wedding rings linked together

Do You Know the Signs that Your Marriage Is Over?

Many people consider their marriage to be over and give up on it even though it can still be saved.

rings off mean the marriage is over? definitely not
Taking off a ring does NOT mean the marriage is over, though you will have work to do

For every person who saves their marriage working with me, there are many others who gave up on their marriage in the very same situation. Sometimes it is because they want to, but sometimes it is because they mistakenly believe reconciling is not possible.

The surest sign your marriage is over is you giving up on it.

Many people give up because they actually want to give up. They seek confirmation from the internet and friends that they should divorce. It’s what they are hoping to hear. People cling to the opinions of others who agree with them, even if those people are not qualified to give it.

In a society where immoral choices are considered to be healthy choices, you can find validation for cheating rather than being faithful, arguing rather than finding common ground, prioritizing your self rather than loving others, prioritizing money rather than pleasing God, prioritizing children rather than your spouse, rejecting God rather than being forgiven, and divorcing rather than building your marriage.

All of these behaviors are destructive to marriage and relationships. But if what you want is to feel good for doing bad things, you can easily have it. Validation for unhealthy choices and sinful behavior makes us feel better for doing them, but it doesn’t make us do better.

Seeing something as hopeless will help you to not feel responsible to do anything about it. A person who doesn’t think she can get a job doesn’t need to look for one. A person who doesn’t think he can lose weight can stop working on it. A person who thinks their spouse will never change has a great excuse to give up on their marriage. Blaming others provides the same excuses.

If you want to be validated in your belief that you should give up on your marriage, don’t work with a coach. We know many ways to reconcile relationships from all kinds of situations. See a counselor if you want validation, see a coach if you want to be more successful.

A coach’s job is to help people change–not to validate them for giving up or for continuing to use methods that don’t work.

Are you the one on the fence about reconciling?

If you are not sure whether you should reconcile, then you need some kind of counseling, not coaching. As a coach, I help people to learn relationship skills for reconciling. I don’t help them to decide whether they should or shouldn’t reconcile.

My best advice on making decisions is to seek godly counsel and then make a decision that will lead to the least regret later on.

If you are still listening to me, you just might be one of the people who actually wants to save your relationship.

If you have tried everything you know and it is still not working, should you give up?

What most people know about saving relationships is less than they know about solving math equations. So, they either seek out the opinions of others and follow those who say what validates their feelings, or they try to do what seems to them to be logical. Logic turns out to be a poor guide to relationships.

Generally, the more logical a person is, the worse they do in relationships.


For example, a wife says she wants to divorce. The husband, not wanting to divorce, sees his wife wanting to divorce as the problem. So, he tries and tries and tries to convince his wife to change her mind. That is logical. After all, if she changes her mind, then the threat of divorce disappears (the logical person believes).

When she doesn’t change her mind, her husband gives up. He did what he reasoned to be the solution. It didn’t work and so he loses hope.

Although it seems logical to convince people to believe the way you do, seeking to convince creates more distance and worse relationships. Agreeing with someone who wants something different from you seems illogical, but actually creates connection and closeness. This is why I wrote a book to help people to connect via agreement rather than by convincing or persuading.

People fall out of love for lack of validation and not for lack of persuasion, helping, or correction.

Another example:

A husband wants to divorce and his wife believes the way to save the relationship is to repeatedly talk about their problems either one on one or in marriage counseling. When after months of talking their relationship is actually worse, she gives up.

Because repeatedly talking about problems is unenjoyable and magnifies differences, it is the method for ending a relationship and not for building one.

When you try what you know and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean there is no way. It just means that your way didn’t work. Two people with the same business problems may handle them in different ways. One uses an effective method and has success, the other uses an ineffective method and does not.

Marriage problems don’t end relationships–poor solutions do.

Give up on your solutions rather than your marriage

The reason that most people fail at reconciling is trying single step solutions, or using the right steps in the wrong order.

Building a relationship in the wrong sequence is like vacuuming your whole house before plugging in the vacuum cleaner. You will have done a lot while accomplishing nothing.


For example, many people try to get their spouse to be more sexual by complaining about lack of sex or failure of their spouse to initiate sex. People like to call this “solution” sharing their feelings or being open and honest. This single step “solution” sometimes results in temporary resentful compliance, but leads to a sexless marriage.

Being open and honest with your negative thoughts and feelings about your spouse will never create more desire in your spouse for you.

To actually get your spouse to be more sexual starts with helping your spouse to enjoy nonsexual activity, to help your spouse to feel more attractive, to work on being more desirable, to help your spouse to enjoy nonsexual touch, to strengthen emotional connection, and to decrease availability (decreased availability stimulates desire in a relationship which is otherwise very good. That’s why it is a last step).

There are many steps here. As a coach, these are what I would help you to work on (don’t expect a counselor to be able to help you with all these steps). The more you already have in place, the fewer you need to work on. But if you don’t have any in place, you have to work on all of them. Some people, men especially, tell me it would take too long to get more sex that way. I point out to them, doing it any other way will only achieve temporary resentful compliance, followed by an end to their sexual relationship.

The time it takes to build a relationship with good behavior is infinitely quicker than the time it takes to build a relationship with bad behavior.

Quick and easy are words that never go together with having a good relationship whether with a child, a spouse, or a friend. Quick, easy, and empty are words that go with short term relationships only.

Success is had in reconciling by using the right steps, in the right order, at the right pace.

If your way to work on reconciling is to criticize, complain, argue, or repeatedly talk about problems, you are making your relationship worse. Anything that would not help you to have a new relationship will not help you to reconcile either. You will never re-attract your spouse by doing unattractive and unenjoyable things. (If you are doing these things, you can start with my book on overcoming neediness to help your spouse to enjoy you more).

Your marriage is over if…

Your spouse will no longer have any contact with you

You can’t build something from nothing. And, if all you have is nothing, your relationship already ended. Believing you have a relationship, whether with God or your spouse, doesn’t make it true if there is no evidence for your relationship.

All beliefs are false in the absence of evidence, regardless of how strongly we hold those beliefs.

All relationships start from just a little contact and, through positive interactions, build to a certain plateau. If you don’t have any contact, trying to grow your relationship will be like trying to grow corn without seeds. Believe it as strongly as you will, but no corn will appear.

People who have damaged their relationship to the point of no contact have waited far too long to change their methods.

One characteristic of successful people is seeing what is not working and changing course quickly.

Once your sled gets to the bottom of the hill, it isn’t going any further.

Possible doesn’t mean easy, likely, or even a good idea.

How much relationships build depends on attraction, similarity, and security. Your ability to be the kind of partner your spouse is attracted to, as well as how similar your spouse feels you are, and how fearful your spouse would be to lose you, are all going to determine how difficult it is to reconcile.

The single biggest factor for relationship success is matching interests, values, and personality. I do not recommend working on reconciling if you would need to make major changes to yourself in a way that you would not want to be.

The same factors that go into creating a good marriage go into reconciling.

Don’t think your marriage is over…

Is your marriage over if:

  • Your spouse is having an affair? No.
  • Your spouse says he or she is done? No.
  • Your spouse says there is no chance of reconciling? No.
  • Your spouse won’t go to marriage counseling? No.
  • Your spouse took off his or her wedding ring? No.
  • Your spouse can’t stand you? No.
  • Your spouse is separating? No.
  • Your spouse is filing for divorce? No.

None of these things indicate it is not possible to reconcile.

Why don’t these things mean it’s over?

Decisions about relationships are based on emotion and not reason. When someone is in love, they don’t believe that their relationship will ever end. When they are not in love, they don’t believe they will ever be in love with the other person again. Trying to convince someone to feel something they don’t doesn’t work because feelings don’t work that way.

However, just as your spouse initially fell in love with you, it can happen again. The difference is the speed at which it happens. You will need a multi-step approach to reconcile. Trying to get your spouse to reconcile with you in one step is like asking someone who is not attracted to you to marry you on a first date.

Unless you married a very needy person, it is likely it took some time for your spouse to fall in love and want to marry you in the first place. This isn’t the first time in your relationship that your spouse was not in love with you–it was that way when you first met. You have the same work ahead of you now that you had then.

Not being in love is not an indication you can’t make it happen.

Never try to convince your spouse of that or you will get the same rejection you would if you did that when you were single.

Until your relationship is rebuilt, your spouse is not going to want to reconcile with you.

All relationships are built and rebuilt the same way

All relationships go through the four stages of comfort, connection, romance, and intimacy. Commitment may or may not follow. In a new relationship, these four stages are often achieved quickly. This is because with a new relationship there is no negative baggage to deal with (implicit trust is present). New relationships are also more exciting.

To reconcile, the same four stages are involved, but trust has to be rebuilt before your spouse can feel comfortable with you again. Then, connection has to be built. After that you will have some opportunities for uncommitted friendship, followed by romance, and intimacy. To reconcile you will have to have realistic expectations that it will take longer than when you first met and there are no guarantees.

There are no more guarantees for reconciling than there are for getting married in the first place. All you can do is to increase or decrease the odds with your behavior.

Don’t do love bombing with a spouse who really wants out

Many books written to supposedly help you rebuild your relationship will have you take an overwhelm your spouse with love approach. Bad coaches will also sell this idea to you. The idea is that by consistently showing acts of love to your spouse on a daily basis, his or her heart will be won back to you. This idea sells books and sessions, but works only in limited cases.

Love bombing will only work in relationships in which a spouse does not actually want to leave. If you believe your spouse is doing an intervention to get you to be more loving, then give it a try. But, if you see no indications your spouse is enjoying it, then it is not working. If your relationship is getting progressively worse and your spouse wants less and less contact, it is not working.

Showering someone with love who actually wants to get away from you goes over about as well as mosquitoes at a nudist colony.

Most spouses will feel pressured and angry with that you have started showering them with love now that they are leaving you when you could have done that while they still cared. They will rightfully perceive it as manipulation and not genuine conversion.

Beware of single step solutions. If they really worked, the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.

A better approach than love bombing

If your spouse feels smothered or stressed out by your behavior, you must stop pursuit and work on helping your spouse to relax with you.

Keep this simple truth in mind–you can’t turn someone on by stressing them out.

Help your spouse relax first and then reconnect using good connection skills, while also using good boundaries to build respect. That is your winning formula for reconciling. For 30 years I have been helping men and women to improve their marriages, even when their spouse did not want to. Even when their spouses said they were done. If others have learned to do that, you can too. If you want to learn from me, see the Re-Connections Coaching Package on my website.

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