While marriage is meant as a lifelong commitment, not every union weathers the storms of time. Challenges can chip away at the foundation, leaving couples feeling distant or disconnected. In these cases, the once-vibrant flame of their love flickers and fades.
A dying marriage lacks vitality, connection, and joy. It is a marriage that may end in divorce or separation if the couple does not take steps to restore it. A dying marriage usually goes through some common stages.
A Look At The Stages Of A Dying Marriage
This phase can usher in feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or disappointment in your marriage. Doubts may creep in, leaving you questioning whether you chose the right partner or even the right path by getting married. Unmet expectations or perceived changes in your spouse can further fuel this unease. You might even find yourself losing interest in your partner or the relationship itself.
A growing sense of isolation and detachment marks this stage, where you feel ignored by your spouse. You may feel increasingly unheard, with your attempts to share thoughts and feelings met with silence or indifference. A void of shared interests widens, leaving you questioning whether you have anything in common anymore. This disconnection can breed a deep longing for intimacy, affection, and attention, which remains unfulfilled by your spouse.
This is the stage where you stop talking to each other, or you only talk about superficial or practical matters. You may avoid or dread conversations, or you may argue or criticize each other frequently. You may also lie, hide, or withhold information from each other. You may lose trust, respect, or empathy for each other.
Emotional distance often creeps in during this stage, weakening the bond you once shared with your spouse. Concern for their feelings, needs, and opinions may fade, and expressing your own vulnerabilities becomes increasingly difficult. Numbness, indifference, or even boredom can seep into your interactions. The sense of friendship, partnership, and romance that once thrived may seem like a distant memory.
At this stage, you lose physical intimacy with your spouse. You may sleep apart or refrain from any contact, such as kissing or hugging. You may have no sex life or only have sex out of duty or habit. You may lack any attraction, desire, or passion for your spouse. You may even feel repelled, disgusted, or angry with them.
In this phase, you start to feel bitter, angry, or hateful toward your spouse. You may blame them for your unhappiness or the problems in your marriage. You may also feel that they have hurt you, betrayed you, or taken advantage of you. You may hold grudges, seek revenge, or punish your spouse. You may also show contempt and ridicule for your spouse.
This is the stage where you start to look for ways to escape your marriage or to cope with your unhappiness. You may immerse yourself in work, hobbies, friends, or other activities. You may also turn to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other addictions. You may also seek comfort, validation, or excitement from someone else, such as an affair partner, a friend, or a stranger.
This is where you decide whether to end your marriage or take a break from it. You may move out, file for divorce, or ask for a trial separation. You may also cut off contact, limit communication, or set boundaries with your spouse. You may feel relieved, liberated, or hopeful for a new life. You may also feel sad, guilty, or fearful of the future.
As you already know, these are some of the stages of a dying marriage, but they are not inevitable or irreversible. Many couples can revive their marriage, or at least improve it, by seeking professional help, such as marriage counseling, therapy, or coaching. They can also work on their own by communicating effectively, resolving conflicts, rebuilding trust, rekindling intimacy, expressing appreciation, and making changes. However, some marriages may be beyond repair or too toxic or abusive to continue. In that case, the best option may be to end the marriage, accept it as it is, and focus on your own happiness and well-being.