10 Signs a Marriage Is Really Over

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When a marriage ends, there isn't usually just one thing that does it. Typically, it's a long time coming. Years and years of problems finally come to a head, and the couple ultimately decides to call it quits after trying out endless attempts to make it work. But what are the signs someone has reached that point of no return? It can be hard to determine, and many times people are too afraid to face it, which is totally understandable. 

"People are often under the misconception that if their relationship is really 'right,' it should not feel difficult or challenging," says Elizabeth Sullivan, a marriage and family therapist based in San Francisco. "This is not true. Difficult feelings or a period of stuckness do not mean the marriage is over."

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Anyone who has been married for any amount of time knows that there are good days and bad days. Eventually there are good years and bad years. 

But when can we be sure that our relationship is really and truly beyond saving? How do we know when to cut our losses and call our lawyers? As much as it sucks, it's good for folks to really think about it once they feel like they might be getting to that place. Here are 10 signs a marriage is really over.

  • Negativity Overwhelms the Marriage

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    We have all had those moments when we wonder whether we're having more good times or bad in our marriages. But if you're wondering, it's probably not an issue. When it's bad, it's obvious.

    "There need to be five positive interactions for each negative interaction to re-balance a relationship," says Carrie Krawiec, a marriage and family therapist from Michigan. Ask yourself what your ratio is. If it's not 5:1, it might be time to start talking about a split.

  • There Is Infidelity Without Remorse

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    Cheating can be overcome. YES IT CAN. But it takes work and apologies and love and compassion. If the cheater isn't sorry, the marriage isn't worth saving. Accept it and move on.

    "If there is unwillingness by one or both parties to take responsibility, seek forgiveness, or change maladaptive behaviors, it's a tell-tale sign a marriage is over," says Krawiec.

  • You No Longer Touch Each Other, Ever

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    This is not necessarily about sex (although that's important, too). This is about those other moments. The hugs. The hand-holding. The cuddles after the kids are in bed. When those end, it's a bad sign. A very bad sign.

    "Touch is extremely intimate and necessary," says Laura Campbell, a relationship expert and divorce strategist who helps people end their marriages in a more productive way. "This is a way for us to communicate sensually and connect in a deep and profound way. ... We sometimes forget to just touch without any other expected outcome."

  • You No Longer Want to Share Your Stories

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    One of the best parts of being married is being with someone who always has your back. When that's lost, everything else is too. If you have a major story to tell and the first person you want to share it with ISN'T your spouse, it's a big red flag. 

    "Sharing with each other, particularly allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with each other, is a way to deepen and strengthen our relationships," says Campbell.

  • You've Stopped Listening or Caring

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    Not only have you stopped sharing with your husband -- you no longer care about hearing about his life, either. This is a sad reason why some people end up cheating on their spouses.

    "I often hear from individuals having affairs how nice it is to have someone to talk to who is interested in hearing more about who they are and what they want," Campbell says.

  • Addictions Go Untreated

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    Being with a drug addict or alcoholic is a nightmare. Ask anyone who has been there. I have. I can remember watching each glass of beer and adding them up. Every night. Five, six, seven, eight. He slipped further and further from the man I knew. We broke up (thank God) well before children were involved or we were married, but it was hell. Destructive behavior like that is a HUGE sign that the end is nigh.

    "When alcohol or drugs become the 'relationship,' and it is more of a priority to be doing that than to be spending time with the spouse, it's over," says Lisa Behar, a marriage and family therapist in California. "Many see the relationship with the drug of choice as a real relationship, and at times the spouse can literally feel cheated on." 

  • There Are Things You Can't Change

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    Some issues can't be fixed, no matter how hard you try. For example, your husband may come out of the closet as gay. You may still love each other, but you know in your hearts the best thing is to let each other go so you can both grow and become truly happy. Being gay isn't a problem, but being gay in a heterosexual marriage usually is.

  • Fantasizing About Leaving Energizes You

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    This shouldn't be the sole reason you leave. However, if you find yourself daydreaming about life without your spouse, and it makes you feel lighter, energized, and more optimistic, that is a strong warning sign that your marriage is in critical condition.

  • Therapy Isn't Working

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    "No couples with children should get divorced without at least one year of couples therapy," says Dr. Carole Lieberman, the best-selling author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live With Them, and When to Leave Them.

    Other therapists may disagree, especially if you can't even get your spouse to show up for therapy. But still, give it your best shot. And then, if it's over, know when to let it go.

  • One of You Has Already Given Up

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    And speaking of refusing to go to therapy, if one of you has already given up, there's not much more the other can do. You cannot single-handedly save a marriage. If he refuses to get help, get therapy, or even talk through your problems, it's time to walk away. "One partner can’t do all the trying on his or her own," Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, tells Woman's Day. "You can’t go anywhere like that."

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