7 Signs Your Marriage Is Probably Over — For GOOD

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marriage is over

How to think about your marriage in a totally different way — divorce may be your smartest choice.

While I’m not an advocate of divorce, there is no other smart choice sometimes. It’s either get out and save yourself or go down with a sinking ship.

Not knowing whether to save your marriage or end your marriage is like being in purgatory. It’s an incredibly debilitating place to be. You’re probably experiencing sleepless nights where your thoughts race with feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and wishes that things were different.

This article is going to get you thinking about your marriage in a totally different way. We’re going to highlight the most prominent signs that indicate that your marriage is truly over.

If these words ring true, it’s time to bust out that inflatable dingy or life preserver, and head for dry land!

1. Even when you're together, you're alone.

You no longer share interests in common. You don’t spend any time together. All you discuss are logistics — household and children’s needs. Your spouse is not your go to person. You can’t remember the last time your spouse asked you about your day.

There’s a lack of partnership. You’re facing and solving day-to-day problems on your own. You’re managing the bulk of the household tasks without your spouse’s help, input, or support. There’s no one there to celebrate life’s successes or face its difficult challenges with you.

You feel relieved when she travels for work, or he goes to visit his family.

2. There's a complete communication breakdown.


You and your spouse no longer really talk with or listen to each other. You’re not interested in his day, and you don’t want to share what happened in yours either. You’d rather call your best friend, sister, mother, or confide in your co-worker.

Are you or your spouse falling into one or more of these negative communication patterns (as outlined by famed marriage and relationship researcher John Gottman):

  • Criticism: attacks on your partner’s character or personal insults.
  • Contempt: acting with an air of superiority and using terms like "you never" or "you always".
  • Defensiveness: defending your position, rather than hearing and validating what your partner is saying.
  • Stonewalling: a.k.a. the silent treatment. Not responding, or even leaving the scene.

3. Needs and desires go unmet.

We’re human beings, so we all have needs, wants, and desires. In the ideal relationship, we respect and honor our spouse’s requests. We believe that their requests are legitimate and we want to do whatever we can to help meet them.

When the relationship is suffering, we often get entrenched in our position and start viewing our partner as "the enemy" or an obstacle to getting our needs met, rather than view them as a person who has needs and desires just as we do.

As our needs are not being met, resentments start to build up and we tend to reciprocate — turning a blind eye to our partner’s requests. We can do this consciously or unknowingly, outwardly hostile or passive aggressively.

4. You’ve lost all respect for your partner.


Disagreement can lead to not getting our needs met, which can then lead to resentments, which can build up to hostility, aggressive behaviors, and other types of actions meant to hurt our spouse.

Bad behaviors turn into the loss of respect. One or both of you treat the other with contempt. You dismiss his or her bids for attention or affection. Your own attempts to connect are disregarded. There is no more kindness.

You turn away from your partner and turn towards life’s distractions: work, tv, mobile devices. One or both of you ends up feeling rejected, ignored, or discounted.

5. Everything is a knock-down drag or fight. 

You and your spouse are unhappy and adversarial towards each other. You disagree on a number of things and the disagreements often escalate into an arguments or fights. You find yourself in the repetitive pattern of either attacking or defending.

Two family researchers, James P. Peterson and Nicholas Zill, came up with a list of nine areas that married people need to develop agreements or understandings about.

The nine areas include money, parenting, sex/intimacy, relationships with family and friends, religion, household responsibilities and gender roles, substance use, how to spend leisure time, and career. If you and your spouse disagree on three or more of the nine areas, this indicates serious trouble.

When I say "agree", it doesn’t mean you necessarily see eye-to-eye, you can have room for some degree of variation. But if you cannot find a workable compromise or reasonable resolution or if you fail to have room for each other’s perspective, you will begin to feel hopeless and frustrated.

6. You can't remember the last time you had sex


Close relationships need both physical intimacy and emotional intimacy. Sex is a need, like hunger or sleep.

You no longer touch each other. There is a lack of intimacy. No affection. No vulnerability. Perhaps, there’s even enough space between you for infidelity to transpire. Has there been an emotional affair? Physical affair? Do you flirt with or daydream about other people?

Some more sexual signs of trouble: failure to climax, impotence and premature ejaculation, no interest in having sex (with your partner), fantasizing about having sex with other people, and decreased sexual frequency. When unhappy, both men and women are susceptible to the attentions of others.

7. You're both (or one of you) changing/changes at different rates.

One of the most common reasons marriages end is that people grow or change at different rates. Sometimes one partner doesn’t change or grow at all (either because he is unwilling or unable).

John Gottman elaborates on this concept in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. He says that sometimes, the partners grow and change, but the structure of the relationship does not — it stays stuck in the past when they first got together. The relationship needs to change and evolve with each new life stage.

Perhaps you’ve tried therapy, but your spouse refuses to go, or you go but nothing seems to happen. It's an exercise in futility. One or both of you are just going through the motions.

You cannot single-handedly save your marriage. It takes two people to make the effort, put in the time, do the homework, and really believe that change is possible.

If you’re nodding your head as you’re reading these signs and you’ve got a heavy feeling in your heart, your instinct is telling you it’s time to recognize and admit that there are some serious issues in your marriage and it may even be time to go.

If there’s been any sort of unchecked destructive behavior (physical, sexual, emotional or substance abuse) this is a typically non-negotiable situation. Your safety and the safety of your children is your top priority and you need to take all necessary protective measures.

If you’ve determined that you’re safe, my next recommendation would be to ask yourself do you have anything left to give to this relationship? Can you talk to your spouse about your feelings? Really get vulnerable, and communicate how serious this is, that you’re on your way out the door?

With nearly all of my clients, I recommend seeking professional help before ending the marriage. Consult with a couples therapist or your clergy person. If you’ve been to therapy, and it hasn’t worked and your spouse is unwilling to change, your marriage may be at the end of its viability.

Before you make a mistake you might regret, check out Kira Gould's website, she's got many tips to explore if there’s anything left to do to save your marriage. Or if you’re sure it’s time to pull the plug, reach out and contact her to create an action plan for moving forward with your new life.

This article was originally published at Getting-unmarried.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.