Expert Advice – When To Call It Quits In A Marriage

when to call it quits in a marriage
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As a married person, there will be days when your life feels like heaven. There will also be days so bad you might be tempted to walk out of the relationship. Even though according to a study conducted in 2020, divorce rates have declined in recent years, yet 40% of all marriages end in divorce. Considering the chances of a marriage working out has the same probabilities as a coin toss, how does one figure out when a relationship is worth saving and when to call it quits in a marriage?

Marriages can turn into the stuff of nightmares at times. Unfortunately, you get so attuned to trying to make it work that you ignore the neon signs your marriage is over. Counselor Shazia Saleem, who specializes in divorce and separations, helps us understand these red flags.

When Should You Really Consider Giving Up On Marriage?

Everyone wants their marriage to last forever. As a result, when a person faces any crisis in their relationship, their knee-jerk reaction is to work on it. Unfortunately, we sometimes work beyond the stages of a dying marriage, leaving no stone unturned and unable to accept the fact that the marriage is long buried.

Shazia explains, “No human being is perfect. And when two imperfect human beings get married, it is obvious that the marriage will not be perfect either. There are bound to be a lot of places you will need to compromise. However, if your marriage is hurting you to such an extent that you are unable to function normally and your mental, physical, or emotional well-being is being compromised, then this relationship has become toxic, and now is when to call it quits in a marriage.”

When To Call It Quits In A Marriage – Expert Reveals 7 Signs

Every marriage is as unique as the people involved in it. The deal breakers for a marriage are entirely dependent on the couple’s definition of healthy and unhealthy boundaries. However, some things are considered red flags in a relationship. If you are facing these conditions, then these are the signs your marriage will end in a divorce.

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1. There is abuse in the relationship

Myra, a 33-year-old reader from Phoenix, thought her boyfriend Mark to be short-tempered but passionate – that was until 5 months into the marriage. That’s when the abuse began. “It was as if he changed right in front of my eyes. One moment he could be so loving and the next moment he turned into this angry monster.

“Any mentions of trying to fix his anger issues would send him into a fit of rage. I was stuck. I told my friends: my marriage is over and I don’t know what to do or how to get out of this situation. They helped me out. They are the reason I am free from that relationship.”

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Leaving an abusive relationship is hard. The abusive partner tends to isolate you from others. They also withdraw financial support and every time you mention leaving the relationship, the abuse gets worse. According to a study, domestic violence accounted for 21% of all crimes. And in 76% of these cases, women were the victims. So the moment a relationship becomes abusive, that is when a couple should call it quits. It is generous of you to want to support your abusive partner on the road to recovery, but you should not take the place of their punching bag in the process.

Abuse is unacceptable, irrelevant of the degree or the number of times it has happened. Even once could be bad enough. If you have a friend who’s wondering when to call it quits in a marriage that’s abusive, tell them the time is now.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) has a 24-hour hotline available solely for the victims of domestic abuse or family abuse. This hotline can be accessed via nation-wide toll-free number 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 or (206) 518-9361. In case of dire emergencies, call 9-1-1.

Related Reading: Healthy Vs Unhealthy Vs Abusive Relationships – What’s The Difference?

2. You want different things from life

No two people are completely alike and it is these differences that make a marriage interesting. However, too many differences between a couple can complicate things. You might not want to have kids, but you have a partner who does. In such a situation, it’s unfair to expect your partner to give up their wishes just to keep the marriage intact.

People evolve with time. And sometimes you might end up evolving in a completely different direction from that of your partner. It is unfortunately something that cannot be controlled. “Physical/emotional/intellectual needs, value systems, careers, future scenarios – you might start to deviate on any or many of these facets. One of the things to remember before you call it quits in a marriage is to identify whether these differences are accommodable. If they are not, it’s better to end things,” explains Shazia. Sometimes love is not enough.

3. Here’s when to call it quits in a marriage: when the relationship becomes unhealthy

It is no secret that marriages tend to become monotonous after a while. And with the novelty gone, patience wears thin and the mindfulness that you used to practice toward each other disappears over time. Angst and resentment pile up and before you know it, your relationship has become unhealthy.

Not validating your partner’s feelings or experiences, projecting your issues onto them, gaslighting, and playing the blame game are all signs of an unhealthy relationship. Staying in such a dynamic is traumatizing for all those involved, including the kids. When you see these toxic patterns constantly present in your marriage so much so that it overflows into all your other relationships, that is when to call it quits in a marriage.

when should a couple call it quits

4. Unwillingness to change or to seek help

When should a couple call it quits in a marriage? 39-year-old reader Patricia from San Jose relates her story, “I can no longer ignore the signs that there is something very wrong in my marriage. I knew marriages get complicated with time but I always thought Thomas and I could overcome anything. But things changed along the way when he got addicted to pornography.

“No matter how hard I try, I can’t get him to see that our marriage is suffering. When I talk to him about the problems we’re facing, he gets aggressive or just ignores me. Any conversation about meeting up with a counselor or seeking help is quickly shut down. I feel my marriage is over and I don’t know what to do.” Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who know what it’s like to be in Patricia’s shoes. According to a study, 56% of divorces had one partner with an obsessive interest in porn. If you find yourself in a similar place in your life, that is when to call it quits in a marriage.

5. Your reasons to stay in the marriage are shaky at best

One of the very obvious, and often ignored, signs your marriage will end in divorce is when you ask yourself this question frequently: Why am I in this marriage? If your answer to it is because of the children, or the society, or you don’t want to be alone, then it shows that you are in the last stages of a dying marriage and it is time to accept your marriage is over.

“Most people consider marriage as a sacred institution and it is indeed a very special and beautiful bond,” says Shazia. “But an unhealthy marriage can be more damaging than most people realize. Too many people are stuck in bad marriages because of societal or financial pressure, or they feel a broken marriage will make their child’s life difficult. They often forget that the home environment a toxic marriage creates is very damaging to the child’s mental and emotional health.”

A marriage is a partnership. You choose to be with this person because they are the one who you think will stand next to you as you face life. When your relationship stops being about that partnership and becomes more of a compulsion, that is when to call it quits in a marriage.

Related Reading: How to Prepare Yourself And Children For Divorce?

6. Your partner keeps committing adultery

Loyalty can mean different things to different people. To some people, all’s good as long as you don’t have sex with someone else, while for others an accidental glance can be considered adulterous enough. It is best to talk about what loyalty means to you and your partner right at the beginning.

But one thing is certain: loyalty is an important dimension of a relationship. And if your partner commits adultery repeatedly even after you talk to them about acceptable boundaries, then it is a sign your marriage is over. Some people realize their mistakes and make amends the first time around. When to call it quits in a marriage? When your partner cheats on you repeatedly. They are not going to change and it is futile to think otherwise.

7. There is no respect in the marriage

Possibly one of the most important pillars in a marriage (also often the most neglected one) is respect. No marriage can stand for long without it. Yet the longer you are married, the more this pillar takes a hit. As the conflicts increase and differences pile up, the respect your spouse and you have for each other dwindles.

Constantly putting your partner down or demeaning them, whether in private or public, minimizing their concerns and issues, ignoring them when they try to talk to you or shutting them down or mocking them when they are being vulnerable are common ways to disrespect each other. While it is not always possible to be mindful toward each other, if this is a constant pattern in your interactions with your spouse, then this is when to call it quits in a marriage.

Calling It Quits And Coping With The Pain

There is no denying that ending a marriage and leaving your spouse is one of the toughest things a person can do. It not only creates a big hole in the pocket, it also creates a big one in the heart. While money always comes back, it is the gaping hole in the heart that becomes difficult to heal. Shazia says, “A lot of people feel baffled at feeling pain when leaving a bad marriage. They wonder, “If the marriage was so bad, then why do I feel so horrible?”

She adds, “It is normal to grieve a broken marriage no matter how bad it was. You invested so much of your time, emotions, and efforts into the marriage. Even if it was for a small duration of time, you were connected to your spouse emotionally, physically, and intellectually. So it is perfectly normal for you to feel hurt.

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Can you rebuild a broken marriage?

“One of the important things to remember before you call it quits in a marriage is that it is not going to be easy. The key here is acceptance. You need to accept your marriage is over. That despite all your efforts, the marriage did not and could not last. You need to allow yourself the opportunity to process your emotions. Feel the hurt, process the pain, take time to heal, and then eventually, move on.”

Key Pointers

  • It is important to recognize the signs that your marriage is over. Some of them are: domestic abuse, cheating repeatedly, or an unwillingness to change
  • Dragging a marriage past its expiry date will only make the home environment more toxic and your collective mental health worse
  • Take your time to grieve the end of your relationship but in the end, acceptance will be the key to healing yourself when your marriage ends

Leaving a bad marriage might seem impossible, but it is equally damaging to remain in that toxic relationship. It not only affects your mental and emotional health, it also affects that of your partner and your entire family.

It is important to work on your marriage but it is equally important to know when you are fighting a losing battle and when to call it quits in a marriage. If you are unable to make things work despite your best efforts, it is important to accept your marriage is over and try to move on from that relationship.

Life After Divorce – 15 Ways To Build It From Scratch And Start Afresh

7 Steps To Find Peace After A Toxic Relationship

Is It Better To Divorce Or Stay Unhappily Married? Expert Verdict


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