How to Know When Your Marriage Is Not Going to Work Anymore

by Elise Wile

Approximately half of marriages in the United States end in divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. While you've no doubt worked to decrease your marriage's chance of becoming a statistic, sometimes a partnership doesn't work out no matter what you do. If the signs are there, consider whether or not it's time to throw in the towel.

The Four Horsemen

Preeminent marital researcher John Gottman, Ph.D. has identified four predictors of divorce. He has labelled these "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" due to their lethal poison. These dire horseman are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. None of these by itself indicates the certain death of a marriage, but if you find yourself in a relationship where all four are running rampant, a divorce may be imminent. If you and your spouse have attempted to work on these problems to no avail, it is unlikely your marriage will last much longer.

One Partner Has Checked Out

When one person is not committed to the marriage, the union is unworkable, says Susan Pease Gadoua, L.C.S.W. in a January 2011 column in "Psychology Today." Both people need to be willing to work on marital issues. If that is not present -- for example, one spouse refuses to go to marriage counseling while the other does all the "work" -- the marriage is unlikely to last. If you are sure your partner has quit trying, your marriage may already be over.

Physical and Verbal Violence

One in three women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her partner, according to the victim services and advocacy group Safe Horizon. If you are in a violent relationship, your marriage is not working. For your safety, and that of any children in the home, it is best to leave. Repeated verbal violence is also an indicator that a marriage is dysfunctional, as this is an extreme version of Gottman's contempt horseman. If this describes your relationship, bury it before it buries you.

Unrepentant, Repeated Bad Behavior

No matter how much you want to save the marriage, if your spouse continues to have affairs, spend all of the mortgage money on expensive clothing, comes home strung out every night or otherwise completely disrespects the relationship, it's probably time to call it quits. Even if your loved one apologizes for her behavior and promises to never do it again, you can look at her past behavior to determine whether or not to buy her story. You can plan on history repeating itself unless she seriously seeks intervention.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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