Is It Over? 4 Warning Signs Your Marriage May Be Ending

Two people stand apart in snow, facing away from camera, holding separate umbrellasEnding a relationship is quite possibly one of the most tumultuous decisions a person can make. People who enter into a marriage generally do so with the expectation of reaching the idealized goal of “death do us part.” Unfortunately, this goal is not realized by nearly half of married couples, according to divorce statistics. It may be challenging to admit to yourself that maybe you didn’t marry your soulmate, that your love will not last forever, and you may not live happily ever after. For some, endings can be downright frightening and painful.

People can be especially hard on themselves when a relationship begins to unravel and they take on the responsibility for dissolving the marriage. Deciding to leave a relationship can bring up many negative feelings, worries, and doubts. A person who leaves may worry about feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and scared they won’t recover from this traumatic event in their life. Some people blame themselves and think of divorce as a personal failure.

Ideally, marriage should enhance and support your life in a mostly positive way. Every marriage has some growing pains, but they don’t necessarily have to undermine the well-being of the relationship. At the same time, there are some indicators your marriage is not working and may be coming to an end, especially if you don’t get counseling soon. You may have been avoiding the signs, sticking your head in the proverbial sand and hiding from the painful truth.

Here are some common factors that may be seen in couples headed for divorce:

1. Unproductive Conflict

A difference of opinion and perspective are part of every healthy relationship, but when arguments are frequent, repetitive, and nonproductive, you may be headed toward a serious decline. A relationship becomes toxic when criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and withdrawal become the norm. Unproductive conflict may result in feelings of estrangement and hopelessness. There is often a sense of a “winner” and a “loser” in those types of battles, and no true insight or lasting change appears to occur as a result of the disagreement. You appear to talk in circles, with nothing ever getting resolved.

2. Loss of Love and Affection

A lack of affectionate touching, kissing, and physical intimacy can speak volumes about the durability of a relationship. A loss of love and affection may contribute greatly to the ending of a marriage unless both parties are in agreement and satisfied. Couples often complain they live like roommates and not like romantic partners. There may be a huge difference in the type of commitment each person is willing to make with regard to how they show love and affection.

3. Boredom

Boredom may occur when you are feeling depressed, disconnected, or not in love anymore. You may notice you feel unloved, undernourished, and your partner is not a source of comfort or the person you most want to talk to when a problem arises.

4. Emotional Disconnection

Emotional distance may occur when there is a breakdown in any type of communication and you notice a lack of depth or meaning to your conversations. You may stop sharing important events and emotional details of your day. There is a certain amount of disinterest in what the other person is doing. You may develop different interests and lead parallel lives that rarely intersect.

Marriage counseling works best when you are relatively happy and need minor adjustments to get your marriage where you want it to be.

Couples typically try to work out problems on their own and wait, on average, about six years before they agree to see a marriage counselor. By the time highly conflict-stricken couples are ready to seek therapy, their marriage is often in shambles and the prospects of repair dim. Marriage counseling works best when you are relatively happy and need minor adjustments to get your marriage where you want it to be.

If the warning signs above are prevalent in your marriage, seeking guidance through counseling can help determine the viability of your relationship. It often depends on whether you are both willing to commit to the process, take responsibility for your respective contributions to the problems, and do the work necessary to rebuild your relationship.

Many times, marriages end for good and understandable reasons. The ending of a relationship may provide the opportunity for self-reflection, learning from mistakes, and starting the next chapter of your life. Working with a therapist in the aftermath of marriage dissolution can help provide support and guidance as you put the pieces of your life back together.


  1. Kingma, D. R. (2000). Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours. York Beach, ME: Conari Press.
  2. Gottman, J. (1994). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York, NY. Fireside.

© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ellen Schrier, MS, LPC, NCC, Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Jerime

    February 23rd, 2017 at 7:27 AM

    I didn’t ever think that we would get to this point but apparently my wife has decided that she has had enough of this whole marriage bit and would like me to leave. She says she is bored and unfulfilled and where have I been not to see all this? Well um I have been working hard to pay the bills, my dear but she doesn’t see it that way.
    I am not the kind of person who would usually give in without a fight but now that there is evidently nothing left within her to fight for I am supposed to just tuck tail and run?
    Ugh I am just angry and frustrated and it is hard to know that the marriage is ending and I obviously don’t have any kind of say so in the matter.

  • Kell

    February 23rd, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    The warning signs are usually there but there are many of us, myself included who fail to see them until it is too late

  • Arthur

    February 24th, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    We always fight and disagree but it is like we never actually come to a resolution. I think that for the most part we just get to the point where we are tired of arguing with each other. That might feel good in the moment but then the next time that it comes up you remember that you never resolved anything the last time that you had this discussion.
    Our marriage has started to feel like it is a revolving door of arguing over and over again about the exact same things.

  • Max

    February 25th, 2017 at 6:11 PM

    Unfortunately I think that there are those people who go through life actually looking for the warning signs because that is the out that they have been looking for but were too afraid to make a move on it themselves.

  • Jerry b

    February 26th, 2017 at 10:01 AM

    My marriage crumbled pretty much as soon as it started but I think that we would both agree that this happened for the very best reasons. We are probably better friends now not being married than we ever were when we were together. Now she is someone that I can turn to when I have a problem. For some reason marriage got in the way of that for us.

  • Martin

    February 27th, 2017 at 12:21 PM

    Well good grief if you are bored get a hobby, you don’t have to end a marriage

  • Jewel

    March 4th, 2017 at 3:43 PM

    Whatever you do, don’t make your wives feel devalued, like you contributed more money, etc. That will alienate her for life, and destroy any possibility of real friendship or getting back together when she sees the grass is not greener on the other side.

  • Eleisha T R

    March 7th, 2017 at 11:36 AM

    I go through this Daily

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