13 Signs Your Marriage Is Over, And How To Fix It While You Still Can

Your marriage is most likely not over and completely recoverable.
It’s unlikely that your marriage is over. What is more likely is that it is completely recoverable.

Do you feel like in whichever direction you step, your marriage will only get worse?

It may seem that you have many signs telling you that your marriage is over, but the truth is only a few, rare signs are terminal. Most are simply warning signs, and if you begin taking positive action now, there is still a lot you can do to improve your marriage.

We’ve found that the internet is full of articles giving terrible marriage advice. Since this is what most women read when they are worried about their marriage, we thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of the top 13 signs your marriage is over as suggested by many marriage “experts” and either validate or refute them in this article. Many of the issues brought up are ones we know to be easily recoverable.

Let’s look at the top 13 signs from popular marriage “help” websites:

1. Fantasizing about leaving…. recoverable.

Everyone fantasizes about “solving” their problems by running away, as you would from an unsatisfying job. This might be a reason to quit your job, but not your marriage. Instead, use this situation as a motivation to learn how to make things better at home.

We find, time and again, that when at least one person is willing to put in the effort to make changes, there is a high probability the marriage can be recovered. Yes, your marriage can be turned around, even by your individual efforts alone. This linked article applies to all of the other points below as well.

2. There is more bad than good…. recoverable.

If one knew what specifically caused the bad and what caused the good, one could easily stop the former and do only the latter. Why wouldn’t you want to learn this? Who wants to bounce around in their marriage like a pinball? The bad experiences aren’t random occurrences but happen because of specific, underlying problems. Life is cause and effect and your marriage is no exception.

3. You don’t share your thoughts or feelings…. recoverable.

Are these bogus articles even trying? This is like going to the doctor saying, “Doc, it hurts when I do this: *waves arm*.” Doc says, “Don’t do that. That will be $200.”

If your marriage is on the rocks and you find yourself not sharing your thoughts and feelings as you once did, then start sharing your thoughts and feelings like you once used to. But don’t share anything that will hurt your spouse’s feelings. That is a common mistake people make when they don’t know how to manage their marriage.

Most people would do a lot better in their marriage if they just behaved the way they did when they were dating. Back then, you shared your thoughts and feelings when they were positive, so do that again. Sharing your negative thoughts and feelings is destructive, and will only bring down your marriage. Contrary to popular belief, venting is not beneficial for your marriage, friendships, nor any other relationship.

4. One of you gets defensive…. recoverable.

It’s very common for people to get defensive, especially when they feel that they are being attacked, called out, or verbally brutalized. What causes that feeling could be something as trivial as a reminder that they left towels on the floor, the seat up, or the toothpaste cap off for the 1000th time.

Learning to communicate is a better solution. You should avoid triggering your spouse. Look out for topics they are sensitive to. If you haven’t found the right way to say something; it can wait. Consider how they might receive your communication, and try to find ways to express love when communicating with your spouse.

The real solution is to adjust the trigger in your own mind so that it no longer causes a negative emotional reaction. Highly sensitive triggers are a minor psychological defect. But you cannot tell your spouse to fix their triggers. You can only fix your own. We guarantee you both have them. If you focus on eliminating your triggers, and on always expressing love in your communication, you will go very far in improving your marital relationship. They will definitely notice this kind of positive change in you, and we often see the other spouse wanting to learn what you are doing differently now.

5. You feel alone in fixing your marriage…. recoverable.

Marriages are never equal per se. It’s rare for both partners to put an equal amount of effort into a marriage at the same time. Expectations to the contrary are likely to make you very unhappy. One of you is almost always putting in more effort at any given time, but who and how it’s done changes.

Our Complete Marriage System is unique in addressing this particular issue. When you individually take the right steps, even when you do it on your own, your spouse might not say or do anything different right away, but they will definitely notice and your marriage will change for the better. We help individuals improve their marriage all the time even though their spouse isn’t interested in participating.

Building a marriage is like building a bridge from two sides of a river. It’s a bridge between souls. If only one side builds the bridge, it still gets built and the connection is made. Maybe one of you is better at building bridges than the other. It doesn’t matter. The goal isn’t an equal amount of effort. The goal is to finish the bridge and have a happy marriage.

6. You have a difference in sex drives, or there is a lack of physical intimacy…. recoverable.

As with the last answer, it’s impossible to always have the same level of sexual drive. However, if there is a definite lack of physical intimacy, there is usually an underlying cause. It may be because one person feels unloved or unappreciated. A lack of intimacy is just a symptom of a broader, underlying problem. Address the root cause and this symptom will disappear, along with many others.

7. There has been infidelity, with or without remorse….  usually recoverable.

This is a big issue for many couples because loyalty is a very reasonable expectation in marriage. But the reality is that a marriage is still recoverable after infidelity has taken place. Let’s put hurt, blame, and everything else aside and concentrate on how to not only recover the marriage but rebuild it so this never happens again.

Infidelity is a symptom of broader, underlying problems. In my books and courses, I talk about The Three Killers of Marriage, and infidelity is not even on the list. What is on the list are 1) over-familiarity or taking each other for granted, 2) poor communication and 3) a business mindset or “keeping score”. If you want your marriage to be happy, the reasons why the infidelity occurred need to be addressed, not the infidelity itself.

However, infidelity is rarely recoverable when it is actually a step taken by a wife who has decided to move on.

When men cheat, it’s often “just sex” in their minds (men are generally not concerned about the true intimate connection sex can bring). So it may have been an outlet for the strong demands of his body while getting away from the problems and lack of affection at home. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his wife, or that he pursued this action to intentionally hurt her.

Although we in no way condone this obvious transgression, when a wife forgives him, and the right changes are made, the marriage can be renewed and still achieve great love and heart connection.

When a woman cheats, she often has already left the relationship with her heart. Though not impossible, we have never seen these cases recover.

8. Lack of respect, listening, caring…. recoverable.

This comes down to your choice. When you were dating, you chose to respect him or her, to listen to her, to care about the things he was interested in, even if you were not. Why did you stop being considerate in this way? When did interest turn into annoyance?

You can improve your marriage by choosing to care. For starters, recall how you behaved when you were dating and do that again. Remember the reasons why you married him or her and see that person again. Stop getting sidetracked by flaws. Stop being critical, even in your thoughts. You might need help to do this. We have noticed that many of our clients had previously never learned how to change their habits or to control their minds and emotions. Our system teaches how and we can help you with that if desired. No matter how you learn, it is critically important for the health of your marriage.

Do not look for your spouse to make the first move. Review the third killer of marriage I mentioned above. If you refuse to care until they care first, your marriage will continue to have problems until one of you finally throws in the towel. That is a true sign your marriage is over. A successful marriage is selfless, not selfish.

Caring for someone isn’t automatic. It’s a choice you make. Why did you choose to marry them? Why did you vow to love them without condition for the rest of your life? Remember and focus on those reasons again. The topics of discussion change and you don’t have to do everything together, but you need to be interested in their life.

9. Drug addictions…. often recoverable.

Recoverable, though professional help may be needed to address the addictions. Our system definitely helps with the marriage, but both of you face an additional burden while using drugs or alcohol. We teach our clients about controlling the mind, emotions, and habits, but if the mind is weakened by drug or alcohol abuse, it makes everything much more difficult. Please get professional help for you or your spouse. And remember the “in sickness and in health” part of your vows.

10. There are things you can’t change…. recoverable.

Really? Come on. Life is full of things we can’t change. Your spouse is one of them. They aren’t perfect. You married them anyway. Not to fix them, but to love them.

You can change yourself. That’s it. You aren’t perfect either, and the more you focus on improving the one thing you can change, yourself, the more you will get out of your marriage.

You may not have realized it, but when you said your vows you promised to love your spouse unconditionally. That means whether they are nice to you or not. And you likely did not realize that your love was not then and is not now unconditional.

The purpose of marriage is to learn how to love another unconditionally.

That means you express your love regardless of how they behave, regardless of if they return that love, regardless of if they change or not. Just as you love your children, in spite of their bad behavior.

If you can do it with your children, you can do it with your spouse. However, it takes a lot of self-control over your habits and emotions just to achieve level 1. You have enough work to do to improve yourself that it is ridiculous to look at others.

The joy in marriage comes from the love you give, not what you receive. Just as with being a parent. There is no limit to the joy you can experience by loving your spouse. Your marriage can and should be getting better every day. That joy comes from you perfecting your love, not from you changing them into something they’re not.

11. Constant fighting, criticism, blame…. recoverable.

It takes two to fight. Expressing criticism and blame or love is a choice you make every time you open your mouth.

If you want a happy marriage, then eliminate all arguing, criticism, judgment, and blame. When you want to say something hurtful, just stop. Keep your mouth shut. If your emotions are raging, then let them rage. Excuse yourself and go calm down in the bathroom, then come back in a peaceful and loving place.

Venting negative emotion is destructive. Don’t allow your marriage to be damaged because you couldn’t control yourself.

Controlling your mouth is just the first step though. Life becomes much easier once you learn how to manage your emotions. Your potential is getting so good at managing your emotions that even when your spouse is mean or rude it doesn’t have any impact on your emotional state.

When your children are selfish and rude, do you get upset with them? Do you close your heart, withdraw your love, give them the silent treatment, or lash out at them? No, of course not. So why not do the same for your spouse, especially knowing that it will dramatically improve your marriage?

The reason you don’t is your ego, which blocks Love. Instead, sacrifice your ego to Love and see what impact it has on your spouse.

Imagine living with someone who is constantly angry, short-fused, critical, and judgmental. Would this person have an impact on you?

Now imagine living with someone who doesn’t ever get upset or off balance, no matter how irritated you are. They aren’t being a doormat, but they won’t engage in fights or arguments. They never judge or criticize. Insults roll off like water off a duck’s back. They always have a smile for you and communicate pleasantly and lovingly. Do you think this person would have an impact on you? It would be pretty hard to stay mad at them, right?

You can become that person. Even if your spouse acts insultingly, and you are constantly triggered now, you can learn to become a peaceful person. You can disable your triggers and become adept at managing your emotions. You cannot control or change your spouse, but do you see how if you become more peaceful and refuse to fight, that it will invariably have a profound impact on your spouse, marriage, and family?

12. Physical abuse…. sometimes recoverable.

You should get away from any abuser who endangers you or your children. We have had people share that it’s an acceptable part of their culture for a man to strike his wife or daughters. We vehemently disagree.

However, we have seen people change and marriages recover. In many cases, abuse is the result of substance use, so please see our response on drugs and alcohol above. This is not an easy topic and our strong recommendation is to first ensure that you and your children are safe before looking at recovery options.

 

And finally, our favorite misguided sign that your marriage is over:

13. Therapy isn’t working…. easily recoverable.

Come on!

It is laughable that this would even make the list from some of those marriage “experts”. Ineffective counselors routinely blame clients and their marriage, instead of their own methodology.

Traditional marriage counseling is based on psychotherapy and has been around for 100 years. Since that time, the divorce rate has increased by 300%! (From 15% to 50% and more.)

Psychologists have no business trying to help people with marital problems, and their results speak for themselves. Some therapists do great work helping individuals with personal issues, but the methods used by the psychological community are simply inadequate for the dynamics between a couple and a marriage as a whole. It is the wrong tool for the job.

In most cases, none of the above signs are fatal to your marriage. They are warning signs that indicate you need to take action to improve your marriage while you still can.

How To Use These Warning Signs

Let’s be honest, the big issues in your marriage did not suddenly appear one day. Both of you damaged your relationship by unknowingly introducing toxins of anger, criticism, saying things you shouldn’t have said, having unreasonable expectations of each other, being disrespectful, taking each other for granted, being mean to each other, and so on.

All of these daily little issues have built up over time until something big happened like one of you cheated on the other, one asked for a separation or divorce, or perhaps all the magic disappeared from the relationship and it just got stale and boring. The infidelity or separation was NOT the cause! They are only symptoms.

Treat these warnings as a wake-up call, like you would with heart pain. Do nothing and you could die, but if you go see a doctor, you’ll likely be fine if you make the necessary changes to your lifestyle.

It’s the same with marriage. You got a wake-up call and have come to the marriage recovery specialists. If you do nothing, your marriage will fail, but if you start changing your behavior, then your marriage will not only recover, it will be the best it has ever been.

The Steps to Recovery

Your marriage will be so happy

Your Marriage Can Become So Happy

First, forget all of the past mistakes you both have made. We know it’s hard from where you are now but think only about creating a marriage that lasts the rest of your lives because you are both enjoying it so much. To make this a reality, there are some basic changes you MUST make:

  • Stop fighting, arguing, bickering, and being mean.
  • Stop reacting negatively to everything they say or do.
  • Stop taking each other for granted.
  • Start appreciating your spouse and what they do for you.
  • Start expressing love for them in all of your communication.
  • Start developing new habits of positive communication, appreciation, and love.
  • Don’t look for your spouse to follow any of these points. You adhere to every single one, out of love, and without any expectation.

These steps are just the tip of the iceberg and are not as hard as you think. Once you develop the habits, they become second nature. Though, as mentioned before, you might need help to stick with them. Many of our clients had previously never learned how to change their habits or to control their minds and emotions.

It’s OK that you didn’t know better before, but now that you do, it’s time to take action.

We understand that when you’re in the heat of a fight the last thing you want to do is give up and “lose”. But once you have shifted to an “I want to be happy” mindset, you won’t want to fight, ever again! Even if your spouse starts an argument, you’ll sidestep it and maintain harmony and love.

When marriage is understood well, it brings happiness automatically.

Our approach is founded on practical education. Once you start seeing for yourself how destructive your bad habits are to your marriage, you’ll stop them very quickly. We teach you exactly how to communicate effectively with your spouse, how to treat them so they feel appreciated and loved, how to manage your emotions and develop new habits of happiness and expressing love. Then we guide you through the steps to create the joyous life you signed up for when you got married. That’s the best part: finding joy in marriage.

A traditional marriage counselor typically begins by focusing on your current issues – the symptoms: why someone cheated, lied, won’t be intimate, etc. For nearly every couple, that method never works and is a complete waste of time. It just extends the agony as both individuals blame the other and close their hearts, while the root causes are never addressed. You’ll need to keep the counselor on speed dial for every issue that comes up.

What works permanently is educating you on the do’s and don’ts so you can navigate your relationship through life. Anytime a warning sign pops up, you’ll be able to address the issue quickly and efficiently.

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs in your marriage, then get our Complete Marriage System right away and start making improvements while you still can. Our system comes with a 90-day guarantee, so it’s well worth a shot. We make it easy, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your marriage can be healed. You can also read through our client reviews or frequently asked questions from women and men.

Whatever you do, please take action. Don’t sit around hoping it will get better by doing nothing. It won’t. You know it won’t. Doing nothing or talking it over with friends who are divorced or unhappy in their marriages won’t put you on the right track. What will help are the ideas presented in this article, such as treating your spouse the way you did when you were dating, always being kind and sweet to them, and focusing on the underlying dynamics of your marriage, rather than on the surface level flaws and mistakes.

Don’t suffer any longer. Start rebuilding a happy marriage today.

Paul Friedman
Paul Friedman
Founder, The Marriage Foundation
Paul devised an entirely new approach to marriage that empowers individuals to finally understand and cultivate expanding happiness and love in their marriages.

He has written two books, produced several video educational programs, regularly speaks on marriage, and founded The Marriage Foundation as a non-profit organization.

Our mission is to end divorce by spreading Paul's revolutionary marriage system around the world. We have helped thousands of individuals and couples for nearly 20 years and in over 45 countries.

24 thoughts on “13 Signs Your Marriage Is Over, And How To Fix It While You Still Can

  1. Rebecca Basurto Reply

    got me to stop and think about the entire picture and gave me hope

  2. Greg Jones Reply

    I am glad that I found this article. Briliantly and thoughtfully constructed message of hope. I would love to see us recover from our mutual pain. Thank you.

  3. Kelly Thorpe Reply

    Wow it makes so.much sense to me now. Im the one being judgemental, angry and criticise.
    My husband barly raises his voice let alone anything else.
    Mabey my behaviour is pushing him away. Im jealous of his past ans intend to drag it on throughout our marrige. He must must feel attacked all the time but sometimes I feel he’s no respect for me and I get mad with him .

  4. Kirsten Smith Reply

    Nice ideas to save a marriage but it doesn’t solve my issue. I have no problem being nice to my spouse. We are just fine on our own. The problem is that his parenting style is not the same as mine and its causing problems. We have adult children living with us (21 and 24) and when I ask them to do a chore they often refuse and get lippy, sometimes even swearing at me. They do this because of years of my husband backing them up against me as he works from home and so is here all the time. I get upset then angry they won’t do as I ask (and I certainly don’t ask them to do much as I too would prefer to just finish tasks myself to spare my nerves). I feel disrespected by him in front of my children whom I put a lot of effort into and dearly love. My husband takes the hands off approach and allows them to do whatever they want. He is passive and avoiding which keeps the peace but doesn’t solve anything. What to do?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      I hope Kirsten’s marriage is not failing because of her current issues! So many people are in dire straits and this article was written as an inspiration to gain education and perhaps use our courses to expedite their recovery. Most marriages are in trouble primarily because the couple forgot they got married to be happy and feel love so fall into all sorts of traps of disrespectfulness and insensitivity.
      Kirsten would do better using her free will to encourage love and kindness with her children rather than blame her husband for causing the rifts that exist. Perhaps they would be more open to helping if she and her husband had a hive of happiness. But, it seems they are merely tolerant of each other. That’s no fun.

  5. D Domingo Reply

    My husband told me he wants to do a trial separation because i was neglecting him too much. i was truly heartbroken and it became a wake up call for me to change my ways and ive tried to redeem myself. Ive never been more caring and serving to him like this way before. Surprisingly, we are now more intimate with each other compared to the past few years together. He says he still loves me and cares for me so much. But he is confused because he said He doesn’t know whether to fix our marriage completely or he should still try being single and see whats out there. Now Im at a point of giving up and leaving him as well no matter how much i love him because of this fear of uncertainty with him on how long before he truly realizes what he wants in life. Everyday im scared he would jut leave. And we have 3 kids too confused on whats gonna happen. I wanna be strong and fight for him everytime he says he still loves me. But there is always a “but” after saying it. That he says he needs to know if I truly mean something to him even if we are separated..

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      D has the right idea and has been doing her best. The only problem is that she is trying to do on her own something that took years for me to understand and define. If she takes the course for women, or at the very least read one of my books she will be able to act more effectively. I know it is an expense and money is tight for everyone but it would be well worth it for her to consider.

  6. Some Average Guy Reply

    My wife is a marriage therapist. Not only do I fall into the normal marriage struggles….her profession makes it extra difficult. For one, I am always wrong because either she knows what is best or I am faulty since my parents marriage failed. Two, what is going on with her clients translates into my marriage and my shortcomings as a husband. For example, if she is seeing someone that is cheating then it gives her the idea or she can’t get it out her head that I might be as well. I have been accused of cheating for over a decade, never cheated once. I actually wish I did cheat sometimes just because atleast this punishment would be justified . As you could imagine she does not trust me for a variety reasons she swears are valid and it is a constant interrogation. Three, I am always on the couch….always. We did therapy and when we have tried it as a couple…disastrous. 3 different times we were worse off. I was like going into a boxing ring/fight with your hands tied behind your back.

    I never expected to be in this situation.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      A marriage therapist with a bad marriage is all too common because they look for blame and take sides. I feel sorry for you. Read one of my books and then, when you see the right way, suggest to her that her “way” is stone-age. Maybe she will come over to the good ideas about marriage. Go to themarriagefoundation.org

  7. peanuts Reply

    So, my husband has no interest in anything to do with me anymore, from bedroom to simple dates, to 0 follow through. Put simply I do not mean anything to him any longer. Now I am supposed to continue being the one to trying and allowing complete disrespect when he with without fail, not do what he said/promised?? He may believe what he says when he says it but he has no intentions of anything. I don’t believe what people say, I believe what they do- and without any effort, even though he claims to want to ‘try’ months and nothing. Why does he want to stay married but doesn’t care to spend any time or attention on me?!?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Peanuts is angry! The way she tells it her husband is a disingenuous creep and unless he changes…. ouch!
      How can any man be loving with a woman who is letting him have both barrels while claiming she is an angel and she has had enough?? She calls him he husband as if that means he is obligated. I do not even hear her say she loves the poor guy.

    • Julie Reply

      So I have read through all of these recoverable scenarios and I’m going through a lot of this. I try to give my husband all I have but not only does he take it for granted. He refuses to help me or himself. Honestly I am mentally and emotionally drained.

      He is a lazy individual and I feel tricked at times because when I met him he presented himself as a hardworker. Anytime I ask for his help he is either unwilling or will not perform the task correctly. So I’m not supposed to address him performing a task incorrectly? I’m have to walk on egg shells because he doesn’t know how to take constructive criticism? So I should feel emotionally drained so he can feel good about himself? Make this make sense!!!

      • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

        I am happy to make this make sense. Our approach is to bring into the marriage the one ingredient that nobody really understands which is unconditional love. This does not mean merely acting as if you love him unconditionally, but actually coming from your heart. It takes knowledge and training!
        Will it work? Usually, but nothing is perfect so it is not always going to inspire but when you learn and apply it ALWAYS brings happiness.

      • yelitza Reply

        This right here, I couldn’t agree any more!! I’m taking the chill pill but for him to keep doing the same… I am also drained and feel taken for granted but I have to spare him my feelings so that I won’t lose him. When are we suppose to expect result on their behalf or do we just keep hoping.

  8. yelitza Reply

    I’m trying this. Maybe I’m not understanding your approach but I feel as if I’m chasing him, and that he couldn’t care any less. I want to finish building that bridge even if I do it alone but I’m worried that he won’t be at the end of the bridge waiting for me.

  9. Jason Reply

    My wife says I have taken advantage of her and had not taken her seriously when she was stressing the problems with our marriage. She is absolutely right. I didn’t. Now that she is considering/probably going through with a divorce it woke me up and I want/need her to understand how muchbI love her and cherish her. We have not filed for divorce because she wants to take it slow. We have three young kids and I am scared of whatvthe future holds without her in my life as my wife. How do I start rebuilding for the woman that has meant the most to me?

  10. Jason Reply

    My wife says I have taken advantage of her and had not taken her seriously when she was stressing the problems with our marriage. She is absolutely right. I didn’t. Now that she is considering/probably going through with a divorce it woke me up and I want/need her to understand how much I love her and cherish her. We have not filed for divorce because she wants to take it slow. We have three young kids and I am scared of what the future holds without her in my life as my wife. How do I start rebuilding for the woman that has meant the most to me?

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