6 Tips to Help You Let Go and Move on When Your Marriage Is Over

Updated on July 7, 2020
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Janis has extensive experience as a licensed professional counselor in assisting clients recover from the pain of unhealthy relationships.

Coping with the End of Marriage is Painful

The dreams held on the wedding day don't always last. They slowly fade during the course of a bad marriage.
The dreams held on the wedding day don't always last. They slowly fade during the course of a bad marriage. | Source

Making Your Final Decision

There is a saying which goes, "all good things must come to an end." However, when two people make a promise of eternal love and fidelity to each other through the union of marriage, they expect the good to last forever. No one gets married to separate or to get a divorce. Most individuals take their vows seriously and expect to stay married as they plan to share hopes and dreams as one.

So when a final decision is made to end a marriage due to insurmountable circumstances, it is said to be one of the most painful forms of grief a person will experience, riddled with a myriad of feelings. Those circumstances usually include issues that cause deep-seated wounds such as:

  • a broken trust or deception
  • betrayal or infidelity
  • repeated abusive behavior

The ideal in most cases of marital conflict would be to stay married and work it out. It is not the preferred choice of the individual or couple to end their marriage, but there comes a time when long-standing denial dissolves and the reality of the situation comes clearly into focus. The couple realizes they've tried everything available to them to save their marriage, but too much damage has occurred. The eleventh hour has passed and it is time to move on, as difficult as that decision might be.

The poem at the end of this article illustrates the acceptance of this harsh reality. This acknowledgement marks the demise of a marriage which has come to an end. Coping tips are offered to assist you as you move through this difficult period.

Accepting the End: 6 Tips to Help You Cope and Move On

This article is dedicated to those individuals and couples who fought valiantly to save their marriages but it just wasn't in the cards. As long as you know in your heart you did everything to save your marriage, you've done enough. Here are a few suggestions to help you transition from being married to starting over and rebuilding your life:

  1. See your marriage as having had a purpose in your life that has run its course; make a list of what you've learned, how you've grown from the experience, and what you've gained from the challenges; use these insights for self-exploration and future relationship success.
  2. Acknowledge a mixture of contradicting emotions and allow yourself to feel each one, e.g., anger, loss, sadness, guilt, relief, failure, abandonment, fear and liberation.
  3. Monitor the duration of these emotions which may indicate serious symptoms of depression; contact a professional healthcare provider if the feelings worsen over several weeks and months, affecting your ability to function.
  4. Consider seeing a therapist to assist you in getting through grieving the loss of your marriage; coping with the end of a marriage is sometimes compared to the process of mourning a death.
  5. Connect with good friends for social support; try to stay active with your church, civic groups, and clubs; engage in hobbies and recreational activities; seek out therapeutic support groups if necessary.
  6. Count the blessings and cherish the good memories of your marriage; recalling the positive parts of your marriage history will help with the healing process by reminding you that it was not all in vain.

The End of a Marriage: A Poem

"The Vow"

Our vow as one, sealed with a kiss before God,

Held all of the promise of a newborn child,

Full of purity and innocence

The box of promise we created on that day

Beautifully wrapped in hope, adorned with

Ribbons of commitment and topped with

A bow of caring love, has fallen from the mantle

After years of neglect, the wrapping paper crinkled,

The ribbon tattered and bow crushed

The box reminds us of what might have been

With eyes wide open, we now see the truth of our marriage:

Something old cannot always be cherished,

Something new can bring painful revelation,

Something borrowed can become bruised and not returnable,

Something blue can evoke unending moods of sadness.

Our vow as one, sealed with a kiss before God,

Once holding all of the promise of a newborn child,

Lost its purity and its innocence.


When a Marriage is Really Over

I knew my marriage was over when . . .

See results

Wedding Day Gone Awry - Therapists Share Their Expertise

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • How do I get my husband to come back home? My husband is 57, and I'm 43. He hasn't been affectionate, and we don't have sex. He is behind on paying bills. I got angry and asked him to leave. It was really ugly on my side. I totally lost it. Now I'm sitting here in a fetal position, and he has only been gone a day. I've tried to call him, but he won't even answer

    It sounds like the focus should be on getting support for yourself. Counseling would help you sort through the feelings of pain and loss as you work toward deciding how to move forward without him. Marriage counseling would be an option as well.

  • While I was pregnant my husband cheated with mutiple women. I was informed on my birthday by her husband that our spouses have been having a relationship for a year. We have been together for ten years and have two children. He left and rented an apartment on my birthday and has not returned since. Do you think I should let go and move on as well?

    I'm sure the hurt and betrayal you've experienced cuts deep. Making your decision about when to let go of your marriage will be affected by the betrayal you've endured and at what point you've had enough. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of staying based on whether the two of you, as a couple, decide to repair the damage and save your marriage. His decision to leave and rent an apartment gives you information about where he stands. I encourage you to take some time to process the impact this betrayal has had on you, with the help of a good counselor, who will help you grieve from the pain and empower you the make the best decision. I wish you healing and peace.

  • My husband said he wants out of our marriage. He said I should divorce him, or he will divorce me. But till now he still hasn't filed for divorce. What should I do?

    You have to weigh the pros and cons of making the best decision for you and not base it on him. The best first step is to get legal advice on your options. You may also have to prepare yourself emotionally to accept the state of your marriage so you can move forward. Grief counseling may be beneficial.

  • My husband and I no longer have a connection. Should I divorce my husband?

    I cannot answer that question as it is a very personal decision. I do, however, recommend that you seek counseling to weigh the pros and cons of whatever decision you make about your marriage. Divorce is final and should be considered with discernment.

  • My wife of 10 years had an affair with another man for two months and then left me for another month to be with him before coming back and asking for my forgiveness. I really wanted to forgive her but I think the reason why she did what she did might be because we weren't really in love anymore and our connection had faded over the course of a few years. Why do I still feel so bad about not wanting to give it another chance even though 6 months have passed and I'm seeing someone else?

    It sounds like the you still have an emotional connection to her even though you've moved on. Ten years is a long time to be with someone and not have an intense bond, even if you were no longer in love. Be gentle with yourself and take your time while you grieve the loss of a relationship that meant a lot to you in spite of the betrayal. You had hopes and dreams for a marriage with her that ended after a long investment, disrupted by broken trust. It had to have been emotionally devastating. In time, you will heal as you let go of the connection and move forward.

© 2014 Janis Leslie Evans


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    • profile image


      3 months ago

      We have been married for just 3years and my husband started to cheat to cheat on me over a year ago. There was a time when he left me and went to leave somewhere I don't know where. He kept on saying it was my fault that he had to move out. Time passed and he came back home again but would still sleep out. When I confront him he will tell me that he was working. He supports me and the baby so well but the problem is its like I'm invisible, no sex, no intimacy or anything we are like roommates. What can I possibly do I still love him but my mind sometimes tells me to Leave him.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 months ago from Washington, DC

      Respect is very important in a marriage. But I'm sure there was more that brought you to your decision. You would have to explore and weigh all the factors that contributed to the end of your marriage in order to be sure you did the right thing. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      I ended my marriage because my husband didnt respect me or showed me that he cares for me ,kept blaming me for stuff i didn't do.

      Have i done the right thing??

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      22 months ago from Washington, DC

      Sad to hear. You will decide when you're ready to demand and expect better. Healing from the damage will he!p to empower you and increase your ability to say "no more." Thanks for reading.

    • profile image


      22 months ago

      My husband constantly criticises me . I seem to do everything wrong and speaks to me as though I'm a child. When I have tried to talk to him he tells me that it is all in my mind and it's what I'm thinking. He flies off the handle at the slightest thing. then his approach is to buy me something. the message being that this over and he no longer wants to talk about it.What t I find hard to deal with is that his friends think he's nice and he seems to treat them better than me.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Sounds like it's been very difficult, especially after investing so much time into your marriage. It's only been a year and a half. So you're right where you should expect to be. You have to change your perspective in order to let go. When a marriage ends, it's like a death. It's time to grieve the loss and mourn what no longer exists in order to move on with your life. Every situation is unique so I can't offer a "women's perspective" that would provide insight into her decision to pull away. Regardless of her motives or lack of "for better-for worse" support of you, in the end you will eventually have to accept the loss and begin to heal. Thank you for taking the time to read and inquire. I wish you eventual peace.

    • profile image

      2 years ago

      My wife and have been separated 1 -1/2 year. My 2 young adult daughters live with her. She originally moved out and lived in a dysfunctional stituation with her sister. We have been married 21 years I owned a company when economy went bad business failed. She resented me because lifestyle change started the blame game and we, she pulled away. Now she goes back and forth emotionally with me so I totally ignore her. I want to move on with my life. I need a women's perspective.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I'm so glad to hear that the poem resonated with you. It will help to alter your perspective as you let go. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I wish you the best.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I am accepting the reality that my marirage is over. IT HURTS. This poem is going to help me.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad to hear it worked out for the sake of the family. But I hope you didn't sacrifice yourself too much by not sharing your position. Thanks for reading this one, peachpurple, and commenting about your own personal experience.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i had often some ups and downs in my marriage but for the sake of our kids, we stayed on, just talk less. In the end, I don't voice out my opinion now.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks so much for reading, DDE.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      To know the end of a marriage must be difficult to cope with especially if you were committed to the marriage your tips are most helpful.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad you liked it, carolinemd21. Thank you for visiting and reading this hub.

    • carolinemd21 profile image

      Caroline Marie 

      6 years ago

      Great article and I love your poem.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you much, mylindaelliott. So glad you found the tips useful. Thanks for your visit.

    • mylindaelliott profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana

      I love your poem. The tips are very useful too.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Poetic. I appreciate it.

    • Poetic Word Bird profile image

      Malik S Canty 

      6 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      Good advice and Needed advice for those who want to get this thing called Love Right...Your insight is refreshing, Keep the words flowing...

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, Eddy. Always good to see you.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and will benefit many I am sure.


    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      That is fantastic, MsDora. Thanks for sharing that positive outcome. I appreciate your visit.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad you liked it, Beth. Thanks for your comment and vote.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jan, very useful and thoughtful. My divorce was finalized on the eve of our 20th wedding anniversary. I believe in remembering the positives. After almost 20 years, my ex and I both spent Christmas together with our son and family and we enjoyed it. Life goes on!

    • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

      Beth Eaglescliffe 

      6 years ago from UK

      This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking article. Voted up.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, Jodah. You're quite welcome. Thank you for reading it, appreciate your visit and comments.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Beautiful caring and helpful hub. More marriages end early now than become 'death do us part'. Touch wood mine is still going, but this is valuable advice and very sensitively written. thank you Jan.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you very much, MG. I appreciate your comment, fanmail, and follow. Very kind of you.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      6 years ago from UAE

      Very practical, I must say and well done

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      All so true, Jackie. Thank you so much for reading it. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the poem.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      A beautiful writing, poem and song. I really enjoyed it all and listening to the song now. I think classes should be given to kids on marriage, how easy it is to get off track and how painful it can be, unsettling and in some cases expensive not to mention the children when they are involved. Who gives thought to any of that before marriage? Anyone?



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