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5 Signs It’s Time to Give Up Hope for Your Relationship

Should you stop hoping in your relationship? These signs it’s time to give up hope that your relationship will change are based on an excellent book by Dr Henry Cloud. I also describe the difference between wishful thinking and healthy reasons to hope for change.

You believe in your relationship…but are you hoping for a miracle?

First, learn the difference between wishful and hoping. Then, find strength and courage to move forward – either by accepting the end of a relationship you want to keep or by working towards unity as a couple. “It is imperative that you give up hope if your hope is not hope at all, but just an empty wish,” writes Dr Henry Cloud in Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward. “But how do we know the difference between wishing and hoping?”

Before we explore the difference between solid grounds for healthy hope in a relationship versus wishful thinking, tell me what you’re hoping for. How do you want your relationship to change? What do you wish was different, or better, or nonexistent?

Talk to me in the comments section below! Share the best and worst parts of your relationship. Writing about your hopes and fears will help you see what needs to change in your relationship…and it may even show you what is and isn’t possible.

How to Know if You Should Give Up Hope

“One of the best ways to know when to give up hope in your relationship is your fear of change,” says Alex in 4 Signs You’re Fooling Yourself About Your Relationship. “One of the reasons people stay in bad relationships is their reluctance to change anything. Men by nature are conservative. Many of them agree to be unhappy in a relationships for the sake of stability.”

Most people dislike change – both men and women find change difficult to adapt to (but yes, men do seem to prefer routine more than women!). Whether you’re a man or woman, these tips will help you see if you’re stuck in wishful thinking or if you have legitimate grounds to hope your relationship changes…

1. Know yourself

hope my relationship will change

Should You Stop Hoping in Your Relationship?

Are you staying in this relationship because you’re scared to be alone? Maybe you dislike change, like Alex mentioned in the comment above. Maybe you don’t want to be a “divorced woman” or “single mom.” Maybe you aren’t sure you can pay the bills, take care of the house, or find someone new to spend the rest of your life with.

Before you can know if when to give up hope in a relationship, you need to know yourself. Figure out why you’re staying and what you’re hoping for. Be honest with yourself. Write down your deepest, darkest hopes and dreams. Work through your disappointments and failures. The more you understand yourself, the easier it’ll be to decide if it’s time to stop hoping your relationship will change.

2. Learn the difference between healthy hope and wishful thinking

Healthy hope isn’t just a yearning or expectation that your relationship will change. Healthy, solid hope means you have specific grounds for believing that your relationship can and is changing. Your hope is founded on specific, objective reasons to believe that your relationship can be different than it is now.

If you wish your relationship would change but you have no real reason to believe, then you’re trapped in the wishful thinking stage. You have no solid reason to believe that change is possible….your hopes are founding on nothing more than your fairytale wishes for something different in your life. There’s nothing wrong with hoping your relationship will change — if you have a realistic, objective reason to believe that change is coming.

3. List 3 specific reasons you’re hoping in your relationship

Here are a few objective reasons to hold on to your hope:

  • You and your husband or boyfriend have talked honestly and openly about the changes you hope to see in your marriage
  • Both you and your partner have identified specific ways to change your relationship
  • You and your boyfriend or husband are holding on not just to your hope in your relationship, but your belief that you can actually make change happen
  • You’re aware of specific things you can do to reconnect as a couple, such as marriage counseling, reading relationship books together, going to a marriage retreat or course, or changing your routine to refocus your priorities

What are three specific things you and your partner can do? If you and he can agree on at least one way to move forward, then don’t stop hoping in your relationship! You have a REASON to hope, and you can create the change you want to see.

4. Be honest with yourself — and your partner

Here’s how to know when to give up hope in a relationship:

  • You’ve been waiting for a long time for your husband or boyfriend to change
  • You know you’re ignoring the warning signs of a bad relationship, but you’re “love him too much” to make a change
  • You’re passively waiting for him to start loving you the way you need to be loved
  • You think love is enough, and you’re hoping your relationship will take a turn for the better — without you having to do anything

Another tip for knowing when it’s time to stop hoping in your relationship is how many friends, family members, and forums you’ve consulted. Are you asking for advice, over and over? Are you ignoring what your gut is telling you? If you’re avoiding the truth and pretending you can’t hear the still, small voice that is telling you to give up hope in this relationship because it’s not going anywhere — or it’s abusive — then you need to be honest with yourself.

5. Fix your eyes on the only true source of hope

How are you and God doing these days? Maybe your relationship or marriage problems are the symptoms of a bigger relationship issue in your life.

If your eyes are fixed on your husband or boyfriend as the source of your joy, peace, love, and freedom in life…then you definitely need to give up hope in your relationship! He can’t give you what you need. No man can fill the emptiness in your soul or the hole in your heart. Jesus is the only source of life, love, and joy. He is freedom and truth — and if your hope is in Him, then He’ll take care of your relationship.

Sure, you have to show up and do the work…but you won’t be worried, anxious, or afraid. Your hope will be founded on something far greater than your relationship, or marriage books, or relationship retreats. It’ll be founded on the rock of your salvation, which will never go away or change.

Help and Hope for Relationships

Should You Stop Hoping in Your RelationshipIn Necessary Endings, Dr Henry Cloud describes the difference between wishful thinking and solid grounds for hoping a relationship will change.

He discusses relationships at work and home — and his examples and wisdom will help you see if you should stop hoping your relationship will change, and start preparing for a necessary ending. This is a really important book to read, even if you aren’t struggling with the end of a relationship.

How are you feeling? Are you closer to knowing when to give up hope in a relationship, or are you confused? Share your thoughts below. I can’t tell you if you should stop hoping your relationship will change, but I will say a prayer for you and your husband or boyfriend.

May you find strength, courage, and wisdom as you move forward in your relationship. May you experience true peace and healing, and may the joy of Jesus fill your heart, mind, and soul!

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15 thoughts on “5 Signs It’s Time to Give Up Hope for Your Relationship”

  1. I want to divorce my husband I feel that he is cheating on me on several occasions I have caught him i think that sometimes it’s true what he says that iam going crazy but I know for a fact that iam not this is driving me insane he says he wouldn’t lie to me when iam seeing he’s really evil one time I thought I saw my daughter leave his apartment me and her we don’t get along I try to talk with her but it’s useless I asked him about being at her apartment he gets upset and says I’m crazy what do you suggest I do put up cameras??

  2. Please pray for me and my boyfriend. We have been together for 2 years. In the beginning it was great but my boyfriend started getting depressed and I didn’t know why. Maybe midlife crisis? Finances are very hard. Emotional closeness is non’existent but I know in my heart we can get through this. Just need guidance.right right now we both fill stuck.

  3. The other women, I guess is proper to say, all I wanted was to find someone to care and love me for who I am, after being in a relationship for 25yrs with 6kids, I finally left him due to a physical mental & abuse. I relocated to find myself, I secured a great job & home. I didn’t want to get into another relationship. But I met someone at who I ve learn to care about , The first impression I got from him was he was interested in me, I was head over hills, I’m still attractive, so we started seeing each other ,not in public because of working in the same building, then my heart drop , he was married but they don’t live (he would said ), it’s been 5yrs now, no changes same routine ,I’ve tried 3times to end this relationship and explain I can’t go on , I’ve been traveling every chance and took a second job to keep myself busy. I have so many mix emotions, I’m the one who hurts at the end. He is amazing, I’ve made a decision to relocate to another area, start a new life and block any contact. I don’t need financial support, I need someone who will care and love me, I think that’s what every woman wants. Life is short to keep thinking we will be together..

  4. I’ve been struggling with my marriage for some years now and once I thought I would change to please my wife but then i realize that I have to change for myself just to make my life better cause I want to be with forever you know but it seems like my efforts go in vain she just told me she have no hope in me so I started searching what does hope have in common with love.

  5. I have hope for my relationship with my boyfriend. Your article is an encouragement!

    And, you offer prayer for us and I would like to know if there is anything I can pray for you in return 🙏

    Thank you,
    God Blless

  6. I have been with my current bf for 6 years. I have 2 children from my previous marriage. While we’ve been together marriage and kids were a concern. He told me he wanted both then would change his mind and I would be heart broken. We now have a 1 year old son who was a accident but a very welcomed one by both of us. While I was pregnant he came to me and said he was ready to move forward and wanted to go ring shopping. He told me and my mother that he would propose by a certain time. When my son was born and was 4 months old and nothing had happened I asked him if he still planned on moving forward, he said no and he changed his mind. Ive asked him several times what issues he thinks we may have so that we can see a counselor and resolve our issues. He will not do it. I feel broken. I was diagnosed with chronic depression and even though I’m getting better, I have told him I have to Move on. We started getting along so well after that, that we decided to really try and move forward . He recently mentioned he would like another cold and wants to do it. I agree however I will not do it unless we are married. I feel insulted that he finds me good enough to be the mother of his children but can’t marry me. I told him no. Unless something changes we can’t have more children. He keeps telling me things will change just wait. But I feel he’s saying to keep around knowing I won’t leave. Deep down in my heart I know this isnt ok anymore. I love him but I’m wishing for something that may never happen. It breaks my heart. I would rather my kids see me and him happy separate then catch me crying because I’m sad. I’m giving myself until after summer to let him know it’s over. I’m a stay at home mom. I decided to get my resume together and start getting financials together so I know what I need to make it. I want more than anything for someone to tell me what to do. But in my deepest heart I know this is right. I can’t force marriage on someone who decided he no longer wants it and I can’t pretend its ok. Morally I feel awful. I know good loves me no matter what but I can’t continue this. Please pray for me and my kids that we will be ok.

    1. I don’t know of i want to leave my husband or not. But sharing the same bed with him kills me every night. Sometimes I even say a small prayer for him not to touch me because I feel like screaming for him to stop whatever he’s doing. He has treated me so bad and I’m failing to forgive and forget. He’s a good father but my love for him is gone. And I find myself missing someone I spent a small part of my life with. I believe that the other person is the one I should be with not my husband.

  7. Deciding if you should give up on your relationship — or keep moving forward in hope and love — is a difficult, personal decision! It requires you to dig deep inside yourself, and be honest with yourself and your boyfriend or husband. This takes courage and strength, and there are no easy answers.

    Nobody can tell you what you should do. Only you can decide if you should give up hope in your relationship! But, here’s a question that helps me make big, difficult decisions: Which direction brings more light and love into my life?

    What decision is more life-giving, positive, and energizing? That’s the direction to proceed.

    Here’s another article that may help:
    5 Signs of God’s Blessing on Your Relationship

    If God has blessed your relationship, don’t give up or lose hope!

    With His love,
    – Laurie

  8. Charlene M Rosales



    I am in a long distance relationship with my bf whose in prison in Canada. We’re going to our 2nd anniversary soon. He was convicted for 25 yrs no parole in jail and I knew him thru my Aunty Boss which is his Father. We did okay over the phone, he calls me two to three days a week. I love him and I believe in his innocents. I am trying my very best to be in his country so we can be closer and to look after him in the future. Please help with this.

    Hope to hear from you.


  9. We were married for 22 years and in that time he was unhappy about 20 years of it. I remember him telling me in the car that I wasn’t ‘meeting his expectations’ and later that he just couldn’t be attracted to me until I lost weight. I am average in weight, maybe a couple of pounds over but not crazily so. He constantly berated me about my cooking (which is really good according to my friends), my housekeeping skills (the house was spotless but he said that ‘you should be able to eat off the floor’), my parenting skills (my kids were A students – school and house captains) and my washing was so bad that he refused to put his clothes down with the others in case they weren’t up to his standards (nothing wrong with my washing – always clean, folded and organised). When I surprised him with shelving in the garage he flew off the handle because I had put all his paint tins together, the nails into jars and together and generally tidied up what was actually a huge mess. There were two rules, one for me and one for him. He actually said to me that whatever I said he would always take the opposite view. He took my keys and bankcards one time and made me walk with 5 small kids to school and back for three days so that I would learn to ‘appreciate him’. He pushed me and bruised me and recorded our conversations. He punched my son in the face.The kids gave me their pocket money for us to catch the bus to church. In the final three years of our marriage he kicked me out of our bedroom, locked the door every night and wouldn’t eat with the kids and I. He stopped giving me any money and I had to stretch my part-time wage to pay for everything to do with the house and kids (minus the big bills which I couldn’t afford). I had to restrict the kids’ sport and be careful with my money to make it stretch – while he kept his $800000 yes 6 digits purely for himself. In that time I continued to believe God would heal our marriage – I prayed and fasted. I continued to do his books, even watching him removing the money from our accounts into a secret bank account and a secret property, and while he went away from us on holiday for 12 weeks in the 6 months pre our separation I continued to believe God could break and soften his heart. It was seriously hell on earth.

    Then one night I spoke to my sister about the situation. I said I wished it would go either way. So she and my niece prayed that night for exactly that and the next morning I got a phone from an elder at our church saying would I please intervene because my charming, godly husband was going to be voted to be an elder at my church and knowing what he and I knew about his affair I needed to say something. What!!!??? Affair???!! So he proceeded to tell me about what had been going on for at least the past year and my world collapsed. I went to his work and asked him to come out and talk to me and he would neither deny or confirm the affair – “Where is your proof?” he kept saying and no more. In the ensuing days he avoided, side stepped and finally denied that he had had an affair after my son threatened to never speak to him again. In that time I rang around and another colleague of his told me there had been stories of his affair at the office. Another friend told me of an affair he had supposedly had 8 years previously. And then I remembered coming home from work in the middle of the day and having him running in with a woman. They told me she was there to look at the house as she was going to paint a picture and she needed to see the decor. That was believable until my niece told me that when she had been visiting us and was supposed to be away that day, she had come home and he had come home with the same woman with the same excuse…. Hmmmm. Anyway it didn’t matter because he blatantly told me he had been planning to divorce for years and that if I would just stay together in the same house and look after the kids, when he got a new girlfriend (the affair had apparently ended) then he would move out and he would divorce me then (so he wouldn’t have to pay child support). When I said ‘Absolutely not!’ he said to me that he was not going to allow me to end the relationship as if I had no choice!

    To cut a long story short we are now divorced. He divorced me as soon as the year was up. What a blessing!! Why didn’t I walk out earlier? Why didn’t I give up hope earlier?? Why did I put up with so much pain and rejection? It was because I believed God could heal our marriage. If I hadn’t have prayed and fasted two days a week for two years I would have just walked away. This is why is was very hard for me to give up hope in my marriage. I believed God could change things. I believed God was capable of changing his heart.

    I don’t believe this anymore. I do believe God did EVERYTHING he could have to save our marriage. I certainly did everything I could have. But God gives people free will. He will not force anyone to adhere to their marriage vows if they don’t intend or want to. He allows people to choose. My husband said to me at the end of our marriage one night when I came in and said “Is there anything I can do?” – he said “I knew I was hurting you by the way I treated you. But even though you may think I am shallow – I just can’t be attracted to you as long as you have the extra weight – you have to be 64 or 65 kgs or less”. At that point I knew I was dealing with someone who was so shallow, so lacking in compassion, so self-absorbed and image-conscious that I had to let him go. The next day I went to my lawyer and started procedures for separating our property as he was so adamant to divorce me.

    So yes, there are times when I think it is appropriate to give up hope in a relationship. If you have done all your can do to save your marriage, to mend, to heal and to love, and they repeatedly reject you, mistreat you and finally in my case betray you – you need to let it go. I read somewhere that God has a special blessing for those who do everything they can to save their marriage but their partner just rejects them.

    There is a verse in the bible that talks about double portions. I believe in them because I have seen it in my own life. On Valentine’s day after I had moved I smiled to myself and felt grateful that I didn’t have to wonder and hope and be disappointed for another year. And then in the space of 20 minutes one beautiful niece and one gorgeous best friend rocked up to my door with roses – a double portion!! So many double portions have come my way. A perfect new job, loving sons, a wonderful church, a friend on my first day at church, a prayer group to pray for our children while my sons have been encompassed by a great church youth group. It seems God is dropping me into all sorts of blessings after this great trauma.

    So my message here is one that God has been saying to me for a while. Stop pushing. Stop trying to make things the way you thing things should go. Let God prepare things ahead of you and wait for them to come to you. And finally Let Go of the relationship you have been trying so hard at. Do your part but stop killing yourself in the process. Step back. Stop. Let Go and Let God handle the problem.

    1. Dear Wendy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I really appreciate your perspective, and am so glad you wrote here. What a life you’re living, how rich and full, deep and wide! God really is watching over you, and helping you Blossom into a woman of compassion, grace, strength and joy.

      May you continue to find His blessings and love. May His spirit continue to strengthen and encourage you as you move forward into a new season of life.


  10. Please pray for my boyfriend and I of two years. I have been divorced since 2008, I quickly got into a new relationship that lasted almost nine years. I believed in fairytales, I truly thought we would marry and my children and I would have a complete family again. As a decade together was quickly approaching I realized we were not engaged and I was not getting re-married if I stayed with him. He was also a heavy drinker. Fast forward to where I am now – I left the bf of nine years and shortly thereafter met my current bf. He works offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for 28 days, then comes home for 14 days. When he is offshore we are limited to 1 email in a 24 hr period and an occasional phone call or text when his boat stops back in at port. When he is home for 14 days, he is mostly consumed by his land job. I understand he has to work extra even when he is off due to poor financial choices. I love him, but I am not sure if I’m anywhere closer to my dream of re-marrying. I’m in my early forties & feel as if I am running out of time. I feel like I am going to grow old and die alone. Any prayers are welcome and very much appreciated.

    Lost In Louisiana

  11. I know you don’t give marriage advice, so I won’t ask if I should give up hope in my relationship. I already know the answer. I just want to put this out there for all the other women in unhealthy relationships and to the wives who are ignoring the signs their marriage is over. My mom stayed married to my dad for 36 years even though she kept asking me if their marriage was over. It was a terrible relationship and I kept telling her to leave, but she wouldn’t.

    So that’s why I don’t ask for or give relationship advice, because nobody listens. They already know the truth.

    I do know that if you’re seeing signs you should give up hope, then you shouldn’t keep hanging on to a dead relationship.

  12. I need that book. I’ve been scolded several times because I had given up hope and that must mean I gave up on God. The balance is so hard. Thanks for the recommendation and information!

    1. It’s a fantastic book, Carrie! And Dr Cloud speaks to all sorts of different types of relationships, which makes it applicable in all seasons of life 🙂

      The bottom line for this article, though, is that unless there are specific indications that change will happen, then it may be better to stop hoping the relationship will improve….it’s difficult to hear, but important to accept.