By Denise Schipani
While healing an ailing relationship is usually what we all want, sometimes it’s wise to know when it’s time to let go. Every marriage is different, but there are some universal truths. For example, if one or both partners refuse to put in the effort to save the marriage, it’ll never get fixed. Another factor is time: “The clock starts ticking on the end of a marriage as soon as one spouse puts the couple’s problems out in the open,” says Bryce Kaye, PhD, author of The Marriage First Aid Kit. “The more time that passes after that without any effort made, the lower the odds are that you’ll stay together.”
Here are signs your marriage may be beyond repair.
. You’ve “uncoupled.”
Couples whose marriages are over, or nearly over, have usually uncoupled, or disconnected from each other. If you’re no longer spending any time together, if one or both of you is spending all your time at work, with friends, online and if feels like a relief not to be with each other, it’s a sign that you’ve already disengaged from the marriage.
. One spouse refuses to try.
There are a lot of damaging, seemingly insurmountable problems that some marriages encounter and rebound from, such as infidelity, the loss of a close family member and a long sexual drought. If one spouse repeatedly brings up an issue, asks for help and makes it clear that the marriage will not last unless they both commit to solving it, and the other spouse refuses to go along, the marriage is in trouble. One partner can’t do all the trying on his or her own.
. There’s a lack of respect in the relationship.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage is mutual respect. When that’s gone, when one partner consistently feels dismissed, rejected and condescended to and the other partner doesn’t see it or refuses to talk through it, you’re in a bad place. Marriages that reach this place are toxic- you’re no longer civil, and all discourse is either attacking or defending.”
. You’re no longer a team.
It may sound hokey, but it’s true. In healthily humming-along marriages, both partners work as a team on everything from parenting to running the household to supporting each other in career and personal ambitions. If you’ve both started moving in completely separate orbits, or if you’re not working together on day-to-day issues, it’s a sign of serious trouble.
. An unfaithful spouse keeps an ex-lover as a friend.
Infidelity is an enormous hurdle for a marriage to overcome, but just ending the affair is not enough. For a marriage to fully get past one spouse’s adultery, the unfaithful half of the couple cannot maintain a “friendship” with the former lover. No matter what he or she says about the innocence of such a relationship, nothing good can come out of it.
. No compromising in terms of wants and needs.
A major part of marriage involves trying to fulfill your partner’s needs while also making sure your own needs are met. It’s a lifelong dance, a give and take, and it requires constant communication. But if your partner continually refuses to listen to what you need (time, affection, sex/physical contact, help with children or chores), or refuses to share his own needs, you’re not in a good place.
. One spouse is a serial cheater.
Some men-and stereotypically this is men-are just not cut out for marriage; they are unable to remain monogamous, even if they seemed to have wanted to get married. What’s worse, they manage to put the blame for their philandering and untrustworthiness on you, usually for being too jealous or controlling. After the kind of affair a couple can recover from, there are regrets, apologies, and a promise to put an end to it and seek counseling. Not so with the serial cheater; that’s a problem you can’t fix, and likely spells the end of your marriage.
. Lack of communicate with each other.
No problem in a marriage can be solved without open, honest communication. If you’ve reached a point where all you ever talk about is mundane things, like who needs to buy milk, you’re in trouble. “Lack of personal, intimate exchange in a marriage is a very bad sign, especially if you are talking to others.