When do you know the marriage is over?

“I went to war for what we had; you never even laced your boots.” N.R. Shepherd

When do you know the marriage is over? When do you stop fighting for the marriage?

My client listed all the things that are not working in her marriage:

  • No affection and intimacy. They were functioning as roommates.
  • Different interests. She prefers to be active and he prefers to stay home.
  • She invites him to various activities with the kids and he declines.
  • They have completely opposite political viewpoints.
  • There’s a feeling of overall discomfort and disconnectedness.

She told me that earlier this year they had a conversation about how they were both “unhappy.” They were both going to try to “do better,” and to make some changes. Now months later, she says, “They couldn’t seem to make it better” and now they’re back in the exact same position they were in at the beginning of the year: stuck and disconnected.

I know this is the story of so many people…and I think I know why…

Tell Me About the Conversation…

When I ask these clients to tell me about the conversation they had with their spouse where they shared the issues inside the marriage, it is significantly more vague than all the details they’ve been sharing with me (or their girlfriends, for that matter).

It’s not that these women don’t know the issues inside their marriage…
It’s that they hesitate to tell their husbands those details.

They’re trying to spare his feelings…

They’re saying things like, “I’m not happy,” rather than, “These specific things about our marriage today no longer work for me.”

They’re expressing how they need more help, when really what she needs is a partner…and “Here’s what a partner looks like for me.”

We Need a Different Conversation…

If we’re going to be in grown-up relationships, we need to be able to have grown-up conversations.

We need to be direct; men typically do not understand nuances in the same way that our girlfriends do.

We need to be specific; saying you’re unhappy doesn’t give someone direction about what they can do differently.

We need to be brave; we need to be able to set boundaries and tell our partners the truth about what will happen if we continue along the same path so they can make decisions for themselves.

When do you know the marriage is over?

Getting to this answer often drags out for months or years as people try to determine that answer without ever really having a meaningful conversation with their partner they pledged to love forever.

I get that these conversations are difficult…

Saying what you need…
Sharing what’s truly not working…
Where you’re headed as a couple if things don’t change…

But if my husband was struggling and had one foot out the door, I would want to know about it. And as one-half of this relationship, I think that’s fair.