4 Signs Of A Hopelessly Broken Marriage

Updated May 30, 2019


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A broken marriage is not necessarily always a tragedy. Sometimes, two people who were good for each other at one stage in their lives have simply grown apart, and the best thing for both of them is to end an arrangement that's no longer working.

On the other hand, a separation or divorce is a major life change, comparable to starting a new career or moving to a different country. This means that it will rarely be easy or pain-free, and certainly shouldn't be embarked on casually. What many younger couples fail to realize in time is that marriages usually fail not suddenly because of some mysterious outside force, but through neglect.

The signs of this are easy to spot long before they reach critical proportions, often becoming obvious to people outside the relationship before the couple even realizes they are facing a serious problem. If you can discern any of the following in your marriage, it may be time to take a look at ways to repair the flaws in your relationship, even if they don't seem urgently important yet.

Constant Negotiation

Knowing how to compromise is a necessary technique in every romantic relationship, but if both partners are constantly trying to haggle out the better deal for themselves, that marriage is not very likely to last.

Horse trading may be harmless and equitable for the small things, e.g. "I'll make dinner if you wash the dishes," but when it comes to making a meaningful sacrifice for your partner's happiness, such as spending a weekend with your obnoxious in-laws or putting off a major purchase until your financial situation improves, successful couples do it for love rather than in the hopes of getting something in return.

Arguing at Instead of With Each Other

Both fights and pillow talk can be essential forms of communication in any marriage - but when the amount of real back-and-forth in an argument hits bottom, it's better to stop talking. Real communication implies things like talking about relevant issues instead of criticizing each other and listening to your partner instead of just waiting for your turn to talk.

Having the occasional argument is by no means a sign of a relationship in trouble, but how you conduct yourselves during trouble can be crucial. Not everyone is equally good at listening well and controlling what they say when emotions are running high, so any couple with problems in this regard should try a course of couples therapy, focusing on conflict handling, before this lack causes permanent damage to their relationship.

The Left-Hand Doesn't Know What the Right Is Doing

Insisting on being called every time your partner goes to the grocery store or runs five minutes late is unnecessary and probably a sign of exaggerated possessiveness or insecurity. It's also possible to go too far in the other direction, though.

Every couple should be comfortable enough to share the major events and concerns in their lives, including those stemming from work, health, and finances. Not being open about these things prevents your partner from supporting you as much as they might want to, and can be seen as a serious betrayal.

Fixing the Broken Marriage Doesn't Seem Worth the Effort

The emotional tone of most failed marriages isn't passionate outrage, but exhausted indifference. It's rarely a case of the relationship cracking under some sudden strain: marriages are more likely to be slowly ground down over the course of several months or years.

Even a relationship that has already suffered serious damage can often be repaired, but this requires work and commitment from both sides. Once one or both partners feel that it just isn't worth the trouble, the marriage is over even if it doesn't result in a formal divorce or separation.

It is almost inevitable that marriage will face at least one crisis that will cause the couple to contemplate divorce. During this crisis, you and your partner will be challenged to understand, acknowledge, and forgive the transgressions and faults of one another. In-depth counseling has not brought you back together or brought about changes, and neither has to seek a religious mediator. If you feel that you can no longer exist happily as a couple and you have tried different methods to improve your relationship and been unsuccessful, then parting may be the answer to finding some peace by living apart.

Obstacles that cannot be overcome and will lead to divorce:


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  1. Physical Abuse: If one partner acknowledges that they are physically or mentally abusive and refuses to change or get help, this is an insurmountable obstacle. The abused partner has no choice but to seek separation and divorce to protect themselves and the children (if there are any) from the abuser. Abuse never gets better if the abuser refuses to get help. It will only escalate to violence that could end up in someone losing their life. Psychologists warn that the most dangerous time for a person who has been consistently abused is the time when they actually move out and live elsewhere. Moving out has to be planned meticulously. Make sure you have enough money to live on, and you know where you will go. Tell a trusted friend or someone in your family what you are doing and where they can reach you. Do not just disappear.
  2. Financial Control: If one of the partners refuses to be less controlling even after counseling, the marriage situation will never change. The controlling partner usually views himself/herself as the correct one. Other's wants and feelings do not matter. To them, it does not matter if their partner also works and contributes to the family financially. They insist on one bank account that they alone control. They control all the finances, put the other partner on an allowance, decide what should or should not be purchased, control and monitor spending, and decide who should and who should not have a phone account. If you feel you are stuck in a marriage, and if your partner refuses to see a problem with how things are managed, there is nothing to resolve and divorce is the only and last resort. However, before you actually file for divorce and move out, make sure you have the resources to live on your own. If you are working, you can ask for your paycheques to be given to you rather than having them posted automatically to your joint bank account. Make sure that someone you trust knows about your plans and find someone to help you. Don't do anything 'spur of the moment'. Plan what you need to do, who needs to know where you are going, and what you need to take with you.
  3. Infidelity: If one or both of the partners in a marriage resort to having an affair, the marriage can be salvaged with counseling and forgiveness. However, if there is an affair or multiple affairs even after counseling with empty promises have been made regarding future behavior, then trust is truly broken. This is especially true is one partner has admitted to the transgression and will not do anything to change his/her behavior. Perhaps they have decided that they would be happier with someone else and the partner left behind has to cut the ties and move on regardless of how unhappy a situation it is. It is unhealthier to stay in a marriage with infidelity looming over the marriage, and jealousy and anger festering. This could lead to physical illness on your part, and then no one is the winner.
  4. Lying: Sometimes, a person can become a chronic liar; they are so used to lying that it becomes second nature to them. Why tell the truth when a lie is just as easy, and they are never confronted and made to admit they lied. If counseling and therapy have not changed the liar's behavior, it may be time to consider separation or divorce. When two people become a couple, it may not be obvious that one of the couples is a liar. It may start as a series of little, inconsequential lies that you can ignore and make excuses for the lies. As time goes on, you will probably see an escalation in the lying. Is the spouse truthful about where he/she is after work? Is there money often missing from the joint account? Have you found evidence of inexplicable behavior? Are there unexplained absences? Do the explanations ring true, or are they full of holes? What do they say when you say you have proof they are lying? Is it always someone else's fault? Sometimes a liar will act as if they are offended that they have been caught in a lie and try to turn the tables by making accusations against you. This can lead to a very dangerous situation. It may become a case of who is the most powerful and who has the loudest voice. Confronting a liar has the possibilities of escalating to physical violence. Whoever is the accuser has to be very careful and be aware of the liar's way of defending their actions. If violence is even threatened, it is best to back off and take steps to defend yourself and the children if there are any or take steps to remove yourself altogether from home. If trust has eroded, it can be repaired with counseling for both partners. But if one partner refuses to acknowledge the lies or refuses to change, there is no alternative but to decide to divorce.


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Any of the above situations can be addressed by seeking the services of a counselor if both parties are willing to cooperate and honestly want the marriage to work.


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