13 Heartbreaking Signs Your Marriage is Over

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“I do.”

Until it turns into an “I don’t.” Marriage is supposed to be a blissful union between two mutually loving people, and the goal is literally “until death do you part.”

But sadly, marriage often ends before death, and divorce rates have steadily increased as more and more couples decide to end their vows. 

But as someone who’s been in relationships and who’s happily married, I find myself wondering just what are the signs your marriage is over.

When do you reach the point of enough-is-enough and what are some of the things that warn you that your partnership is a ship that’s on the rocks

I called up a couple of my friends who had ended their relationships, and they shared some interesting thoughts that I had already suspected about marriage and knowing when it’s not working.

Have you spotted the signs or red flags in your marriage? Let’s find out.

Why it’s Essential to Recognize the Signs Your Marriage Is Over 

When you walked down the aisle, did you think your marriage would end in separation or divorce? Probably not, right? 

Marriage is (or should be) a lasting commitment between two people who love each other and want to make their union legal in the eyes of their creator and the law.

However, it often ends in heartbreak, whether you are ready to part with your loved one or not. 

Often, you may not recognize that you’ve come to the end of the road regarding your marriage, and this looks different for every married couple.

You may have been too busy or distracted to notice that your marriage isn’t healthy. Or you may be in denial – after all, you may feel like you’re a failure because your marriage is beyond repair (and you’re not, by the way).   

Only you and your spouse can decide that you need to uncouple your marriage and file for separation or divorce. It’s a difficult decision, with no easy answer or magical solution. 

The truth is that a troubled, unhealthy, or toxic marriage cannot always be saved, and it may be safer (and easier) for you to part ways. That’s why it’s essential to recognize the signs that your marriage may be over so you can decide what’s next

Are you and your spouse going to stick it out and make it work? Or are you going to end your marriage and lead separate lives?  

Common Reasons Why Marriages End 

There are various reasons why marriages end. If you follow your favorite celebrities and other A-listers, you’d know that the most common reason for divorce among the rich and famous is “irreconcilable differences.” 

I think that celebs just want to keep their private lives private, and “irreconcilable differences” is so ambiguous that fans can draw their own conclusions why their favorite actor, singer, or artist split from their spouse. 

The most common reasons why a marriage ends are: 

  • Abuse (in any and all forms) 
  • Communication issues 
  • Lack of trust, respect, sympathy, remorse, and love 
  • Growing apart and wanting different things 
  • Marrying the potential of who someone could be instead of who they truly are 
  • Significant differences in values and beliefs and shifting priorities  
  • No emotional, spiritual, physical, experiential, or intellectual intimacy   
  • Bigamy 
  • Constant criticism 
  • Controlling behavior, being subject to manipulation, and gaslighting
  • Criminal behavior 
  • Addiction and your romantic partner not getting the help they need (or not wanting to get better) 
  • Infidelity (physical and emotional affairs) 
  • Financial challenges 
  • Inability to compromise   
  • Seeing a future without your partner in it 
  • Got married for the wrong reasons (like settling, feeling like you had to get married, etc.) 

Could You Have Done Anything Differently? 

When your marriage is reaching the end of its rope and you’ve ticked off many of the signs your marriage is over, it’s common to wonder, “Could I have done anything differently?” 

The what-if scenarios swirl and twirl through your mind, and it can drive you insane thinking that if only you’d done X or Y or Z, then your marriage could still be going strong.

It’s normal to beat yourself up when something as significant as your marriage is failing. Do you feel like a failure? Like you didn’t do enough? Or didn’t love and support your spouse enough? 

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Hating your partner, feeling absolute disgust for them, and resenting their existence in your life is what can really be considered an “irreconcilable difference.”

The truth is that you can’t go back. You can’t redo or undo what’s been done. You only have the power to change things now

As hard as it is to say and realize, some relationships end for a reason, despite how devastated you may feel right now. Only you know whether your marriage is worth saving, and honestly, you’ve probably already tried your best to save it. 

Has your partner chipped in to help save your union? If not, you know that you can’t make a one-sided relationship work. And if yes, then you’ve tried, and it’s not meant to be.  

Better things are out there for you, and as difficult as it is, make peace with the end of your marriage, let go, and focus on yourself for a change. 

13 Signs Your Marriage Is Over 

Evaluating your marriage and knowing whether it is indeed over isn’t always as clear as black and white.

There may be shades of gray – some things that are not-all-bad in your marriage that may make you want to stay and try again and things that are toxic and shout at you to run the heck away.  

Here are the main signs that your marriage is on the rocks. See which of these applies to you, and the more signs you can tick off, the more likely it is that your marriage is over.  

1. There’s No Shared Emotional Fire

Oh sure, most people focus on the passion in a marriage, and when they no longer want to rip their partner’s clothes off, they believe that’s a sign things have cooled between them and their partner.

But one of the first signs of a marriage in trouble is not a lack of passion. Instead, it’s when you and your partner have lost the emotional closeness that made you really comfortable and trusting with each other. 

When your partner is no longer your friend and confidant, you know there’s trouble. While life can sometimes disengage us, a marriage that’s over has lost all connection.

This can easily happen when parenting, earning a living, and stress overtake your “I do”-glue. 

A loss of emotional intimacy can sever the commitment you made to each other when life takes precedence over your connection and feelings. Signs of this loss of intimacy include feeling alone, hopeless, and distant toward your partner. 

2. There’s Fear, Not Freedom

If you realize you are only staying in your marriage because you are afraid to leave it, you know you should actually leave. Marriage isn’t meant to be entered into (or stayed in) because of the shelter, financial support, and status it offers. 

People often fear leaving their spouse because they don’t think they’ll find love again and they don’t want to be alone. But if your marriage is unhappy, staying isn’t the best option for you.

If you feel you are staying because you “have to” and not because you “want to,” your marriage is in trouble (if not over). 

A happy marriage is one where you choose to stay, not because of fear, but because of the freedom and connection it offers you. 

3. There’s a Thorn in the Side

Serious issues such as cheating, crime, child-rearing opinions, and addiction can all contribute to a serious problem that simply can’t be fixed.

These problems become a constant thorn in the side of your marriage, leading to divorce since there’s no way to fix it.  

Addiction is one example where the addicted partner can’t work on the marriage until they have worked through their own problems, and this means the marriage is doomed until the thorn is pulled.

4. Separate Ways

A marriage is between two partners who face the same direction. When your partner has turned away or you no longer want to walk their road, you head toward separation.

Often, this happens when life changes kick in, such as when you and your partner suddenly have different views following your kids growing up and moving out. 

Other reasons why you may go your separate ways include sudden differences in political views, a lack of connection, and common values no longer being common.

5. You No Longer Try

There’s a moment in any failing marriage that you realize that you no longer want to try and fix or save your marriage.

It’s the moment when you stop emotionally treading water and just sink or begin swimming for shore. 

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When your partner gets violent, it’s an immediate sign that the marriage is over. 

You no longer care about your partner, you don’t even want to think of them as your partner, and you’re ready not to be married anymore. 

Alternatively, they may give up, while you’re trying to fix it. Fixing something takes both of you to fix it, and when you’re no longer an “us,” it’s time to end it.

6. There’s Physical Violence

They raised a fist instead of raising an issue to discuss, and all trust was broken the instant that they touched you in violence. When your partner gets violent, it’s an immediate sign that the marriage is over. 

Violence is your exit sign. Enough said (but if you need help, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline on 800-799-7233).

7. There’s No Sexual Intimacy

We’re told by the media that sex is important for a healthy marriage, but in reality, there may be many reasons your sex life has fizzled. And not all these reasons are a cause for your marriage to end, as long as your sexual intimacy remains. 

Your partner (and you) have a physical need to be touched, adored, and loved. Whether there’s actual sex happening or not isn’t as relevant as continued intimacy and closeness.

But when your partner steps out on you, no longer wants to be near you, and they avoid all intimacy or vulnerability, it’s a sign that your relationship is over.  

Not wanting sex isn’t the same as not wanting intimacy. If you no longer want to be with your partner, it’s a sign you need to find out what’s going on, and if there’s no fixing it, divorce may be the only option.

8. You (or They) Aren’t What Was Expected

Imagine buying a new garlic press, only to realize it doesn’t live up to the expected design and functionality.

You’d likely return the product with a “didn’t meet expectations” label. Yet in life, we tend to hang onto our partner when they don't meet our expectations.  

Sure, people aren’t garlic presses, but when you expect something from someone only to realize they don’t come anywhere near to the expectation, you have to wonder whether you are meant to be with them

Being married to someone because of the expectations you have of them isn’t reason enough to stay in a marriage. 

9. I Do Turned to I Hate You

Love can quickly turn to contempt if there’s a cause. Sure, we often hurt our partners with what we do, but when that hurt festers and if the cause of the pain is more than they can forgive, contempt sets in. 

Hating your partner, feeling absolute disgust for them, and resenting their existence in your life is what can really be considered an “irreconcilable difference.” There’s no fixing this, no matter how hard you both try. 

Hell hath no fury like a partner scorned,” so call it quits when you and your partner have contempt for each other. 

10. The Elephant in the Room

A marriage is one of the most essential places to communicate and deal with problems. But in many unhappy marriages there’s no acknowledgment of the issues that are so obvious. Problems become an elephant in the room, which is seen, but never talked about. 

If you or your partner tries to ostrich their way through the marriage, it’s a sign that you need to get those divorce papers ready.

Burying your head in the sand isn’t any way to deal with marital problems, and it can signal that your partner isn’t right for you if your partner ignores the problems.  

Alternatively, if you have the same fight over and over without any sign of improvement, it can also signal that there’s an inability to change. Moving on is all that remains.

11. They Don’t See You

Our spouse is supposed to see us. They are in a relationship with us, and if they can’t see your vulnerabilities and support you through life’s challenges, then you are rowing alone on that boat. 

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When you no longer know why you want to stay and you can’t think of a single good reason to stay, your marriage is over.

A relationship that’s unsupported because your partner no longer sees you and doesn't understand you (if they ever did) is doomed to failure. The partner who feels unseen is likely to step outside the marriage to get emotional validation, which leads to affairs.  

12. No Give and Take

Do you or your partner always have to be right? When you make decisions, do you give and take, letting both partners lead? Marriage isn’t about one spouse leading while the other always follows. Compromise is important as it makes you both feel valued and seen.

This means that you and your spouse need to help carry the load, share responsibilities, and negotiate for what you want. If no negotiation is possible, it means the marriage is inflexible, and it’s doomed to failure.  

13. Why Stay?

When you wake up one morning and realize you don’t know why you and your partner are together it may be a sign you need to really look at your marriage.

Marriage isn’t the high fiber granola you eat each morning (coz it’s good for you). There has to be substance and cause for being with your spouse. 

When you no longer know why you want to stay and you can’t think of a single good reason to stay, your marriage is over.

Final Thoughts about Signs Your Marriage Is Over 

When your “I dos” become “I don’ts” (for whatever reason), your marriage is in trouble and may be over.

Some of the most common signs that your marriage is ending include a lack of intimacy, feeling like you have to stay and be married to your spouse, experiencing problems like addiction, cheating, and differences in values, and abuse

Try to objectively evaluate your marriage and tick off which of the signs your marriage is over resonates with you.

Ask yourself whether you can and want to save your marriage and make sure your partner is on the same page before you put in the blood, sweat, and tears. 

Otherwise, you know what you have to do … discuss ending your union with your spouse. 

In an unhappy marriage, it’s common for you to feel like you hate your husband or that he doesn’t value you. Those can also be signs that your marriage is on the rocks.

And if you want more articles about marriage, be sure to check out these blog posts:

signs your marriage is over | marriage | divorce
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