Ending a marriage is never an easy decision as there are many factors involved. Each situation is unique, however, there are certain signs that indicate serious problems: disdain, criticism, always being defensive and distancing are a few. Look for these signs, assess your own feelings, and try to identify your reasons for fighting or giving up on the relationship. Another thing that can help with this difficult decision is to seek help and support from family and friends.
Part 1 of 3: Identifying the main signs
Step 1. Look for signs of disdain, such as mockery, coldness or insults
This feeling is usually motivated by intense disgust and disgust and is demonstrated by nonverbal statements or behaviors that attack the other person's self-esteem. As such, it is one of the most serious signs that a marriage is not going well.
- Examples include insults such as "You're a loser," "You disgust me," or "You never do anything right."
- Signs of disdain can also be non-verbal. Turning your face or making mocking noises when the other enters the room, for example.
- A spouse may ask "How was your day?" and the other rolls his eyes, ignores the question, or says, "You don't care."
- Perhaps separation is really the best option if one of you despises the other. However, if both are willing to fight for marriage, couple therapy can help them create a more respectful environment.
Step 2. Criticism is a big clue
All couples have some complaints about each other, but that becomes a problem when it gets personal. If you and your spouse frequently make personal attacks and humiliate each other, it's time to take steps to improve communication.
For example "I feel slighted and ignored when you don't answer my question" is a good option. "You always look at nothing when I talk. There's something wrong with you" is a personal attack
Step 3. Notice whether one of you is always on the defensive
When one or both parties launch personal attacks frequently, the other can feel like they're walking on eggshells. Consider whether you always feel the need to defend yourself, constantly having to anticipate being the culprit, or automatically feel that your partner is about to insult you.
Think about how often the other seems to act defensive. Notice if one of you often says things like "It wasn't my fault", especially without provocation
Step 4. Realize if there is a big gap
To resolve a conflict, a couple must maintain open, honest, and ongoing communication. Thus, one of the main symptoms that a relationship is not going well is when there is coldness, estrangement or silence on the part of the parties.
- Know that it is normal to wait for tempers to calm down to resolve an issue. However, it is necessary to say "I prefer not to argue anymore now. Better to wait a while so we can calm down" rather than just ignore it.
- Also, keep in mind that repeatedly putting off resolving an issue can be a symptom of a larger issue. Different opinions can be healthy if you can agree to disagree and maintain respect for each other; but the situation becomes detrimental if the same problems persist.
Step 5. Make a mental list of positive and negative interactions
It's perfectly normal for two people in a healthy relationship to argue about some issues. However, the number of negative discussions and interactions should not be greater than the number of positive interactions. When a couple fights more than they show affection, it's time to start solving deeper issues.
- Likewise, it's important to know how much time you spend together and whether you make an effort to be with each other. At the moment, it may seem like you guys fight all the time, but it's not always or has been.
- As a general rule of thumb, there should be five positive interactions for each negative. Hugs, kisses, compliments, a quality conversation or going out to dinner are all examples of positive interactions.
- Keep in mind that an abusive person can give expensive gifts or treat their partner like a king or queen most of the time. Different forms of abuse, including physical violence, threats of violence, isolation, humiliation and insults are never acceptable. No positive interaction justifies or compensates for abusive behavior.
Step 6. Think about the quality of conversations
In a healthy marriage, quality conversations are very frequent. Try to remember the last time you and your spouse had a long conversation about feelings, opinions, or trivia. If you don't talk much and talk only what is necessary, it's time to resolve this situation.
It is normal to go through difficult and stressful periods when communication can be affected. However, try to differentiate between not wanting to talk after a long and difficult day or never wanting to talk because there is no longer a desire to talk to each other
Step 7. Assess emotional and physical intimacy
Some couples are not intimate and are happy that way. However, when there is a steady decline in the couple's emotional and physical intimacy, it means that you are disconnecting from each other.
- Examples of emotional and physical intimacy are: saying "I love you", praising, expressing affection, telling secrets, holding hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling and having sex.
- Again, dry spells are normal, but there's a difference between not being intimate because you're tired or stressed and not being intimate because you don't like your spouse anymore. Other clues include selfish behavior such as spending large amounts of money or making career plans without consulting your partner.
- Communication and intimacy issues because of contempt or rancor are hard to overcome, and can mean it's time to go our separate ways.
Part 2 of 3: Assessing Your Feelings
Step 1. Make a list of what could be done to fix the marriage
Think about what steps would be needed to save the relationship. Take a piece of paper and draw a line dividing the space in half: on one side write down what you need to do, and on the other side write down what your spouse would need to do.
- For example, a column might say: "Be more considerate of the other person's feelings, be more intimate, express more love and care." In the other, "Use more affectionate language, stop making acidic comments, stop using work as a distraction from marriage."
- Keep expectations realistic. Are these changes possible? Are you two committed enough?
- Remember, you both need to change to save a marriage. Even if only one of you has made a serious mistake, infidelity for example, you both need to work hard to resolve the issues that led to this problem.
Step 2. Notice if you imagine yourself single
Think about how the idea of a future without a spouse makes you feel. Do you often find yourself dreaming of being single, living alone, meeting other people and moving somewhere else? If these fantasies bring a sense of happiness or relief, the marriage is pretty shaken up.
- Know that it is normal to have daydreams and fantasies. It is not the case to ask for a divorce if you have thought about what it would be like to live a different life.
- Ask yourself if the idea of separation would bring you more happiness than the idea of being together. Are the fantasies frequent and with lots of details? If so, and especially if there are other signs, it is necessary to take steps to save the marriage or go our separate ways.
Step 3. Try to see if the desire to stay is out of fear
It's one thing to want to stay together because you love someone and have compatible goals and values. Another is fear of possible personal and financial difficulties after separation. Be honest with yourself and find out exactly why you haven't left yet.
- The chances of solving problems are much greater when the desire to stay is for love and for wanting to reach life's goals together.
- Separation and divorce are scary, but a fearful marriage will not be stable. Count on emotional and practical support from friends and family. It may seem impossible now, but in time, things will fall into place.
Step 4. Reflect well before maintaining child marriages
It is completely normal to be afraid that divorce will negatively affect children. However, children of separated parents suffer far less than children whose parents remain in a toxic relationship.
Perhaps the best thing to do for your children is to end a marriage in which their parents are unhappy
Step 5. Talk to someone you trust to get another perspective
It's normal to feel confused, and there are no easy answers to the situation. So try to ask someone you trust for advice. A good friend or family member may be able to help you understand your feelings better.
- Say something like "Carlos and I have been having some problems. Sometimes I think it's worth trying to work things out, but sometimes I feel like I'm about to pack. I have a flood of feelings I'd like to know your point of view ".
- Remember that the person is not a mental health professional, and you should not make decisions based solely on their opinion. However, putting feelings into words can clarify things, and someone who knows you might have good ideas about the situation.
Part 3 of 3: Talking to Your Spouse
Step 1. Make your concerns about marriage very clear
Be open and honest about how you feel. The other needs to know that things aren't working out, and that you think the marriage might be over. Try to stay calm and do your best not to sound angry or like you're blaming him.
Talk about specific issues like "We don't treat each other affectionately anymore, and I can't remember the last time we exchanged more than a few words. We resent each other, and I don't think this is a healthy environment for none of us"
Step 2. See if the two of you are willing to work together to mend the relationship
It is necessary for both of you to recognize the problems and try to fix them; otherwise, it is impossible to save the marriage. One person cannot solve the problem alone, both need to be committed.
- Say something like, "We both have a lot of work to do, but I'm willing to try. Would you consider seeing a therapist and trying to get our relationship back together?"
- As scary as it is, showing yourself vulnerable can be a critical first step. Your partner may not even know that you are willing to save the marriage.
Step 3. Talk about goals and plans
Problems arise when spouses have different visions of the future. Having separate goals doesn't always mean the end of a marriage, but you need to find a way to make things work well.
- Chances are greater when both are aiming to preserve the marriage. However, separation is the best option if someone thinks work, hanging out with other people, or having more independence has priority.
- Other examples that can be decisive include disagreements about where to live, who has a priority career, and whether or not to have children.
Step 4. Seek professional help
If both are determined to fight for marriage, it is ideal to see a couples therapist and also consider individual therapy. A professional will help them identify deeper issues, develop problem-solving skills without a fight, and provide an objective perspective on the situation.
For couples who have been in therapy for months or years without much progress, it may be time to accept that the marriage is over
Step 5. Keep calm and patient in case you decide to break up
Try your best to be calm and sensitive when talking to your spouse. Avoid talking about divorce in the middle of a fight. Pick a time when you're both cool-headed and do your best to be empathetic, even resolute.
Say something like, "We haven't been happy for a long time, and I don't think it's possible to solve our problems. I will happily remember the good times we spent together, but the best option is to go our separate ways now."
- Infidelity and other serious breaches of trust are difficult to overcome, but it is still possible to save a marriage after a betrayal. With the help of a therapist, rebuilding trust can be much easier and better than being consumed by anger.
- If you are a victim of physical or emotional abuse, be strong and end the relationship if you can safely do so. If you are in danger of physical violence, call emergency services and seek help from someone you trust.