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.
Your marriage is most likely not over and completely recoverable.

It may feel like if you take one more step in any direction, your marriage will only get worse. But the truth is, the signs that your marriage is truly over are very few. Most of them are simply warning signs to take action and are rarely terminal. There is a lot you can do to improve your marriage.

We did some research and found that the internet is full of articles giving terrible marriage advice!

We compiled a list of the top 13 marriage symptoms that many marriage “experts” suggest are signs your marriage is over. We will discuss 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 signs from popular marriage “help” websites:

1. Fantasizing about leaving…. recoverable.

Everyone fantasizes about “solving” their problems by running away, such as 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, the marriage has a high probability of recovery. Yes, your marriage can be turned around, even solely by your individual efforts. 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 don’t happen for no reason. 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 as you once did. 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 behaved how 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 just bring down your marriage. Contrary to popular belief, venting is not beneficial to your marriage, friendships, or any other relationship.

4. One of you gets defensive…. recoverable.

It’s very common for people to get defensive, especially when they feel like they are being attacked, called out, or verbally brutalized. And what causes that feeling could be 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 when you know you haven’t found the right way to say something; it can wait. Look out for topics they are sensitive to. 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 brain 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 always expressing love in your communication, this will go very far in improving your marital relationship. They will definitely notice this kind of change, and we often see the other spouse wanting to learn what you are doing differently.

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

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

Our Complete Marriage System is fairly unique in addressing this particular issue. When you individually take the right steps, even by yourself, 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 when the 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 someone is better at building bridges than the other. It doesn’t matter. The goal isn’t an equal amount of effort. The goal is a built bridge or a happy marriage.

6. You have a difference in sex drives, or 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 infidelity is still recoverable. 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 over-familiarity or taking each other for granted, poor communication, and a business mindset or keeping score. If you want the marriage to be happy, the reasons why 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 connection sex can bring). So it may have been an outlet to get away from the problems and lack of affection at home. But he still loves his wife.

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 a great love and connection.

When a woman cheats, usually she 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. Like his sports, or the important interactions in her world. Why did you stop being considerate in this way? When did interest turn into annoyance?

You can start again 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 as many of our clients had never previously learned how to change their habits or to control their minds and emotions. That’s fine, but no matter how it gets done, just do it.

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. Sure the topics of discussion change, and you don’t have to do everything together, but you need to be interested.

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 under the effects of drugs and 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 must change your expectations if you want a happy marriage.

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

It takes two to fight. Criticism and blame are the choices you make every time you open your mouth.

If you want a happy marriage, then eliminate all fighting, criticism, judgment, and blame. When you want to say something hurtful, just stop. Keep your mouth shut. If your emotions are raging, let them rage. Excuse yourself to 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. A far easier place to live is where you learn about what causes a fight, and how to manage your emotions. It’s much more enjoyable to learn how to get 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 at them, close your heart, withdraw your love, or lash out at them? No, of course not. So why not do the same for your spouse, especially knowing 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 never gets upset or off balance, no matter how irritated you are. They aren’t a doormat. But they won’t fight. 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, you can learn to become a peaceful person, adept at managing your emotions. You can’t 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 on some of those websites. 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 helping marriages 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 marriage as a whole. It is the wrong tool for the job.

None of these signs are fatal to your marriage in most cases. But 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 infidelity or separation, or the relationship just got stale and boring. But 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; though with 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 Will Be 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 your communication.
  • Start developing new habits of positive communication, appreciation, and love.
  • Don’t look for your spouse to do 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 we mentioned before, you might need help to do stick with them. Many of our clients had never previously 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! Even if your spouse starts it, you’ll sidestep the argument 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, close down their hearts, and the root causes are never addressed. You’ll need to keep the counselor on speed dial for every issue the comes up.

What works permanently is educating you on the do’s and don’ts so you can navigate your relationship through life yourself. 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 improving 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 and hope 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, like treating your spouse how you did when you were dating, always being kind and sweet to them, and focusing on the underlying dynamics of your marriage, rather than 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.

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