It was early in the morning, before her husband even was up for work, that Sandy woke to greet the day. She went out to the kitchen and made some coffee, sat in silence sipping, and stared out the window. So many possibilities seemed available to her in that moment.
Then, as she returned to the master bedroom and passed by her sleeping husband, she felt—nothing. For so many months she had felt anger and frustration for all that had transpired between them. They fought over every little thing. He just didn’t get her at all, or even try. He never wanted to work on their relationship or even spend time together. And their sex life was virtually nonexistent. She had loved him once, but now he seemed like a different person.
That morning she felt surprised that her anger was gone completely, and in its place was just a void. It was in that moment that she knew her life going forward wasn’t going to include her husband. The word “divorce” was no longer scary for Sandy. That’s how she knew her marriage was over.
While it’s normal in marriage to have many ups and downs, if you’re having more downs than up you may still have a fighting chance. A chance to change and grow back together. It’s hard, but it can be done if you are both passionate and willing. It’s when things progress past that—past the fight stage—that divorce is inevitable. You will know your marriage is over if you reach the following conclusions:
The fight is gone
If you or your spouse aren’t even trying to fight for the marriage anymore, then it is likely on the path to being over. If there is even a fighting chance that there is something left to save, either you or your spouse will cry, scream, beg, plead, or do something drastic to try to save it. You could even file for divorce at this point as a last ditch effort to shock each other into turning things around—there is still something to save if that is the case. But when there is more or less calmness, patience, ignoring, not caring, and looking forward to the end, then the end is probably well in sight.
Less fear of the future
When there is something of a relationship left to save, then you or your spouse will be worrisome and fearful about the possibilities. You’ll be concerned over the particulars of how things will be. You care so completely and fully about the relationship that you worry about what hurdles you’ll have to go through to make things better. If the marriage is over, however, then you probably don’t even care what the future holds; you just know it’ll be better than your current situation. And you’re ok with that. Also, if the marriage is over, you’re willing to go through just about anything to get it over and done with.
When you aren’t connected as a couple, it’s obvious in your lack of touch. You don’t have sex, you don’t cuddle, you don’t kiss—you don’t even sit by each other. You probably even avoid brushing up against each other. The passion is gone and it just feels awkward. If this happens, you may try seeking physical intimacy elsewhere, and if you don’t care about the outcome of your actions in a possible affair, then the marriage is most likely reached the point of no return.
Things haven’t changed
When partners are willing to change, then the marriage isn’t over yet. There are still things to try, new methods to approach, new ways of acting to make the relationship better. There is couples therapy, a couples retreat, date nights, many conversations about everything, etc. But if you’ve exhausted every option, tried everything you can think of and more but things haven’t changed, then the marriage is over. If it’s not working despite all of your effort, then things aren’t likely to ever change. You’ll know that it’s time to move on.
Your future doesn’t include your spouse
When we are first married, we can’t imagine our lives without our spouse; in fact we may imagine growing old together. In every scenario of our future lives, our spouse is an integral part. But if things in the relationship have disintegrated enough, then that future view may have changed dramatically. If you if that your future hopes and dreams—such as going on trips, seeing the grandchildren, doing fun things together―no longer include your spouse, then divorce may be in your future. In your mind, you are already picturing what life will be like without them, and that is a good indication that your marriage may be over.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.