How to Know if You’re Quiet Quitting Your Marriage

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Minute Read

Your marriage has lost its zip. It’s not that you’re miserable. You’re just not happy. Your spouse seems to get on your very last nerve … a lot! You find yourself getting jealous of your single friends. Is this just a normal thing married couples go through? Or are you quiet quitting your marriage?

What Does “Quiet Quitting” Your Marriage Mean?

Quiet Quitting has been defined as:

Putting out the least amount of energy and doing as little as possible to get by.

In the context of marriage that means that instead of being truly engaged in your marriage, you’re just “phoning it in.”

  • You do the minimum amount you need to do to keep your marriage together.
  • You go out of your way to avoid spending time alone with your spouse.
  • You avoid spending time alone together unless you absolutely have no choice.
  • Your conversations are only about the kids, the house, or the day-to-day logistics involved in running a family.
  • You live more like roommates than like spouses.

In short, you do what you need to do to avoid conflict and avoid getting a divorce. But to say that you’re disengaged from your relationship is an understatement.

Picture of magnifying glass on the word "Benefits" in red.

The Benefits of Quiet Quitting

At first blush, the idea of quiet quitting your marriage seems wrong. While you may not be able to put your finger on exactly WHY it seems wrong, you instinctively know that that’s not what marriage is “supposed” to be.

Yet, “quiet quitting” has its upsides. That’s why people do it.

For example, quiet quitting your marriage is:

  • Easier than dealing with your real issues. When you’re already overworked, overcommitted, and exhausted a good portion of the time, dealing with the issues between you and your spouse can take energy you just don’t have. Quiet quitting can be a much more appealing alternative … at least for the moment.
  • Less drastic than getting a divorce. Going through a divorce will take a long time, cost a lot of money, and will turn your world (and your kids’ worlds!) upside down. Staying together physically but checking out emotionally saves you an enormous amount of grief and pain.
  • A way to avoid looking at hard truths. No one wants to admit that they made a mistake or that their marriage is failing. As long as you can convince yourself that what you feel is “normal” you don’t have to deal with the fact that your marriage is on life support.

Quiet quitting may also be a viable alternative to leaving an abusive relationship before you’re ready to do so. It gives you the time you need to prepare to leave while at the same time putting you in the mindset of setting boundaries that will keep you safe.

If that’s the situation you’re in, quiet quitting can be exactly what you need to do.

Yellow "danger poison" sign with skull and crossbones.

The Dangers of Quiet Quitting

While quiet quitting your marriage can seem like it’s just taking the path of least resistance in an already too-busy life, the price you pay for checking out of your marriage in all but the legal sense can be huge.

For example, quiet quitting:

  • Makes it harder to deal with your issues once you’re finally ready to address them. The longer you let problems in your marriage fester and grow, the bigger they become. The bigger they are, the harder the will be to resolve in the future.  Quiet quitting may “save” your marriage in the short term, but it will doom it in the long term.
  • Spreads anger and resentment like a cancer in your marriage. The more you feel unseen, unloved, and unappreciated the angrier you get. The more your spouse doesn’t do what you want, or doesn’t meet your needs, the more you resent him/her. And the more your marriage is filled with anger and resentment, the more unhappy (and unhealthy!) you will become.
  • Sucks the joy out of life and kills your soul. Whether you admit to yourself that you’re quiet quitting your marriage or not, deep inside, you KNOW. You know you’re living a lie. The longer you do that, the more that lie eats your soul from the inside out. You lose your sense of purpose. You lose the joy of life. With each passing day you feel like you’re dying a little bit more inside.

Are You Quiet Quitting, or is This Just a Phase?

Every marriage has its ups and downs. Everyone who’s ever been married knows that you can’t expect to be blissfully in love with your spouse every single day. That’s especially true if you’ve been married for years (or decades!).

So, how do you know if what you’re feeling rises to the level of “quiet quitting your marriage” or whether it’s just a bump in the road.

Here are:

12 Signs That You’re Quiet Quitting Your Marriage

1. You Don’t Talk Anymore. 

If you can’t even remember the time when you and your spouse had a deep conversation about anything meaningful to you, that’s a problem. Good relationships require connection. That connection requires you to talk about things you care about OTHER THAN just your kids! If you find yourself either not having – or worse yet, AVOIDING – conversations with your spouse about anything significant, that’s a BIG sign that you’re starting to check out of your marriage.

Quiet quitting marriage meme. Couple sitting next to each other but each looking at their own phones with the saying, "What do you mean, we don't talk?"
Quiet quitting marriage meme. Older couple sitting on opposite sides of couch avoiding each other with the saying: Same couch. Different worlds.

2. You Avoid Spending Time Together. 

If you and your spouse have separate friends, separate interests, and separate activities, you may be on your way to living separate lives. While there’s nothing wrong with spending time apart, if you find that you no longer want to spend time together, that’s a problem.

3. Any (or Most) Physical Affection is Gone. 

Loving couples touch each other. They hug, kiss, and hold hands. If you no longer feel like touching your spouse – or worse yet, if the thought of touching your spouse makes your stomach turn – that’s a BIG sign that you’re checking out of your marriage.

Quiet quitting marriage meme. African American couple hugging while woman rolls her eyes.
Quiet quitting marriage meme. Upset couple sitting on opposite sides of bed with the saying "Weather Report: Zero Chance of Cuddling Tonight."

4. Intimacy Has Left the House. 

If you and your spouse are having less sex (or no sex!) that’s not a good sign. Sure, libido ebbs and flows for everyone. And when both you and your spouse are overwhelmed with the kids, the house, and work, it’s easy to feel too exhausted to have sex. But if that goes on for too long, you’ll be on your way to becoming roommates instead of spouses.

5. Disrespect and/or Contempt.

When your spouse starts to talk about a problem that bothers them is all you can think, “OMG, not this again!”? If so – and especially if that happens a lot – you’ve probably lost respect for your spouse. That lack of respect may have even progressed to contempt (i.e. you can’t stand certain things about your spouse.) Contempt is one of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse of a relationship. Once you’re feeling contempt for your spouse, your marriage is in trouble.

Quiet quitting marriage meme. Woman pakcing a man's bag with the saying: Quiet Quitting Sign #5, when you threaten to leave and she starts packing your bag."
Quiet quitting marriage meme. Frustrated couple not looking at each other sitting at a restaurant with the saying "date night is going great."

6. Emotional Withdrawal.

When you and your spouse talk, do you look him/her in the eyes? Or do you roll your eyes? Lack of eye contact can be a sign that you’re creating emotional distance between you and your spouse. You’re not engaging with him/her. The more you withdraw emotionally, the more you disconnect from the relationship.

7. Lack of Empathy. 

Whether your spouse is pouring out his/her heart to you, or is just trying to tell you about his/her day, if you really don’t care, chances are you’ve checked out of the relationship emotionally. The same is true if you no longer feel like telling your spouse how you feel about anything.

Quiet quitting marriage meme of a couple at a bar avoiding eye contact with each other while the woman disingenuously says "I'm listening."
Quiet quitting marriage meme of a woman with her hands over her mouth saying "of course I'll be honest with you."

8. Not Wanting to Tell the Truth. 

If you find yourself conveniently “forgetting to tell your spouse” about things that you’re doing your relationship is on thin ice. That’s especially true if what you don’t want to talk about involves another person who you are (or could be!) romantically interested in!

9. You Feel Unseen, Unloved, or Unappreciated. 

When you feel like your partner doesn’t care about you or your feelings you start to resent him/her. If you feel that way long enough without addressing the problem, that resentment will grow into contempt. Ultimately you will start to feel like your spouse doesn’t know you or understand you. Then you will stop caring about your spouse. When neither of you care anymore, that’s the beginning of the end of the relationship.

Quiet quitting marriage meme of a goofy man making fun of his aggravated and pregnant wife. saying, "What do you mean I don't care?"
Quiet quitting marriage meme of a man with his hands squishing his face, sarcastically saying "I'd love to go out with you tonight."

10. You Feel Relieved When You’re Apart. 

If you’d rather spend time alone than with your spouse, your marriage is in trouble. Happily married couples are happily married because they enjoy doing things together. If you are actually relieved when you DON’T have to be with your spouse, that’s a very bad sign.

11. You Fantasize About Being Single. 

At some point, every married person probably wonders what their life would be like if they hadn’t gotten married. But if you find yourself fantasizing about being single again (especially if you’re doing it a LOT!) you’re not happy. Happily married people don’t fantasize about being single.

Quiet Quitting Marriage Meme of beautiful blonde wondering what it would be like to be single again.
Quiet Quitting Marriage Meme - Girl shrugging her shoulders saying "Did we have plans? Oops."

12. Ignoring Special Occasions or “Forgetting” Plans. 

Some people have a hard time remembering birthdays or anniversaries. But if your spouse used to celebrate special occasions with you, and suddenly “forgets” your birthday/anniversary etc., that’s not a good sign. When you care about someone you don’t ignore plans you’ve made with them. You also don’t forget to celebrate their important occasions with them.

What to Do If You’re Quiet Quitting Your Marriage

The problem with quiet quitting is not that it's good or bad, right or wrong. 

The problem is that, unless you're doing it on purpose and FOR a purpose, it's out of integrity with who you are. It's a form of denial where you're telling yourself (and the world!) one thing - i.e. that I want to be married or, at the very least, that I don't want to be divorced - and you're acting in the opposite way - i.e. that I'm done with this marriage and I want out.

Admitting your own truth is the first step toward changing your situation and regaining the joy in your life.

That doesn’t mean that you have to immediately enroll in marriage counseling or book a romantic getaway with your spouse. (Although neither of those is a bad idea if you want to save your marriage!)

What it DOES mean is that it's time for you to start looking honestly at your life and your situation. Once you  do that you may decide that you it's time for you to step up and invest in your marriage before it's too late. Or you may decide that you don’t really want to save your marriage all. In that case it may be time to start exploring other options.

Either one of those decisions is okay.

But you can’t make that decision until you realize that you HAVE a decision to make. As long as you’re mired in avoidance and denial, you’re side-stepping the real issue.

So, whether you want to save your marriage or not, understanding the real state of your relationship is step #1 in getting out of denial and living a happier life - one that resonates with who you are, and allows you to become all you want to be, regardless of whether you're married, divorced, or anything else.

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


marriage, marriage counseling, quiet quitting

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