Even seriously damaged relationships can recover if both parties work together.

How to Know if You're in a Dead End Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

More than half of all first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages fail, according to marital researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., in his book, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail…And How You Can Make Yours Last.” When your marriage is in trouble, it is difficult to know whether to throw in the towel or to work harder to preserve the relationship for everyone’s sake. Specific signs indicate marriages headed for divorce.

1. Marriage Takes Work

Both parties must work on a marriage for it to be successful, affirms marital therapist Bryce Kaye, Ph.D.” as cited in “9 Signs Your Marriage Might Be Over” by Denise Schipani for “Women’s Day.” All that tough work requires connection, communication, respect and teamwork, notes marital therapist Elayne Savage, Ph.D., as cited in the same "Woman's Day" article. Either partner can decide to give up and end things. If you or your partner live as roommates with no connection and little care for one another, you could be so disconnected that neither of you wishes to save the relationship.

2. Four Negative Residents

Conflict isn’t a sign that your marriage is failing, but negative conflict patterns can indicate serious marital problems that lead to divorce, according to Gottman. If you or your spouse engage in criticism that attacks the spouse's character instead of focusing on the problem -- especially when accompanied by blame and corrosive words -- Gottman’s first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse has arrived. Contempt in the form of insults, name-calling, mockery and abusive language signals the arrival of the second horseman. The third horseman is defensiveness that often comes in response to the contempt and disrespect you feel. Finally the fourth horseman of stonewalling arrives when your negative communication habits move to no communication. Recovery is possible, but not without intensive therapy.

3. More Negative Signs

Serial affairs are almost impossible to recover from, according to Drs. Evelyn and Paul Moschetta in “10 Ways to Tell If Your Marriage Is Over” for YourTango. Recovery from an affair when you don’t completely separate from the affair partner is also almost impossible to resolve, states Kaye as cited in Woman's Day. Additionally, constant anger, selfishness and refusal to meet your partner’s needs or to let your partner meet your needs also signals the demise of your marriage. You might notice that conflict increases your heart rate and blood pressure with high adrenaline production. Your child might also ask why you and Daddy can’t get along or if you’re getting a divorce because of high tensions.

4. Unrealistic Expectations

Expecting your spouse to meet all your needs, to rescue you or to make life happy is unrealistic and a set-up for divorce, according to marriage and family therapist Dick Schwartz, as cited in “6 Signs Your Marriage Will End In Divorce” by Leslie Petruck on PsychCentral. Your spouse could try, but it just isn’t possible for one person to meet all the deficits in your life. Either seek counseling to help yourself or expect the marriage to tank.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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