They say you shouldn’t marry someone you can live with but someone you can’t live without. At one point in time, you probably felt that way about your spouse. However, over time something changed. Perhaps you felt the spark fading or you realized that you do not share the same core values or maybe your marriage became toxic. Even so, it can be hard to acknowledge the signs that your marriage is over even when they’re staring you right in the face.
One of the main reasons behind this is that we’ve been so conditioned to believe in the “till death do us part” paradigm that accepting the fact that our marital problems are spiraling out of control can be hard for most people. Not to mention that there is still some sort of stigma attached to divorce and the idea of rebuilding a life from scratch can seem far more daunting than staying on in an unhappy marriage.
Besides, since every married couple goes through their fair share of ups and downs along the way, it can be hard to decipher whether you’re in a largely healthy relationship that may be going through a rough patch or in a troubled marriage that may well be beyond repair. So then, what qualifies as signs a marriage cannot be saved?
We’re here to help you out of your conundrum in consultation with counselor and certified life coach Dr. Neelu Khanna, who specializes in dealing with issues related to emotional needs and conflicts of human behavior, marital discords, and dysfunctional families. Let’s help you figure out how to know your marriage is over.
12 Signs Your Marriage Is Over And It’s Time To Move On
“Our married life began like a beautiful dream. We were head-over-heels in love with each other and would spend hours making plans about our life ahead, but somehow along the way, distance began to creep in. Juggling the stresses of work, domestic responsibilities, and parenting got in the way and we drifted apart over the years. While there are no glaring red flags like domestic violence, cheating, or trust issues, it’s not a happy marriage anymore. I don’t think we relate to each other or like the people we’ve become. Is my marriage over?” A reader from Sandia, New Mexico, asked.
Responding to this query, Dr. Khanna says that small issues have the potential to drive a wedge between spouses if not they don’t make a conscious effort to work on the little things before irreconcilable differences. “From a lack of communication to a lack of quality time together, seemingly small differences can pile up over time and cause a marriage to fall apart,” she explains.
While this is cause for concern, you should not give up until there is no other way out left. Even a successful marriage has its share of ups and downs, issues, and problems. As long as you and your spouse make an effort work through these problems and find a way to prioritize your togetherness above all else, there is hope. However, if these 12 signs your marriage is over are looming large, it may be time to take stock of what the future holds for you:
1. Living like a single person
One of the tell-tale signs your marriage is over is that you and your spouse are living life as if you were single. This means that you don’t factor each other in the decisions you make for yourselves – or at least one of you doesn’t – leaving you feeling like you’re married but single. That can be an immensely lonely experience.
Now, this is not to say that because you’re married, you must always be joined at the hip and do everything together. Personal space in a relationship is not only healthy but also essential for a wholesome connection. It gives you a chance to grow as individuals and enriches your marital connection. However, there needs to be a balance between personal and shared space, individual and joint pursuits, and me-time and spending time together.
“Not spending quality time together results in a couple growing apart and getting used to their loneliness. As a result, they start getting upset and unhappy with their marital life,” explains Dr. Khanna. Over time, you become more comfortable with this distance and that is a clear sign that the will to make the marriage work has weakened.
Related Reading: 11 Signs You Are In A Codependent Marriage
2. Your future plans don’t include your spouse
How to know your marriage is over? To answer this question, you need to ask yourself another: do you see your spouse in your future? When you think about the rest of your life – growing old, building a retirement home, setting a goal for the next five years of life, or even just planning a vacation in the following year – does your spouse feature in your plans as an integral part of your life? Or are you apathetic about their presence or absence?
Now, take a moment to imagine the rest of your life without your spouse. Close your eyes and picture it: you come home at the end of a long day and your spouse is no longer there to greet you. You wake up in the morning and the other side of the bed is vacant. They’re not there to fuss over you. Perhaps, you bid them goodbye and never see them again? Does this idea cause you pain or fill you with a sense of relief? If it’s the latter, then maybe you have been subconsciously thinking of an exit strategy all along. This is one of the clear signs a marriage cannot be saved.
3. You are no longer jealous
They say where love exists, jealousy follows. Even healthy couples experience and deal with jealousy in their relationships. While there is no denying that when it grows out of control jealousy can be immensely unhealthy and damaging to a couple’s bond, it does exist to some degree in most romantic, intimate connections.
So, if watching your spouse get along with someone they could potentially grow to like does not make you feel at least a little jealous, you should consider the possibility that you are no longer in love with them. A complete absence of jealousy is a definite red flag. This is one of the signs your marriage is falling apart.
4. Major financial decisions without discussion
Once you get married, your lives become intertwined. Every decision you make affects your partner and not just you. And so, it is only fair that both partners consult each other before making any major decisions, especially in matters relating to financial security such as making huge investments, career changes, changing savings plans, and so on.
If either of you frequently makes major financial purchases without consulting the other, it is a red flag you mustn’t ignore. This can especially be one of the most signs your marriage is over for men who may use financial autonomy as a means to convey that they have checked out of the relationship even if they continue to stay married.
“Financial constraints or a lack of transparency about money also create a lot of disharmony and affect a marriage negatively,” Dr. Khanna says. Your spouse not discussing major financial decisions with you – or vice versa – indicates that there is something amiss in your bond. Worse still, if their financial decisions start affecting your life adversely, you need to consider the possibility that your marriage may not survive in the long run.
5. Different views on the marital bond
Even if you’ve been married a long time, one reason your marriage is on the rocks is that you and your partner have differing views on what an ideal marriage should be. From what it means to be married to priorities in a relationship, starting a family, and how to spend time nurturing your bond, there can be a host of issues spouses can disagree on.
But if you’re on the same page about the things that matter and cannot find a middle ground, these differences can take a toll on your relationship eventually. When these differences widen the chasm between you to an extent that you no longer want to even try to find a workable solution to your difference, that’s when you know your marriage is over.
“Different perspectives and being on different wavelengths can cause a communication gap. Sometimes, one partner may choose not to get involved in any kind of discussion on such matters fearing an argument. This may result in silent treatment lasting days or weeks, which only pushes a couple further apart,” warns Dr. Khanna.
6. Abuse is a definite red flag
Abuse in any form is one of the biggest signs your marriage is over or at least it should be. There is no excuse for a person to inflict pain and harm on another, especially the person they claim to love. Physical abuse or domestic violence, verbal abuse comprising name-calling, yelling, and intimidation, emotional abuse that can range from willfully humiliating or belittling one’s partner to manipulation, and gaslighting, sexual abuse that entails disregard to consent or coerced and forced sex, or financial abuse where a partner exploits the other financially are all legitimate reasons to walk out of a marriage.
“Abusive relationships can extremely damaging to the victim’s psyche and can trigger a host of mental health issues. And in so many cases, no amount of marriage counseling or working with the best family therapist you can find helps because the abusive partner may be resistant to change,” says Dr. Khanna. If you’re a victim of abuse in any form, don’t suffer in silence in the hope that things will get better.
Chances are, the abuse will only escalate with time. Prioritize your well-being and focus on self-preservation rather than looking for ways to fix your marriage. Know that there is help available for you to deal with such situations. If need help walking from an abusive marriage, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Helpline. And if you fear for your safety or are facing an emergent threat from your partner, don’t hesitate to call 911.
7. You’ve thought about cheating
Couples in healthy relationships don’t particularly entertain the thoughts of cheating. Yes, there may be moments when a person may feel attracted to someone else or may even develop a crush on someone new while still married but they don’t dwell on these thoughts, much less act on them. In fact, in a healthy relationship, partners can confide in each other when something of this sort happens in the interest of honesty and transparency.
On the other hand, when the idea of being with someone else seems like the perfect escape from the dreariness of your marriage, you can put an end to stop asking, “What are the signs my marriage is over?” The writing is on the wall. You may stay married to your spouse owing to your circumstances but your heart is no longer in it. If the idea of cheating seems more appealing than horrifying, it indicates a lack of respect and love. And a marriage cannot last without genuine love, respect, and admiration between you and your spouse.
8. Avoiding each other
If you and your spouse frequently try to avoid being in the same room for too long, it is one of the tell-tale signs your marriage is over. Perhaps your relationship struggles have taken such a toll on your connection that you can no longer find a way to be civil with each other. Every conversation turns into an argument, there is constant bickering and lashing out at each other. And that’s why steering clear of one another seems like the only way to maintain peace in the house.
This is a telling reflection of the state of your marriage and it’d be best for you to no longer look the other way. If co-existence has become such a burden, maybe it’s a good idea to explore couples therapy to work through your differences. And if you’ve already given that a shot and even therapy isn’t working, it’d be best for you to accept that your marriage is breathing its last.
Related Reading: Top 15 Signs Of A Selfish Husband And Why Is He Like That?
9. You do not open up to your partner
Your spouse is supposed to be the one person you should feel secure and comfortable being vulnerable around. Being able to communicate in a relationship without fear of judgment is crucial to leading a healthy married life. It reflects the level of emotional intimacy in the relationship.
If you struggle to open up to your partner and share your innermost thoughts with them, all is not well in your marital paradise. This is one of the strongest signs your marriage is over for women because they thrive on emotional intimacy in a relationship. And if that core need is unmet, a woman may no longer be invested in her marriage. This is not to say that men do not have a need. for an emotional connection or that this cannot be one of the signs your marriage is over for men. But it is definitely a bigger priority for most women in their relationship.
“A lack of communication or vulnerability in a relationship could stem from a fear of being misunderstood. If a partner always invalidates or dismisses another’s emotions, concerns, and thoughts, the person at the receiving end will eventually recede into a shell. That is one of the first things that indicate that you’re in a dying marriage,” says Dr. Khanna.
10. Fantasizing about hurting them
Granted, we’ve all muttered under our breaths, “God, I will kill you”, at some point because our partner said or did something to drive us up the wall. However, we have no intention of following through. It is just a way to vent out frustration, and once that moment passes and whatever that has been bothering us is resolved, we feel nothing but love and adoration for our partners.
However, when you’re trapped in a bad marriage, these negative thoughts about hurting the other can become a source of solace. It is one thing to say something hurtful in a fit of anger, quite another to frequently find yourself fantasizing about your partner getting hurt. Such fantasies should be counted among the signs that your marriage is over.
Related Reading: 9 Consequences Of Staying In An Unhappy Marriage
11. Having an emotional affair
When you feel like your partner just doesn’t get you or care about you anymore and your emotional needs are unmet, you may begin to feel a void within. In such a situation, it’s not unusual to seek another connection outside your marriage to fill that void. Perhaps a friend, a coworker, or an old flame offer you support during this trying time and you find yourself leaning on them more than your spouse. That right there is a classic recipe for an emotional affair in the making.
When either spouse gets into an emotional affair and begins to invest their time and energies in nurturing that connection rather than repairing their damaged relationship with their spouse, it’s one of the 12 signs your marriage is over. Though it might seem harmless since you are not technically cheating, turning to a third person for fulfilling your emotional needs is far more dangerous than physical infidelity. It’s a sign that the connection between you and your spouse is losing its value.
12. Physical intimacy doesn’t excite you
A desire for physical intimacy is vital for a healthy marriage. While your sex life after marriage will undergo myriad changes at different stages, a complete lack of desire is a sign of an unhappy marriage. Sometimes, couples can go through phases where the stress of life makes intimate moments take a back seat. This is normal and should not be considered as a sign of a failing marriage.
However, if you find that you or your partner have healthy libidos yet your sex life is non-existent, then the writing is pretty much on the wall. Dr. Khanna explains that reduced physical intimacy can result in a falling out or in one or both partners being unhappy, frustrated, and seeking satisfaction outside the marriage.
Related Reading: 8 Signs Your Wife Disrespects You (And How You Should Deal With It)
Signs Your Marriage Is Over Quiz
Even when you know your marriage is over, the journey from denial to acceptance can be a long, hard one. If despite relating to a majority of these warning signs, you’re still asking, “Is my marriage over? Is there no hope for survival?”, perhaps taking this short signs your marriage is over quiz can help you gain some clarity:
- Are you and your partner taking steps to improve the quality of your connection? Yes/No
- Do you feel happy at the prospect of seeing/being with your spouse? Yes/No
- Do you feel secure in your marriage? Yes/No
- Do you trust your partner? Yes/No
- Do you consciously make an effort to spend time together? Yes/No
- Do you talk about your future and make plans for your life together? Yes/No
- Does cheating on your spouse seem impossible to you? Yes/No
- Are you sexually satisfied in your marriage? Yes/No
- Does your spouse make you feel loved and desired? Yes/No
- Do you feel emotionally fulfilled in your marriage? Yes/No
If you answered a majority of these questions in this signs your marriage is over quiz in no, we regret to say there is little hope for your future with your current spouse. But hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is better to walk away from a relationship that no longer brings your joy than to stay and suffer in silence and make each other’s lives miserable in the process. If coming face to face with these signs of a failing marriage has brought you a step closer to acceptance of the inevitable, you’re on the right track.
- Signs a marriage is over can be hard to identify because we often overlook the red flags as a rough patch that will run its course
- Living like a single person, emotional and physical detachment, and finding solace in your spouse’s absence are some of the first signs a marriage is in trouble
- Cheating, lying, lack of communication, and abuse are other warning signs
- Not every troubled marriage is doomed to fail; whether or not yours deserves another chance depends on you and your spouse
Coming to terms with the signs your marriage is over isn’t easy. However, whether or not this actually means that your marriage will end in divorce depends on the severity of the signs. If your issues are still in their nascent stages, make the effort, get the necessary help and support – be it from family members and friends or in the form of counseling – and give your marriage a fair shot at survival. However, if your issues have become chronic and you see no hope for their resolution, know that it’s perfectly okay to walk away. You deserve happiness, and if that happiness lies outside of your marriage, then so be it.
The article has been updated in December 2022.