15 Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage – Should You Fix It Or Leave?

Reviewed by Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, Ed.S., LMFT
Written by Harini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

There is nothing more upsetting than an unhappy marriage. But, no one plans to end up in this situation. In fact, a study shows that married people are happier than unmarried people (1). An unhappy marriage can reduce marital satisfaction, cause high stress, and affect your mental health (2), (3). An unhealthy marriage can increase the risk of heart disease in older couples (4). It is a tough call to stay in an unhappy marriage or walk away for the sake of your mental peace – especially if it is a long marriage and you have kids together.

Check out this post to learn about the 15 signs of an unhappy marriage, what questions to ask yourself, and how to get to a practical solution. Scroll down!

15 Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage

1. You Are Not Having Sex

Physical touch is an important factor to keep romantic relationships alive. However, an emotional disconnect can lead to a reduced frequency of sex. And before you realize it, you might completely stop having sex – and this can become a root cause of your marital discord. Your partner’s disinterest in sex does not always mean they are interested in someone else. Issues at work, problems with friends, or even the passing of a family member can cause your partner to be emotionally and physically distant.

2. You Always Feel Lonely

Paradoxically, in this modern era of high connectivity and instant communication, loneliness has become more prevalent. Loneliness not only affects your mental health but also puts you at risk of metabolic diseases, heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, and obesity (5). Being engaged with one’s phone instead of spending time with each other, prioritizing work over family, and lack of communication between the couple are a few of the many reasons people start to feel lonely in a marriage.

3. You Fantasize About Others

Fantasizing about others is a sign of an unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

Do you fantasize about others? And while you do so, do you feel stuck in your marriage? What is triggering these thoughts? Often, when partners are emotionally and physically distant, another person is in their thoughts, filling the void. It could just be a phase that will pass or a very real connection. Either way, it is not healthy for the individual or the marriage – and it suggests there are serious issues in the relationship.

4. You Hardly Talk To Each Other

There was a point when you’d both have so much to talk about. From your day at work, politics, art, technology, and history, to future plans. But as the years rolled by, the responsibilities increased, and you now hardly get time to sit and talk. On the surface, the marriage looks stable and without any problems. However, not talking to each other or not bonding at an intellectual level can be a source of unhappiness in the marriage. You may also have stopped talking with each other in order to avoid conflicts and arguments.

5. You Both Don’t Have Fun Anymore

Has your marriage become boring? Have you stopped meeting common friends, exploring new restaurants, traveling, trying adventure sports, going on road trips, playing scrabble or solving the toughest crossword puzzles, cooking, or having fun in bed? Lack of positive stimulation when you are with each other is also a sign of an unhappy marriage.

6. You Do Not Feel Confident

Long-term marriage partners can become inattentive over time. Not paying attention to each other, not listening to each other, and diminishing the importance of the problems each of you have slowly erodes away one’s self-confidence. The feeling that you are not important enough can take over and cause you or your partner to withdraw from talking or expecting anything from the relationship. This feeling is another sign that your marriage is unhappy.

7. You Pick On Each Other

Picking on each other is a sign of unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

If you both pick on each other most of the time, it is a sign that at least one of you is not happy in the marriage. It also shows hidden resentment and disrespect, the cause of which could be you or your partner’s issues.

8. You Don’t Plan Anything Together

If you have stopped planning for the future, from travel to financial plans, it is a sign that one or both of you are not 100% committed to the marriage. It could be a secondary source of unhappiness emanating from a primary source, such as emotional disconnect.

9. You Keep Secrets From Each Other

Couples rarely keep secrets from each other. But if you both keep too many secrets from each other, it is a clear sign of an unhappy marriage. You do not see each other as a trusted confidant. You do not feel comfortable sharing small or big life events.

10. You Feel Suffocated

If your partner is over-protective and possessive, you can feel suffocated in the marriage. Not having general freedom without being answerable to your partner can also make you feel stuck in a bad marriage.

11. You Always Argue With Each Other

Always arguing with each other is a sign of an unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

Whenever you have a conversation, you end up arguing and eventually throwing hurtful comments at each other. Frequent, hurtful arguments where neither of you is able to be empathetic are clear signs of an unhappy marriage.

12. You Feel Resentment And Are Sad

A combination of causes such as inadequate sex, frequent heated arguments, not spending quality time together, partner being absent, long-distance marriage, financial problems, and ideological differences can cause resentment and sadness. These difficulties should never be ignored.

13. You Do Not Apologize To Each Other

Apologizing helps neutralize or appease the dissonance in the marriage. However, very few own up to their mistakes and apologize. Some may want to apologize, but wait for their partner to take the first step. Not wanting to apologize for one’s mistakes signals unhappiness in the marriage.

14. You Don’t Spend Quality Time Together

You spend your holidays or weekends in the virtual world. Even if you go on a date or spend the weekend somewhere else, you both have work or kids at the back of your mind. Cluttered thoughts keep you both from enjoying and spending quality time together. This eventually reflects on the quality of your marriage.

15. You Don’t Feel Appreciated

Not feeling appreciated is a sign of an unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

If you feel invisible in front of your partner or do not feel appreciated for your efforts, you can feel sad and stuck in the marriage. This marriage could be working out for your partner but is an unhappy marriage for you.

These are the 15 signs that you are in an unhappy marriage. So, what steps do you take next? Should you still stay in the marriage? Or should you part ways? Consider answering the following 5 questions before you decide.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Deciding

  • Question 1: Why Do I Feel Unhappy?

Can you point to the source of your unhappiness? Is it something that you, your partner, or both need to work on? Are you unhappy because you or your partner cheated? Or is there a temporary but huge financial problem? Are you in love with someone else?

  • Question 2: How Long Can I Wait?

Time waits for none. Neither does love. You must respect your time and know how long is long enough to wait for you and your partner to sort things out.

  • Question 3: Am I Willing To Apologize?

Are you willing to take responsibility for playing your part in the unhappiness caused in the relationship? What could you do better next time? Are you willing to apologize?

  • Question 4: Does My Partner Care If I Am Hurt?

If resentment turns into apathy, your partner may no longer care if you are hurt. Has your marriage come to that point? Or can you still backpedal and make things right?

  • Question 5: Do I Feel Stuck?

Are you in love with someone else? Do you want to pursue studies or a career that might need you to move to a new city? Is your partner possessive and over-protective? Or have you both grown apart over time?

Write down the answers to these questions. You will better understand if you should stay and try to work on this marriage or part your ways amicably. If you choose to stay in the marriage, read on to know how to fix your unhappy marriage.

How To Fix An Unhappy Marriage

Ways to fix an unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

  • Apologize And Forgive

It takes two to tango. You both need to do your part by apologizing and forgiving each other. The apology should be sincere. Think about the ways you could have hurt your partner and apologize for your actions and words. Forgiving is tough. But if you have decided to move on from the setbacks, it is important to forgive and start afresh.

  • Listen To Your Partner

Couples who don’t listen to each other are headed for a troubled marriage. Don’t hear what you want to hear. Keep your ears sharp and eyes open. Understand that you cannot always have things your way. Both of you have equal space in the marriage. Both of you are equally important to make this work. Pay attention, empathize, and respect your partner.

  • Touch To Feel Connected

Physical touch is crucial for forming an emotional bond. Unhappy marriages lack an emotional connection. To reconnect, merely talking and spending time with each other is not enough. Also, try touching each other in the course of your day to feel closer again. Then, sexual/romantic experiences in time can become part of the relationship in a positive way.

  • Avoid Criticism And Sarcasm

No one is perfect. People make mistakes and learn from them. As a partner, your support matters greatly. Frequent criticism can make your partner feel targeted and not appreciated. Watch your tone when you are trying to make a point. There really is no place for sarcasm in a marriage.

  • Agree To Disagree

Breaking into arguments can easily be avoided by agreeing to disagree. You both can explain your points by reviewing them together with facts to refute each other’s supporting points and details. However, each of you must be able to let your partner’s requests, decisions, preferences, etc. go their way – there needs to be a continuous give and take. No amount of facts and details can make up for hurting your partner’s sentiments.

  • Accept Your Spouse

Accepting your partner for who they are will help you move past any hurts in a relationship. It will help you to continue to find love your partner and see them in a new light. It is important to make the time to sit together and talk about your ongoing needs, particularly when you feel disconnected and unhappy about something in the marriage. This also allows you to maintain the necessary focus on the well-being of your children.

  • Focus On Your Goals

While you both slowly work on your marriage, focus on your goals. Do you want to learn a new skill, start working out, start an online business, paint, or write a book? Together, you will be able to both achieve further personal goals, which creates further happiness within the marriage.

  • Seek Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling can help improve the quality of your marriage.A licensed therapist will sit with you both, and each of you separately if deemed necessary, to ask questions to understand the situation. The counselor will guide you through discussions that will help strengthen and rebalance your marriage to bring back the lost happiness. Here is what you need to know about marriage counseling.

These are the ways you can fix your marriage. However, if your answers to those 5 questions indicate that you must walk away from your marriage, here’s how you can go about it.

How To Walk Away From An Unhappy Marriage

Ways to walk away from an unhappy marriage

Shutterstock

About 47% of couples stay in unhappy marriages because of kids or the belief that marriage is a long-term commitment (6). But staying in an unhappy marriage may also be damaging to children’s physical and mental well-being, the same as for you. It may be better to walk away without making the relationship filled with anger, hatred, and bitterness. Here’s how you can do so:

  • Talk To Your Partner About It

Sit with your partner and tell them in detail why you are unhappy. If you both went for marriage counseling and saw no results, you might not have to explain why it is not working anymore. However, do your part and let them know that you take responsibility and own up to your mistakes. At the end of the day, ruining your relationship with your partner, especially if you have kids, is not advisable.

  • Have A Strong Support Group

It is important to have a strong support group while going through a divorce. Stay connected with your friends and family. But only talk with a few you trust with such confidential and personal information. And, of course, seek out a therapist you know is there for you. Understand that like every other serious problem in life, this too shall pass over time.

  • Talk To A Good Lawyer

A best outcome is to reach a place of agreeing to a mutually amicable divorce. However, it is always good to team up with an expert lawyer and understand the workings of a divorce, including any financial support or shared custody of the kids. In case of a hostile divorce, you will be guided by the lawyer on how to move forward.

  • Have A Conversation With Your Kids

Kids never want to see their parents split. However, they also do not want to see their parents not getting along and living in a toxic environment. Keep it real. Both of you must have a conversation with your kids about why you are getting divorced. You may not share all the details. But give them enough information and a few good reasons so that they understand that it is good for them and their parents to live separately.

  • Have A To-Do List

Divorce is a long and mentally tiring process. Instead of focusing on negative effects, make a post-divorce to-do list. List out everything you ever wanted to do and stick it on your bedroom ceiling, fridge door, bathroom mirror, etc. You need to remember that there’s a life full of potential outside of your marriage. You will meet different kinds of people and gain so much exposure and experience. Who knows, you may even find love while you are out conquering the world!

If you are in an unhappy marriage, you must take time to decide for yourself whether it is really worth it to continue with the relationship. You should weigh all your options, circumstances, and physical and mental state carefully to make an informed and rational decision. It becomes all the more important if children are involved. Whether your unhappy marriage is due to a lack of connection or unbearable physical or mental abuse, you must take a step toward a respectful, safe, and stable life for yourself and your child.

Key Takeaways

  • Arguments, loneliness, and limited interaction are all signs of an unhappy marriage.
  • An unhappy marriage can take a toll on your mental health, but walking away from it is not an easy choice.
  • Ask yourself if your marriage is worth preserving or if you should end it.
  • Whatever path you choose, it is important to seek counseling and support to stay positive.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Mind the “Happiness” Gap: The Relationship Between Cohabitation Marriage and Subjective Well-being in the United Kingdom Australia Germany and Norway
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6667403/
  2. Marital Happiness and Psychological Well-Being Across the Life Course*
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650717/
  3. Emotional behavior in long-term marriage
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7779311/
  4. Bad Marriage Broken Heart? Age and Gender Differences in the Link between Marital Quality and Cardiovascular Risks among Older Adults
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325990/
  5. The complexity of loneliness
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179015/
  6. Factors in long-term marriages
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12280519/
The following two tabs change content below.

Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill

(Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist )
Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Family Business Consultant. She holds degrees in Marriage &... more

LATEST ARTICLES