Marriage is a journey with ups and downs, yet sometimes the journey seems to have more downs than ups.
That’s when some of us might throw in the towel, even if we don’t admit it.
But subtle behaviors often give away true feelings. We might not say it out loud, but these signs speak volumes about our willingness to keep fighting for the relationship.
Here are some quiet hints that someone might have checked out of their marriage, even if they haven’t put it into words.
Let’s get started.
1) Avoiding intimacy
Marriage isn’t just about sharing a roof and a last name. It’s about sharing your life, your thoughts, and your feelings with one another.
That’s why one of the most telling signs that you might have given up on your marriage is an obvious avoidance of intimacy. This doesn’t just refer to the physical kind, but also emotional intimacy.
When you start to pull away from deep conversations, or if you feel disinterested in hearing about your partner’s day, it might be more than just exhaustion or distraction.
You might prefer to keep things surface-level because you’ve emotionally checked out of the relationship. By this point, you’ve built an invisible wall between your partner and yourself, preventing a true connection.
2) Being always “busy”
I remember a friend of mine who’s been married for ten years. On the surface, everything seemed fine. He was always busy, always working on some project or another. It was easy to believe that he was just swamped with work.
But then I started to notice that his “busyness” was more than just professional commitments.
Even during our casual get-togethers, he seemed more interested in his phone than in the people around him. Family gatherings, dinner parties, they all seemed like obligations he was trying to rush through.
And then there were the subtle excuses to avoid spending quality time with his wife. He was always too tired, too stressed, or too caught up in something else.
It wasn’t until much later that he admitted he’d been using his “busyness” as a shield, a way to avoid confronting the problems in his marriage.
This commonly happens to people who have given up on their marriage.
Because when you give up on your marriage but won’t admit it, you’ll often find yourself burying yourself in work or hobbies as a way of distancing yourself from your partner.
3) Increased criticism
In a fulfilling marriage, partners often focus on each other’s strengths rather than dwelling on their shortcomings.
But when someone has given up on their relationship, they might start to zero in on their partner’s flaws.
This can take the form of nagging, constant criticism, or making disparaging comments about their partner. It’s as if they’ve put on a pair of glasses that only let them see the negatives.
So, if a person seems to have nothing but negative things to say about their spouse, it might be a hint that they’ve emotionally left the marriage.
4) Reluctance to plan for the future
When you’re committed to a relationship, you naturally think about the future.
You make plans together, whether it’s for next week’s dinner party, next year’s summer vacation, or your shared retirement dreams.
This means that if someone has given up on their marriage, they might show a reluctance to make any long-term plans with their partner.
They might dodge conversations about the future or make vague, non-committal remarks when the topic comes up.
This hesitation to plan ahead could be an indication that they don’t see their spouse in their future, even if they haven’t admitted it to themselves yet.
5) Lack of communication
The importance of communication in any relationship cannot be stressed enough.
It’s how we express our needs, our desires, our fears, and our love. Ideally, in a healthy marriage, partners communicate openly and frequently.
So when someone has given up on their marriage, communication often takes a hit.
They might become more silent or distant, avoiding deep or meaningful conversations. They might even resort to one-word answers or non-verbal cues instead of open dialogue.
This breakdown in communication doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that often goes unnoticed until it becomes a significant issue.
6) Absence of affection
There’s something profoundly beautiful about the shared affection in a marriage. It’s in the way couples hold hands while walking, share a spontaneous hug, or exchange soft words of love.
These are the things that make a relationship warm, intimate, and strong.
But when someone has silently given up on their marriage, these gestures of affection often fade away. The warmth cools down, the hugs become scarce, and affectionate words are replaced by silence.
It’s like watching a beautiful painting lose its colors. It’s subtle and slow, but heartbreaking, nonetheless.
And this lack of affection can be a powerful indicator that someone has emotionally withdrawn from their relationship.
7) Frequent disagreements
I’ve always believed that disagreements are part and parcel of any relationship. Differences of opinion can actually lead to growth and understanding, provided they’re handled with respect and patience.
But there was a time in my life when disagreements became a constant part of my daily routine. Every conversation seemed to spiral into an argument. From deciding what to eat for dinner to planning a weekend outing, it felt like we were on different pages all the time.
It wasn’t until later that I realized these frequent disagreements were not just about differing opinions. They were a reflection of the growing disconnect between us, an indicator that I had, in many ways, given up on the relationship.
So when someone consistently disagrees with their partner or picks fights over small issues, it could be a subtle sign that they’ve emotionally withdrawn from the marriage.
8) Less time spent together
Quality time is the glue that binds a relationship. It’s during these shared moments that memories are made, bonds are strengthened, and love is reaffirmed.
If someone has given up on their marriage, they might start to spend less and less time with their partner. They might find excuses to be alone, or they might fill their schedule with activities that don’t involve their spouse.
This gradual distancing can be a subtle sign of their emotional withdrawal from the relationship. They’re physically present but emotionally absent.
When it comes to marriage, particularly one that’s teetering on the edge, these subtle behaviors can be signs of a deeper struggle. They could be indicators that someone has given up on their marriage, even if they haven’t admitted it.
So if you notice these subtle signs in someone you know—or even in yourself—use this understanding as a catalyst for compassionate conversation and connection. Reach out with kindness and patience, because sometimes the bravest thing we can do is admit when we’re struggling.
Dr. Brené Brown, a renowned professor and storyteller, once said, “Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.'”