Marriage & Family

A family therapist shares with us signs signalling a marriage has reached its endpoint

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When two lives come together to build a new family, there’s bound to be friction. While some people try to work around it and eventually see success through prolonged counselling sessions, not everyone manages to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes, the risks of staying together may even outweigh the benefits. So how does one realise that it’s meaningless to hold on any further? A family therapist shares with us signs signalling a marriage has reached its endpoint.

#1: Varying values and personalities

While there’s some truth in the belief on how “opposites attract”, couples with varying values and personalities may not be able to stay together for long.

Dr Stephanie Azri, a family therapist with two decades in clinical settings, asks us to picture these scenarios:

  • A partner who hates physical activities but married to one who loves hiking every weekend.
  • An introverted person with an extroverted spouse who needs to invite friends over every night.

These are fundamental differences we’re talking about, and if negotiations cannot get a couple anywhere, it could be a telltale sign to let go.

#2: Prey to domestic violence

Do you know that domestic violence may include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse?

No one is deserving of domestic violence because it hurts, and the experience tends to stick through one’s adult years. If you’ve been prey to aggressive partners for some time now, don’t keep mum about it.

Call the 24-hour National Anti-Violence Helpline at 1800 777 0000 if you need to speak with trained social workers regarding abuse and violence. Even if you’re not a direct victim but know of someone who may be undergoing domestic violence, reach out.

#3: Communication and compromise breakdowns
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Communication is vital in any relationship. An obvious result of a communication breakdown is that you can’t seem to get on the same page anymore.

“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,” says Dr Azri.

Let’s not forget to mention that communication and compromise go hand in hand. When communication is through, at least one party attempts to give in for the greater good. But if there’s a crack in both areas, then maybe your marriage has reached its final stages.

#4: Missing common goals

Are you and your spouse heading in the same direction? Different individuals have different marriage goals, and it’s not possible to be 100% in sync all the time.

However, there should be at least a few common goals that both of you share. Think of it as a compass guiding you two on the same path. It could be a dream trip somewhere, buying a new condominium, or starting a new family journey with little ones.

If you find yourself missing common goals, this could indicate that it’s time to get back on track and walk together or take steps to move on mutually.

#5: Running the show alone
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Some people don’t mind running the show alone, but flying solo isn’t all that great a balance in a marriage. 

It’s impossible to reach a 50-50 contribution for the family since everyone has their fair share of routine and responsibilities. What we’re suggesting is that you shouldn’t be doing everything alone and feeling bitter and lonely about it.

“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,” noted Dr Azri.

#6: Zero or unfulfilling sexual intercourse

Dr Azri is also an accredited sexologist, and she feedbacks that there are many married couples with zero or unfulfilling sexual intercourse routines.

“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,” she explains.

While couples may seek sexual therapy to find out the underlying issues, the absence of sex in any relationship is a big red flag that your marriage has reached its endpoint.

#7: Forgiveness is out of the question
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As we come to a close, know that in every relationship, there’s bound to be some lies told. But when these lies get bigger, they can lead to mistrust, betrayal, and even relationship trauma.

If you can’t seem to move on, this indicates that forgiveness is out of the question. When there’s no forgiveness, grudges will slowly build-up, and this may lead to hatred over the long term. This is especially so if your partner continues to cheat on you or does hurtful things without considering your feelings.

“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,” highlights Dr Azri.

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