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

Written by Harini Natarajan , Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Married people tend to be happier than unmarried people (1). However, if the marriage is unhappy, it leads to high emotional stress and reduced marital satisfaction, and also affects mental well-being (2), (3). Poor marriages also increase cardiovascular disease risk in older couples (4). That said, whether to stay in an unhappy marriage or to leave for good is a tough call to take – especially if you have been married for a long and have kids.

But worry not – let us help you sort this out. Here are the 15 signs of an unhappy marriage, the questions to ask yourself, and how to fix it or walk away with dignity. Keep reading.

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 in one’s phones 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

You Fantasize About Others

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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 takes up their thoughts to fill the void. It could be just a passing phase or a real connection. There is no way to know. But what it certainly points to is the cracks in your 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 problem. 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 stop talking to 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 being naughty 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 a period of 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 turning unhappy.

7. You Pick On Each Other

You Pick On Each Other

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If you both pick on each other most of the time, it is a sign that at least one of you are 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. Being unhappy in the marriage is the reason couples also 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 the basic freedom without being answerable to your partner can also make you feel stuck in a bad marriage.

11. You Always Argue With Each Other

You Always Argue With Each Other

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Whenever you have a conversation, you end up arguing and eventually throwing hurtful comments. Frequent, hurtful arguments where neither of you learns to be empathetic could be glaring 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. If you often tend to feel this way, it is one sign of an unhappy marriage you shouldn’t ignore.

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 is a sign of an unhappy 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

You Don’t Feel Appreciated

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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 step 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 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?

  • 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 cities? Is your partner possessive and over-protective? Or have you both grown apart over time?

Write the answers to these questions. You will better understand if you should stay and try to work 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

How To Fix An Unhappy Marriage

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  • 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 a romantic setup while being playful.

  • Avoid Criticism And Sarcasm

No one is perfect. People make mistakes and learn from them. As a partner, your support matters a lot. Frequent criticism can make your other half feel targeted and not appreciated. Watch your tone when you are trying to make a point. Also, you are no Chandler. Being sarcastic may not work in every marriage. Especially when your partner is sensitive to sarcastic comments.

  • Agree To Disagree

Breaking into arguments can easily be avoided by agreeing to disagree. You both can place your points and review them. Come with facts to refute your partner’s points and details supporting your argument. However, you must also be aware of your partner’s sentiments. No amount of facts and details can make up for hurting your partner’s sentiments.

  • Accept Your Spouse

Accepting your partner for who he is will help you move past the hurt. It is going to help you love your partner, see them in a new light, and give you time to sit your partner down and talk to him about your needs and why you are unhappy. You will also be able to focus on the well-being of your kids.

  • 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? Focus on these activities to keep yourself from getting worked up thinking about your partner.

  • Seek Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling can help improve the quality of your marriage. A licensed therapist will sit with you or both of you and ask questions to understand the situation. The counselor will guide you through rebalancing your marriage and bring back the lost happiness. Here’s everything 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

How To Walk Away From An Unhappy Marriage

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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 does no good to the kids or your physical and mental well-being. It is better to walk away without making the relationship bitter. 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. Talk to them or with a therapist about your feelings. Understand that like every other problem in life, this too shall pass.

  • Talk To A Good Lawyer

There is nothing like getting 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 a few good reasons so that they understand that it is good for them and their parents to stay 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!

Conclusion

Staying stuck in an unhappy marriage is a choice. But don’t make this choice on a random whim. Weigh in the signs of an unhappy marriage. Question yourself to understand whether your marriage can be saved or if it is time to move on. Whether you choose to fix an unhappy marriage or walk away your head held high, talk to a counselor or therapist to stay in a good mental space. Have the support of your friends and family, have a heart-to-heart talk with your kids, and focus on the story you want to write for yourself! Remember – whatever happens, the best of your life is ahead of you.

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