Psychotherapist Reveals The Tiny Sign That Means Your Marriage Is Likely Done

How to know when it's time to get a divorce.

Couple ignoring each other, angry wanting to give up on marriage | Shutterstock

If learning how to save your marriage is not working, perhaps it's time to figure out when to get a divorce and give up. A married couple, Erin and Ben, came to me a few years ago for a process called Discernment Counseling, a counseling process developed to guide couples who are on the brink of divorce. Usually, one or both partners are strongly considering ending the marriage. In a vast majority of these cases, one spouse wants the divorce while the other spouse wants the opportunity to save the marriage and is willing to commit to marriage therapy.


Erin and Ben decided that reconciliation wasn’t the right path for them. It’s usually one person who leads this final decision, and in this case, it was Erin. The last straw came when she found out Ben had an affair, which she did not know about previously. I discontinued my services after providing resources for divorcing, and they began the process with legal counsel and hashing out their marital settlement agreement. When deciding on if and how to save your marriage, "It ain’t over till it’s over."

According to the free dictionary, the idiom, "It ain’t over till it’s over" means, "The outcome cannot be assumed or determined until a given situation, event, etc., is finished." Its most frequent use is about competitions, such as sporting events, and political elections Baseball legend Yogi Berra was the first to use the phase during the 1973 Baseball National League pennant race. His team was way behind, with a loss nearly certain. But they eventually turned things around and won the division title. The team members rallied. They didn’t just give up because they were losing. They brought their best selves to the game, even when an undesired outcome was very likely.


RELATED: Before You Try To "Fix" Your Marriage, Take These 4 Steps

The saying is often regurgitated in popular media and has also moved beyond competition and into clarifying a relationship status. 

There is wisdom and truth in it. It encourages people to wait — not make a judgment just yet because even with tremendous struggle and poor odds — the outcome still may turn around. Many months after my last contact with them, I got a surprising call from Erin. She had a change of heart and wished to halt the divorce process to try to reconcile and pursue marriage therapy. I was so curious to learn what gave her a change of heart.

What she relayed to me was incredibly valuable and validated some of the guidance I give to the spouse who is often desperate to save the marriage, but sometimes makes things worse unintentionally. She began reconsidering her decision because of the way he treated her during the divorce process. He was kind, helpful, generous, and caring, and he wanted to make sure she was safe and secure as a soon-to-be single mother of their two children. He also expressed regret and remorse for not just the affair, but also some of his other behavior during their marriage. Erin was blown away and felt a lot of love returning just from his handling of the separation, his consideration for her, and his genuine display of remorse.


RELATED: 3 Mistakes That End Marriages (And How To Fix Them)

The other part of what Erin relayed to me validated the second piece of advice I give somebody strongly considering divorce. 

And that is, you can’t divorce yourself. There’s tremendous potential to bring our problems, negative personality traits, poor style of communication, and so on, into the next relationship. Both partners need a deeper understanding of their role in what caused the marriage to end, and this is an important piece to figure this out. Erin told me that she often reflected on this fact.

The divorce rate is higher for second marriages. Another statistic to remember is that the divorce rate for second marriages is around 60 percent. Not learning about yourself and your contribution to what happened in the first marriage is one of the reasons for this. Another primary reason second marriages don’t succeed results from trying to "blend" two families, which often yields a new set of significant challenges to your post-divorce life. The divorce rate for third marriages is even higher than for second marriages.

@couplestrongnation Second Marriages and Divorce: Understanding the Risk!Reality Check: It's important to acknowledge that second marriages face an increased risk of divorce. Statistics Speak: Studies show that the divorce rate for second marriages is higher compared to first marriages. Navigating Challenges: Entering a second marriage requires open communication, addressing past issues, and learning from previous experiences. Focus on Growth: By fostering emotional connection, trust, and mutual support, you can build a resilient foundation for a lasting second marriage. Love Can Prevail: Despite the statistics, love, dedication, and a willingness to learn from the past can help defy the odds. Remember, a second marriage is an opportunity for growth and a chance to create a love story that stands strong.#SecondMarriage #CoupleStrong #divorce #relationship #marriage #couple #fyp #fypシ #foryou ♬ original sound - CoupleStrong

RELATED: 5 Glaring Signs There Is No Hope For Your Marriage

Reconciliation after divorce is initiated is rare, but possible — if you want it. Erin and Ben reconciled and had a successful outcome from marriage therapy. Now, I realize this is rare. In fact, according to available statistics, around 13 percent of people reconcile after separation, and six percent of divorced couples later remarry again. Hence, 19 percent of couples stay together even after seriously considering divorce, separating, or finalizing their divorce.

If you're the spouse who desperately wants to save your marriage but you have an unwilling partner, you must bring your best self to this marital crisis, even when an undesired outcome is likely. 


You still have the opportunity to make the changes you likely promised when your spouse threatened divorce in the first place. Reconciliation is still possible, even when it comes to divorce. So, when should you stop trying to save your marriage? Remember, it ain’t over till it’s over — and even then, it ain’t always over!

RELATED: Don't Get Divorced Without Reading This First

Dr. Marni Feuerman is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, relationship expert, and author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships.