a team, then you are looking at one of the biggest signs your marriage is failing.
Holding on to grudges and keeping a mental checklist of everything that your partner has done wrong is not going to improve your bond. It’s easy to become resentful when problems remain unsolved or mistakes become repetitive… Communication and working together as a team to find long-term solutions together can be a solution, but the desire to do so must be present.
Signs your marriage is over for men and women: The loss of friendship
One of the easiest ways to protect against resentment is to make sure that the friendship is preserved between you. When the friendship between two spouses remains intact, they have a greater facility to overcome external challenges as well as disagreements and arguments that happen between them.
When that friendship is allowed to be eroded away, then the sense of protection that the relationship had goes with it. It makes it easy for the two people to feel like they are no longer on the same side. When you feel unsupported by your significant other, it becomes dangerously easy to turn against them.
When this happens, a person could actually end up falling in love with their hate for their significant other. The love they have for their spouse is replaced by a deep sense of hatred and resentment that can give rise to unprecedented tensions in the relationship. Of course, if there is hatred and resentment that outweighs any feeling of love or compassion for your partner, it is a sign that your marriage is failing.
This reminds me of Robert’s story. I worked with him about six months ago or so. He was in his mid 40s and had been married to his wife for almost 20 years. Throughout the course of their relationship, the friendship that used to be so strong between them withered away and had not been present for a very long time. Instead of living life as a married couple, they were just living parallel lives under the same roof. The bond between them was nowhere to be found and they were just coasting through life, focusing on their jobs and careers, on their kids, on their friends, on their hobbies… They were focusing on pretty much everything except each other. Unfortunately, Robert and his wife had completely neglected each other and their relationship.
The disconnect between them was especially apparent every time they went on vacation together… they would find themselves arguing and bickering over the most trivial things. During our coaching session, Robert realized that he and his wife would fight every time they were forced to spend an extended period of time together. They had built and were living separate lives, despite the fact that they lived in the same house and slept in the same bed every night. The result was that they could no longer relate to each other, and their lack of empathy for each other where clear signs that their marriage was already over.
So when you’re wondering how to tell when your marriage is in trouble, you’ve got to look at the friendship between you.
How to know when it’s time to divorce: Selfishness and distance
As we continue to look at the signs your marriage is over, I want to bring your attention to a few more elements in terms of the dynamic between two spouses. Healthy, loving relationships are rooted in balance and exchange. In failing relationships, I often see that one or both partners will try to fulfill their own needs at the other person’s expense. They will continuously put themselves before the relationship and before their spouse, and in doing so, they undermine the foundation of the marriage.
One person’s selfishness can make the other feel unsupported and unimportant. As I said, in a healthy relationship there will be the give-and-take, not a “me first” attitude. If one partner is willing to step all over the other in order to get what they want, the relationship will crumble.
Signs your marriage is in trouble: When space doesn’t bring you closer
A little bit of space and room to breathe in a relationship is always healthy, but when long periods of space don’t do anything to bring you closer together, there is a problem. For example, let’s say that your spouse goes away on long business trips and the sense of relief you feel when he or she is not around is palpable. When they return, tensions seem to be higher than ever, you don’t feel like you missed each other, and it feels like both of you are frustrated to be back in the same place as the other. If this is happening, then you’re looking at one of the signs of a broken marriage. Time apart should actually serve as a way to bring you closer together by allowing you to miss each other and have things that you want to share when you reunite. Pay attention to how it feels when you reunite after an extended period of time. Things should not feel the same or even worse than before.
If this is not the case, you’ll notice that your significant other is no longer afraid of losing you when you pull away for a long period of time.
When a marriage is over, tempers are out of control
Another sign a marriage is ending is when neither person in the relationship is able to control their temper around each other. If you two keep ending up in explosive fights on a regular basis, especially if it’s over trivial things, it might be a sign that your relationship is beyond repair.
Incessant fighting creates a hostile environment which makes it very hard to find solutions and be loving towards one another. In addition to this, constant fighting comes from an inability to relate or empathize with your partner, and this can make you drift even further apart.
The more a person feels attacked, the more their defenses will go up and can find yourself in a negative spiral. Little things can get blown out of proportion because someone is already feeling defensive, which of course leads to even more fights. A simple thing like asking if the dishes are clean could be interpreted as critique of how much person helps around the house and it can spiral into a full blown argument… all because the person’s finger was already on the trigger.
How you know your marriage is over: The future doesn’t excite you
As I briefly mentioned above, a marriage is ending when a person thinks about the future and continuing to live their life with this person, and feels depressed. When you feel trapped, uninspired, or even oppressed by this marriage, it means that there is a serious problem.
A marriage with someone is supposed to excite you and make you feel happy when you think about the future with them. People in failing marriages will often feel like they’re condemned to spend the rest of their life with this person. Keep in mind that it’s normal to feel frustrated sometimes in marriages because of the inevitable challenges, but if this feels like a permanent emotion, it means that something has to change.
Another sign your marriage is ending is when you fantasize about being free of your partner or even living your life with somebody else. If you feel more excited or more at peace at the prospect of being free of your partner for the rest of your life than remaining in this marriage, then it could be time for a divorce.
How to know when it’s time to divorce: You’re done trying
One of the clearest indicators that a marriage is over is when you just don’t want to try anymore. If you feel like you’ve already done everything you could possibly do, you’ve tried everything you could possibly try, and you just don’t have it in you to keep fighting for this relationship, it means that it’s probably time to let go.
The thought of trying to remain with this person exhausts you and makes you feel heavy and burdened. You can’t seem to find a reason to continue to try to make it work, you feel taken for granted, and you don’t feel like it’s worth it anymore.
Many people feel like this after they’ve made a valiant effort to try and save a relationship and feel like no matter what they do, it’s never enough. When you feel disheartened and discouraged, and no longer feel a sense of hope for the future despite everything you’ve tried, you might find yourself thinking, “My marriage is over and I think I’ve come to terms with the idea of letting it go.”
It is very important to listen to your gut feeling and to take the time to determine what is the best course of action would be for you. That said, if you don’t want it, then divorce is not the only option…
The biggest signs your marriage is in trouble
As this article begins to near its end, I just want to summarize all of these points for you so that you can really take in this information. I want to give you all the tools that will help you diagnose the state of your marriage.
So if you’ve been wondering how to tell when your marriage is over, pay attention to whether one or both of you are always trying to level the playing board or seek revenge on each other.
Do you feel like you are in a permanent state of isolation in this relationship? Does it feel like your marriage is just a project that needs to be completed or a problem that needs to be solved?
A marriage is in a crisis when one partner consistently refuses to try and understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings and desires. Every argument turns into a blame game and past mistakes are constantly being brought up. One or both partners stop seeing any good at praiseworthy character traits in the other person, and they stop taking responsibility for the dysfunction of the relationship.
A marriage is in trouble when it seems like the negative memories have covered up all of the positive ones, and resentment seems to have taken precedent.
A relationship can be on the brink of divorce when the friendship between you and your partner has completely disappeared, when a partner consistently seeks to fulfill their own needs of the other’s expense, and when long periods of time apart don’t bring you closer together. Neither of you can control your tempers around each other and the idea of a future with this person makes you feel depressed.
At the end of the day, the biggest indicator that your marriage is over is when neither if you want to try to save it anymore.
The thing I want to stress is that when a relationship or a marriage is truly over, you will know when the time has come. If you can honestly say that you have done everything in your power to make it work and there just seems to be no signs of improvement, it is time to detach and face your feelings. It is possible to face your fears about losing control while getting in control of yourself and your responsibilities.
If you can free others to be who they are, then you will set yourself free as well.
Seeing signs your marriage is over: What to do if you want change
Though you may have recognize many of the signs that your marriage is failing, I do want to remind you that in many cases, it is possible to change the situation. Anything is possible in love, if you’re willing to put forth the effort.
When a relationship is in a crisis, it is important to remember that when we are dealing with human beings, who throughout time have made it clear that they are creatures of logic. We are creatures of emotion who are often blinded by prejudices, egos, pride and vanity. There is emotional baggage to take into consideration from your current relationship, but also past relationships.
This is why it’s so important to control your temper. It is all too easy to let your emotions run wild, especially when things have been tense for quite some time.
Keep in mind that people tend criticize their spouses most loudly in the areas in which they have the deepest emotional needs. Generally speaking, men and women have different emotional needs in the relationship and it’s easy to neglect these things (especially if you are unaware of them). For example, to not be needed is a slow death for man, and a marriage can be doomed the moment a husband feels that he is no longer needed by his spouse. If a woman is afraid of not being emotionally supported, she can unknowingly push away the support that she needs from her spouse. We are all governed by our emotions to a certain extent, but we can all learn how to keep our emotions from taking control and we can adapt our behavior and reactions in order for our relationships to reach their full potential.
Let’s work together if you fear your marriage is over
If your goal is to repair your relationship and restore it to its former glory, or if you want to learn how to bounce back after letting this marriage go, all you have to do is get in touch with us.
If you have decided to turn the page and move on from this marriage, I encourage you to download our product that has been specifically designed to help you move on from a marriage with grace and dignity. To access it, all you have to do is click here.
Join The Happily Committed Project and transform your relationship before it’s too late or let us help you heal and move forward with your life in a dignified and meaningful way. Together we can work on reaching your goal by providing you with a clear-cut action plan that has been tailor-made to fit your relationship, your situation, and your specific needs. As a team of dedicated love and relationship experts, we are here to guide you from a to Z and answer all of your questions.
Wishing you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you’re looking for signs your marriage is over