5 Signs Your Marriage Is Really Over

divorceWhen a marriage ends, there isn't usually one thing that does it. Usually it's a long time in coming. Years and years of problems finally come to a head, and the couple ultimately decides to call it quits.

But what are the signs you have reached that point of no return?

"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 your marriage is over."

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? Here are 5 signs a marriage is really over:

1.) Negativity overwhelms in the marriage: 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.

2.) There is infidelity with no remorse: 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.

3.) You no longer touch each other ... ever: 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."

4.) You feel no desire to share your life and truth with your spouse: 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.

It's also a reason some people cheat.

"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," she says.

5.) There is addiction: 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." 

This is one time where most experts agree you should run as fast as you can.

Of course, all this comes with one major caveat: "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.

She's right. Give it your best shot. But if it's over, know when to let it go and work with someone who can do right by your family.

Have you ever had the feeling your marriage was over? What were the signs and were you able to work through it?


Image ©iStock.com/Cardmaverick

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nonmember avatar nunya

All those things may be true but after 30 years I can't afford to leave. When one partner has an overinflated idea of what they deserve leaving the other nothing to live on, your stuck.
Good advice is worthless when you're broke.

tbruc... tbrucemom

nunya-I was married 28 years and didn't get a dime from my ex. Fortunately I have a decent job and I did get child support for my daughter. My credit was RUINED. I got a few pieces of furniture for my apartment, the car that I paid for and my personal things. No house, no boat, no alimony, no money, none of his 401k, no classic cars, no RV (yes we had all of those things). It was worth it. Also if you've got that much to stick around for an attorney can help divide it up. No amount of money is worth being unhappy.

nonmember avatar Nottelling

Yeah that's where I am too lol. I'd love to leave but I can't with no money or child care to work.

Charl... Charlyla2

4 years, 2 kids. We live in a town where there are no jobs and I couldn't afford to put my kids in daycare if I wanted to. He works out of town 5 days a week and I am stuck here with no friends/family, no money, and no way out. He has struggled with addiction and depression since day one and I was the dummy that decided not to leave him, even after I got pregnant. Feel like an idiot and have tried to end it but he puts a gun to his head, literally. I won't put my kids through that kind of drama. Don't get me wrong, he loves me and our kids, he treats me with respect and would never hit me or abuse our children but he is deeply depressed. And like a lot of middle class Americans, I haven't got the means to change my situation. So yeah, the marriage may technically be over but unless he dies or I cheat, it will never really be the end.

Milliese Milliese

Being married to a gambler is one of the worse things, because they hide it very well!:(

Talienas Talienas

For me it was feeling like living with a roommate. No sex, no passion, and eventually completed dislike of what my future had in store. It only lasted as long as it did because it was easy, drama free. There wasn't fighting ever until I said it was over. Complacency can be as harmful as anything else.

nonmember avatar almostmrscook

My divorce was years coming, I left with nothing. I will admit I wasn't faithful at the end, I met my best friend and fell in love. I'm happy now after all the misery of my ex. I would rather have nothing than be miserable!

nonmember avatar Stuck

Talienas...I'm in about the same situation. We're young...In our mid 20s with three kids. At first everything was ok. I'm not going to lie it was never great. He left me before we were married for his ex. I had a miscarriage that he never addressed. I got pregnant again and had our son. He was of no help until I kicked him out. Then after we got married I found notes between his ex and himself. I felt cheated on. I got pregnant again and he forced me to either get an abortion or put it up for adoption. I did neither I kept the baby. Got pregnant again and everything was ok for the most part we were finally getting to a good place and then in the last couple of years we've hit a wall. We don't talk much. There's no...nothing really. But I can't afford a divorce so I'm stuck.

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