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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    Published on May 18, 2021

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

    The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

    Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

    Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

    Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

    There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

    Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.


    Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

    We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

    Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

    A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

    The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

    Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.


    Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

    Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

    Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

    While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

    Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

    These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

    Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.


    Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

    Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

    Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

    Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

    Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

    Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

    As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.


    This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

    Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

    Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

    These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

    Actions Speak Louder Than Words

    Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

    Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.


    Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

    More Tips Improving Listening Skills

    Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via


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