15 Subtle Yet Strong Signs Your Marriage Will End In Divorce

Divorce | | , Editor-in-Chief
Updated On: April 8, 2024
signs your marriage will end in divorce

In some cases, couples can pin down the exact moment when they knew their marriage was over. This is most likely to happen when factors like substance abuse, infidelity, and domestic violence — the three top reasons for divorce, according to a study — are at play. But not all marriages snap like a chord, some get stretched like a string until they reach a breaking point. These 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce shine the spotlight on instances where a separation builds up slowly.

15 Subtle Yet Strong Signs Your Marriage Will End In Divorce

It takes a lot of consistent effort to make a marriage work. Think of it as something akin to growing a garden in your backyard. You have to till the soil, prune the leaves, pull out the weeds consistently for the flowers to emerge. Your marriage is no different.

The moment you become lax or start taking things for granted, cracks begin to take hold. If left unattended, these cracks can be your marriage’s undoing. Losing a long-term relationship because you ignored some of the top unhappy marriage signs can turn out to be one of the most painful experiences of your life.

What most people fail to realize is that signs your marriage is over often emerge long before the D-word even crosses your mind. If you feel even remotely restless or dissatisfied, it can help to start looking for these 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce:

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1. Lack of physical affection

According to research at the University of Texas, finds that “disillusionment — as reflected in an abatement of love, a decline in overt affection, a lessening of the conviction that one’s spouse is responsive, and an increase in ambivalence — distinguishes couples headed for divorce from those who establish a stable marital bond”.

While it’s normal for display of affection to reduce over time, it’s a sign of trouble for a marriage if there is a complete lack of gestures of affection such as:

  • Hugs
  • Kisses
  • Holding hands
  • Cuddling

Related Reading: Should You Get A Divorce? – Take This Divorce Checklist

2. Being riddled with suspicion

When is it time to end a marriage? When one spouse views everything the other does through the lens of suspicion. Let’s say you plan a romantic surprise for your spouse, and they react with, “What have you done now?” Or your spouse offers to do the dishes after dinner, and instead of appreciating them for their thoughtfulness, you say, “Don’t think you can trick me into having sex by doing this.”

Such instinctive displays of suspicion indicate underlying trust issues in a marriage. These reactions may be triggered by certain past experiences. Nonetheless, it points to a weak foundation, which qualifies as one of the warning signs of divorce or perhaps even that the marriage is over already.

top unhappy marriage signs
A relationship riddled with suspicion may not have a future

3. Unaligned expectations

To build a healthy marriage, spouses need to have their expectations aligned. Married couples need to be on the same page about things like:

  • The importance of personal space and alone time
  • When to have kids/how many kids to have
  • How to navigate the work-life balance
  • How to manage finances
  • Emotional needs
  • Sexual needs

When expectations about these key aspects don’t align or there are unrealistic expectations at play, signs of a failing marriage can begin to rear their ugly head.

4. Making jokes at each other’s expense

It’s completely okay to pull your spouse’s leg or crack a joke about their quirks or habits once in a while. But if it becomes a pattern for one partner to constantly make jokes at the other’s expense, it can spell doom for your marital bond in the long run and might even indicate that the end of a marriage is near.

Every time your spouse makes light of your flaws or faults, it’ll cause you to resent them a little. You may even resort to doing the same to give them a taste of their medicine. Do this dance long enough and a passive-aggressive dynamic takes hold in the relationship. This resentment and passive-aggressiveness can threaten the future of your marriage.

5. A widening communication gap

If you’re wondering, “How do I know my marriage is over?”, pay attention to how you communicate with your partner. Poor communication is undoubtedly one of the top reasons for divorce. When you’re living together, day after day, for years on end, making the effort and time to facilitate healthy communication might take a back seat. This is what causes couples to grow apart. Before you know it you feel completely out of sync on important aspects like:

  • Life goals and aspirations
  • Feelings, fears, vulnerabilities
  • Accomplishments and failures
  • Each other’s emotional state

6. You stop exploring each other

Once you stop making an effort to explore new sides of each, love begins to die down. One of our readers wrote, asking for help, “My husband doesn’t care if I get home late or leave early, whether I skip meals or binge eat, quietly slip away to sleep on the couch or stay up binging on Netflix all night. I feel heartbroken that my husband is so indifferent toward me. Is my marriage over?”

Not being interested in you and your life could be the beginning of the end of a marriage. But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You can try and spin these signs as things you need to work on. An opportunity to get to know your partner better. Walk up to them and joke about the cranberry muffin you’ve never seen them touch before and ask, “Excuse me, have you seen my spouse somewhere?”

Related Reading: How To Tell Your Husband You Want A Divorce?

7. Financial infidelity is a sign of trouble in your marriage

How do I know my marriage is over, you wonder? Well, one of the underrated signs your marriage is over, even if you haven’t signed the divorce papers yet, is financial infidelity. If there is financial abuse or dishonesty in your relationship, or you and your spouse have trouble talking about money without it turning into a big fight, consider it one of the 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce. Think about how well you know your partner’s monetary habits or their relationship with money:

  • Where does their money go?
  • Where is the income coming from?
  • Does your partner trust/respect you enough to share financial information?

Dishonesty about money — be it secret spending or building assets without each other’s knowledge — can lead to serious trust issues in your marriage. A lack of trust, combined with a shaky monetary situation, makes for a cocktail of marital disaster.

signs your marriage will end in divorce infographic
Signs your marriage will end in divorce

8. You enjoy your time apart

It’s one thing to take some personal time every now and then to rejuvenate/unwind but if you both look for excuses to avoid each other, you’re right to wonder, “Is my marriage over?” Personal space can be one of the top unhappy marriage signs if:

  • You and your spouse start enjoying spending time apart more than being together
  • You and/or your spouse would rather do anything else than be with each other
  • You give each other the silent treatment
  • Your time together is filled with uncomfortable silence
  • You feel uneasy/on edge in each other’s company

9. You talk over one another

When is it time to end a marriage? When there is no respect left for each other’s opinions. A subtle sign of that is you and your spouse cutting each other off mid-sentence or talking over each other, especially during arguments and fights. Though it’s a clear unhappy marriage sign, it’s also one that most people ignore.

10. A lack of intimacy

It’s natural to feel lonely in a marriage without intimacy. According to the New York Times, 15% of marriages in the US are devoid of sexual intimacy. On its own, lack of intimacy may not be a red flag, especially in older couples. But when triggered by other underlying factors, it can be one of the 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce. This happens if

  • You and your spouse have stopped being intimate due to a history of cheating in a marriage
  • One of the spouses is considering leaving the marriage for someone else
  • One partner begins to withhold sex as a form of punishment or revenge

11. You vilify each other

Let’s say you and your spouse are going through a rough patch, resulting in a lot of clashes, fights, and disagreements. If either one or both partners start vilifying the other in front of the other — be it your children, family, or friends — it’s the most glaring of the 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce.

Your problems have become too big for you to be able to contain them. Once you start airing your dirty linen in public, there is little hope left. If your question is, “Is my marriage over?”, the answer is a “yes” if you keep disrespecting each other regardless of who’s watching.

Related Reading: 13 Things To Do When Your Husband Ignores You

12. Winning arguments becomes more important than resolving conflict

While it is natural to want to have the final word in an argument, the desire to win arguments even at the cost of your relationship is a worrying sign. Your compelling desire to win can cause fights to linger on for days, weeks, or even months. It can lead to growing resentment in your marriage, which only signifies:

  • You care more about winning than resolving conflict
  • There is no room left anymore for compromises and adjustments
  • You view your spouse not as a partner but as an adversary
  • You don’t see eye-to-eye with them on most issues
unhappy marriage quiz

13. You don’t appreciate the little things

It is not the grand gestures or important relationship milestones that make a relationship great. It’s the little things you do for each other, day in and day out, that count. Couples in successful marriages take the time to savor and appreciate little gestures like:

  • Making breakfast for your spouse
  • Your partner bringing you coffee in bed
  • Picking desserts on your way back home

The end of a marriage is characterized by an absence of appreciation and gratitude. If nothing you do is good enough for your spouse — or vice versa — it is an indicator that you neither appreciate nor value each other anymore. Lack of appreciation and gratitude are among the 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce.

14. Not talking about the future means the end of a marriage is near

Is my marriage over, you wonder? The answer may be hidden in how you view the future. You can tell that you’re at the fag end of your marital journey if you stop planning a future together. The whole idea behind marrying someone is to build a life with them. As such, conversations about what your life would be like five years down the line or where you’d live post-retirement are normal in a healthy marriage. Chances are, if you’ve reached the stage where you’d much rather not discuss the future with your spouse, at a subconscious level, you can already sense the signs of divorce on the horizon.

15. You give up on your marriage

The end of a marriage is never sudden. Trouble in paradise begins when you stop making efforts to:

  • Communicate and connect
  • Reach out
  • Make time for each other
  • Show affection
  • Spend quality time together

It indicates you have checked out emotionally and don’t care about what becomes of your marriage. You’re able to picture a life without your partner, and moving on doesn’t seem that difficult. This is one of the clearest signs your marriage is over (at least in your mind).

Stories-about-divorce

 What To Do When You See Warning Signs Of Divorce

What to do when you realize that your marriage is not in a good place? If you spot a majority of the 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce, does it mean there is no hope left? On this, psychologist Dr. Aman Bhonsle says, “While it can be disconcerting to see the top unhappy marriage signs in your dynamic with your spouse, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the end of the road for you. It is possible to salvage a relationship even in the grimmest of circumstances if both partners make an earnest effort. Even if things don’t work out, it’s not the end of the world.”

When you find yourself at a difficult crossroads in your marriage, you have three possible options. It’s up to you to decide which one works best for you:

1. You can try making it work

Before you begin to entertain thoughts about how to end a marriage peacefully, make sure you’ve done everything you can to salvage your bond. Unless there are glaring red flags like physical violence, emotional abuse, or financial abuse, you owe it to yourself and your spouse to at least try to save your marriage.

However, when you’re at a juncture where the future of your marriage seems bleak, it can be hard to figure out where to begin repairing your connection. To couples who find themselves at a loss for direction, Dr. Bhonsle advises, “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you’re not sure where your marriage is headed, consider seeking couples therapy to know where you stand and why you are standing there.” If you are considering getting help, Bonobology’s counseling services are only a click away.

2. Opt for trial separation

If you’re not sure about what’s next for your marriage, a trial separation can help put things in perspective. In a trial separation, you and your spouse live separately for some time to see whether living apart is truly the better alternative. Use this time to,

  • Reflect on what led to the deterioration of your marriage
  • Focus on self-care
  • Introspect on your part in marital issues
  • Think about what brought you and your spouse together in the first place and whether those things are still important to you
  • Ask yourself whether you want to save your marriage

A glimpse of what life without your spouse may look like can help you make informed decisions. If being away from your spouse and living on your own brings a sense of relief, it may be time to set the divorce process in motion. If, on the other hand, it makes you more miserable that you were living with your spouse, it’s a clear sign that there is something worth salvaging in your relationship.

signs a marriage cannot be saved
A trial separation can offer you perspective

3. Seek divorce

If you both tried working on your issues by seeking professional help and opting for a trial separation but nothing seemed to have worked, it may be time to make the difficult decision of walking away. Yes, ending a marriage is never easy and the path ahead will be riddled with pain, hurt, angst, and challenges. No matter how much you wonder about how to end a marriage peacefully, it will take its toll.

Sometimes, you need to make difficult choices, move on from what you thought would be your happily-ever-after, to be able to find peace and happiness again. Dr. Bhonsle says, “There is no such thing as a happy divorce. Divorces are always painful/unpleasant.” But here is a list of things you should certainly AVOID doing:

  • Using your children as pawns/mediators
  • Hiding assets from your spouse to gain an unfair advantage
  • Threatening your spouse
  • Jumping head first into a new relationship
  • Denying your partner time with your kids

Key Pointers

  • Abuse, addiction, infidelity are the most obvious signs that your marriage is in dire straits and you need help to safeguard your own interests
  • Other indicators of a failing marriage include not making each other feel special, sexlessness and lack of intimacy, resentment
  • A dire need to win arguments and lack of mutual respect are among the top unhappy marriage signs
  • If you can relate to most of the signs your marriage will end in divorce, you have three choices: try to make it work, opt for trial separation, or get divorced

The signs your marriage is over can leave you feeling on edge. Whether you try to revive the marital bliss or take the writing on the wall as a sign that you need to move on is up to you and your spouse. Either way, don’t let these 15 signs your marriage will end in divorce fill you with a sense of resignation. Be it together or apart, you can get past this unhappy phase of life and rediscover peace and joy.

FAQs

1. What percentage of marriages will end in divorce?

In the US, about 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Noticing early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship can help reduce this number if you know what to look for. The obvious signs often include a lack of respect, a lack of emotional and physical intimacy, and poor communication.

2. What is the number one reason for divorce?

Incompatibility is a leading reason for divorce, followed by infidelity and money issues. My friend told me, “The day my spouse slept with someone else, I knew it was over between us. Loyalty is the foundation of a happy marriage.”

3. How to tell your husband the marriage is over?

Instead of blaming your husband for your failing marriage, focus on how you feel. Use “I” statements. For example, “I don’t think I am emotionally equipped to spend my life with one person” or “This marriage is not working for me”.

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