Is Your Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore


How do you know if your marriage is over? These six signs of the end of a relationship will help you see yourself – and your spouse – more clearly. You may not be headed for divorce court, so take heart! Even the healthiest relationships hit rock bottom sometimes.

I was inspired to write this article by a reader’s comment. “My husband and I have been together since high school and got married 12 years ago,” said Jessie on How to Know if Your Husband Still Loves You. “We’ve always been comfortable together, but over the past couple years I’ve been getting the feeling he no longer wants to be with me. Our relationship is just one of convenience. All of the signs he doesn’t love me are there, and he says a lot of very very hurtful things to me. He tries to make me feel like a horrible person and he attacks the things I say and do. After he says all these mean things to me he wants me to act as though everything is alright. He says I need to smile and be happy etc. but I’m feeling like I could crawl up in a ball and die. Are these signs your marriage is over? I think so but it would help to get an outside opinion.”

According to marriage expert John Gottman, expressing contempt is one of the signs your marriage is over. Jessie’s husband does this by trying to make her feel like a horrible personal and by saying hurtful things to her.





6 Signs Your Marriage is Over

These warning signs your marriage is over are from relationship counselors and marriage therapists.

While you’re reading through these thoughts, remember that you are the expert on your relationship. You know your husband better than anyone, you know yourself, and you know how your marriage has changed through the years. Don’t let a relationship article take away all your hope for a happy, healthy marriage! Millions of relationships get pulled from the brink of divorce court every year by couples who are committed to rebuilding their marriages.

1. Your husband treats you with contempt

Contempt is the biggest red flag – the most troubling warning sign that your marriage is over – according to Dr. John Gottman and his four decades of marriage research.

signs your marriage is over

is your marriage over?

“When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean,” writes Ellie Lisitsa in The Four Horsemen: Contempt on The Gottman Institute’s blog about strengthening relationships. “Treating others with disrespect and mocking them with sarcasm are forms of contempt. So are hostile humor, name-calling, mimicking, and/or body language such as eye-rolling and sneering. In whatever form, contempt is poisonous to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with him or her.”

The reason contempt is such a powerful predictor of divorce is because it is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts. Contempt is issued in the form of an attack from a position of relative superiority. Words and actions that are fueled by contempt lead to more conflict and disconnection, rather than to reconciliation.

How do you respond to a husband who speaks to you with contempt? Get help. Talk to a marriage counselor, pastor with counseling experience, or a trusted family friend. Learn how to cope with your feelings and how to set boundaries with your husband.

Contempt isn’t a guaranteed sign your marriage is over, but both you and your husband have to see how your words and actions are affecting your marriage. You both need to be willing to work on your relationship. One of the most troubling warning signs your marriage is over is when both you and your husband refuse to accept responsibility.

If you have a feeling your marriage can’t be saved, read How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision.

2. You and your husband have stopped trying

Marriage coach Mort Fertel says, “Ironically, communication techniques sometimes give people clarity that they don’t care what their spouse thinks or feels. They ‘understand it’ but it doesn’t matter to them anymore.”



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This is ironic because couples often go to marriage counseling to learn to “communicate better.” They learn how to be honest and open about their feelings, they learn how to listen and speak clearly…and they learn that one or both of them has no interest in trying to save their relationship.

Through their newfound communication skills, they learn that they’re too tired to work on their marriage. They simply don’t care anymore. This type of indifference is one of the most important warning signs your marriage is over.

3. You don’t connect with or even critique your spouse…you criticize

Let’s turn the tables around for a minute. How do you talk to your husband? If you tend to be critical of him, then you’re displaying one of Dr Gottman’s warning signs your marriage is over. Negative or “helpful” feedback can be difficult for husbands to take; criticism will cut him to the core.

“Criticizing your partner is different than offering a critique or voicing a complaint,” writes Lisitsa on Recognizing Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. “The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack: it is an attack on your husband at the core. In effect, you are dismantling his whole being when you criticize.”

  • Here’s an example of a complaint, which isn’t normally a sign your marriage is over: “I was scared when you were running late and didn’t call me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.”
  • And this is an example of a criticism: “You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish! You never think of others! You never think of me!”

Are you and your husband critical of each other? It’s not a great way to communicate, but it’s not the biggest warning sign your marriage is over.

signs your marriage is over

is love the foundation of your marriage?

“If you find that you are your husband are critical of each other, don’t assume your marriage is doomed to fail,” writes Lisitsa. “The problem with criticism is that, when it becomes pervasive, it paves the way for the other, far deadlier [warning signs of unhealthy marriages].  Criticism makes the victim feel assaulted, rejected, and hurt, and often causes the perpetrator and victim to fall into an escalating pattern where the first horseman reappears with greater and greater frequency and intensity.”

When you were first married, you probably felt understood, heard, and connected with your husband. You were polite. You didn’t want to hurt him – and he was sensitive to your feelings. But time passes, and the stress of daily life and kids and jobs and money and house and aging parents and health issues take a toll…and you find that you don’t have the time and patience it takes to be polite. This isn’t necessarily a sign your marriage is over – it just means you need to make time and effort to communicate with love and respect.

4. Your slide into your marriage commitment, and you tend to “cycle”

“Sliding Into Marriage” and “Premarital Cycling” are two signs your marriage is over or may be ending, according to Dr. Jeff Larson. He is a relationship expert on premarital predictors of marital happiness, and he shared these two signs of unhealthy relationships on his article 3 Warning Signs That Predict Divorce Early in a Relationship….

Sliding Into Marriage. Couples often have low levels of commitment and end up sliding into marriage instead of making a very conscious and clear decision to be committed to their future spouse. This frequently happens when couples live together, but aren’t officially married yet. The issue is that when this “sliding” occurs, there is less initial commitment and willingness to stick it out when things get tough, which is essential to any marriage. In other words, if you slide into your marriage you may be more likely to slide right on out. A low commitment level is a warning sign your marriage is over (or that it never really began).

Premarital Cycling. Dating, then breaking up, then getting back together before marriage predicts lower marital quality and stability. This is common in relationships, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. This kind of instability early on sets a precedent for how open partners can be with each other. i.e. “If I talk about this with him/her, he/she will get overwhelmed because last time I brought something like this up, he/she needed a break from me. I’ll just keep it to myself.” This is a dangerous pattern to fall into. It’s important to feel safe and secure in a marriage for it to stay healthy and have longevity.

On a related note, what are your goals as a couple? Do you have a compatible vision for your future? If you want a four million dollar home with an ocean view and your husband wants a wee cottage in the forest, then you both may feel less committed to your marriage. Why? Because you want different things in life. If your husband wants six children and you’d rather be childfree, then you may have to work harder on overcoming the signs your marriage is over. To keep your marriage strong, you need to agree on your vision as a couple or family – and put each other first.

5. You’re not connecting emotionally, spiritually, or physically

The good news is that physical and emotional disconnection in a relationship is not one of the major signs your marriage is over! The bad news is that disconnection can lead to more serious problems down the road. The less you connect as a couple, the less healthy your relationship is…and the higher the chances your marriage is slowly ending.

If you’re struggling with these signs your marriage is over, remember that all married couples are forced to deal with difficulties. Many couples have to face the decision to stay married or consider getting a divorce because their problems are bigger than they care to handle.

signs a marriage is over

your marriage is not over

Don’t fall into the trap of believing you only have two options: staying married and staying unhappy, or getting a divorce and getting happy again. If you’re feeling scared and sad because of these warning signs your marriage is over, then perhaps you’re ready to go beyond that false choice (“Do I divorce so that I can find happiness again, or do I keep the family together and remain unhappy?”).

Perhaps you’re ready to do the work it takes to save your marriage. According to the Couples Institute, you’d be be surprised to learn that most unhappy marriages become happy again, if couples can stick it out. While some divorces are necessary, many marriages can be repaired.

“It may be difficult to face the issues that you and your spouse are struggling with, but research suggests that couples who can manage to stay together usually end up happier down the road than couples who divorce,” writes Dr. Deborah Hecker on Should You Divorce or Save Your Marriage? “If partners choose to invest in their relationship and make needed changes instead of repeating their mistakes, they might be able to avoid an unnecessary divorce. And if they do finally decide to divorce, their personal work in couples therapy might increase their chance of a successful marriage next time.”

6. You husband cheated and wants to end your marriage

If your husband had an affair and is leaving you, then you’ve gone beyond the typical “signs your marriage is over.” The bad news is that infidelity can damage your relationship beyond repair – especially if your husband leaves you for the other woman.

If your husband had an affair and wants to rebuild your relationship, then crack open the champagne and celebrate! The good news is that marriage infidelity by itself is not a sign your marriage is over. Many couples survive marital unfaithfulness, and many have an even stronger bond because of the cheating.

What’s the difference between infidelity as a sign your marriage is over versus infidelity as a turning point towards a healthier, stronger relationship? You and your husband’s intentions for your future. Cheating in and of itself won’t necessarily end your marriage…it’s how you and your husband clean up after the infidelity that determines if you’ll stay together.

“In my work doing marriage coaching, I have noticed that very often the turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom,” says marriage coach Mort Fertel, who offers 7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage. “It’s not until they’ve been through the worst that things start to get better.”

Don’t despair if infidelity is a factor in your marriage. Mort says cheating husbands are more likely to build stronger relationships – if they are genuinely sorry and sincere about saving their marriages. However, if your spouse cheated, you and he will need to do some serious work on moving forward in peace, forgiveness, and love.

How to Cope With the Signs Your Marriage is Over

my marriage is overRead 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John Gottman. He’s a respectable marriage therapist and researcher, and his insights will help you not only see your relationship differently, but actually change it for the better.

Don’t give up on your marriage yet – it is VERY possible that the best is yet to come! Maybe you’ve hit the natural “rock bottom” life cycle of your relationship…and maybe you just need to start rebuilding your marriage.

In 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, the Gottmans provide vital tools – scientifically based and empirically verified – that you can use to regain affection and romance lost through years of ineffective communication. You’ll strengthen your relationship and make it the most fulfilling it can be.

Maybe your marriage is over, or maybe you just need help and relationship advice from a couples therapist, marriage coach, or relationship textbook(s). Struggling with problems in your relationship isn’t one of the warning signs your marriage is over. It just means you’re human, and so is your husband.

May you experience recovery, healing, peace and love in your relationship. May you find life in your marriage, sparks of love in your soul, and sprouts of health in your emotional, physical, and spiritual relationship with your husband. I pray that God revives your marriage and performs a miracle in your relationship with him. May you find practical, healthy ways to deal with these signs your marriage is over – and may they become a ghost of the past.

I also pray for acceptance, wisdom, and guidance for you. May you seek God’s heart in all the decisions you make about your marriage and your future. May you accept His will, His desires, and His guidance for your life. I don’t know what the future holds for you, but God does. I pray that you can rely on Him, turn to Him, and lean on Him – even if you believe you have all the signs your marriage is over. I pray for health, for healing, for restoration in your life. I pray that you find hope and faith, and that you open your heart to any possibility that God might bring you. Be open, be willing to follow His will even if it’s painful. Give your marriage to God, and He will strengthen and uphold you no matter what happens.

If you feel unloved and alone in your relationship, read How to Survive a Loveless Marriage.

I welcome your thoughts on these signs your marriage is over. I can’t offer relationship advice or counseling, but you may find it helpful to share what you’re going through. Writing is one of the best ways to gain clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings and sort through your thoughts. And, your experience will show other women they’re not alone.

xo







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331 thoughts on “Is Your Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

  • Diann

    I found out my husband was talking to his ex behind my back a few weeks ago and he knows how I feel about this person based on things she has done in the past to try to get between us. So, in some of the messages I saw, he had sent her a meme and said he loved her. She also sent a picture to him of her legs with the statement….here are a picture of my legs finally with an emoji wink and his response was…about damn time. She also sent him a picture of a house where they used to live just to ask him if that was the house they used to live in. When I asked him about this, he said he does still have a love for her because they have kids together but he is with me. I however am having a problem getting over this because in our entire marriage, 10 years, he has never sent me anything out of the blue like this to let me know he is thinking of me like he did with her. We got into a tiff and when I tried to call him he didn’t answer. In the past when he was mad, he would ignore me and not answer my calls which I figured he was doing again which just made me more angry so I continually called him. I also texted him expressing my feelings. He finally texted back and said he can’t handle my level of crazy anymore. I called him and he said I was crazy because I called him so much…even after I tried to explain this his is pattern when he is mad at me which I figured he was. He then told me I needed to get on medication because I needed and he can’t deal with me anymore. I did find out that he did respond to my text but it failed to go through…because I didn’t get this text is why I began going overboard with my phone calls. However, I do know what I did was wrong but I don’t think is justifies name calling. When I asked what he meant when he said he can’t do this anymore, he said he wasn’t saying anything at this time as far as what I can’t do this anymore means.. This is what he does when we get to this point. He tells me he doesn’t care about my feelings and I bother him. I know what I did was wrong but I don’t think I deserve the name calling or made to feel like I nor my feelings matter. I did comment that it would be nice to receive things like him like he does do other people and his response….keep accusing me and you will see what happens,,,,

  • SB

    I have been married for 2 years and I met my husband at church. He was such a wonderful and amazing man that after dating for 7 months we got married. Once we moved in he changed so much… I get it once you move in together you get to know the REAL person you married. But mann did he show me who he really was. After having 2 kids we no longer have communication, happiness or sex. Its heartbreaking to be taken for granted and knowing you love that person but he did tell me straight to my face he is no longer happy nor gets excited about me.

  • JM

    Pretty much all of these signs are in my marriage. I am tired of trying. I feel like I am not the woman my husband needs and we should have never gotten married.
    He says mean things to me all the time, the most hurtful one was after we lost a baby, he said he didn’t see me as a mother that he didn’t wanna have children with me because I wouldn’t be a good mother and of course he has told me several times that he doesn’t love me.

  • Betty

    I’m jealous of my husbands happiness. When we met I was powerful, confident, thin, and a single mom of two kiddos. I was trying to get clean at the time and we fell in love so I moved back home and took him with me. We have been clean and married just over 6 years now and in the earlier of those years there was a distrust between us due to secrets he was keeping in regards to communication with other women from his work. I had 2 previous relationships that were very abusive and involved horrible heartbreaking incidents of cheating. My programming is all screwey and i have serious trust issues when it comes to my husband talking to females. He’s 7 years younger then me, wakes up happy and has no issues making friends. He is really smart and is working a job that is constantly building him up and promoting him because they see how great he is. My hope was that we would grow in happiness together as a married couple, but somewhere I fell behind. I struggle to find things to be happy about, I have a job I hate, no real friendships, and I gained weight and am now fat which I have never been. We have lost connection emotionally, physically, and spritually and I can feel that I am holding him back from being happy in life. When you know that you are the problem and see no fix in sight, it might be time to just let him go…..

  • Andy

    This is what has been happening with me. I’ve been married for a little over a year my soon to be ex has only talked twice about our relationship issues and this is only after she left twice and we worked everything out. But that’s the only time she has talked to me about our relationship. She was never willing to talk but those two times. We have had many issues that needed to be talked about but she refuses she calls me every thing in the book and belittles me she will text me saying all this but refuses to sit down and talk about our issues. Example of her getting mad: I would ask her a question she would reply saying you’re an idiot why would you ask that you’re stupid and it was a simple question like do you still want to go town this weekend. One other example I was making supper I was cutting an onion she say why you cutting that onion like that I say that’s how I was taught she say that’s stupid you’re a moron. I have spoiled her I helped with cooking cleaning laundry do all the yard work but nothing is ever good enough and one minute she is all good and the next she is pissed over stupid things. She has left again my question is should I just say screw it and justhave nothing to do with her?

  • Cassandra

    This is my story my husband is in prison doing 25 to life done 23 i knew him before prison Started writing him as i was married to someone else as a friend divorce writing him yet he asked me to marry him i didn’t answer several several months later married someone else divorce writing him yet i was scared first time asked can i do a marriage like that all that time i married him now7 years He has got very mean controling and disrespectful within last 6 months he has applied for sentence reduction which may come though for him He as done very well programs looks good for his second chance I am his only family basically with his attitudes its time i feel do i give up but i want it to work but he thinks its me not him he knows attitude help

  • Leon

    Hello,
    I have been married for 51 years. I have 3 children and 4 beautiful grandsons. I have worked from the time I have been 5 and went in business for myself after quitting school at 16 and through through the years made a fine living and gave my family what I never had,spoiling them for the most part. When things changed was prior to having our children after marriage, by the way my wife and I courted for 3 years and never had sex. My wife is a very pretty women then and now at 68. I use to drink at times and that would cause to her to say I was drunk weather I had one drink or 10. My goal in life has always been to provide for my family and now to make sure that when I die my wife will be able to live without having to work, and that is place with a secure income not a lot but one she will live a decent life.
    My problem is I’m not able to reason with her at all over the last few years, only if it’s in line with what she thinks is right. I’ve reached a point where I can’t go on arguing over stupid things because it’s at the point that I can’t deal with it and I don’t even care if my life ended. I have some health issues as well. By no means am I saying it’s always her fault, but I’m sick of it. If she told me to leave I would just to have a piece of mind. She doesn’t want me to have a dog, which I’ve had in the past,she gets upset over basically nothing and has an attitude till I apologize for something that wansnt even my fault. I’m not perfect by any means. This is a a very SMALL idea of want I have to deal wIth daily.
    Yes there are good times to. NOW WHAT????? 🤔🤔🤔 PLEASE EXCUSE any mispelled words and inaccurate sentences.

  • Cynthia

    Really Confused
    I am a 60 year old female who has been married for 27 years. Six years ago I was let go from my job after 18 years of service (I worked with my husband). A year later I became really depressed and physically ill. I was later told that I had Major Depressive disorder and fibromyalgia. It was at this point my marriage troubles started. My husband began coming home from work each night and verbally abusing me to the point that I had considered suicide. Fortunately I got help through a therapist about that but my husband continued to berate me with words like your not sick just lazy, (the list goes on). Tried lots of marriage fixing such as counseling, (he would not go) to exercise, yoga etc. Fast forward to the present. I got on a new medication and following the advice of my therapist started going out with friends more and during one of these outings I got the chance to start working doing promotion work within the music industry. During this work I made new friends and one of whom I became fairly close with advised me to try again with my marriage. Oh my husband gives me such a hard time about my new found job and friends. I now see that what I want out of this prison called my marriage but I am fearful about being alone at my age. What will happen if I get really sick again or just end up being alone all the time, I’m scared and need advice from someone who is not so close to the trees, if you get my drift. Signed Really confused.

  • Jaanet

    Sadly my story is truly bizarre 3 years ago my hubby was seeing hooker he denied it I caught him meeting one at the gas station when he said he had, to be there at one one oclock I thought that was suspicious so I insisted on going with him a very attractive blonde came running to the right at one oclock when see saw me she turned on her heal he let on as if nothing was wrong few weeks I was out pretty sure saw him with the same blonde in our car . he denied it again we went to counselor and even the counselor told him it was pretty dam suspicious he still denied it then he got very ill at the hospital it was discovered he had hepc that had gone into livercancer,still he wouldn,t admit he passed away the last thing he did was call for her I guess her name was Kathy no one knew any one by that name… So now I have to life with burned in my heart and memories the resentment the anger grief he was only with me because of security money I am sure our kids thought he was the greatest man so does everyone else its a nightmare ..Like the counselor said selfishness and most likely sex addiction …….its hell after7mths I think I will make it but my trust is gone…since seen the same women working the streets..

    • JM

      I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how you struggle to deal with knowing he never told the truth. Lies are so hard to deal with. I pray that everything is better now in your life. May God grant you peace to move on be happy.

  • Frustrated

    Married almost 11 years, the entire marriage has been rocky, in and out of counseling. Brady bunch family, married into her and her 16yo daughter with my 4yo daughter, had a daughter together. Was told early on I have no say with her daughter, daughter is grown now and married. Was told frequently I suck as a husband, father etc and was routinely threatened with divorce when I raised any issues over the years. I have often thought of leaving (escaping) but haven’t because I don’t want to hurt kids or then I have thoughts of did I try hard enough, do everything I can. Btw she was diagnosed before she met me with anxiety and depression. I am a neat and organized man raised by my mother and grandmother – only child – raised the old fashioned way – had a step father who was nice at times but more times than not was an ass to my mom. As for my marriage, the threat of divorce has been there for duration, also my wife has diagnosed me over the years with bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, narcissism, passive aggressive and several other ailments, all of which I’ve researched to understand if there was any evidence of that fact. I’ve sought the help of counselors to gain clarity, gone to church, in couples therapy right now using Gottman tools to help and nothing seems to help. When we argue she ends up winning or dominating the conversation, when conversation gets tough and she doesn’t like what she is hearing, she says I’m reaching my limit and then says we need a pause and will pick this up later, then it’s awkward silence and avoiding until we address it again or sometimes we just drop it. We spend much of our non working hours out pursuing personal interests and occasionally join up for kids sports events. She dominates the relationship with our daughter we had together, I’m pretty much cut out of parenting her and only allowed freedom of parenting of my daughter who is now 16. Obviously I’m looking for answers and trying to figure out what to do. I want to be happy and have peace in my life – I’m tired of chasing my tail around in circles. I’m a good honest caring man who loves and puts his family first. Cleans the house, folds laundry, cooks dinner, makes kids events, works 50 hours a week and trying to hang on to this marriage for self, wife, kids. Insight welcome.

  • Galen

    If your married and you go and listen to your Husband’s ex’s what is this a sign of??? My marriage is about to end and my wife has let my 3 ex’s into our marriage… She said that she was a woman of GOD but who does this… Do you find this action immature at some point… Then she did bring in baggage from an early marriage etc… We could never talk after she started talking to them… She said it was better to talk with them than me… So I left the house… She has 4 kids that I was taking care of that were not mine… She never looked at this… Each night was about the ex’s etc… I grew tired of this abuse and I felt it was time to move on… Then the looking in my phone… Then asking me why I don’t cheat on her etc… When her ex’s all 3 did cheat on her… Give me your thoughts please of what is wrong with her because she thinks she is perfect and nothing is wrong with her… I am the problem…

    • Soapmom431

      Maybe you need to look inward inward at your heart and why you have three exs instead of hers. You can’t fix her but you can fix you.

      • Galen

        Maybe you did not understand… My wife is talking to 3 of my ex’s girlfriends and one is when I was in my 20’s… I am 42 now and my wife 39… Why is she talking to them it is immature… I am a liar now and I hear this because of the ex’s and it’s sad for me… I left my wife Dec 2016 and it did hurt a lot cause I did truly love her… I could not deal with the talking about my ex’s each night etc… I was feeling so bad that I had to think about my health first… I am never right she is and nothing I do is ever right… So I had to leave that situation… Why are people this way and it seem like they can’t see it…

        • Soapmom431

          I’m sorry. I did misunderstand. I thought it was three exwives. I know you pain…I just gave up on my husband love more than life today. Our spouses have OCPD obsessive Compulsive Personalty Disorder which is not the same as OCD. Read about it. It was not till I read about it that I understood. I can do nothing right…I never have. I make twice his salary and take care of monetary things more so than he does. He bitched, groans,complains, cuts be down, I can do nothing right, clean nothing right, he dominates every minute of my time when he is here and when he isn’t here. Leaves me lists of work to do to keep me busy on my off days and I work 50 hours per week…I’m exhausted with him and it’s taking scroll on my health. The rants, fits and rage…I just can’t take…I gave up today and told him I wanted a divorce..I just wanna die