Often when people ask me for signs that their a marriage is potentially over, one thing that I will often mention is indifference. People will often think that if they are very angry with their spouse, or hate their spouse, or resent their spouse, then these things are all indicative of the beginning of the end. However, in actuality, these things often show that one or both spouses still care enough to become angry or frustrated.
The phase past this one (anger, jealousy, frustration, etc.) is true indifference. In this phase, people are approaching a more healthy place. They aren't angry. They aren't conflicted. They aren't indecisive. They know that it's very likely that the relationship has reached it's natural and healthy end. And, although they may be sad about this or even grieve it, they can let it go because they know that they did what they could but the marriage couldn't be saved because both parties are better off ending it.
However, some people will think they are indifferent when really they are just tired and need a pause. I actually see this quite a lot. They will say things like "I'm at the point where I just don't care one way or another any more," but then a few days later they will be furious, sad or frustrated again. They were just caught at a time when all of the fight had gone out of them as a means of self preservation. So, in the following article, I will try to offer some tips to help you determine if you are truly indifferent in your marriage or if you're just tired and don't know where else to turn.
Determining If You're Indifferent In Your Marriage Because You're Really Done Or Because You Don't Know What Else To Do: Usually final indifference comes after you and your spouse have methodically yet wholeheartedly gone through several potential solutions and have come up short. You might well be disappointed with this but you know that you've given it your all and that there was nothing else left. Generally speaking, it's rare at this point to place the blame. You can usually look back and see that you both participated and it just didn't or isn't working.
In contrast, the type of indifference that comes when things haven't naturally or completely ended usually comes as a pause in a very volatile process. It's usually where one or both people throw up their hands in frustration and declare that they are simply done, that they don't have any more to give or anything else to try. And yet, when one or both spouses attempt to move forward with a separation or final solution, that's usually where the indifference or pause will stop. That's when you will begin to see the anger, sadness, or frustration. At that point, it becomes clear that things have not been completely worked through. There are still residual feelings which may not manifest themselves as you might have expected.
Exercises To Help You Determine Which Level Of Indifference You Are Experiencing: Often, it can be helpful to go through a series of "what if" scenarios to help you to determine your true feelings. You might want to ask yourself "what if" your spouse remarried. Or, "what if" your spouse became ill. Or, how would you feel if they needed something from you two, three, or four years from now. Would you be receptive to them and care about them even after this separation or would you feel that they and your life as it is now were so yesterday and although you might feel compassion as you would for any one else you shared things with, that's as far as it goes.
Another thing that you might want to ask yourself is "what if" your spouse totally had a change or heart, attitude, or actions and began to give you more of what you need or to successfully address those things that need to be addressed. Many people get stuck in the thought process of "well, that's never going to happen so I need to just let it go instead of just continuing to get my hopes up only to be disappointed and let down."
Also, we are sometimes caught up in who's wrong and who's right and what each of you "should" do rather than worrying about what actually needs to be done. Sometimes, I can see that if just one party in the marriage would budge, even a little bit, the results might have been different. But, they're playing a game of chicken. No one is willing to take that first step. And so, they think they are indifferent but they are really mad and hurt and disappointed that their partner won't just meet them even half way.
And you know what? Often, the other spouse is thinking the exact same thing. You often won't get this with true indifference. This type of misunderstandings and drama is absent because these things have happened and have been resolved a long time ago. I hope that this article has helped to shed a light over which type of indifference you might be experiencing in your marriage.
It was my husband who had become indifferent in my own marriage. Unfortunately for me, I ignored the little voice that told me that my marriage was in trouble until it was almost too late. I just told myself that we were "comfortable" rather than accepting that we were growing apart. This almost cost me my marriage. Luckily, over time, I was able to swallow my pride and to reestablish intimacy and bring back his love. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com