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.


    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).


    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.


    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.


    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


    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 July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:


    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.


    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.


    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.


    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.


    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:


    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:


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