Knowing or wondering if a marriage is coming to an end can be tough, but being able to recognize the signs will help you see yourself and your partner in a much clearer light. It can be almost impossible to see a marriage objectively when you are in the middle of it, but the signs shared below will help you determine if your marriage really has reached the end. You may already be headed to divorce court, but take heart. Even the healthiest marriages can hit rock bottom, but rise again. The warning signs shared below are from marriage therapists and counselors. As you read through, keep in mind that you and your husband are the only experts on your marriage. You know how things have changed and how you have changed. Do not see all the signs and think you are doomed, many couples find their way back together, but you cannot fix what you do not recognize as broken.
Treated with Contempt
Contempt is a huge red flag when it comes to a marriage being over. When we communicate with contempt, it is meant to be mean. Treating your significant other with disrespect while being sarcastic or mocking them are forms of contempt. Hostile humor, mimicking, eye rolling, sneering, and name calling are also forms of contempt. Contempt is poison to a relationship and is almost impossible to resolve. The reason contempt is such a powerful predictor of divorce is that underlying it are long-simmering negative thoughts. It is an attack from a position of superiority and the actions associated are likely to lead to further conflict instead of resolution. The only real hope is speaking to a marriage counselor, pastor, or trusted friend to learn to cope and set boundaries.
You Have Stopped Trying
Ironically, many married couples go to counseling to learn to communicate more openly and effectively, but once they learn how they realize they have no interest in trying to save the relationship. Using their communication skills, they find they are too tired to try to save the relationship or just no longer care. This can be a sign divorce is close.
No Connection or Critique, Just Criticism
If you tend to be critical of one another, then it is a warning sign of an ending marriage. Negative feedback is hard enough to take, but criticism cuts deep. Critique is about some specific issue, but criticism is a blanket statement and an attack. A better form of communication needs to be established. If you are critical, do not assume your marriage cannot heal, it is when it is the only communication present that there is a problem. Practice speaking to one another with love and respect.
Sliding Into Marriage and Premarital Cycling
These are two signs the marriage is ending or over. Sliding into marriage refers to a couple kind of sliding into marriage without it being a clear and conscious decision about commitment to another person. This tends to happen when people live together without being married, but it means less initial commitment and willingness to stay committed when things get tough. If you slide into marriage, it is much easier to slide out. Premarital cycling references dating, breaking up, and getting back together over and over again. This predicts lower marriage quality before the marriage even begins. While this is common in relationships, it is not good for them because there is such instability. It is important to start a marriage in a secure place.
Not Connecting Spiritually, Emotionally, or Physically
This is not a major sign your marriage is ending, but these types of disconnection can lead to much more serious issues over time. The less you are able to connect, the higher the chances the marriage will end at some point. All marriages go through difficult periods, but do not fall for the trap that you can either stay and be unhappy or divorced. If you are worried your marriage is ending, then start doing the work to save it if that is what you want. Some couples will be able to work through anything, others will find divorce is the best option. If you do divorce, work on yourself with a counselor so if you remarry you will have more success.
If one partner is having and affair and announces that the marriage is over because they prefer the other person, then the marriage is over. Infidelity can damage a relationship in irreparable ways, but if the cheating partner does not want the marriage to end, has ended the side relationship, and is willing to do the work, you can rebuild your marriage. It is all based on your intentions for the future. Cheating does not necessarily end a marriage depending on how the cheater cleans up after the infidelity. If they are sorry and genuinely want to repair the marriage, give it a shot. This will require great peace, forgiveness, and love from both sides.
The signs a marriage is over are not definitive. Almost every sign can be addressed and healed if you are willing and want to do the work. Take the time to decide what you really want and move forward.