Most, if not all, marriages will go through a rough patch at some point—but when does a rough patch become an entirely not happy or loveless marriage? It can be frightening to consider the possibility that your marriage is over, or even to recognize the signs in the first place, but it is possible to reconcile if that is what you both desire.
Not Happy in Marriage
According to marriage therapists, here are the main signs you’re in a not happy marriage and what to do about it.
1. There is continuous criticism.
Constant criticism indicates that feelings of love and warmth for one another have given way to judgment. According to Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC, a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Wellness, if you’re constantly criticizing each other, it’s not a good sign. “Criticism or name-calling is a huge boundary violation,” says Shane Birkel, LMFT, a licensed marriage, and family therapist.
2. Your relationship has devolved into a sexless one.
Another sign of a not happy marriage is a lack of sex life. Or, if you do have sex on a rare occasion, it’s not very good. Of course, not having sex all the time isn’t always a bad thing, and some couples prefer a sexless relationship. It’s not so much how frequently married couples have sex as it is whether you enjoy having sex with your spouse and feel good about your shared sex life.
3. You find it difficult to spend time together.
Being in each other’s company may feel like a chore or extremely forced. Without the sense of intimacy that was once present, you may feel as if you have nothing to say and don’t care what they have to say.
4. You stop celebrating each other’s victories.
Who is the first person you call when something exciting occurs? If it was once your spouse and is now a friend or family member, it’s a sign that your marriage has suffered. Birkel observes that in a not happy marriage, there is little motivation to connect or share anything.
5. You’re both on the defensive.
Both Caraballo and Birkel point out that constant defensiveness is a sure sign that the two of you aren’t communicating well, and that it goes hand in hand with constant criticism. Simple statements or questions can also elicit a negative response. For example, if one partner reminds the other to do a chore, the other partner may become defensive and say something like, “I already said I was going to do it—don’t guilt-trip me.”
6. You try to avoid each other as much as possible.
According to Birkel, avoiding each other in general is a fairly obvious sign that things aren’t going well. You’ll most likely make separate plans and have no desire to spend time together, all of which indicate a not happy marriage.
7. You fantasize about leaving.
It’s entirely possible that fantasies about leaving or being single will begin to surface in your mind. You’re becoming more aware of the issues in your marriage and how the marriage affects you, which inevitably leads you to consider other options.
8. There is a dynamic of anxious versus avoidant attachment.
Birkel has frequently observed a clash of attachment styles: “There’s a spectrum of pursuers,” he says, “who are kind of boundary-less and get their self-esteem from how the other person feels about them.” Then there are the withdrawers, who avoid conflict by refusing to discuss it.” In these scenarios, there is frequently a cycle of one pursuing and the other withdrawing, only to be followed by more pursuing and withdrawing.
9. When you are separated, you feel more like yourself.
When you first meet your spouse, you’re supposed to feel like they bring out the best in you and that you enjoy being around them. In a not marriage, you’ll feel more like yourself when they’re not around, and you might even dislike who you are when they’re around, according to Birkel.
10. You stop arguing.
Birkel explains that if you’re not arguing anymore, it means you’re no longer willing to work things out. Arguing isn’t ideal, but it at least shows that you’re still fighting for something. “Loss of motivation to work things out with each other is a very bad sign.”
11. You’re oblivious to negative patterns.
Accepting that you’re in not happy marriage can be difficult, whether you’ve been together for decades or you’re simply opposed to the idea of divorce. This can lead to denial or an “inability to recognize negative patterns,” according to Birkel, who adds, “if you don’t recognize it, it will be very difficult to improve your relationship.”
12. 12.There is no compassion or understanding.
Blame, judgment and shaming will frequently take center stage in a not happy marriage, according to Birkel, leaving little to no room for understanding or compassion. When something goes wrong or doesn’t work, no one is willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt; a supportive gesture, or even a loving tone of voice, is all that is required.
13. Changes in body language
Body language can tell us a lot, and it’s usually not difficult to read if you know what to look for. Simply put, even when you’re speaking, you and your spouse can angle your bodies away from each other. In a dominant or defensive posture, you may cross your arms or place your hands on your hips frequently.
14. Being together feels physically wrong.
Being in each other’s company is no longer warm and joyful, but rather cold, awkward, and uncomfortable. This can manifest itself in specific body language, such as the examples given above, or it can simply be an overwhelming feeling that you don’t want to be physically near each other. Without intimacy, a marriage may struggle to survive.
15. You have disdain for one another.
Contempt, along with defensiveness and criticism, is one of the “Four Horsemen” of relationships described by The Gottman Institute, one of the leaders in relationship research, according to Caraballo. Contempt is a strong dislike for another person, similar to hatred and disgust. It’s a lingering emotion that will make the majority of your interactions with your spouse unpleasant.
16. You’re both stonewalling each other.
Stonewalling is the fourth and final “horseman,” according to Caraballo. It essentially entails someone shutting down, especially during a conflict. They may choose to walk away or simply surrender in order to end the conflict and be left alone. Stonewalling, according to Birkel, demonstrates an unwillingness to improve your relationship.
Wife Not Happy in Marriage
Every marital relationship experiences ups and downs and matures through a series of quarrels, misunderstandings, and issues. A successful marriage, on the other hand, is one in which two people form a unique bond of understanding and tolerance for the flaws of the other and exhibit feelings of mutual acceptance.
Then there are times when one partner is blissfully unaware, completely unaware of their partner’s unhappiness and distress. Men, in particular, are sometimes oblivious to their wives’ feelings and emotions. They become so preoccupied with their work and other responsibilities that they sometimes neglect their wives and fail to pay attention to their needs and problems.
The following list highlights a few indicators of not happy wife in a marriage:
1. Consistently negative
A depressed and upset wife will project her dissatisfaction in a negative way. On most topics, she is likely to respond negatively.
2. No longer putting forth any effort
She will act with unusual nonchalance and carelessness regarding the marriage and the responsibilities that come with it. If, after disappointing the partner, she says nothing more than “I’m sorry” with no explanation; and shows signs of remorse, she is clearly sorrowful but does not care enough to clear any misunderstandings and present her point of view.
3. She is never personal.
Another obvious sign of a dissatisfied wife is a lack of connection between you two. She never wants to talk about her hobbies, emotions, dreams, ambitions, fears, or even her future with you.
4. She appears to be happier without you.
This sign irritates a lot of men because they can’t figure out why their wives seem happier with other people and less so in their company. If your wife makes plans with friends and coworkers to plan fun activities with them and appears more animated in their presence, it is a clear indication that she prefers the company of others to yours.
5. She is obstinate.
If you are not a happy wife in marriage, respond to your concerns about her recent moodiness and capricious behavior with “I am fine” or “nothing is wrong,” it is an obvious sign that she is so detached that she no longer feels comfortable sharing her problems with you. This has been shown to be extremely harmful to relationships.
Husband Not Happy in Marriage
You’ve noticed that something is off between you and your husband. Something is wrong, according to your intuition. Your husband no longer appears to be the person you married – he is less present and behaving strangely. You are certain that something is wrong, but when you question him, he claims that nothing is wrong.
Here is a quick checklist you can use to determine whether or not there is something there. Signs that your husband is not happy in your marriage
1. He no longer spends time with you.
You and your husband were once inseparable, and he always put you first. He now works extra hours and prefers to spend time with his friends. If he begins working late into the evenings, on weekends, and during vacations, he may be using his job as an excuse to avoid spending time with you.
2. He’s developed a new interest.
If your husband begins to spend the majority of his free time golfing, exercising, playing video games, or pursuing other hobbies at the expense of your relationship, there is clearly a problem.
If your husband is not at ease at home, he will do everything in his power to reduce the amount of time he spends at home and with you. As a result, when your husband begins devoting more and more time to work, friends, and other interests, he is communicating that he is not happy in the marriage.
3. Your husband is emotionally aloof.
When your husband begins to emotionally withdraw from you, this is one of the first signs that he is not happy. If your husband isn’t sharing his thoughts, feelings, and emotions with you, he’s probably sharing them with someone else. It doesn’t even have to be another woman.
There is the possibility of cyber cheating and virtual affairs. You will undoubtedly experience an emotional schism with your husband. This lack of emotional connection is a red flag that your husband is not content. If you haven’t heard the words, ‘Hi honey!’ in a while, you should. ‘How was your day?’ There’s a reason your husband isn’t interested in talking.
Your husband’s lack of interest in your day stems from a lack of concern for how you spent your day. He is concerned with matters far more important to him than your well-being.
4. Your husband has ceased communicating.
If your husband suddenly avoids important conversations, it could be a sign that he believes you do not understand him. If your husband refuses to discuss any of these topics with you, it could mean that he is no longer interested in the relationship.
5. He will not speak about the future.
You used to discuss everything about the future – where to live, vacations, saving, and retirement. The fact that your husband no longer discusses the future indicates that he does not want one with you.
Is he uncomfortable when these topics come up, or does he simply refuse to make plans with you? He may be so dissatisfied with his marriage that he is considering a future without you.
6. Your husband has become irritable.
If your formerly even-tempered husband has suddenly become irritable, it is time to consider what is bothering him. A change in patience indicates that your husband is no longer convinced of your compatibility. Short tempers, according to experts, are common when a spouse is unhappy in your relationship and are a way of releasing pent-up anger.
7. Your husband begins to nitpick.
Your husband used to think everything you did was adorable, but now you can’t even breathe without him nitpicking. He is probably not happy in the marriage and is venting his frustrations on you.
According to marital expert Carlyle Jansen, nitpicking could be your husband’s way of expressing his dissatisfaction without having to talk about it directly. Again, if your husband is more irritated by your behavior than by other life circumstances, such as work, this indicates that he is unhappy in the marriage.
8. Your husband is uninterested in sex.
Your sex life may fluctuate, but there is a problem if your husband is completely uninterested in having sex with you. If the kisses have stopped, there are no hugs, and there is little touching, this is an indication of a dissatisfied husband. It’s a problem if your husband brushes you off when you move in for a snuggle or if he keeps saying that he’s not in the mood to show affection.
9. Your husband is no longer concerned with his appearance.
Your husband was always well-groomed and dressed – he cared about his appearance. He’s gained weight, and you’ll be lucky if he even combs his hair; especially if you’re going out to dinner. If your husband no longer cares about his appearance, there is a good chance he is unhappy in his relationship with you.
He no longer cares if you find him attractive or not, and your marriage is no longer as important to him. According to marriage therapist Marni Furman, your husband’s self-indulgent habits may have a deeper meaning; it could be his way of avoiding intimacy with you. He’s discovered that being unkempt is an effective way to keep you at bay.
10. Your husband is uneasy around happy couples.
Seeing a couple in love and giddy only adds insult to injury. Your husband will be envious of happy couples, most likely because he has given up on happiness with you. Another reason he may avoid being around happy couples is that seeing other couples happy causes him emotional distress. He feels pressure to take your relationship to a new level, which he does not agree with.
Not Happy in Marriage but don’t want a Divorce
A marriage requires work to protect, nurture, and grow. With work schedules, children, and other responsibilities, it can be difficult to maintain that partnership. When problems arise, some couples decide that it is better to divorce and part ways.
Others believe that working on the relationship is a better option. There are proactive steps you can take if you want to stay with your partner and avoid divorce. Here are some ways to improve your relationship, ranging from better communication to infusing more romance into your daily life.
1. Make a Commitment to Your Relationship
Even if you never express your thoughts, toying with the idea that you might be better off outside of your marriage can put a significant strain on your relationship. In fact, just thinking about it may cause a significant break in your motivation to try to improve your marriage. To mitigate the risk to your relationship, decide that divorce is not an option ahead of time. Making the commitment will allow you to concentrate on strengthening your relationship rather than imagining what life might be like outside of your marriage.
2. Respect and Honor Your Partner
People will always change over time. Understanding, appreciating, and adapting to changes is essential in any relationship. To remind yourself of the wonderful person you married, make a list of your partner’s best qualities. This activity will assist you in recalling why you fell in love with them in the first place. It’s also a good idea to express how much you appreciate your partner’s quirks and eccentricities.
3. Maintain Consistent Communication
It’s easy to become distracted in the age of smartphones, Netflix, and work-from-home lifestyles. You may discover that you frequently go days without having a meaningful conversation with your spouse. It is essential to communicate openly about your life, interests, dreams, frustrations, and feelings in order to foster intimacy in a relationship. Also, it is critical that you listen to your partner express their thoughts. It can be beneficial to set aside 30 minutes per day, free of interruptions or distractions, to talk.
4. Share Your Financial Goals
Many marriages are fraught with financial disagreements. Couples frequently bring different financial expectations to a relationship. Each partner may find it difficult to see the financial situation through the eyes of the other. Coming to terms on how your money will be handled is a critical component of a happy marriage. Agree on a budget, a debt strategy, and a plan for living within your means. It’s also critical to distinguish between wants and needs. While both are valid, couples may run into problems if they try to fulfill all of their desires without considering their budget.
5. Give each other room
One of the most difficult things to strike a balance in a marriage is the appropriate amount of time to spend together. Too much can feel suffocating, while too little can be misconstrued as inattentive. When your partner needs some alone time or a night out with friends, offer to watch the kids or run errands so they can have that time.
On the other hand, you’ll want to make time for your partner. If babysitting or financial constraints prevent you from going out, plan a fun, low-cost date night at home. The important thing is that you both make a concerted effort to spend quality time together while also allowing each other space to have an outside community.
6. Concentrate on Wellness
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of being too casual, especially if you’ve been with your partner for a long time. An easy way to rekindle romance is to remember how you used to prepare for date night, whether it was with an at-home manicure, a new shave and haircut, or picking out a fun outfit.
There are numerous methods for feeling attractive and energized. Maintaining your physical fitness boosts your self-esteem and sense of well-being. It can also be used to spend quality time with your partner, whether you’re trying out a new workout class, training for a 5K, or preparing healthy meals together.
7. Plan Date Nights
Another way to keep the flame alive in a marriage is to keep courting your spouse. Make time for a date night at least once a week, even if it’s just to go out for ice cream or cook a new recipe together. If money is an issue, consider babysitting for another couple looking for a date night. You can also simply push the baby in a stroller around the mall or to the park.
Keep doing the things you used to do when you were dating. Many newlyweds report that small, thoughtful gestures help them feel like they’re still in love. Try leaving little love notes for your partner where they will find them, making them coffee in the morning, or purchasing their favorite snack at the grocery store.
8. Be Quick to Forgive
Marriages frequently fall apart when one partner harbors a grudge. According to research, feelings of contempt for your partner almost always fester and, if not resolved, can lead to divorce. Attempt to forgive your partner as soon as possible. Remember that forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself just as much as it is a gift you give to others.
Holding a grudge consumes mental and emotional space and almost always has a negative impact on your health and stress levels. Choose a forgiving spirit and you will reap the benefits, whether it is better sleep or stress relief. If you have hurt your partner, sincerely apologize and ask for forgiveness. Listen carefully to what they have to say and try to figure out why they are upset. Inform them that you will be working on ways to do things differently in the future.
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9. Avoid attempting to exert control over your partner.
Both partners in a healthy marriage have mutual respect for one another and do not demand their own way. This can mean different things to different couples, but here are some key principles to remember:
- Do not attempt to monitor or control one another.
- Allow your partner to be the person that they are.
- Learn to work together on major decisions (such as spending money and raising children).
- Allow your spouse the freedom to come and go without your permission.
Couples who try to control each other risk becoming emotionally abusive. They may exhibit signs of financial exploitation, which frequently leads to divorce.
10. Seek Assistance
If you’re still having problems in your marriage or are worried about divorce, consider counseling or couples therapy. If you’re not sure where to look, start with your workplace. Check to see if you (or your partner) have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), which can often point you in the right direction or make a referral. Consider meeting with a trusted religious leader if you and your partner share a faith.
A dissatisfied marriage is more than just a stumbling block, but it does not mean your marriage is doomed. It may take some soul searching and difficult questions to determine whether you want to make the marriage work or if it’s time to walk away. However, if you and your partner decide that your relationship is worth it, you’ve already overcome a significant obstacle, and your marriage may be even stronger once you’ve made it through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal to be unhappy in marriage?
It is normal to be unhappy in a marriage. Every relationship experiences ups and downs, happy and difficult seasons, agreements and disagreements. Marriage is often more difficult than most people anticipated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.
Is it possible to be happy in an unhappy marriage?
Most marriages have unhappy moments, but most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on, with the exception of the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse.”