The question of knowing if your marriage is really over will all depend on what each of you is thinking the relationship really offers you.
When it comes to asking yourself, how do you know when your marriage is really over, firstly, you both need to think about exactly what the relationship is now offering you.
The reasons why you got together in the first place were at that time clear, but years later you may find yourself not quite so clear about why you or your partner both married or even stayed married.
None-the-less, before people leave a marriage, they usually go through the specific thought process of:
- Considering the rewards of the marriage
- The cost of being staying in the marriage
- Weighing both of these up against what other options you think are available out there
The ‘rewards’ the marriage has to offer…
If the rewards of staying in your marriage are high and the costs are low, then you’ll tend to stay in the marriage but conversely, when the costs out way the rewards you’ll usually feel that you need to leave.
Relationship rewards include:
- A feeling of security
- Financial stability
- Having someone to rely/fall back on in times of need
- Staying together for the sake of the children
- Maintaining the status quo (I’ve always been with him/her, maintaining couple friends etc)
- To keep away negative feelings relating to being alone
- To maintain status (I like saying “I’m married”)
- My partner treats me well
- I have deep feelings for my partner
- My partner makes me feel good
- I enjoy having a permanent sexual partner
- I enjoy the feelings of closeness with my partner
- My partner’s personality traits are attractive to me
The ‘costs’ of staying in the marriage
- He creates work for me
- We fight a lot
- I have to put up with her/his bad moods and bad habits
- He/she makes me feel bad
- I don’t like his family/friends
- Our personalities/cultures are very different and it’s a problem
- Sexual differences are difficult to navigate
- She spends my/too much money
- He doesn’t contribute enough emotionally
- She’s lazy around the house
- I’m embarrassed of his job
You then compare these, things with what other options are available
It’s called the Social Exchange Theory Comparison and if you have now reached no. 3, you may be considering that your marriage may be really over and that you’ll be able to find better options out there.
During this phase, one or both of you, will be comparing what you currently have to what you think may be available to you outside of the marriage.
The telling signs to indicate your marriage is really over
- You’ll most likely be looking for signs of comparison – is he/she comparing me to another person, either a real person or an ideal.
- Are there unresolved ‘costs’ that neither of you can resolve or find peace with?
- Are the ‘rewards’ from the marriage too low?
If the costs of being involved in the marriage are quite high, and the rewards are quite low, then there is a good chance that one or both of you may be thinking that the marriage is really over.
If you are now thinking your marriage is really over…
Maybe getting some external help is what you need.