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Published on March 19, 2021

10 Signs Your Marriage Is Over And It’s Time To Move On

10 Signs Your Marriage Is Over And It’s Time To Move On

Two years ago, I left my husband. I woke up one day and decided that I’d had enough of the aggression, the constant arguing, and the merry-go-around of hearing that things would change but never seeing them actually change.

I was a couple therapist, so I had a lot of ambivalence about doing what was right for me and my children, partly because I feared the judgment of society that screams that divorce is nothing but failure, and partly because I felt a sense of guilt.

Was I doing the right thing? How did I know? Was I sure that nothing would ever change? Who would look after him?

It took a lot of soul searching for me to realize that despite what Romance books and their movies counterparts might show, relationships are complex, and there may come a point where the risks of staying together outweigh the benefits.

Now, one may say but ‘surely you saw it coming? Surely, you didn’t literally wake up one day with the idea that today was the day?’

That’s true. In actual fact, according to research, and as highlighted in an article by Divorce Mag,[1] women generally have decided on their exit plan up to two years before they action it, often leaving their partners feeling blindsided. It is a mix of noticing signs that their marriage has been over for sometime, having a gut feeling that they’re ready to move on, or simply that the roads of that relationship don’t all lead to happiness.

So how does one know whether a couple should work on strengthening their relationship or that it is time to move on?

That’s a very good question, and a very important one to ask. The next important question though to ask ourselves what kind of relationship we want to be having.

For instance, a monogamous person will have different views of relationships compared to a couple in a open relationship, or a solo-poly individual. Sometimes, the signs that it’s time to move on have nothing to do with the quality of the relationship, but all to do with the fact that a person may be over the relationship escalator,[2] and just wanting a new level of independence.

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    Regardless of what relationship someone’s in, there are some very clear signs that it has expired its healthy stage, and that perhaps it is time to move on. Here are some of these for you to consider:

    1. Incompatible Temperament and Values

    There are lots of things that couples can, and should, negotiate. Having differences is not a bad thing, however in my experience, there are some temperament and values, that over time, can remain incompatible.

    For example, picture a couple with an introvert partner married with an extrovert spouse who needs to invite friends over every night. A partner who hates any type of physical activity, with one who loves hiking every weekend. How quickly do you think their temperament may become an issue?

    I’m not saying that negotiation doesn’t have a place, and it does, but this goes deeper than this. It’s about looking for the signs that from the get go, that particular relationship might have been built on fundamental differences.

    2. Aggression and/or Domestic Violence

    Unfortunately, intimate partner aggression is a major issue and a sign that perhaps it is time to move on. Now, some partners are willing to change, but not able. Other times, they’re able, but not willing.

    If a partner admits to being aggressive and is both able and willing to seek help, then I do believe that the relationship could be improved, but only if they are indeed accountable, able, and willing to seek help.

    The statistics around intimate partner violence are scary.[3] More often than not, these stats discuss the risks to women, as women as five times more likely to be abused by a male partner, but it’s not to say that men can’t be the recipients of abuse as well.

    Both genders can be the victim of aggressive partners, and either way, people in this situation should consider it as as a sign that it might be time to move on (or seek professional support to do so safely).

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    3. Lack of Communication, Negotiation, and Compromise

    As well articulated in this article on communication in relationships, when communication dies, so does the relationship.

    Both in my personal and professional life, I found that when one or both partners stop using manners, talk with a tone that speaks volume, or a body language that serves to intimidate, it can be a sign that the marriage got to a point where it is time to get some serious relationship coaching, or move on.

    The same applies to partners no longer able to negotiate and compromise on important aspects of their relationship. Now, this last part is quite telling. There’s no law that says we have to commit to compromising everything for the rest of our lives. We actually don’t. I certainly didn’t want to anymore, but it says a lot about where our head’s at when it comes to being in a relationship at all since all types of relationships will have some forms of compromising.

    4. Lack of Common Goals

    It is important for couples to share a common direction. It doesn’t mean that they have to share 100% of their goals together, but a couple with no common goals, is a couple with no compass. They just float away until they’re lost.

    Goals may include things like going a trip somewhere, buying a house, or having children. It doesn’t really matter, as long as there are some commonalities as to what both partners would like their lives to look like in five, ten, and thirty years’ time.

    Consider the direction that your relationship has taken. Do you recognize its direction? If not, consider what you’d like to do about it. You may want to get a bit of help from this article: How to Set Marriage Goals That Make Your Relationship Stronger

    5. Lack of Equality in Chores, Work, and Decision Making

    Now this is one that I feel is important. Regardless of what your contribution might be in the relationship; whether you are staying home to raise children, working overtime to pay bills, or you’re alone in making all the decision, all the above will impact on how you feel within your relationship.

    For example, as a married mother of five children, I found myself wondering why I was working four jobs on top of parenting, and having to make and organize 100% of the family’s decisions. Things like buying cars, choosing kids’ schools, and ensuring our finances were on track were things I found myself doing alone. Heck, I even found myself alone choosing my daughter’s coffin and burial plot, and it was only two years ago that I asked myself… Is this normal??

    The answer is no. It is not normal to find yourself in a relationship where you don’t feel like you can share, discuss and/or negotiate roles, jobs, and responsibilities with your partner. If you are in this situation, I’d advise seriously talking about it.

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    6. Worshipping the Four Horsemen

    As a couple therapist, I often will use valuable resources from the Gottman’s institute. This article on the four horsemen[4] and their antidotes is a good one to consider here.

    When a relationship has begun to use contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling more than they are using respect, love, and empathy, we have ourselves a problem. Of course, couple therapy can teach couples about these and assist them in addressing them, IF the couple is willing, and able to undo the damage that these have caused.

    But sometimes, these behaviors are so ingrained that they are hard to undo. When these are present on a daily basis, perhaps it is a sign that it time to move on to a healthier relationships one way or another.

    7. Unfulfilling or Non-Existent Sex Life

    As an accredited sexologist, I see this quite often. Couples who haven’t had sex in decades, literally, wondering why they no longer feel connected. Interestingly, men feel closer to their partner after they have been sexually intimate, while women need to feel emotionally connected to feel like sex (although I acknowledge that this is very stereotypical and may not apply to all couples).

    So, when couples enter through my door, not having had a fulfilling sex life in years, work needs to be done in exploring why. Health issues? Performance issues? Emotional connection issues? Time, parenting, or other practical issues? You get the gist.

    Sex is an important part of a relationship and if a couple is disconnected, not attracted to their partner, unable to sexually relax, or simply not interested in having sex together, it may be safe to say that this relationship is more of a friendship (at best) rather than an intimate one.

    While a sexologist may be able to help, combined with the other red flags, lack of a sexual life could be a sign that your marriage may be over.

    8. You Avoid Coming Home

    You find yourself staying back at work just to avoid the tension the second you walk through the door, and/or look for any excuse to be doing overtime, volunteering with the neighbours, or simply to be engrossed on your computer, phone, or Ipad.

    The second you find yourself dreading returning to your house, getting a dose of anxiety as your drive around the corner, or feeling like you’ve entered Alaska as you pass the threshold, you may be onto something.

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    9. You’re Ready To Move on To Someone Else

    This may not apply to non-monogamous couples, however if you identify as a monogamous person, finding yourself (or your partner) interested in someone else, considering moving on with a different person, or sharing your thoughts and emotions, facts you used to tell your partner, with someone else, you may be outgrowing your relationship.

    Clearly, having clear and transparent boundaries in your couple may help with this, but visualizing your future with someone else is just one of many signs that your marriage may be over and worthwhile reflecting on.

    10- You Can’t Move Past a Betrayal, Mistrust, or Relationship Trauma

    All relationships go through a level of trauma and difficulties, however some couples go through these more than others.

    For example, ongoing lies, ongoing mistrust, betrayals, and other traumatic events can damage the relationship. With good therapy, couples can recover from trust issues as discussed in this article How to Overcome Trust Issues in a Relationship (And Learn to Love Again).

    However let’s be real… It’s hard to recover from these when they keep happening or your spouse just doesn’t get, or care about how you feel. Some relationship damage is just too deep. Whether this applies to you, or not, only you and your partner can decide, but it’s certainly something to think about.

    Final Thoughts

    As a relationship professional, I do genuinely believe that most couples can work on these if they choose to. What I learned in my growing wisdom is that it is also okay if a person decides that they no longer want to work at it, as long as they understand the implications and can make an informed choice.

    A healthy separation is better than a bad marriage. Accept that divorce isn’t a failure, but rather, the maturity to acknowledge that our needs have evolved and we are strong enough to step outside the present to look ahead to the future.

    I know I am. What about you?

    Professional Disclaimer

    Featured photo credit: Kimi Albertson via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Stephanie Azri

    Women, couples, and family Therapist; Translating almost anything into concrete steps towards success and happiness.

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    Last Updated on April 14, 2021

    How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

    How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

    We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

    Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

    Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

    Expressing Anger

    Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

    Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

    Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

    Being Passive-Aggressive

    This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

    Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

    This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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    Poorly-Timed

    Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

    An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

    Ongoing Anger

    Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

    Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

    Healthy Ways to Express Anger

    What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

    Being Honest

    Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

    Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

    Being Direct

    Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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    Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

    Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

    Being Timely

    When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

    Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

    Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

    How to Deal With Anger

    If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

    1. Slow Down

    From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

    In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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    When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

    2. Focus on the “I”

    Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

    When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

    3. Work out

    When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

    Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

    Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

    If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

    4. Seek Help When Needed

    There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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    5. Practice Relaxation

    We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

    That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

    Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

    6. Laugh

    Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

    7. Be Grateful

    It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

    Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

    Final Thoughts

    Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

    During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

    Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

    More Resources on Anger Management

    Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

    Reference

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