You roll over in bed in the morning and look at the person lying next to you.
Is this the person you thought you married?
Do you feel anything close to the connection and intimacy you felt when you were first together?
Perhaps now all you feel is angry or irritated.
Maybe you’re hurt, bored, or unfulfilled.
Worse yet, maybe you feel nothing at all.
You wonder, “Is my marriage over? Is there anything worth saving here?”
How Do You Know If Your Marriage is Beyond Repair?
One thing you do know for sure is that you aren’t happy. Your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, and it’s infecting your entire life. How can you be happy when this central piece of your life is on the skids?
You don’t want to live like this any longer — constantly bickering, feeling resentful, or just completely detached and emotionally drained.
- Do you stay or do you go?
- Is there enough to salvage the relationship, or is it clear beyond a doubt that this marriage is over?
- How do you know exactly when to end a marriage — especially if you have kids?
Most of the time, it’s not completely black or white. There is a myriad of important considerations, both practical and emotional, to take stock of.
But if you’re looking for clues, there are some definitive pointers that suggest the end is near.
9 Clear Signs Your Marriage Is Over
How do you know when your marriage is over? The breaking point is different for everyone. But if you’re questioning whether you should stay or go, your marriage isn’t healthy or happy right now.
Read through these end of marriage signs to see how many apply to you and your marital situation.
1. You’re Only Staying Because You’re Afraid
Whether you are more inclined to stay in the marriage or leave it, the reason behind your decision is key to whether or not you’re making a sound decision.
If you stay in an unhappy marriage because you’re afraid (of losing part of your income, not being able to find another partner, making other people angry), then your marriage is certainly weak anyway, and staying married is avoidance-based.
Or if you are only holding on because you have children together, then it’s clear that the marriage itself is an arrangement of convenience rather than a real marriage.
2. There Is No Emotional Intimacy Between You
A healthy marriage involves spending time with one another and truly enjoying the other’s company. In addition to being your romantic partner, your spouse is your friend and confidante.
When a marriage is in trouble, one of the first things to go is this intimate connection. Over time you become disengaged, spending more time alone, at work, with the kids, or with other friends than you do with your spouse.
The two of you become more like roommates and co-parents rather than a married couple. This disconnection is the beginning of “uncoupling.” The emotional bonds and intimacy that once glued you together are coming apart. This is a sure sign that the marriage is over, even if you are legally wed.
3. One or Both of You Has Stopped Trying
Often in a troubled marriage, one partner will bring up issues, ask for help, and suggest counseling, but the other partner refuses (either overtly or passively) to go along.
If you are the one refusing, be aware you’re sending a loud and clear message to your spouse that you’re not interested in the health of the marriage or their needs. Eventually, they will give up — and maybe this is your goal.
If your spouse isn’t trying, then you’re on the receiving end of this message. If you’ve spelled it out clearly that the marriage needs help, but you’re getting nowhere, then it may be time to call it quits.
Before you do, get some counseling on your own to ensure you’ve given it your best shot, if for no other reason than to get validation from a professional.
4. There Are Unfixable Issues
There are some problems in a marriage that can be healed despite being painful and difficult. If both partners are willing to do the work and commit to the future of the relationship there may be reason to hang on.
An experienced, honest marriage counselor can help you discern whether or not the problems in your marriage are insurmountable. Having the courage and wisdom to admit what can’t be changed is an important step in making this life-altering decision.
5. Your Sex Life is Non-Existent
Your marriage is in trouble if you’ve stopped having sex or only have it because your spouse insists. One or both of you may have completely lost desire or interest in sex and can’t imagine finding the spark again.
If you have sex, it may simply be a physical release rather than an expression of love or emotional intimacy. The chemistry is gone, and no amount of therapy will bring it back. Even trying feels like a waste of time.
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6. You Have Contempt for Each Other
Contempt is one of the most corrosive attitudes a person can have for their spouse. It goes beyond anger, resentment, or hurt. Contempt suggests that you view your partner (or they view you) with disdain and scorn. They are not worthy of your consideration.
If it’s like “The War of the Roses” in your home, and you can barely stand to be around one another, do yourselves a favor and end it. Why live in a toxic, unhealthy environment if you can live more peacefully apart?
7. You Are Going or Growing in Different Directions
Perhaps your marriage worked well in the early years, but your values and goals have diverged over time. Sometimes this occurs when couples become empty-nesters and realize they have nothing in common once the children are out of the house.
Or it could be that one of you wants something different from life — a new place to live, a change in lifestyle, or more freedom to pursue individual dreams and goals.
You might find one of you has adopted religious or political beliefs, which are unacceptable to the other. Whatever the situation, these changes make it impossible to stay happily married. You have just become incompatible.
8. One of You Refuses to Address the Problems
If you or your spouse refuse therapy and won’t acknowledge or address the issues in your marriage, there’s little hope your marriage can survive.
Burying your head in the sand or shifting the blame to the other person means that pain and resentments are never healed. The problems in your marriage will continue to fester and tear you apart.
When one or both of you aren’t willing to work on the relationship and accept personal responsibility, there’s no use in staying together.
9. You Simply See No Compelling Reason to Stay
Your spouse may be a nice person. They may seem perfect on paper or have done nothing “wrong” in your marriage.
But you have that “meh” feeling about your relationship that leaves you constantly wondering, “Is this all there is?” Sure, you could hang on to this vanilla connection without it destroying your sanity. But you know you want more from life and a romantic relationship.
If you’re staying simply because you don’t want to hurt your partner, know that your partner likely knows you have lukewarm feelings. Ending the marriage ultimately is the best decision for both of you.
When Should You Let Go of a Marriage?
When marriage problems consume a couple, intimacy and closeness fall by the wayside. Conflict, power struggles, and resentments overwhelm the feelings of love and connection you once had.
Although some problems can be addressed and healed, the bigger question is whether or not the feelings of love are still there underneath all of the conflict.
If you ask yourself this question honestly, and the answer is “yes” or “I’m not sure,” then you should work on your relationship before deciding to divorce. Otherwise your feelings of loss can be overwhelming, and you may find yourself more unhappy after the divorce than you are now.
However, if love between you is gone and some of the above signs are evident in your marriage, then divorce may be your best option.
As you consider these signs a marriage is over, go over them thoughtfully and honestly. Talk to a therapist on your own to gain more clarity. Educate yourself on what to expect during and after divorce, and balance your desired goals against the potential fallout.
The decision won’t be easy, but whether you decide to go or stay, you have the power to create a new life or a better marriage once you are prepared with information and self-awareness.