What are the signs of a marriage being over

caflowerluverMarch 9, 2009

when it is not obvious like cheating or abuse? We have been married for over 31 years and ever since my DH got laid off 2 months ago, we have been fighting almost every day.

And it is over stupid little things, like just now at dinner I just said "Shouldn't we test the temperature on the chicken again?" He blows up and yells in anger "I tested it 15 minutes ago and it was close so to anyone with a brain it should be obvious it is done." Then goes storming out and gets in the car and leaves. Anything sets him off. It is like walking on eggshells. I know he is feeling bad because of the layoff, but I am tired of him using me as a whipping boy. I was sympathetic and understanding for the first month, but started losing it when he was constantly yelling at me for every little thing. He explodes over little things like the temperature thing and I am just standing there with my jaw on the floor. I just asked a simple innocent question.

I have suggested counseling for both of us or just him, because of the lay off, and he absolutely refuses. He has buried his head in the sand and won't admit we have a problem. It is beginning to affect his health. We went to the ER and was there till 2:30AM because of his terrible stomach pains. Thought it might be appendicitis, but it turned out to be nothing. And now he refuses to go to a doctor to have more tests done and yells at me when I suggest it. I think he is getting an ulcer because of his anger. I am also worried about the effect this is having on our grown son who has Autism. This is not a good situation for him. He is scared about us getting a divorce and what is going to happen to him. Even the dog is barking all the time now and she never use to. She can feel the always present tension and is reacting to it.

I thought we would be married till we were in the old folks home together but now I am not too sure. I don't like the person he has become. It is not the person I use to know and love.

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I know what I would do. I'd leave for a couple days and wouldn't just sit there taking his insulting outbursts and waiting for the end. I'd leave him a note one Friday telling him I think he needs time to himself, and I will return on Monday in hopes that we can talk by then.

What do you think you should do?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 2:15AM
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I hit submit by accident. I meant to just preview some changes. I was going to add I don't think this is has to be the end of your marriage or is necessarily a sign of it, not unless you don't do anything to wake him out of his situational depression. This kind of pressure can easily make a person lash out at the ones he loves. After being jolted a little, he will probably come to realize how much he needs you and this is a time for you both to pull together, not apart.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 2:20AM
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Clare I came here to read tonight because I'm a bit angry at my DH right now. Sometimes reading about others deeper problems puts my "little by comparison hurts" in perspective.

I think Therm makes a good point. You need some away time. You and your DH only saw each other part time when he was working . This has to be hard on both of you.

I'm certainly no stranger to male mood swings with my bipolar DH. If you just need a shoulder to cry on or someone to rant to please feel free to email me. Maybe now that the weather is better we could do lunch sometime. You need a break.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 4:41AM
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I know a few husbands in the building industry, where business has dried up, and one is spending some of that time working on something he is trying to invent. He is trying to build the prototype in his garage, with a retired guy helping him. He is trying to get a patent on it. But he is really into it and excited about it, and so his mood is good.

Another is refurbishing very inexpensive smaller old boats and trying to sell them, with the extra time on his hands.

Perhaps the point is trying to help your DH find something that he is interested in, and to spend part of his day doing something he has always wanted to do, but never had the time, or opportunity. Can he figure out what that interest might be? Part of it is redefining himself, and thinking outside of the box on finding ways to make that work for him. What is he really good at? What is he interested in? Can he take that and build on it, into something that he could earn something at?

Anyway, just tossing some suggestions into the ring for consideration. Can you take walks together, for fresh air and exercise and toss some idea's out there for him to ponder. Think really outside of the box as you are in the idea stage, with each idea tossed in, make a game of thinking of ways to earn something doing what he likes, and thinking up people who might be willing to pay for it. Even idea's that seem weak at first, might pick up steam as you toss out anyone you can think of who might benefit from what you two come up with, and be willing to pay for it too.

Some people build things, some write books, some tutor teens in math (making anywhere from $35-$50 and hour, by the way) For some, they do private coaching with kids in a sport, for some they cook, etc. I know an attorney who bakes specialty cakes for people, because he likes too. I know men who at this stage of their life, have put together a band to play at private parties or weddings, etc. on the weekends. (one is a judge, another a laid off construction worker). But they have a love of music in common, and are making some money doing what they love!

Anyway, I know it what not what you asked about, but hoping perhaps it gets to the root of the problem, and helps your DH find something good in the midst of these hard times.

I wish you both well.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:11AM
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I agree with bnice, my bet is he is getting depressed about the situation and it is coming out in anger. People often feel it is safe to let the anger out at loved ones.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 4:41PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies but no one really answered the question.

What are the signs that a marriage is over?

I know no one can solve my problems, but I was hoping to get a title of a book to read or maybe some articles that has helped someone who was questioning their marriage. I am trying to sort through everything that has happened in our marriage for the last 31 years and put it all in perspective.

Maybe it has been over for a long time and we were just lying to ourselves because with all the other problems we have had (Autistic child, career problems, in-law family difficulties) we have been blind or unwilling to exam the issues and deal with them. This latest crises has just brought it to a head.

Is marriage nothing more than an endurance contest? Who ever survives the longest wins? Wins what?

Is it better to leave than continue in a situation where no one is happy no matter how long you have been together? Or is this just what marriage is? You just get through one thing after another? You endure whatever till the end? Why?

You just stay together because it is easier then splitting up? You don't want to admit you have spent all those years together for nothing?

These are the questions I have been asking myself over and over and not just because of the fight. I have wondering about this on and off for a long time. I am not sure what makes a good marriage?

Maybe this is as good as it gets? And at 57 I know I won't find anything better so I should just shut up and put up. We seem to have gone our separate ways. He has his interests and likes/dislikes and I have mine and they don't match. We don't do things together because of that and even argue over what TV show or movie to watch.

His parents, married for 59 years, are constantly fighting and bickering. They seem to hate each other. He has seen it too and has commented that he is so happy that our marriage isn't like that, but slowly I see it becoming that way.

So how can you tell if a marriage is worth saving or not?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 1:55PM
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Aptosca, Did this only start 2 months ago?It doesnt sound like he and you are on the same page, if he thinks he s happy and glad you and he are not like his parents, and you are seeing the polar opposite...Your question is when do you know its over? I d have to say if you cant stand the sight of him..You dont want to be in the same room with him..That you dont care what happens to him..That you cant stand to be with him in a marriage for 10 more minutes..Not that you are too old to get some one better and stay for that reason. Better to be alone than lonely in a marriage I think...BUT , you ve only given this 60 days? Way too short of a time to be contemplating divorce after many years.He lost his job. Remember for better or worse? His depression is no reason to bail on him if its possible he will stop being verbally abusive and get happy again if he s treated..And I dont know any book that will tell you what to do, that answer is in your heart, not a book....Good luck

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:56PM
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dotz- Thanks for your honest response. Truth is I am on the fence.

I don't hate him and at times when I look at him I feel the love I had when we first married. But we have our problems and I am tired, maybe too tired to deal with them anymore. I just don't know. And also we have had a long distance marriage for the last 5 years, he only came home on the weekends and sometimes not even then. I learned to live by myself and be on my own and now that he is here 24/7 it has been a big adjustment.

I am use to being able to do things when I want without asking permission or checking in. I ate what I wanted, watched what I wanted, came and went when I wanted. I had to take our Autistic child into consideration and did so, but not him too. I would cater to him on the weekends and let him have his way on everything to keep him happy. Now that he is home, he wants everything his way all the time and there has been arguments. He admits he is a control freak, but just admitting it and not trying to change doesn't help.

I don't know if we can take each other 24/7. We have never been together this much ever in our marriage. I guess this is what couples go through when they are retired.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 3:49PM
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Aptosca, I know the fence...I actually jumped it in my 50s, was an extremely hard choice..But I had no feelings of love, sometimes, or anytime after 28 years..And the thought of spending my old age there was more unbearable than the fear of leaving.I m not a religion zealot or anything, but I was flipping TV channels one day and saw a minister say You dont change your spouse, you change your behavior...Which I thought was great advice, but also realizing that TWO people have to change the behavior, not just one...One doesnt need to be thrown under the bus for the other intractable person...Anyway, if you still have feelings of love sometimes, its worth giving it some time, I think....

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:53PM
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dotz - Sorry to hear about the end of your marriage. I will wait this crisis out and see what happens like I have all the others. Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 11:23AM
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Thanks Apt, But it worked out better than I could have ever hoped, in most aspects...Hope the same happens for you too....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 5:10PM
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I don't have the energy to revisit my former situation, except to put in a nutshell, "better to be alone than wish you were". It's a tough time for you now, but if this has been an ongoing situation, give it some thought.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 7:01PM
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Aptosca: sorry that you are experiencing this pain within your marriage, 2 months compared to the 31 years you've shared together does seem like a relatively short time, but to try and live in those conditions for 2 months, not knowing or suspecting things are improving or when, would feel like a lifetime.

I feel many men gain a great sense of satisfaction from being able to support their family financially, same as many women feel satisfaction serving up nutritious meals for their family, and providing a loving and comfortable environment. If your dh is one of those fellows whose identity came from his career or line of work or the income he earned, well, he's just been stripped of all that, and is probably feeling frightened and lost, and it's coming out in anger.

I have no advice except maybe to see a therapist on your own?, what you've got is not going to be easy, if you can back away from his anger and realize that it's his to own, and doesn't belong to you.

Take care of yourself, it will use up precious energy just to live around all the negative energy he must be emitting.

Please try to look at the positive (glass half empty, glass half full idea). I'm thinking of the story an inspirational speaker gave about getting things in perspective, starting out with how you'd feel if you lost your job, but you still had your home and family. Then you lose your job AND your home, but still have family. Then lose job, home AND family, and just have yourself. All of a sudden, losing your job (although still BAD) seems to be a much more workable situation compared to losing your family.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:35PM
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I've been married 30 years. As long as our needs are being met, we will stay married. (U have to define what U want, then decide how your going to get it ...right?)Here's an article that defines the 5 things women want:
1) Women want you to listen up
2) Women want to be taken seriously
3) Women want to be considered when your making plans
4) Women want to be adored
5) Women want acknowledgment and appreciation


    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:00PM
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Hi, aptosca ... I'll take a stab at answering your question ... what are the signs that a marriage is over?

To my way of thinking, when there's no abuse going on, it's over when you no longer care whether the person lives or dies. That doesn't mean you wish anything bad for him ... you just will not mourn, you're past that point. You just will not care. That's a very, very sad state to be in, with a man who you once loved.

I guess what disturbs me about your situation is that, had he remained employed, I don't think you'd be asking the question. You'd still be living on your own during the week, and he'd be coming home on weekends like always ... which kind of makes it look like his biggest asset to you was the financial stability he provided, altho maybe you didn't realize it at the time because you were, as you said, so used to your routines. If he's thinking the same thing, that would contribute to his anger.

Losing a job for some people is losing your identity. You're lost, and you absolutely do not know who you are anymore, or what value you provide. You already know that. You know he's grieving, but so are you right now ... you're grieving the loss of a way of life you'd become accustomed to. So you've got two people who are both grieving, and not communicating about it. You're resenting him for being underfoot and angry, and he's resenting that you're not treating him like a king anymore and are therefore re-enforcing that he has no value. (that's what the layoff made him feel like)

After two or three months of this, I'm thinking he needs a swift kick in the pants to get off his pity pot ... but you're needing one too ... to get off yours! While on the one hand I can't imagine being around someone 24x7 who is furiously angry all the time ... I also can't imagine throwing out 31 years of marriage without putting up a helluva fight.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:25AM
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Since it sounds like he wasn't like this before, then this is most likely situational. I would suggest counseling and if that doesn't work, suggest a trial separation and explain that his angry words are abusive, that this is not like the man you married, you are concerned and this is why you would like to seek counseling. If he is resistant, then leaving him may be the only chance you have to get him to agree to counseling. Sometimes people need tough love and to hit rock bottom before they will wake up. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 2:58PM
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Stoney- that was so well put. I'm going through a little something right now too. That is why I was drawn to the title of this thread.

Aptosca- I have a question. Did you ever miss him while he was away? Dh will say things to me like "I really missed you" or "did you miss me?" and I always lie or avoid the question by changing the topic. Truth is I never miss him when he's gone. I love him but feel like I can relax and breath when he's at work. I don't dread him coming home, but I don't miss him when he's gone. That seems like a sign to me.

Sorry to hijack you thread, but I was just curious because I can relate to some of what you are talking about. I still think Stoney made a really good point.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 4:22PM
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I really don't think that "not missing" your spouse while they are at work is a sign of anything. I mean, how many people really miss someone for a few hours? I adore my children, but do I miss them while they are at school? Nope. We are independent creatures, and that's okay. I don't question my love for them.

I'm wondering if your husband's smothering behaviors have you distancing yourself. I'm assuming a lot here, but in in all honesty I can't imagine my husband asking me if I missed him, ever.

I don't think it's a sign of anything. Except the fact that he questions you, misses you, etc - perhaps he feels distance, so he pursues, which creates more distance. Wonder what would happen if he stepped back and gave you space to explore your own feelings? (He'd probably be scared to, which always ends up with more of the same - fear based smothering. It's such an ironic mess, often times.)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 5:19PM
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See I did hijack your thread, we were talking about you.

One of the things you said was so true though. There is a "pursuer" thing that comes out in him where I have to tell him I feel like I'm being hunted. All it does is make me run away. I had never really thought of them as "smothering behaviors". Even though I have felt that way before. Interesting. That explains some things.

The difference for me (not from you, but from him) is that he leaves the house to go to work (for 48 hours at a time) and I stay here. I told him it might be different if I was the one leaving, but this is the life I'm used to. I just wondered if I was supposed to be feeling differently and that is why I asked if you found yourself missing your husband while he was away.

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:36AM
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It has been almost a month since I posted. He finally started coming out of his grief and being angry all the time a week or two ago. It was like having the old DH again and things were fine. Then something bad happened, he got rejected from a job he really wanted. He also heard some bad things that were being said about him. Now he is back into that 24/7 angry mood. I tried to talk to him and tell him it is just one job and don't pay attention to what other people say, but he is vulnerable right now and won't listen to me. I wonder if this is the way it is going to be forever.

Is he so tied up in his job that he has no other identity? Or will he finally come out of it and when? I am willing to wait if I feel it is worth the wait, but I don't know if I can take another 30 years of anger and negativity. I have seen that happen to relatives of mine. They never let go of past hurts and made life miserable for everyone around them.

Thanks for all the posts. There were some very good comments. Yes I do miss him when he is away. Not every single minute but quite a bit. Even though he wasn't there during the week, he was always in my thoughts. And we would call and email several times all day long every day. And I do care whether he lives or dies. I think I would feel a lot of grief if something happened to him. A bunch of female friends were talking and asked if anyone of us would marry again if something happened to our current DH. I said I never would remarry, my DH would be a tough act to follow. I would measure every man I met against him and I doubt many would make the grade.

And I admit it, I am scared and do miss the financial stability we had when he was working. The whole financial situation the country is in right now is scary. I have started applying for jobs. We need the money and the insurance. He can stay home and take care of our Autistic son for the next 20 years, I have done it for the last 25, and I will go to work. That just might be what we both need.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 7:01PM
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Please hang in there, for a while longer if you can. I am also married to someone who can be angry 'at the world'. Angry over things he had/has no direct control over. It sounds like your dh may not have developed healthy coping skills.

The man you miss is the one who isn't so angry (when things were going well in better days) and of course you don't want to spend your life with someone who is always angry - no one does.

And I've been there, living with a constantly 'angry with the world' guy, and it would be such a relief when he'd tell me he had to be out of town for the evening, it would feel like a holiday to be alone with the kids, let them play, get them to bed, and not be around all that negative energy.

I'm sure you'd seen in the news the sad accident Liam Neeson's wife Natasha experienced. In an interview in a magazine I'd read after, she was speaking of the horrible accident Liam had been in 8 or 9 years ago, and the ups and downs in their marriage, and had made the comment that 'you have to be able to ride the waves'. When I read that quote I thought of you and this thread, you've just hit one of your waves, it'll take strength and balance to get yourself through it.

Continued good wishes.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:43PM
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kioni - Thank you for your kind thoughts and good wishes. The best to you too.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:01PM
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