Is Your Marriage Broken?

When I first started my marriage project, I didn’t think it was going to work. I saw the project as a way to prove to myself that I’d married the wrong person, that my marriage was beyond repair, and that I was an idiot for feeling guilty about ending it.

Then a strange thing happened. Things got better.

After four months my bad marriage certainly had not been cured, but it had improved so much that I stopped planning my exit strategy. I renewed my vows instead.

I’d love to give you a list of “yes” and “no” questions that could help you determine whether your marriage is broken. I can’t. The only way to find out whether your marriage is beyond repair is to sincerely try to fix it and see what happens.

I put the word sincerely in italics because it’s easy to go through the motions of fixing your marriage. When you go through the motions, you buy books, but you either don’t read them or you don’t practice the exercises they suggest. You go to marital counseling, but you daydream the entire session and you don’t do the homework your counselor asks you to do. You read this blog, but you find one excuse after another to not put the advice into practice.

You think about saving your marriage, but you do not take a strong step in any direction. You just stand still and you think.

To find out if your marriage is beyond repair, you need to stop thinking and start doing—something, anything, everything. Try things that seem silly. Try things that you don’t think will work. Try things that you think are downright insane.

Try everything. When Project: Happily Ever After is published later this year, you’ll get a chance to read about everything that I tried. For instance, you’ll read about how I attempted to learn how to be a better hugger, and how that didn’t quite work. The point is that some of what we did worked. Some of it didn’t.

You’ll probably come to the same conclusion when you attempt to fix your own marriage. You won’t be able to predict what will work until you try it. What works for some marriages doesn’t work for others. There is not one blueprint to follow.

More important, you won’t know whether things are beyond repair until you give it your all for at least four months, if not longer.

One marital counseling session is not enough.

One argument is not enough.

One book isn’t even enough.

Try everything. If nothing works, then it’s broken.

For my readers who have ended a marriage, how did you decide it was time to give up? How did you know your marriage was broken? What advice can you share with others here who are pondering whether it’s time to give up.

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64 comments… add one

  • Brandon postelle June 28, 2013, 9:38 am

    Today has been two months away from my son and wife. I was the abuserin the rrelationship and I realized after her leaving that I didn’t want to lose. I have started therapy personally, but I don’t know if it is to late. I love her so much and it wasn’t that I wanted to be like that with her, I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions. I just pray it’s not to late and that the trust and love can be restored. I’ve never lived anything or anyone enough to put my all into and now. I just hope that it’s not to late. I’ve started therapy and anger management. I need help and prayers.

  • lost July 18, 2013, 12:27 am

    where to start… mental abuse on both sides. affairs from us both. families and friends hating the spouse. I have a daughter, we have a son together, and there is one on the way. She filed a restraining order and took my son even though I could prove she assaulted me and I had to jump out of a moving car to get away from her. ANY fight causes her to leave for a couple months. We both are afraid to let the other have control of our marriage. She was sexually assaulted by her father who later tried to sale her as a slave. Her mother abandoned her and ignored her until our son was born and all of a sudden she is “an awesome mother” my wife moved into a battered women’s shelter who is giving her everything she needs including a lawyer to divorce me even though I have never laid a hand on her. I filed for divorce, but the funny thing is… I will do anything to fix this and spend the rest of my life with her. She is my best friend, my forever. It’s in God’s hands now to fix both our hearts, but I believe in forever I just wish I knew how to prove to her that she is my world

  • Amber August 4, 2013, 2:01 am

    Me and my husband have been together six years. We have four beautiful children. We both have cheated, lied and been diceteful to eachother. He gets angry and breaks things and ruins our belongings. I get angry and hit him, call him names and yell. He used to be an alcholic and pop pills but all of that changed when we had our first daughter. Now all we have is anger and anxiety towards eachother. I want all of this to work but I dont know if its going to because of all the arguing and hatered. I realy need help on this. Can my marriage be saved?

  • dollidani August 14, 2013, 8:58 pm

    Me and my husband have been together for a little more than eight years married for 5 plus years. We have two kids together and he has two from previous relationships. He has physically cheat the year before my son was born and just recently. He tells me he wants a divorce but I’ve been with him since I was eighteen I don’t know how to not have him in my life now. I want to make it work so bad and I am willing to do anything and everything to save it for me and my kids. He doesn’t know if he wants it to work and I think its due to the girl he is seeing at the moment that led to all this. I’m dying inside I don’t believe in divorce. I hope my marriage is save able …

  • Travis October 17, 2013, 9:00 am

    My wife just left last weekend , i have been trying to get her to come back .
    but the truth is i have been the one that has ignored her and just said it will fix it’s self.
    Now I am stuck here trying to find ou how to change. I do very much want my marraige to work, I just truthfully need some advicce and help

  • Gene October 18, 2013, 10:20 am

    Actually I would feel as if I was in your wife’s shoes because mine ignored my pleas over the years as I slow died in front of her. We have been stuck living in the same house, but if it had not been for cursed poverty we would have been over and done by years. When you ignore someone and they finally turn their back you have a big problem. I am nice to her as a friend, but I live my own life, come and go on my own and sleep in my own room. I enjoy my time to myself and value it. We will never be the same. she showed me our wedding rings yesterday and I dont even remember her putting them away. I do not want sex, and I wont wear a ring agin, a shackle to someone who betreayed me.

    If you want your wife back, my advice to you is to opologise your ass off, do all you can to be good to her and then cheange your attitude man and realize she is a human being with feelings and the longer a mate feels snubbed the more we learn to live on our own and one day the tears stop flowing. I have been hurt so bad I thought I could not stand it, but now I feel almost indifferent. If you feel you were wrong and you let it get to that point, you have a big battle ahead of you. Change is not hard, you must learn to feel for the other and realize they are every bit as much a person as you, you must put yourself aside and be about them. I dont mean to be mean, but I have spent yers being the guy who was ignored and now she is upset that we are not close like we once were. I briefly dated someone else, we broke up, but I have never been sorry. When you are ignored you feel totally alone, so very alone. It is horrible. It will fix itself….she will learn to live without you. Good luck.

    • Gill October 19, 2013, 5:12 pm

      I am exactly where you are Gene – the only thing holding me back is my 2 year old. I stopped working to have her but I know I will find something else for a job. I’ll never have back the career I gave up to become a mum but I have been applying for night jobs. It was my birthday yesterday. My husband was the only one who didn’t even wish me happy birthday. I don’t exist for him, not as a real person with real feelings. That isn’t how you treat someone you care about, or even someone you distantly like. I don’t know what’s best to do; rip my 2 year old out of the only home she’s ever had and leave or stay here and try to live my own life? My husband has said he’ll move out to give me some space – but he never does it. He says he wants to stay married – I can’t for the life of me think why. He wants a wife and kids but doesn’t want to be a husband or father. He ignores our little girl when it suits him. I can’t kick him out – we both own 50% of this house. My little girl loves her daddy but his constant turning away from me (and her although she isn’t old enough to see it yet) is sending me emotionally bankrupt. I can’t care any more. I don’t dare. I have so little ‘self’ left, I can’t risk it and his constant expectation that I must just keep on keeping on no matter how he treats me is killing me inside. Every day is a huge struggle to hold myself together for my child, knowing my partner doesn’t care about us, often acts as if he’d rather we weren’t there – what’s going to happen when my daughter is old enough to get it? She already asks ‘why doesn’t daddy want to play with me?’ I have no answer, for her or me.
      Any advice? Should I stay? Go? Please.

  • Dru November 9, 2013, 5:28 am

    Someone tell me, can a broken marriage be saved? I am hurting sooo much. I am stuck between wanting reconcile wit my wife, and moving on. Interestingly, despite the fact that we hurt each other so much, I still love her. Am I crazy?

  • Jane February 21, 2014, 11:18 pm

    i am Jane from Canada, i married to my lovely husband will live happily for three good years. December 22th 2012 will went out for shopping after doing all will have to will came back home not know that a lady will met at the shopping place exchange contact with my husband,three days after she called my husband, after my husband receive her call he surd ling change his behavior the next morning he take some of his wears and package them on his luggage he told me that his traveling with his director i ask him when will you come back there was no good answer on him so i kept my mount short because i have never experiences such character on him he went out and take a taxi i was expecting him to come back home the next day not know that he went and stay with a lady that exchange contact with him at shopping place he was there

  • Amber Gonzalez October 9, 2014, 1:13 am

    I am 21 years old and am not writing about my own relationship problems but those of my parents. I was reading lots of comments and feel that my case is a bit different because it is my mom that is pushing my dad away with her selfish ways. The marriage always has seemed to work because of the four children that kept them preoccupied but now that we are grown they have become more distant. My mother works a lot (too often) and my dad does not. They both have well paying jobs but my mom just goes above and beyond at her work. My dad is not in the most perfect health and suffers from spinal cord injuries that make excess walking and even sitting tiring and painful for him. My mother is very different from him and must be busy at all times. She is currently fixing a house for her uncle (she actually enjoys remodeling projects) and even at our own house she is remodeling the front yard. The truth is my dad cannot keep up and is forced to stay home while my mom does her projects that she enjoys. Because my siblings range from 18-25, we are all grown, in relationships or moved out. My mom is obviously very busy while my dad is mostly home. My dad is at home all day and is very lonely but my mom seems not to care, does not notice, or simply is too determined to finish her projects. I come from a very religious family and they have been married for 27 years. I want to intervene but I do not know how. Is it even right for me to? I feel that they have been living this way for several months and if it is worth saving I feel that time is making the situation worst.

  • Andre December 21, 2014, 9:04 pm

    Hi all I Really need Help to Save my Marriage i know WDid was Wrong But 1 went for help and my wife still has’nt come back home what should I do

  • Suzu November 27, 2015, 4:37 pm

    You don’t always get what you ask for. I have asked my husband for simple little things; hugs, hand holding, kisses, sex, to dialogue with me, to do the homework assignments given to us by our marriage workshop leaders, to read emails I’ve sent him to help him gain insight about our relationship and how we can communicate and have a better life. He does not do any of it. He makes all of the decisions in our marriage. He cheated in me with a woman for five years. He told me this one year ago and we are supposed to be working on our marriage. He’s happy as a clam because he gets to live in our home as a family, and do whatever he wants. I speak with him about the situation, but never get a result I’m hoping for. I’m still in this marriage cause I have kids and currently no job.

  • Pensive March 31, 2016, 12:44 pm

    My husband had a really good job when we got married. Halfway through my first pregnancy the contract ended and he only made half-assed efforts to get back on it then gave up. Since then we have struggled financially, I support us but don’t earn as much as he used to so it’s hard. He is kind and caring in a way but also can’t get stuff done, can’t plan ahead… Sex-wise I have never felt like he ‘wanted’ me. It always seemed like it was a chore for him and I went from being a confident, sexual person to being ashamed of my desires and my body. I developed depression and anxiety and stopped being able to socialise. I still supported us but suffered panic attacks and suicidal feelings. Eventually I got help and in my treatment learned to find activities that nourished me and limit my exposure to things I found very draining. I realised my marriage was very draining. I started to find other interests that I enjoyed and that challenged me. I started to blossom. I spent less time with my husband and he started getting resentful and angry. I said maybe we should separate. He said he would change, get a job, start pulling his weight. But months later nothing has happened. I want a divorce. He says ‘marriages take work’ and he thinks I’m ‘selfish’ and ‘not prepared to try’. He can’t see I’ve been through hell all this time. I want to live now and have things to look forward to. I feel guilty for not ‘trying’ more but living under the same roof as him is awful. I can’t be in the same room as him for more than 30 minutes without crying. If it wasn’t for the children I would have gone months ago. Can he change? Can he become a husband who can cherish me and step up as an equal partner? I worry that if I stick around to find out my depression will overwhelm me again. Is it wrong to want to go? My heart is broken in every way. My husband has always refused any form of therapy as it’s ‘not for him’. He doesn’t see that his attitude to love and life is not functional and until he can face that and work on it, our marriage is, for me, a prison where my dreams fade and my passions have no place.


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