A reader asked “How do you know when your marriage is over?” While the signs are different for everyone, there are a few common denominators. Uncertainty, grief, and fear are the most common emotions when you’re confused about your marriage.
If you want to stay married, read How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny. They teach us that there is a biological difference that underlies most couples’ fights. A woman’s vulnerability to fear and anxiety makes her draw closer to her husband, while a man’s subtle sensitivity to shame makes him pull away. This is why so many couples fall into the archetypal roles of nagging wife/stonewalling husband, and why improving a marriage can’t happen through words.
When you’re trying to decide if your marriage is over, you need to look at your marriage in different ways. Read marriage books, talk to a marriage counselor, consider marriage retreats, and find different marriage resources that can help you see your husband – and your self – more clearly.
On How to Be Happy Without Your Husband, Raylie said she’s been married four years, and they have a baby boy who is 16 months old. “I’m so confused about my life,” she said. “How do you know when your marriage is over? I’m not happy with my husband. He fights and argues with me, and never admits he makes mistakes. I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes I feel like leaving him, but when I think of my child, I step back. I have no job and am completely dependent on my husband. Please give me suggestions on what to do and how to know if my marriage is over.”
I can’t tell her or you what to do – sometimes I don’t even know what to do in MY marriage sometimes! But, I can share a few things I know about marriage, husbands, love, life, and emotional health.
How Do You Know When Your Marriage is Over?
Only you can decide if your marriage is over. I don’t give marriage advice because I don’t want to steer anyone in a direction that isn’t healthy or right, and I don’t know the details of your marriage. But, there are some common signs your marriage is over.
1. Learn what respect is
What does “respect” mean to you, in your marriage, in your family? To me, it means being able to voice my opinion without being criticized, expressing my thoughts freely, and feeling like an equal partner in my marriage. It also means not being mocked or cruelly teased in front of other people, and not being put down when others are around.
Respect means different things to different people. If you haven’t figured out what respect means in your marriage, then now is the time to think about it. You’ll have an easier time answering the question, “How do you know when your marriage is over?” if you have a clear idea of what respect means to you. If your husband doesn’t respect you, then you need to talk to him.
2. Become aware of abuse in your marriage
There are obvious signs of abuse in a marriage: verbal abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, etc. However, if you don’t know what it means to be treated with respect, then you may not even realize that your husband is abusive. That’s why it’s so important to start with respect. If you think you’re not being respected, then it’s time to figure out if you’re being abused in your marriage. That’s when you know your marriage is over: your husband is abusing you, and he isn’t willing to get help or go to counseling.
If you believe you are being respected and you aren’t being abused in your marriage, read How to Save Your Marriage Without Counseling.
3. Learn why you’re wondering how to know when your marriage is over
What has brought you to this point? My reader said she’s unhappy because of the way her husband treats her. They fight too much, and aren’t physically intimate. If she can’t live with those two aspects of her marriage, then maybe her marriage really is over. Or, maybe she and her husband just need to work through their marriage issues.
ALL marriages have problems and issues, and we can’t call it quits just because we don’t know how to save a marriage.
Do you think your marriage issues can be fixed if you and your husband work together? Are you willing to change your expectations, and is your husband willing to do the work it takes to reconnect? Then you know your marriage isn’t over. It’s just wobbly.
4. Get emotionally and spiritually healthy
The healthier and stronger you are, the easier it’ll be to know when your marriage is over. If you are connected to God, if you know your self inside and out, then you’ll know how to move forward. Having a solid relationship with your Creator is the best way to get to know who you are – because God wants you to be you! He created you to be you. If you are in a marriage that doesn’t allow you to be you, then you need to look at that. But that doesn’t mean your marriage is over. How do you know? Because your husband may be willing to give you space to become yourself, to flourish, to grow.
If your husband is able to let you develop into the woman you were meant to be, then your marriage isn’t over. It just needs you to get healthy spiritually and emotionally.
5. Talk to a counselor – by yourself and as a couple
Marriage counseling can be effective for couples who are both wondering how to know when your marriage is over. But, if your husband is perfectly happy with the way things are – or he doesn’t want to go to counseling – then marriage therapy is pointless.
However, if you have a good therapy session or two with a counselor, without your husband, it can change your life! You don’t need to go to counseling with your husband. You need to find someone wise, professional, and objective to talk to. This is the best way to answer your question about how do you know when your marriage is over. Articles like these, advice or marriage columnists, and talking to friends might be helpful for general tips, but you need to talk things through in person or online with someone who can help you discern the truth about your marriage.
Do you know in your heart of hearts that your marriage is over? Read How to Fill the Void in Your Life After a Divorce.
I welcome your thoughts on the difficult question, ‘how do you know when your marriage is over?’ I can’t give advice, but writing often brings clarity and wisdom. You may find it helpful to write about your experience – and other readers will benefit from knowing they’re not alone!