Is it Too Late to Save Your Marriage?

By Dr. Kristin Davin, Psy.D. for

Not everyone who goes through a divorce has been blindsided or shocked to discover that their spouse wants out, but there are many that fall into this category. And by many, I mean predominantly men. This is commonly referred to as “Sudden Divorce Syndrome.”

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As Donna Ferber, an psychotherapist in Ohio stated in her article, Sudden Divorce Syndrome: Reality or Myth? “A man may be shocked by the news that his wife wants ‘out’ but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t given plenty of warning. It usually means he wasn’t listening. ‘Sudden Divorce Syndrome’ assumes impulsive behavior on the part of the woman. Nothing is further from the truth. Perhaps a better term would be ‘Shocked Divorce Syndrome.’ That certainly is an accurate description of these men who find themselves blindsided.”

Nationwide, women file for divorce 66 percent of the time. Some reports have the figure closer to 75 percent Wow! What’s going on? Despite the time and effort made by women and their relentless and numerous attempts to engage in conversations, which by the way have become circular in nature and morphed into chronic arguments, it’s not enough to save the marriage. Her attempts have proven futile. And exhausting. Feeling disconnected, frustrated, and disillusioned, women are done. Like, “stick a fork in me” done.

But, let’s be clear. A woman’s decision to divorce didn’t come easy. Nor was their decision “sudden.” Many women do not necessarily want a divorce. They just feel they no longer have a choice. Their decision, though difficult, was due to several reasons. Reasons that have been percolating for a long time. A very long time.

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Triggers that Ignite Dissolution

The infamous “nagging” Although nagging is a stereotypical complaint cited by men, there is often (not always) a legitimate reason for her nagging. Ask yourself, “Have you promised to do something for her?” “Did you follow through or say ‘you will get to it?’” “Has she tried to have a conversation with you about recurring problems?” She is trying to reach you. “Have you said that you will take care of something, but didn’t?” Her frustration leads to a marked decrease in conversation, requests and “nagging.” However, the nagging comes to an end because she has given up and has decided this is the end of the line. She turns her discontent and frustration into silence. A wife’s silence has been interpreted by men as a blissful marriage. Quite the contrary. A woman has already emotionally checked out.

The message in the behavior It’s very common that what is most bothersome to people is not the actual behavior (though trust me, behaviors do bother people), but the message that emanates from the behavior. What’s the message? Despite years of monitoring the marriage, making ongoing requests for a conversation for changes to be made, to be listened to, feel understood, take problems seriously (even if you don’t think they are problems), and eventually resolve problems are demonstrated as an unwillingness by men to take the time to talk and resolve the issues (the behavior). Their unwillingness gets interpreted as “this marriage isn’t important enough for me to listen and make changes.”

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A point of no return Once a woman has become tired of the situation, seldom do they turn around. At this stage, the marriage is rarely, if ever, salvageable. Her resolve and strength to work on the marriage have dissipated and have been replaced by feelings of sadness. Ask her what’s wrong with the marriage? She will answer “everything” indicating a level of unrecognizable frustration.

Men soon find themselves in therapy, desperately trying to save the marriage, which by most accounts, is no longer salvageable.

Sometimes it’s just too late.

This article originally appeared on Is A Marriage Past The Point Of No Return?.

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Charmaine C.
Charmaine C.about a year ago

Thank you for a valuable article that speaks to me of other people facing the same challenges I know so well.

Cheryl M: says it perfectly for me.

Some men are way more responsive than others and open to conversation and adjustment. So good in so many ways and so very bad in others. I am a reasonably patient person but after 33 years of the same chit over and over again, it's starting to wear really thin. I won't break my marriage because I love him deeply and I am by nature pragmatic and will continue to try and work it out until the final clock stops ticking. Sometimes I wonder what it all about for some of us..

Franck R.
Franck R.about a year ago

Thank you

Rosa Caldwell
Rosa Caldwellabout a year ago

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Winn Adams
Winn Adamsabout a year ago

Some marriages should NOT be saved . . . . . .

Marg Tyrell
Margaret Tyrellabout a year ago

I'm afraid it's true, men tend not to listen to wives unless they're talking about money or DIY (well, that's my experience) Ladies, you have to show your fangs and look as if you're about to inflict a poisonous bite to get some attention. In spite of this hassle I'm still married :) Good luck!

Karen Martinez
Karen Martinezabout a year ago

The comments are better than the article! I'm not ready to leave my husband of 21 years, and I don't believe he's ready to leave me yet either. We both have our strengths, and we both have our weaknesses. We understand that he's never going to be one to spend the weekend curled up with a great book, and I'm never going to run a marathon. And we still love each other. He gets me to go for walks, and I read out loud to him, so we compromise. I don't want to change him, and he doesn't want to change me (or he's given up trying).

Teresa W.
Teresa W.1 years ago

What's the point in saving slavery?

Masahiko E.
.1 years ago

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordan1 years ago

I suggest that a lot of the time the problem is that the woman has married a man in the exoectation that she will change or reform him, instead of choosing someone she likes the way he is. Then she finds out that she can't re-shape him into someone else and gets fed up.

Also, everybody on earth is annoying in large doses. Once you've got over that first flush of love you're bound to find the partner irritating in some ways, and perhaps women are more easily irritated than men (or men are more irritating!). We've created an unnatural situation in which couples are together every day and don't get a break from each other, so irritation has time to breed. In the past, men went away to market for days or to sea for weeks or months, and women took the sheep to the high pasture all summer, and they had time to get over their annoyance and start to miss each other again.

Cheryl Mallon-Bond

Very well articulated! Simply put, but powerfully stated. EVERY MAN needs to read this! & every women that has ever felt these frustrations is shaking her head in agreement & probably saying..."you took the words right out of my mouth!!!!!" Thank you!