30 Subtle Signs Your Marriage Is Over And You Don’t Want to Admit It
Don't ignore the warnings hiding in plain sight.
You probably didn’t get married assuming that in just a few months, years, or even decades, you’d have to look for the subtle signs your marriage is over. However, while researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park discovered an 18 percent dip in the total U.S. divorce rate between 2008 and 2016, the odds a married couple will divorce in their lifetime is still relatively high. In fact, while just over 2.2 million U.S. couples tied the knot in 2016, 827,261 divorces and annulments granted that same year, as per the CDC.
And among many of those couples whose “I do” doesn’t come with a “forever” on the end, the lead-up to a split isn’t necessarily the result of a blow-out fight, but a slow burn that eventually fizzles out.
“Marriage is tough, marriage is work, and marriage is a full-time job. It is something that takes a lot of time to grow and requires you to learn, grow, and compromise,” says licensed mental health counselor and life coach Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D. “During this journey of learning, growing, and developing, sometimes, for various reasons, people drift away from one another. As an individual and couple, we put a lot of time, money, energy and sweat equity into building a marriage. But, if it doesn’t work out, for some, it is hard to admit it.”
Before you get blindsided by your spouse walking away, it’s time to discover the signs your marriage is over. And if you want to strengthen your relationship before you’re wondering how to know when a marriage is over, check out these 30 Things You’re Doing Right That Will Improve Your Marriage.
1. You’re living like a single person, not a married person.
The single life can be great, with few responsibilities to others other than making sure your bills get paid on time. However, if you’re married and are still acting like you’re not in a committed relationship, that’s a major red flag.
“If you are married but live the single life, your marriage might be over or in harm’s way,” says Kulaga. “It is perfectly okay for a spouse to go and hang out with some friends that might be single, but when that is the weekly go-to and you start finding yourself hanging out in singles locations (i.e.: Singles clubs/bars, singles destinations, or talking with the opposite sex knowing that they are single), this is a sign you are desiring a much different life.”
Additionally, she explains, acting like you’re single can be a sign of growing disrespect toward your spouse: “Marriage requires a genuine respect for the other person if it is going to grow and thrive.” And for some suggestions on how to make your marriage work, check out the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
2. Imagining your spouse with someone else doesn’t hurt you.
“Your marriage might be over if you love them but aren’t in love with them,” says Kulaga. “Perhaps you imagine a life without them and imagine them with someone else, and you are not hurt by it. You genuinely want them to be happy as a person, but you do not want to grow and spend your life with them.”
There’s a big difference between living together and sharing a life with someone.
“In some marriages, couples live together, but that is it,” says Kulaga. “They mentally checked out years ago. They go about their daily lives separately, sleep in different rooms, are not intimate with one another. In fact, they have very little emotion and communication with one another. If you see your spouse as your ‘roommate,’ this is one subtle sign that your marriage might be coming to a close.” And before you tie the knot, make sure you know the 20 Biggest Regrets of People Who Married Young.
3. Your future plans—or fantasies for the future—don’t include your spouse.
If you see yourself 10 or 15 years down the line living a totally different kind of life, but none of those happy daydreams include your spouse, it’s time to start wondering if your relationship will stand the test of time. For most couples who make their marriage work, that means being on the same page regarding what your life will look like in the future. And while changes can happen, if you need to be single to make those changes occur, that’s one of the most clear signs your marriage is over, or about to be.
4. The two of you don’t have sex anymore.
Sex isn’t everything in a marriage, but it’s not nothing, either. While you may not be having sex multiple times a day like you did when you got together, if you’re both physically and mentally healthy enough for sex but go months or even years without it, that’s a surefire sign your relationship is seriously off-kilter.
“If you have noticed that your sexual attraction to your partner has significantly diminished, this is a red flag that something serious is going on in your marriage,” explains Kulaga. “Intimacy is a strong part of a healthy marriage. Without intimacy, marriages end in divorce or are filled with anger, resentment or two couples living together as if they were roommates.” And to get your marriage back on track, make sure to ditch these 30 Things You’re Doing Wrong That Will Kill Your Marriage.
5. You’re making major money moves without your spouse’s knowledge.
Is it okay to have separate bank accounts, or to make those daily Starbucks runs without consulting your spouse first? Of course.
However, if you’re making major purchases—a motorcycle here, an all-expenses-paid solo vacation there—without even thinking of consulting your spouse, that’s one of many signs your marriage is over. In fact, financial issues are a major contributor to marital breakdown. One survey from Magnify Money reveals that financial issues were responsible for the divorces of 21 percent of respondents.
6. You want to cheat.
“If you have consistent thoughts about cheating on your spouse in general (regardless of acting on it), you may need to consider why you are beginning to have these thoughts so you can improve the health of your marriage if you so desire,” says Kulaga.
7. You’re having an “emotional affair.”
“If you are finding yourself talking with or texting another person in a manner where you wouldn’t want your spouse to see, or you begin meeting up with someone you fantasize about cheating with, despite whether or not there was any physical intimacy, you are risking your marriage and this is a sign your marriage is headed for an ending,” says Kulaga.
8. Your goals don’t include your spouse.
Do you want to go back to school and change careers? Are you eager to build your own home and live off the land? Are those goals completely unattainable if you’re with your spouse? If so, that’s just one of the more blatant signs your marriage is over.
“Creating goals to help you thrive is important and necessary for a healthy marriage. What is not healthy for a marriage is creating goals without thinking of your spouse’s goals, desires, and needs,” says Kulaga. “When you create goals that help you personally grow, but yet you are consciously aware that it might hurt your spouse or push the marriage in a direction that causes harm or distance, you may have checked out of your marriage.”
9. You have different opinions regarding having kids.
Having kids won’t necessarily make you and your partner happy, and not having them won’t make you miserable if they’re not a priority for you. However, if you and your spouse aren’t on the same page about whether or not you want to have kids, that’s a major red flag.
While your relationship may work for a while, even if your opinions on the subject differ, it’s likely that at least one partner will feel resentful about not getting their way, putting you on a fast track toward divorce.
10. You’re not invested in fixing your marriage.
Fixing a marriage is hard work. However, if you’re opposed to the idea entirely, and would rather just stay miserable, your marriage may already be done for.
“Every marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes there are periods of highs that last for years and other times where the lows last just as long. But during the low times, healthy couples communicate and find ways to quickly strengthen their marriage,” explains Kulaga. “If you find yourself highlighting the bad aspects to your marriage and dismissing all the solutions to fix those things, you may be checking out of your marriage.”
11. You make excuses to spend time without your spouse.
Having alone time isn’t just normal, it’s healthy. However, if you constantly find yourself looking for excuses to spend any and all of your free time away from your significant other, that’s not just a minor issue. Having a loving relationship means you want to spend time together—and if you don’t, you might be headed for divorce.
12. You or your partner won’t go to therapy.
It can be undeniably difficult to admit that you and your spouse need therapy. That said, if your marriage is crumbling before your very eyes and at least one of you refuses to fix it, that’s a surefire sign your marriage is going downhill fast. Refusing to get therapy is akin to saying, “I’m not willing to fix this,” and if that’s the case, you’ve likely already resigned yourself to the fact that a divorce is in your future.
13. Or therapy isn’t working.
Just because you’re getting therapy doesn’t mean you can necessarily save your relationship, either. Therapy can be a great tool for couples, but it can’t fix a relationship that’s irreparably broken.
14. You refuse to compromise.
Compromise can be difficult, even in the healthiest marriages. But if you or your spouse won’t even attempt to compromise on an important issue, that’s one of the clearest signs your marriage is over.
Couples who want to make things work will go to great lengths to do so—even if that means one or both parties can’t get what they want all the time.
15. You jump to the idea of divorce when you’re upset.
For most people in happy, loving marriages, divorce is a four-letter word. However, if your marriage is already over, it may be the first thing you think of when you and your spouse get into a fight. If your spouse does something minor to annoy you and you suddenly imagine yourself living your life without them, that’s a definite sign there are greater issues at play.
16. You express contempt toward your spouse.
Those eye rolls, scoffs, and “whatevers” aren’t the sign of a marriage that’s on the right track.
“Contempt is the most destructive negative behavior within relationships, whether overt or covert. Essentially, contempt behaviors communicate to your partner, ‘I’m better than you, and I don’t care about your perspective,'” says sex therapist Erika Miley, M.Ed., LMHC. “Contempt is often the result of negative thoughts about your partner over time.”
17. You don’t want to listen to your spouse’s problems.
Of course, it’s not always a picnic to listen to someone unload all their personal baggage. That said, if you’re completely uninterested in what’s bothering your spouse—or if you refuse to listen entirely—that’s a major sign your relationship is on some seriously unsteady footing.
18. You keep secrets from one another.
If you’re hanging out with your ex and keeping it from your significant other, have gotten yourself deep into debt and haven’t mentioned it, or are making plans for the future without your partner, those big secrets are all sure signs your relationship isn’t long for this world.
19. You’re having a physical affair and won’t end things.
“If your spouse is having an active affair and doesn’t want to drop it, it’s pretty much impossible for the marriage to last,” says relationship therapist Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC, cofounder of The Marriage Restoration Project. However, that doesn’t always mean people stop trying to make it work, even when the obstacles are insurmountable: “Sometimes a spouse hopes the other will have a change of heart and continues to fight.” And if suspect your spouse isn’t being faithful, check out these 15 Signs Your Wife Is Cheating on You.
20. You and your spouse have stopped arguing.
While having constant arguments is hardly a sign of a healthy marriage, if you don’t fight at all anymore, that could be just as big a red flag. If you won’t have a healthy debate with your spouse over an issue you’re passionate about, odds are you’ve already noticed that your marriage isn’t in great shape and feel like there’s nothing you can do to change things.
21. You ignore advice from members of your inner circle.
Friends and family members may be eager to give you advice on how to fix things in your marriage, but if you refuse to take their well-intentioned suggestions to heart, that’s yet another sign you’re on the fast track toward a divorce.
“If friends, family, and even your spouse are searching for solutions and ways to help your marriage strengthen but you don’t want to hear them, this may be a sign your marriage is over but you are not ready to admit it,” says Kulaga.
22. Your fights turn into personal critiques.
Your spouse forgot to put the cap back on the toothpaste again. Your answer? Reminding him or her of that time they forgot your anniversary. If this sounds like you, you’re seeing some of the signs your marriage is over play out right in front of your eyes. If you can’t have a fight without personally criticizing your spouse, that’s a good sign larger issues are at play—potentially ones that could capsize your marriage.
23. You won’t apologize to your spouse.
While Love Story may have told audiences, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” most people in healthy marriages will tell you the opposite is more accurate. In fact, if you won’t say you’re sorry to your spouse, that’s a pretty good indication that your marriage is over—those still committed to their relationship will fight to make it work, even when doing so means admitting their own faults.
24. You can’t talk without fighting.
If every conversation with your spouse turns into a fight, it might be time to start looking up divorce lawyers. Having non-stop fights with your significant other is a good indication that there’s a major disconnect between the two of you—likely one that’s insurmountable. And if it feels like your arguments are more silly than serious in nature, check out the 30 Dumbest Arguments You Have With Your Spouse.
25. You can’t talk to them about your problems.
Whether you’re dealing with mental health issues, problems at work, or issues with your friends, but don’t feel like you can talk to your spouse about them, that’s a huge red flag. Not only does needing to rely on others for emotional support increase your risk of having an emotional affair, not being able to talk to your significant other about major issues in your life means that a major component of your relationship has already failed.
26. You or your partner have substance abuse issues and won’t get help.
While substance abuse isn’t a moral failing, it’s not necessarily an obstacle a marriage can overcome—especially if the person with the issue refuses to recognize it or get help. And while doing illicit drugs may be a more glaring problem, many people believe themselves to be social drinkers when they’re anything but. In fact, according to the CDC, one in six adults in the United States binge drinks an average of once a week.
27. You don’t respect your significant other anymore.
Respect is a major factor when it comes to overall marital satisfaction. If you think your partner isn’t worthy of your respect anymore, or if you don’t feel like they’re growing along with your relationship, that’s one of the major signs your marriage is over, whether you want to admit it or not. And not all the signs of disrespect in a marriage are glaring: things as little as making jokes about your spouse’s income or looks that seem harmless to you can be a sign of a much bigger problem.
28. You don’t have anything in common anymore.
If you want to discover how to know your marriage is over, just think about your conversations together. When you got together, you probably loved nothing more than spending time on your collective interests with your spouse. However, if as time passes, those things you thought you had in common turned out to be things you or your spouse just pretended to like in order to woo one another, you’re already in over your head. As the list of common interests between you and your spouse wanes, so, too, do your chances of making it work in the long run.
29. Your relationship leaves you constantly feeling drained.
Even if you’re not constantly fighting, that doesn’t mean your relationship can’t leave you feeling utterly depleted. If every second you spend with your spouse make you feel emotionally and physically drained, that’s one of the signs your marriage is over, even if you haven’t filed those divorce papers yet. And if your marriage is definitely done for, make sure to check out the 40 Best Ways to Prepare for Divorce.
30. You never get his or her undivided attention.
It’s natural for your partner to check their phone when you are together, but if they do it constantly, it might be a sign that they have lost interest in your relationship, and that your marriage is in trouble.
“If your partner is always on their cell phone—looking at YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram—they may be more focused on what’s going on there than in the relationship,” explains Katie Ziskind, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Wisdom Within Counseling.
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