One spouse refuses to try.
There's a lack of respect in the relationship.
You're no longer a team.
An unfaithful spouse keeps an ex-lover as a friend.
No compromising in terms of wants and needs.
One spouse is a serial cheater.
You disagree about whether to have children or not.
You no longer communicate with each other.
Couples whose marriages are over, or nearly over, have usually uncoupled, or disconnected from each other, says Elayne Savage, Ph.D., author of Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple. "If you're no longer spending any time together, if one or both of you is spending all your time at work, with friends, online — and if feels like a relief not to be with each other — it's a sign that you've already disengaged from the marriage."
Some marriages encounter damaging, seemingly insurmountable problems — such as infidelity, the loss of a close family member, or a long sexual drought — and rebound from them. But, says Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, if one spouse repeatedly brings up an issue, asks for help, and makes it clear that the marriage will not last unless they both commit to solving it, and the other spouse refuses to go along, the marriage is in trouble. "One partner can't do all the trying on his or her own," says Bowman. "You can't go anywhere like that." A good rule of thumb: If it's been a year with no progress, it may be time to call it quits.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy marriage is mutual respect, says Savage. When that's gone — when one partner consistently feels dismissed, rejected, and condescended to (and the other partner doesn't see it or refuses to talk through it), you're in a bad place. "Marriages that reach this place are toxic — you're no longer civil, and all discourse is either attacking or defending."
It may sound hokey, but it's true: In healthily humming-along marriages, both partners work as a team on everything from parenting to running the household to supporting each other in career and personal ambitions. "If you've both started moving in completely separate orbits, or if you're not working together on day-to-day issues, it's a sign of serious trouble," says Savage.
Infidelity is an enormous hurdle for a marriage to overcome, but just ending the affair is not enough, says Kaye. For a marriage to fully get past adultery, the unfaithful half of the couple cannot maintain a "friendship" with the former lover. No matter what he or she says about the innocence of such a relationship, "nothing good can come out of it," notes Kaye.
A major part of marriage involves trying to fulfill your partner's needs while also making sure your own needs are met. It's a lifelong dance, a give-and-take, and it requires constant communication. But if your partner continually refuses to listen to what you need (time, affection, sex/physical contact, help with children or chores), or refuses to share his own needs, you're not in a good place, says Dr. Kaye.
"Some men — and stereotypically this is men — are just not cut out for marriage; they are unable to remain monogamous, even if they seemed to have wanted to get married," says Bowman. What's worse, they manage to put the blame for their philandering and untrustworthiness on you, usually for being too jealous or controlling. After the kind of affair a couple can recover from, "there are regrets, apologies, and a promise to put an end to it and seek counseling." Not so with the serial cheater: that's a problem you can't fix, and likely spells the end of your marriage.
There are many areas of compromise in a marriage, such as who is responsible for dealing with the finances, where you should spend the holidays, or how to handle family issues. But if one of you is absolutely sure you want a child and the other categorically refuses, you're in trouble. "If someone's close to either side of the will-we-or-won't-we-have-children fence, you can work through it. But if not, and having a child is a life goal of yours, you may be looking at the end of your marriage," says Bowman.
No problem in a marriage can be solved without open, honest communication. If you've reached a point where all you ever talk about is mundane things, like who needs to buy milk, divorce could be in your future, says Savage. "Lack of personal, intimate exchange in a marriage is a very bad sign, especially if you are talking to others."