4 Signs Of A Hopelessly Broken Marriage

By: Jessica Anderson

Updated July 30, 2020

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

Coming to this realization and admitting it can be quite tough. Of course, almost everyone goes into marital relationships with the intention of a ‘happily ever after. You never thought you would end up in a bad marriage, let along considering divorce. You tried to be very careful, you waited and took your time to find a partner who had all the basic things needed for a successful marriage. You tried not to rush into anything and made sure you dated for a long time. You were head over heels in love with each other, he/she was such an affectionate person, and you both seemed to agree on all the things that mattered- at least, so you thought. You never imagined you could ever be one of ‘those people.’

Now, it’s looking like you and your partner can’t seem to overcome the many recurring marriage problems that are threatening your home and marriage. You both seem to be at loggerheads concerning practically everything; you no longer feel loved or appreciated, and the littlest of things they do- some of which you even used to find fascinating and cute before- seem to annoy the living daylight out of you. You don’t understand just how your once perfect relationship moved from good to bad. One of the promises you made to yourself was that when you get married, it would be till death do you part, but here you are, in the middle of a troubled marriage that seems to be leaning towards divorce with every passing moment. You do not want to give in to the pressure and give up, but you are also feeling hopeless and aren’t sure how long you can hold on, or if holding on is the right thing to do. 

On the other hand, a separation or divorce is a significant life change. Separation or divorce will rarely be comfortable or pain-free, and should not be embarked on casually. What many younger married couples fail to realize in time is that healthy marriages usually do not suddenly become broken marriages because of some mysterious outside force, but through consistent neglect. leading to the gradual accumulation of marriage problems.

The signs of this can be seen long before they reach the critical point of indicating a broken marriage, often becoming evident to people outside the relationship before the couple can see it themselves. Indeed, every marital relationship comes with its own different peak and valley seasons; there are times when the going is really good, sweet, and rosy, and there are times when it feels like things are simply not working. So, you are wondering if the marriage problems you are going through at the moment is a normal ‘valley’ situation that will pass after some time, or if your marriage is practically just on life support and if it is time to move away.

Even though there is no fool-proof way to figure out if the marriage problems you are currently facing is only a rough spot which can be worked on by setting up a rescue plan, or whether these marriage problems are indeed big indications that your marriage relationship is hitting the rocks, there are certain signs or pointers that will help you to figure out if your marriage is in big trouble (you can find a therapist who specializes in couples counseling to walk you through this process). If you can discern any of the following in your own marriage, it may be time to evaluate the state of your marriage, prepare to put in some work to repair your relationship (even though it may not yet feel urgent), and attempt to save your marriage.

Constant Negotiation

Knowing how to compromise is a necessary technique in every romantic relationship. However, each person in a relationship should be looking out for their spouse as well as themselves. However, in a broken marriage, this will be much more difficult.

You may make many small compromises each day, such as "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 family challenges and large financial decisions, successful couples compromise out of love for their spouse, whereas individuals in a broken marriage do so for their own personal gain.

Arguing Instead of Discussing

Discussions are a crucial component of marriage work, but when these conversations turn into fights, they are often better off if they are stopped completely. Real conversation implies talking about relevant issues, instead of criticizing each other. It enlists active listening 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 moments of stress can be crucial. Not everyone is skilled at listening well and controlling what they say when emotions are running high. Luckily, couples therapy, and specifically conflict handling, can be of great help for mitigating intense emotions, and can even strengthen the marriage foundation.

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

There is such a thing as requiring too much communication, such as asking to be called every hour throughout the day. However, every couple should be comfortable enough to share the significant events and concerns in their lives, including those stemming from work, health, and finances. Not being open about these topics prevents your partner from supporting you as much as they might want to, and can bring about a variety of issues that could lead to or be viewed as a symptom of a broken marriage.

Fixing the Broken Marriage Doesn't Seem Worth the Effort

The emotional tone of most failed marriages isn't passionate outrage, but rather exhausted indifference. It's actually rare for a relationship to fall apart under sudden strain. Unhappy marriages are more likely to slowly dwindle over several months or years. 

It is possible to repair a marriage that has already suffered severe damage, 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 may feel like it is over, even if it doesn't result in a formal divorce or separation.

It is almost inevitable that a 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. If in-depth counseling or religious mediation has not brought you back together, you might feel that you can no longer stay together happily as a couple. This may be especially true if you have tried different methods to improve your relationship and been unsuccessful, and feel peace from the idea of living apart.

Obstacles That Cannot Be Overcome And Will Lead To Divorce:

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  1. Physical Abuse: There is no excuse for physical violence or abuse. If one partner acknowledges that they are physically or mentally abusive and refuses to change or get help, then there is no hope for saving your marriage. The abused partner has no choice but to seek separation and/or divorce in order to protect themselves and the children (if there are any) from the abuser. For example, if you are married to someone with bipolar disorder, dangerous or aggressive behavior, or anger management issue, and you are constantly being subjected to physical abuse, then you need to move out, find a therapist to help you get over the experience and heal from the trauma. Abuse never gets better if the abuser refuses to get help. It will only escalate to violence that could end in someone losing their life. Psychologists warn that the most dangerous time for an abused partner in their relationship 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. You need to take the bold step, with rescue plan put in place; tell a trusted friend or someone in your family what you are doing, and where they can reach you. For your own safety, try not to just disappear.
  2. Financial Control: If one of the partners refuses to allow their partner more financial control even after counseling, then the relationship or marriage should be discontinued. The financially controlling partner usually views himself/herself as the one who is correct, and they likely do not take their partner's needs and wants into consideration. To them, it does not matter if their partner also works and contributes to the family financially. They may insist on one bank account that they alone control. They control all the finances, possibly even put the other partner on an "allowance," solely determine what should or should not be purchased, and control and monitor all spending. If this is the "norm" in a relationship, it's not likely to go away without support. If you plan to leave, you'll need to have your own finances, so consider making some financial changes, such as taking paper checks instead of having them directly deposited into your joint account, before you leave.
  3. Infidelity: If one or both of the partners in a marriage resorts to having an affair, the marriage can often be salvaged with counseling and forgiveness. However, multiple affairs even after counseling and empty promises regarding future behavior can cause trust to be genuinely broken. This is especially true if one partner has admitted to the transgression, and will not do anything to change his or her behavior. Perhaps the cheater in the relationship has decided that they would be happier with someone else, and the partner left behind must cut the ties and move on regardless of how unhappy a situation it is. It is unhealthier to stay in a marriage with infidelity, jealousy, and anger, than it is to simply leave and start anew. This stress brought on by staying could even lead to physical illness, so it is important to put yourself first when your spouse is unwilling to change.
  4. Lying: Some people are so used to lying, that it becomes second nature to them. If counseling and therapy do not change the liar's behavior, it may be time to consider separation or divorce. Within a marriage, lying may start out as a series of little, inconsequential lies that you can ignore and make excuses for. As time goes on, however, you may see an escalation in this truth avoidance. Is the spouse truthful about where he or she is after work? Is there money often missing from the joint account? Has evidence of inexplicable behavior been found? Are there unexplained absences? Do their 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 (which can lead to an unsafe situation, and is one of the most poignant indicators of a broken marriage). The argument may become a case of who is the most powerful, and who has the loudest voice. Confronting a liar even has the possibility of escalating to physical violence. The accuser has to be very careful and aware of the liar's way of defending their actions. If there is a threat of violence, it is best to back off and take steps to protect yourself (and the children if there are any), or take steps to remove yourself altogether from the home. Counseling for both partners is necessary to repair the eroded trust. But if one partner refuses to acknowledge the lies or refuses to change, divorce is likely the healthiest choice.

Not Ready To Give Up On Your Marriage?
A Licensed Marriage Counselor Can Help - Chat With A Professional Now.

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If you're in an unhealthy relationship, and you and your partner are willing to put in the work to save your marriage, reach out to a licensed counselor today. In a 2007 study, researcher and psychologist Neil S. Jacobson found that even when one, or both people in a marriage felt that their relationship is hopeless, therapy with a licensed counselor made a positive difference. Having someone guide you through difficult conversations, and share relationship building techniques with you can help turn marriages around for the better.

If you and your spouse have busy schedules, or the tasks of adding a commute and finding childcare sound like too much to add to your plate, consider an online option. There are different types of therapy, so you need to make sure you are finding the right help. ReGain has licensed counselors available to talk with you online, so you are able to stay in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors for you to review, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Camille is absolutely amazing!!!! We are so grateful for her expertise and wonderful advice. She literally saved our marriage and we will always be grateful for her."

"Christina was very helpful when I told her I left my spouse. I wasn't sure what I wanted, a divorce or reconciliation. She helped me start processing where I was, to where do I see myself, to what do I want, to how do I see myself getting obtaining these goals. She did not influence any of my decisions, but guided me with thought provoking questions. Throughout our short sessions, she continued to reassure me that she or someone else, would always be there for me. Thank you Christina for your professionalism, your guidance and your compassion to help others. I look forward to continuing my therapy sessions with you, as my goals are not yet met."

Conclusion

Whether your relationship is worth saving, or you need support in the process of leaving your significant other, there are tools to help you move forward. Having a mental health professional on your side will help you to reach a happier, healthier place in your life, whether that is together with your spouse or on your own. We are here to help you through, and to help you see that everything is going to be okay.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a broken marriage? 

A broken marriage, also known as a failing marriage, is a marriage that appears to be unsustainable, and will require marriage work, likely with the help of a licensed marriage counselor in order to become harmonious again. 

While the above definition is a good rule of thumb, the term is very subjective. At the end of the day, if there is anything that makes the marriage feel broken, then it is very plausibly a broken marriage, and even thinking “how can I save my marriage” is not a good sign. 

Is it worth fixing a broken marriage? 

Not always- to fix a broken marriage is a great deal of work, and in some circumstances, to save a marriage is essentially impossible, with or without the help of a marriage expert. In this instance, trying to save your marriage will cause more harm than good. 

For instance, if me and/or my partner are not invested in saving the marriage, then it is likely not worth the effort it to try to fix it, and any attempt to save my marriage, such as the classic maneuver of having a baby, will likely just make things messier and more complicated.

How do you fix a broken marriage? 

There is no single answer to this question, as every failing marriage begins to fail for different reasons, and therefore there is no cure-all marriage advice that can be given. However, in most cases, seeing a licensed marriage counselor is a fantastic place to start.

 If you think that you are in a failing marriage or broken relationship, then it is crucial to be proactive and seek out marriage advice from an expert as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that the marriage will be salvageable. It is important to know the right steps to take in order to fix the problem. According to John Gottman of the Gottman Institute, some of the conventional wisdom for marriage that most people believe in and apply to their marriage are actually myths- they are far from the truth. So, for some, they may just need reorientation. In some cases, it may be that one or both partners need to work on their personal growth or improve their listening skills. In a case where a partner has bipolar disorder, addiction ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), or other related mental health issues, you need to find a therapist who is an expert in mental health to help such a person.

What are the signs of a broken marriage? 

Signs your marriage may be broken beyond repair include physical abuse, financial control, infidelity, and excessive lying. 

While these are all fairly sure-fire indicators, there are other less severe factors that can pile up and serve as signs of a broken marriage as well. Such things include resentment, boredom, and constant fighting. 

More specifically, there are some behavioral ticks that can be attributed to someone being in an unhappy relationship. Studies show that a married man who makes jokes about leaving his wife is far more likely to be in a failing marriage than those that would avoid even joking about such things. 

Can a broken marriage be restored? 

In some cases, a broken relationship or marriage can be restored. It is crucial that both partners are willing to receive marriage advice, are not in denial of the fact that they are in a failing marriage, and both have the desire to save the marriage. 

However, it is important to realize that it is not always possible or worth it to fix a broken marriage. If things reach a point where you don’t even want to come home, the marriage is likely not worth preserving. People who are married to partners with bipolar disorder, addiction ADHD, or other mental disorders which make them act violently or in an unpredictable manner fall in this category. Talk to a specialist to help you know the right step, rescue plan and approach that best fits.

Can a broken marriage be saved? 

The good news is-saving your marriage is possible if both partners are willing to put in the large amount of work that is required to save a marriage. Not all marriage problems have to end permanently in divorce. There have been cases of broken marriages where the wife or the husband left, but after some time, with the right interventions and help gotten, the marriage is redeemed, and the couple gets back together. It requires a lot of work and some compromises or adjustments from one or both partners. They may need to find a therapist who is skilled in different types of therapy to take them through the process, help them to deal with their marriage problems and take actions to make their relationship better. This is one of the significant ways you can work on your troubled marriage and restore the bond and love that used to exist in your home.

However, if you have reached a point where both partners think that the failing marriage is past the point of no return, then they are likely correct, and it is probably a good idea to discontinue the relationship, regardless of the years of marriage. Again- it is crucial to grasp at desperate “save my marriage” straws. 

Can you fix a broken relationship? 

It is very possible to fix a broken relationship if it is not broken too badly and both people involved are willing to tackle the marriage problems head-on and to make the necessary adjustments.

It is crucial to remember that a failing marriage or relationship is only destined to end if the circumstances are particularly egregious or the people in the marriage want/ need it to end. If you believe there’s a chance that your marriage can still be saved, then you can find a therapist who is well experienced to help salvage the marriage. If after making attempts to make things work and putting in all your efforts, you keep facing a series of problems saving the marriage, then maybe it may be time to move on from the marriage.

How do you fix a broken marriage after separation? 

In order to fix a broken marriage after separation, it is crucial to- 

  • Take things slowly
  • Create and respect boundaries
  • Prioritize the relationships
  • Be wary of you and your partners emotions
  • Be honest
  • Work on your personal growth
  • Plan for the future

While doing these things will certainly help, they are no guarantee that things will work out, as some people are fundamentally incompatible no matter what they do. 

What causes marriage failure? 

A multitude of factors can cause for a marriage to fail. Some things that can lead to the failure of a marriage include-

  • Working on the wedding more than the marriage
  • Believing it is a spouse's job to make you happy
  • Investing in your children way more than your spouse.
  • Abuse of any kind
  • Untrustworthy behavior of any kind
  • Boundary issues
  • One dimensional, over simplified thinking. That is, asking “how do I save my marriage” as opposed to “what factors can I change that will make me a better partner”.

How do you know when your marriage is really over? 

A marriage is broken beyond repair when any of the following four things are present-

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Financial domination
  3. Infidelity
  4. Persistent dishonesty

Physical abuse is a particularly serious scenario, especially if there are children involved. At that point, it is crucial to remove yourself from the situation with the assistance of someone you really trust. No amount of marriage advice will make you safer. 

When to call it quits in a marriage? 

It is crucial to call it quits on a failing marriage once it has reached a point where the marriage does much more harm than good on the individuals involved or their families. 

The easiest indicator of a marriage needing to end is ongoing physical abuse, however multiple other factors can indicate such things, and an outsider perspective may be helpful. It is often a good idea to consult a marriage counselor before making a decision on such a thing. 

What year is the hardest in a marriage? 

Generally, the seventh year of marriage is considered to be the most difficult. At this point, it would be wise to begin seeing a marriage counselor, regardless of whether or not the relationship in question seems like a failing marriage.

This is because if issues are identified early, then it is more likely that they can be fixed before they become too out of control, making the marriage feel broken and increasing the likelihood of divorce. 

It is way easier to save my marriage if I did what I could to take care of it in the first place. 

What is the number one cause of divorce?

According to marriage experts, the number one cause of divorce is infidelity. 

This is followed by financial troubles and miscommunication. However, while these things tend to play a very strong role in ending a marriage, there is almost never one singular event that leads to divorce, as divorces tend to be the result of accumulated tensions and misgivings that make the marriage feel broken. 

Basically, the most common cause of divorce is the choice to ignore the signs of a failing marriage.  

Can a broken marriage be fixed?

A broken marriage can be fixed if both people in the partnership are dedicated to repairing it. Don't waste time trying to fix something if your partner isn't trying. A healthy relationship involves two people working on their issues together, not one person doing all the heavy emotional lifting. An unhappy marriage can be saved, but there are many factors at play. If one of the partners was unfaithful, that could contribute to a toxic relationship, or a broken marriage, From the point of view of the person who was cheated on, they have lost trust in their partner. It's no longer a happy marriage. From the point of view of the cheater, they may be remorseful, but not know how to fix the broken relationship. There are other perspectives to consider. From the point of view of the children involved in the family, it may not be worth saving the marriage. If the two people in the relationship feel hopeless, kids can sense that. It's a bad situation, so don't talk about your marriage in front of your children. It's crucial not to place kids into an environment where they have to see their parents miserable. Let's face it; fixing a broken marriage is challenging. It's easy to look at a relationship that isn't working and feel helpless. People go through tough times in marriages. They struggle with spending time together if one partner is working a lot. It's easy to give up if you feel like there's no hope. But one of the best ways to fix a broken marriage is by trying out a couple's counseling. In therapy, you and your partner can talk about challenging issues in an unhappy marriage. You can work on communication and listening skills. You can find a therapist to help you and your partner. Couples don't fix their relationship overnight, but therapy can help.

What are the signs of a failing marriage?

Some signs of an unhappy marriage, or one that is failing, are:

  • The couple isn't spending quality time together - when a marriage is working, you want to be with your partner. Spending quality time bonding as a couple makes you feel close and strengthens that intimate bond. If you'd rather play video games than talk with your partner, there could be a problem. If you want to avoid your partner, that could be the sign of a toxic relationship. That's not to say that things can't change. Both partners need to be dedicated to spending time with one another.
  • You talk to your friends about your problems and not your partner - If you're not sharing your life with your partner, that could mean that you're drifting apart. A healthy marriage is one where you feel comfortable sharing your feelings and what's going on in your life with your partner. If you'd rather talk with someone else, that's not a good sign.
  • Infidelity - If you, or your partner, cheats, that could be ruining your marriage. Infidelity could make a marriage fail, or it could be something the couple works through together. It's not necessarily the end of the relationship. It's possible to rebuild a marriage in couple's counseling, even after one of the partners cheats.
  • Your sex life is non-existent - If your marriage lacks physical intimacy, that could be a sign that your marriage isn't working. People who are in love, and have a healthy marriage, want to be intimate with one another. If there's no intimacy, that could be one factor that contributes to ruining your marriage. There are ways to deal with these issues. You could talk about your intimacy issues in couple's therapy.

What are the causes of a broken marriage?

There are many causes of a broken marriage. When you realize the marriage isn't working, your gut reaction is probably to save your relationship. One is that you and your partner have grown apart. Another could be that the trust has been shattered in the relationship. Infidelity could break a marriage. You may not want to save your relationship after your partner cheats. That's an understandable reaction. Any kind of abuse could break a marriage, whether that's verbal, physical, sexual, or financial. Some people are in marriages that are broken because their partner is abusing them. If you're in an abusive relationship, you can find a therapist who can provide you a step by step guide to get out of the marriage. You may need financial assistance to leave because you're dependent on your spouse. It could feel like a hopeless situation. But you know you don't want to save your relationship. You don't have to stay in a marriage where your partner is harming you. When you have a therapist who gives you a step by step guide to getting over abuse, that can be a critical part of your healing journey.

How do you revive a dead marriage?

If a marriage is actually dead, there's no way to revive it. That implies that both people are done with the relationship. Sure, it would be great to have a 10 step guide to resuscitating your marriage. Unfortunately, if there's no hope, it's best to move on. Not even a 100 step book can help a dead marriage. When it's over, it's over. It's best to move on and find someone who meets your needs. Why stay in a dead marriage if it's not working? Ask yourself, "what's in it for me?" If you don't know the answer, you may need to find a therapist who is well experienced to take you through this journey of appraisal and evaluation. This will help you to tackle the situation in a realistic and effective manner, and also make the right decision eventually. If after everything, you discover that the negative outweighs the positive, then it may be time to move on.

Does separation work to save a marriage?

Sometimes taking some time away from your partner can help save a marriage. For example, if one of the partners has a substance abuse issue, they need to work on that on their own. They can take space from the relationship, separate from their partner, and get better. Once they're sober, the marriage may turn out healthier than before. Sometimes people need a break from one another. It's not about love; it's about being tired in a relationship. You, or your partner, may need some space to work through some problems. You can separate for a while, and come back to one another. It's important to have some ground rules if you take a break from your marriage. If you're going to have an open relationship, it's crucial to establish that before you separate. Or, if you're both committed to staying faithful during the separation, make sure to make that clear between the two of you. You can see a couple's counselor while you are separated to work through any issues in the relationship, even if you're separated. Therapy is a great tool to help people understand one another and work on marital issues.


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