It’s hard to remember a time when your marriage felt like a safe place, and that once-upon-a-time full of love and commitment now seems more like a distant dream than anything else. You’re at the end of your rope and holding on for reasons that are becoming harder and harder to justify each day – but when is enough truly enough? What signs should you be looking for before you close the door on your marriage for good? We took this one to the experts, who revealed the 20 signs that your marriage may be past the point of no return.
Lack of intimacy
Why this could spell divorce: As registered psychologist Nicole McCance puts it: “Life gets busy, but if you find you don’t even notice you aren’t being intimate with your partner, that’s a problem.” A lack of intimacy, both in a physical and emotional sense, can signal a growing indifference or absence of desire in your relationship, both of which can wreak havoc on your marriage.
Communication has broken down
Why this could spell divorce: The key to any healthy relationship is communication. Without it, Alyson Jones explains: “You will not be able to resolve the issues … No communication means no growth or change — and divorce may be the only way to make change happen in your life.”
Loss of self-identity
Why this could spell divorce: Knowing who you are and maintaining a sense of self is vital when trying to successfully function as one half of a couple. If you cannot bring a “whole you” to the table, there’s little hope of succeeding in a partnership. As far as divorce, says Jones, “in making this tough decision you may actually open up the world for both yourself and your partner.” The silver lining? “Sometimes these changes need to occur so you can explore who you are and who you are meant to be.”
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You feel dread around your partner
Why this could spell divorce: Whether you're unhappy with your partner or, as psychologist Nicole McCance notes, if you are simply “happier alone” — feelings of dread should never be ignored. Putting these telltale emotions on the back-burner will only cause them to build up and explode in ways that can only be damaging to your marriage. Choose to face these emotions head-on, whatever the end result.
The relationship has become toxic
Why this could spell divorce: As Jones explains, “if the energy that is created between the two of you is only negative and toxic, it will be toxic to those around you as well.”
There is abuse (of any kind)
Why this could spell divorce: In this scenario, it’s important to be honest with yourself. As psychologist Nicole McCance puts it: “You may be in denial or have hope they will change.” More likely, “if you don’t see it as a problem, it’s unlikely they will.”
If you can relate to the Four Horsemen
Why this could spell divorce: When destructive behaviour embeds itself into your relationship, it can often result in a cycle of negativity between yourself and your partner, doing irreparable damage and leaving you both with mounting resentment.
The trust is gone
Why this could spell divorce: When trust within a marriage is fractured or failing, for any reason, it must be acknowledged and understood on both ends.
Round and round you go…
Why this could spell divorce: “Some relationships form a cycle and the cycle just cannot be broken. If you have tried to communicate … and still find yourself spinning in the same old circle, you may need to get off the hamster wheel.” She continues to insist that “you cannot change that other person, but you can change your circumstances.”
From lovers to friends
Why this could spell divorce: While this scenario, like most on our list, has the potential for resolution if the work is put in, it sometimes happens that this loss of intimacy signals a relationship has come to its end. While a solid foundation of friendship is vital to any relationship, your role as intimate partners (in both an emotional and physical sense) should always be at the forefront. If you truly feel as though the spark is gone, it’s time to evaluate if your marriage may be past the point of repair.
You feel constricted in your relationship
Why this could spell divorce: “A healthy relationship does not isolate or control what you do … If your partner is controlling you and your other relationships, this is not love or support, this is insecurity and control. This is not a healthy foundation for anything in your life,” says clinical counsellor and family therapist Alyson Jones.
You’re only staying for the kids
Why this could spell divorce: If you think your children are oblivious to everything going on around them, think again. Says author and psychotherapist Vikki Stark, “your children are aware of the tension and it is having an impact on them.” While you may think your sacrifices are in the name of your children’s happiness, you’re only tying them into an unhealthy atmosphere.
You’ve become a sponge
Why this could spell divorce: If you continue to allow your partner’s issues to drain you of your energy, you may just end up losing sight of yourself in the process. “There are times when you have to let go if your own quality of life has become lost in the issues of the other person. You can only change yourself — you cannot ever change another person.”
Someone else is on your mind
Why this could spell divorce: While it’s not uncommon to daydream about life from another perspective — it is unhealthy to feel more invested in your fantasy life than your real one. If you find you need the highlight reel of your daydreams in order to numb feelings of unhappiness with your chosen partner, it may be a sign that you’ve begun to check out of the relationship.
Your relationship has become too much work
Why this could spell divorce: When the work far outweighs the reward, you may find yourself feeling lost in feelings of disappointment and exhaustion in your relationship. If divorce proves to be the right path for you and your partner, steer clear of bad relationship advice and, as Jones suggests, leave it to the experts. “Good professionals can guide you in how to best make these changes.”
You’ve already given up
Why this could spell divorce: “We really do only have one life to live,” says Jones, “and once we have given something our best we may need to accept the futilities and change direction.”
You no longer “choose” your partner — and vice versa
Why this could spell divorce: Through all the ups and downs of a marriage, one thing that should remain intact is your commitment to your partner. In the worst of times, the knowledge that you would choose this person all over again will often be the thing that gets you through those rough patches.
You’re holding onto feelings of resentment
Why this could spell divorce: According to psychologist Nicole McCance, if you find “you are resentful about the past and can’t let it go, you may find yourself consistently bringing up past events; unable to enjoy your current life with your partner.”
Fear of change
Why this could spell divorce: “We all fear change and new beginnings,” says therapist Alyson Jones, but “we need to evaluate our fears, acknowledge them and face them. It does not serve us well to hide behind a relationship.” As it comes to starting fresh, Jones says, “As we work through out fears we develop courage … we never knew we had. This can actually lead us to the fulfilled and fascinating life we crave.”
Your needs are not being met
Why this could spell divorce: “You may feel alone and tired of always having to ask for your needs to be met,” notes psychologist Nicole McCance — and this behaviour may leave you feeling neglected and taken advantage of in your marriage — particularly if you are putting in the work to meet your partner’s needs.