Sudden End to a Marriage

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

A woman posted this comment on the “Ask the Therapist part of Mental Help Net:

“My partner of 6 years suddenly left with no explanation and has completely shut me and my kids out.”


This is a common phenomenon that can happen with a husband or wife. The abandoned spouse always feels a sense of shock and bewilderment about why their partner suddenly decided to leave. They report believing the marriage was healthy and free of problems. Most often the spouse suddenly announces their unhappiness with the marriage and their intent of immediately leaving. What is behind this painful phenomenon?

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In reality, the shocked reaction of a spouse to their partner separating is demonstrative of one of the problems that plagued the relationship from the beginning. That problem is the unwillingness or inability of the abandoned husband or wife to acknowledge the validity of complaints that constantly arise. In the same way, all marital issues are ignored.

What are some of the warning signs that are symptomatic of a troubled marriage and an unhappy marriage?

1. There is a marked decrease in physical and emotional affection. While this includes sexual relationships it also includes such things as hugging, kissing, joking, intimate conversations, and joint problem solving, among many others. In all, there is a serious diminishment of spontaneity.

2. When together, there are long and awkward silences. This includes feelings of sadness for no apparent reason.

3. Increasing instances of being away from home with the explanations of having more to do at work, etc.

4. A type of one way arguing in which one of the partners wants to discuss things while the other withdraws.

5. Convincing oneself that they are doing a good job of being a good wife or husband while the other feels just the opposite.

6. Dismissing sexual complaints as minor while the spouse fumes over the issue.


Over the years I have met with many separated couples who are willing to come to the office for marriage therapy. In almost all cases one of the partners reports complete shock that their is discontent while the other complains that they repeatedly tried to discuss things but to no avail.

In my experience there are often two major issues that plague a marriage: sex and money. Refusal to admit to one or both of these as being problematic or to argue about them without making any changes, always leads to disaster.

Overall, the spouse who leaves expresses frustrations and that their needs were rarely met despite repeated attempts to have discussions. They complain that they were never listened and feel  alienated and extremely angry. Even the anger may come as a surprise to the other spouse.

Finally, I have found that some marriages are slowly dying with only one of the partners being aware of what is happening.

Does this mean that such a marriage is doomed? It does not have to if both husband and wife are willing to put the effort needed to go to marriage therapy and put in the work necessary to maintain a functioning family relationship. This means that accusing the other for all of the problems must be given up so that each admits to sharing in creating and maintaining problems. Unlock peace of mind and break free from overthinking. Start our life-changing overthinking test.

Have you found yourself in such a situation? Are you or were you in a relationship that suddenly ended with seemingly no explanation?

Your comments and questions are strongly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

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