Are you looking for the signs your marriage is over? It’s heartbreaking, but you need to know if you’re two steps away from divorce.
Here are both the major red flags and subtle signs your marriage may be over:
- Your relationship lacks love, emotional and physical intimacy
- One of you continuously cheats, lies or hides things
- You’ve lost respect for one another and treat each other poorly
- You’re nice, but you don’t enjoy being together
- You have completely different goals and visions for the future
- You don’t resolve conflict or support each other
- The home environment is toxic for your family and children
If you’re seeing these signs, you may still be able to get your marriage back. But you have to change your negative relationship patterns now.
Don’t worry if your partner isn’t willing to change yet. It just takes one spouse to stop engaging in the negative and start creating constructive patterns.
If you’re up to the task, we recommend Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage Program.
Click the link above if you’re interested, or keep reading for the red flags your marriage is ending—and ultimately, what to do about it.
Table of Contents
Signs Your Marriage Is Over
1. No physical intimacy
When was the last time you and your spouse had sex?
If there’s no physical intimacy or affection between you, it’s a big sign something is going on.
Your relationship has changed, and now you’re more like roommates than lovers.
The problem with dwindling physical intimacy is that it often becomes a pattern that at least one spouse seems capable of ignoring.
Meanwhile, the other spouse may suffer greatly, but they’re too afraid to rock the boat.
Or maybe, both parties are completely uninterested in sex, affection or intimacy.
If a couple happens to agree on this, then that may work for them.
But if it’s something that’s happened gradually and it’s a source of unfulfilled desires, the marriage may be in trouble.
Read Next: How to Save Your Marriage
2. Lack of respect between you and your spouse
A lack of respect is a huge sign your marriage is at its end.
This can show up in various ways, such as:
- Your partner not respecting your boundaries
- Name calling
- Using your fears against you
- Not listening or giving each other the time of day
- Not bothering to be polite or kind
When you lose basic respect for each other, contempt grows.
So you treat each other poorly.
And the longer you’ve been this way with each other, the harder it is to come back from.
3. There’s someone else
Are you having an emotional or physical affair?
Either is a red flag that your marriage is troubled.
When we cheat, there’s typically something missing in the relationship.
So we look elsewhere.
Maybe we’re seeking emotional comfort, validation or companionship we’re not getting at home.
Even if you’re telling yourself you’ll stop, you know you won’t because it feels too good to stop.
If you were to have a shot at saving the marriage, you would need to ‘fess up and look at the root issue behind the straying.
But if that doesn’t appeal to you, consider whether you’re buying yourself time before you decide to call it quits.
Read Also: How to Survive a Loveless Marriage
4. You’ve considered divorce
How many times have you thought about divorce in the last few months?
If the “D word” pops into your mind (or out of your mouth) whenever there’s a flair-up of tempers, you may be losing your will to continue your relationship.
Subconsciously, you’re preparing yourself for an actual divorce.
5. Marriage counseling hasn’t helped
Many couples go to a marriage and family therapist as a last resort before they decide to throw in the towel.
Some couples succeed—but many do not.
There’s no time limit for when to say enough is enough when you’re in couples therapy together.
But if months are going by, there’s no change and things are still spiraling downward?
It could be a red flag that no amount of marital therapy is going to keep you together.
6. You can’t agree on how to handle finances
Cheating is the number one cause of divorce, but financial problems are number two.
Perhaps you and your spouse can’t agree on how to split funds between saving and spending. So one person keeps running up a tab while the other keeps trying to rein it in.
Financial infidelity is a huge problem in many marriages. It happens when one partner hides their spending habits or debt from the other.
As Pew Research Center finds, money and the affordability of things tops the charts on what people are most concerned about.
So it’s not exactly surprising when financial rifts are the death knell of a marriage.
7. You’ve become different people
Sometimes people grow apart, even in a healthy relationship.
They come to find that they no longer share common interests or values.
Note, this is more than just having different hobbies.
It’s about not being able to relate to each other due to incompatible morals, beliefs and world views.
8. You or your partner no longer wants to try
If one of you always pushes back on the other person’s effort, you’ll grow tired of it.
It doesn’t mean any effort at all to save a marriage is wasted.
The fact is, it only takes one motivated partner to disengage from destructive behaviors and begin shifting the dynamics.
But they’re not dragging their partner kicking and screaming to a marriage counselor or through spending time together.
This can sometimes drive a deeper wedge between couples. And eventually, you’ll both stop trying.
If you want to know more about making the right kinds of efforts, check out Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage program.
9. You lead separate lives
Are you rarely in the same room together?
It can start by spending less and less time together.
Maybe one spouse spends all their time in the garage or the den.
Eventually, you become ships passing in the night, carrying on completely separate lives with opposite schedules.
Whether you’re purposely avoiding each other or having opposite schedules has driven you apart, it may be one of the subtle signs your marriage is nearing the end.
10. There’s no support in the relationship
A lack of support in a marriage puts it in serious danger.
Carnegie Mellon University psychologists found that spouses who felt supported in taking on challenges were happier and had better relationships as a result.
Our partners’ support is vital to our personal growth and to the health of our relationships.
Without it, partners feel like they’re more or less on their own.
Which, unsurprisingly, leads to the breakdown of the relationship.
11. Conflict never gets resolved
This is a big issue for many couples.
If conflict never has an actual resolution, it will eat away at you.
It encourages a lack of accountability and breeds more fighting.
And the more you fight, the better you get at it. And that’s bad.
If you never apologize, listen to each other or come back together to talk things out peaceably and respectfully, the marriage is not likely to survive.
12. Domestic violence
Any instance of violence, whether physical, sexual or verbal threats, means that your relationship is unhealthy and you need to get out of it.
Do not make the mistake of thinking it was a one-time occurrence—violence tends to escalate.
If you’ve experienced violence in your relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline immediately at 800-799-7233.
13. You and your spouse are too stubborn to compromise
Compromise is a cornerstone of a healthy marriage.
However, that doesn’t mean compromise is easy.
For the relationship to function, both parties have to make sacrifices at times.
In theory, this is logical and sensible.
But in practice, a lot of people have a hard time knowing when to draw lines and enforce boundaries, and when to let go.
If you or your partner refuses to give any leeway, you have to ask yourselves whether you really want to be in a marriage.
14. You realize you want different things
This is a very difficult thing to deal with in a marriage.
Often, we still love our spouses, but our goals and desires don’t fit together.
Say you want kids and your partner doesn’t.
If it’s a no-go for them, but being childless is a deal-breaker for you, you may be tempted to wait around and see if they change their mind.
But sacrificing something you want at the very core of your being is likely to make you resentful of your spouse.
So as gut-wrenching as it is, it may be time to consider ending the relationship.
15. You’re in a loveless marriage
It can be confusing, but many couples can’t pinpoint when they ended up in loveless marriages.
They don’t kiss or show any affection. They don’t pay attention to each other.
And they don’t care what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Sometimes couples can struggle with this because they still love their spouse, but they’re not in love with them.
To which we would say, falling in and out of love with your spouse is normal.
But if you simply don’t have any loving feelings for each other anymore, that’s another story.
Related Reading: How to Survive a Loveless Marriage
16. Your partner cheats and won’t stop
About 46% of respondents in a recent Health Testing Centers survey said they’d cheated on a partner before.
According to the same survey, 30% of couples tried to work things out, but ultimately broke up.
In fact, only 15.6 of couples stayed together successfully after the infidelity came to light.
Of those who stayed together, rules were implemented to build trust and ensure the cheating didn’t happen again.
Because ultimately, one partner may find it in their hearts to forgive a one-time offense.
But if you can’t trust your partner to be faithful to you, that’s almost always the end of your relationship.
17. You’re tempted to have an affair
Do you have sexual fantasies or romantic thoughts about a friend? Or someone at the office?
It’s actually fairly common.
And a recent survey shows that well over half of spouses who have sex outside of their marriages do so with someone they’re close to, like a friend or coworker.
Even if you don’t think you’d act on it, it’s a sign if you have a stronger connection with someone else.
18. Envisioning your spouse moving on doesn’t bother you
Here’s a test you can give yourself to see if your marriage is really over.
Imagine that you and your husband or wife have split up.
Maybe you’ve found a new partner, but so have they.
Does that bother you?
If so, you may not be ready to end your marriage just yet.
But if you have absolutely no reaction to the image of your spouse being with someone else, that’s a difficult sign to ignore.
19. You can’t stop criticizing your partner
Does every little thing your partner does stress you out?
If you’re never satisfied with your partner, you’ll need to dig down deep.
It may be a sign your marriage has bigger problems.
If you suffer from issues of control, insecurity or a lack of fulfillment and you’re taking it out on your spouse, you need to tackle them.
And if you’re not willing to do that, your marriage will likely end sooner or later when your spouse decides they’ve had enough.
20. You simply tolerate each other
Maybe you’re courteous and polite to each other.
But in reality, you don’t enjoy being around each other.
The truth is that you’re simply tolerating each other.
Maybe once, your spouse’s quirks were charming to you. But now they’re just irritating.
Putting up with your spouse is not a happy place for either you or your spouse to be in.
If marriage for you now simply means tolerance of each other and you want something more, it may be time to think about what a future without each other might look like.
21. You hate holidays because it means family time
When your marriage has become a mere performance, the holidays may be particularly difficult for you.
Holidays are when we get together with family, spend significant time with them and express love and gratitude.
So what if that feels like a lie to you, but you do it anyway?
Ask yourself who you put on the performance for.
If it’s not for your kids and it’s not for you, you have to consider whether it’s truly worth it in the long run.
22. You can’t even fake it
On the other hand, if you can’t even “fake it ’til you make it” anymore, you may already be pulling away from your unhappy relationship.
Maybe friends and family members are noticing and growing increasingly concerned as they see you struggling.
If you’ve brushed their concerns aside before, it may be time to take them more seriously.
23. You don’t argue anymore
Some people assume it’s constant bickering and arguing that signals the end of a marriage.
But actually, not arguing at all can be just as toxic.
Repressing anger doesn’t make it go away. And simply not caring enough to bother with each other shows you are starting to detach.
Either way, it’s equally bad news for your emotional connection.
Read Also: How to Practice Detachment in Marriage
24. Or you always have the same fight
On the other hand, you may be fighting about the same thing over and over again.
This could be a sign that there’s one big issue hurting your marriage.
Or it could be a sign that your wants or your values really are too different to find a compromise at this point.
Some couples fight about parenting choices, or where they see themselves in the future.
If this one sticking point in your marriage is too big to overcome, you may either need to get a family therapist to help you communicate and solve it—
Or consider whether you can stay together.
25. You don’t feel anything anymore
Just being numb to your spouse is not a good sign.
It’s normal to feel upset or angry with your spouse sometimes, but being completely indifferent to them is something else entirely.
You don’t feel angry with your spouse, but you also don’t share their joy or pain.
If you never empathize with them and you turn to stone when they hug you, yet you’re emotionally responsive to other people?
It’s possible you’re beyond losing interest in your spouse.
26. You and your partner aren’t honest with each other
Are you keeping secrets from each other?
If you don’t feel the need to be upfront and open with each other, you’re going to have a difficult time keeping your relationship healthy.
We’re all allowed to have privacy in our marriages.
But there’s a definite line between privacy and trying to keep our spouses in the dark so we feel we can do what we really want to do.
27. The relationship has become a source of anxiety
Do you dread coming home?
Does the thought of seeing your spouse and spending time with them put you on edge?
If it’s been that way for a long time, it may be a sign to start questioning whether the marriage is worth it to you.
We all get married with the intention of being happy together.
And happiness—along with the full spectrum of emotions—does come and go, regardless of whether you’re married or not.
But if the marriage itself is ruining your peace of mind, it can be a sign that your marriage is not healthy.
28. Staying together is toxic for the kids
Children’s safety and wellbeing come first.
If you and your spouse are creating a toxic environment by always fighting or treating each other coldly or disrespectfully, that’s a very good reason to consider divorce.
What about staying together for the kids, you might ask?
Some couples do this successfully, even if they don’t love each other anymore.
But kids will be much happier with two divorced parents if both parents are happy and able to give them love and stability.
The Biggest Sign Your Marriage Is Over: You Want It to Be
At the end of the day, only you can know what’s best for you in your marriage.
Which leads us to our top sign that your marriage is over: you want it to be.
You’ve done everything, tried everything, and your greatest wish is to get divorced.
Of course, you can swallow that feeling down and continue on even in a bad marriage.
You always have the choice.
But this also underscores the most important lesson here: nobody can tell you exactly when that moment is that your marriage is over.
You’ll know when you’ve had enough, and you’ll do what you need to do for you and your family.
Read Also: When Is Enough Enough in a Marriage?
Second biggest sign: Your spouse wants a divorce
Of course, there are two people in a marriage—so that means both parties need to be willing to stay for a marriage to continue.
But if your spouse wants a divorce, that’s one of the biggest signs your marriage has run its course.
Sometimes spouses are able to change their partners’ minds.
But you can’t run from your partner’s decision forever if they’re not changing theirs.
Think about whether you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you.
If they’re set on divorce no matter what you’ve tried, you will have to accept that your marriage is over.
Can I Bring My Marriage Back from the Brink?
Yes, even in the darkest of times, you have a shot at saving your marriage.
But you should understand, there is no marriage-saving formula you can “plug in” and expect a 100% success rate.
And anyone who tries to sell that idea is not being honest.
But there are those couples who do fight for their marriages and win.
They’re the ones willing to change their own unhealthy perceptions, communicate openly and do the hard work of changing and evolving.
You will need to:
- Learn effective communication
- Identify your unhealthy relationship patterns so that you can stop fights at the source
- Consciously change the way you relate to your spouse
- Take responsibility and work on yourself and your own problems
- Ask your spouse what they need to feel loved, appreciated and fulfilled
- Make regular time to talk to each other
- Stop constantly reacting and instead choose to take action that nurtures your spouse’s needs and your relationship
If you need some help stopping the reactivity and taking action, there are guides like Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage that are designed to empower you even if you don’t feel like your spouse wants to try anymore.
No matter what you decide, you will need to commit to a course of action.
Don’t sit around waiting for something to change.
(A caveat: If you’ve been subjected to domestic violence, that is not an instance where you can save your marriage. Violence is never excusable, and it shouldn’t be looked at as a problem to “fix.”)
You can use the signs listed in this article to help you assess whether you may be ready to consider divorce.
But your marriage is your own, and nobody else can tell you when it’s time to move on.
A healthy marriage has far better odds of succeeding than a bad one.
And sometimes, issues can prompt you to fix your marriage rather than give up.
But if you’re ready for your marriage to end, don’t spend too much time doubting yourself.
Do what you believe in your heart is best.
What things destroy a marriage?
Here are common issues that destroy a marriage:
- Financial infidelity
- Lack of respect
- Lack of compromise
- No intimacy
- Loss of love
- Not agreeing about having or raising children
- Substance abuse
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Lack of communication
- Unrealistic expectations
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can get immediate, confidential help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
What are the signs of a toxic marriage?
- Your spouse puts you down
- Your spouse is violent
- You cheat on each other
- Your children are showing signs of distress from home life
- One of you just wants to control the other
- You don’t communicate, so negative thoughts fester
- All you do is fight and feel bad in your relationship
How to tell your husband the marriage is over
If it’s come to that point and you need to tell your husband you want a divorce, here’s what to do:
- Don’t blindside him – Ask him if he can set aside a time to talk.
- Prepare what you’ll say in advance – Don’t wing it to try to speak from the heart and soften the blow.
- Gently explain – Tell your husband that you feel the relationship has reached its end and you want a divorce. Give well thought-out reasons for ending your unhappy marriage.
- Acknowledge the good – Let him know that your marriage wasn’t all bad and you have good memories together, too.
- Acknowledge his feelings – Allow him to feel hurt, sad or angry. It’s okay to show empathy.
- Stay calm – Don’t respond to fighting words if your husband gets upset.
- Don’t compromise your decision – And don’t lie to make him feel better if he asks for another chance and you’re not willing to give it.
Signs your marriage is over for him
- He stops showing affection
- He spends all of his free time away from you
- He’s barely spoken a word to you in weeks or months
- He completely closes off emotionally to you
- He’s irritable and you’re constantly walking on eggshells around him
- He criticizes you and all the time about things you have no control over (e.g., the way you look or your personality)
- He doesn’t ask you how your day was, how you feel or what you need
Signs your marriage is over for her
- Nothing you do satisfies her
- She hangs divorce over your head every time you disagree
- She doesn’t want to be physically intimate with you and hasn’t in a long time
- Your touch makes her physically withdraw
- She doesn’t share details of her life with you anymore
- She won’t argue with you, she’ll just shut down
- You’re no longer a partner in her goals and decisions
Stages of a dying marriage
Although stages may vary from couple to couple, here is the general pattern for a marriage on the outs:
- Stage 1: Disillusionment – Someone in the relationship is not happy. They recognize this, but they don’t yet think it’s a fundamental problem with the relationship.
- Stage 2: Loss of Politeness – The unhappy person starts to suspect there’s something wrong in the relationship. As a result, they become increasingly cold, rude or distant.
- Stage 3: Detachment – Now the unhappy spouse detaches from their partner emotionally and, usually, physically.
- Stage 4: Crisis – At this point, the other partner is afraid of losing the relationship and tries to fix it. Unfortunately, their efforts usually push the other partner further away.
- Stage 5: Spouse Leaves – This is the end of the marriage. The unhappy partner moves out, files for divorce, or completely cuts off the relationship while still living together. They have made it clear that they no longer want to be married and have taken steps to ensure that’s the case.
- Stage 6: Moving On – Any hope for reconciliation is gone. The separated or divorced spouses have accepted the end of the marriage and have moved on with their separate lives.