These signs a marriage is ending may give you insight into your own relationship. Maybe your marriage is over – or maybe it’s going through a natural cycle.
But how do you know? “In my work doing marriage coaching, I have noticed that very often the turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom,” says marriage coach Mort Fertel, who offers 7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage. “It’s not until they’ve been through the worst that things start to get better.”
Maybe your marriage is over, or maybe you just need a tune-up from a marriage coach or book. Just because you’re struggling with problems in your relationship, doesn’t mean your marriage is headed for divorce court. Read How the Power of Love Can Save Your Marriage, and read on for ways to know if your marriage is over.
Don’t despair if infidelity is a factor in your marriage. Mort says cheating husbands are more likely to build stronger relationships – if they are genuinely sorry and sincere about saving their marriages. However, if your spouse cheated, you and he will need to do some serious work on moving forward in peace, forgiveness, and love.
7 Signs Your Marriage is Over
The following issues may represent the end of one stage of your marriage — or they may herald the beginning of a new, healthier chapter of your life as a couple.
Which will it be? It depends on you and your spouse.
1. Your partner can’t see the reality of your marriage
If your spouse doesn’t understand how his actions are affecting you – and even worse, refuses to compromise – then your marriage will be difficult to rebuild. To rise from rock bottom, both partners have to see how their actions or inactions are affecting the relationship – and both partners have to be willing to work on it. If your spouse refuses to accept responsibility, then you have to decide if you want to stay in your marriage the way it is…or end it.
2. Your spouse sees how thing are, but doesn’t care
You can communicate until you’re blue in the face, but if your partner doesn’t care how you feel or whether the relationship is healthy, then perhaps it’s a sign your marriage is over. Marriage coach Mort Fertel says, “Ironically, communication techniques sometimes give people clarity that they don’t care what their spouse thinks or feels. They “got it,” but “it” doesn’t matter to them anymore.” Communication is secondary to caring.
If your spouse doesn’t care that your marriage is over, maybe you aren’t selfish for wanting a divorce (some women believe they are).
3. You don’t connect with your spouse
When you first got married, you probably felt understood, heard, and connected with your partner. Time passes, and the stress of daily life and kids and jobs and money and house all take a toll…and you find that you’re not connecting anymore. This isn’t necessarily a sign your marriage is over – it just means you need to make the time and effort to reconnect.
4. You have different visions of the future of your marriage
He wants a four million dollar home on oceanfront property; you want to live in a cottage in the country. He wants six children; you’d rather be childfree. He wants his mom and aunt to live with you in his four million dollar home; you can barely tolerate Christmas dinner together. To keep your marriage together, you need to agree on your vision as a couple or family – and put each other first (and your financial goals, parents, or careers second).
5. You’re not physically intimate
This may not be a sure sign your marriage is over — it depends on your physical and mental health — but if you have no love life to speak of, then you probably aren’t connecting on an intimate emotional and physical level. The less you connect, the less healthy your relationship is…and the more likely your spouse is ending the relationship.
6. You fight the “wrong” way in your marriage
If you can’t focus on the topic of your argument, opting instead to bring up past mistakes or reopen old wounds, then your marriage may be leaning towards “over.” The more past conflicts come into current arguments, the less healthy your marriage is. This may not be a certain sign your marriage is over, because it’s actually fairly easily remedied if both spouses are willing.
7. You partner cheats and wants to end the relationship
Many couples survive marital infidelity, and even have a stronger bond because of the cheating. Other couples split up right away, while other marriage limp along for years or decades…and the cheating partner remains unfaithful. Cheating in and of itself isn’t necessarily a way to tell if your marriage is over…it’s how the partners act after the infidelity that determines if they’ll stay together.
Read 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship, even if you recognize every sign your marriage is over. Don’t give up on your relationship yet – it is VERY possible that the best is yet to come! Maybe you’ve hit the natural “rock bottom” life cycle of your relationship…and maybe you just need to start rebuilding your marriage.
In 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, the Gottmans provide vital tools – scientifically based and empirically verified – that you can use to regain affection and romance lost through years of ineffective communication. You’ll strengthen your relationship and make it the most fulfilling it can be.
Do you need marriage help? Read 5 Best Ways to Get Good Relationship Advice.
I welcome your thoughts on how to know if your marriage is over below. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may be helpful for you to share your thoughts in writing.