The Fine Line Between Utility And Futility: How To Tell If Your Marriage Is Over

They say you can’t fix what isn’t broken. What we often forget, however, is that maybe it’s not worth fixing something that’s irreparably broken. Optimism and persistence are admirable qualities and knowing when to give in and move on is also very much a valuable life skill. Inevitably there are times when you should perhaps spare yourself all that time and energy.

There is a great deal written about the divorce process and practical advice about what to do post-separation – but what about in the lead up to the separation? What are the most common indicators of relationship breakdown? And would you recognise them in your own relationship?


The opposite of love is not always hate. Often the opposite of love is apathy. Whether it’s one party or both spouses, you no longer take the initiative to consider one another. We’re not talking about leaving the ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship and settling into a comfortable pattern: we’re talking here about total indifference. Once this indifference becomes the norm in your relationship, as a couple you may have reached a point of no return.


It’s certainly time to reconsider the expiration date of your marriage when you genuinely prefer either being by yourself or being around other people – anyone else but your husband or your wife. You find the sheer idea of co-existing in the same room unbearable, and whenever it does happen you feel highly unpleasant. The pattern has reversed: the excruciating feeling you once had in their absence now creeps up in their presence.


This can be tricky territory, but if you’d much rather confide in a third party about your struggles and concerns, or share with someone else your successes and celebrations, your marriage may be over, or at least heading that way. When the fundamental role of serving as a source of encouragement and cheerfulness begins to be played by another individual, this a red flag that the marriage has grown dysfunctional. In fact it does not even have to be emotional attraction – it could be the case that you simply consistently opt to approach a relative or a friend over your spouse about private matters.

Be cautious of the emergence of these alarming patterns. . Think about what you want: do you want to work on your marriage or do you want to move forward with a divorce.

If you want to work on your marriage then we highly recommend seeing a professional counsellor. Even if your spouse is not willing to attend counselling and work on the marriage, you might find some benefit in attending a session or two alone with a counsellor.

If counselling is not an option or you feel the marriage cannot be saved then think about seeing a divorce solicitor sooner rather than later. If things are difficult between the couple, we often find that having a legal professional involved softens the blow a bit – it’s not you having to tell your spouse it’s over or that you want a financial settlement, it’s a third party. This is particularly useful where there are children involved: you and your spouse can focus on remaining a parenting team while a solicitor helps sort out the intricacies of divorce and finances.

If you’re really not sure if divorce is for you then speak to us: we can let you know about alternatives like a separation agreement or a judicial separation.


by Isabel Agudo  
Isabel is a guest blogger for Grayfords. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City. She is currently pursuing the Graduate Diploma in Law at The University of Law in London.

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