A couple divorces every 42 seconds in the United States. As per the CDC, there were 746,971 divorces in 2019.
It can be scary to consider that your marriage might be heading in the same direction. But before you make any big decisions, it’s important to know exactly what constitutes unhappiness in marriage, and what actions you can take.
Read further to learn ten undeniable signs that you’re caught in an unhappy marriage.
Why an Unhappy Marriage Is Bad For You
Some people think they can sweep their relationship problems under the carpet and pretend everything is hunky-dory. However, it’s widely accepted that staying unhappy in marriage is bad for your mental and physical health.
People in bad marriages tend to feel drained and vulnerable and often suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Research consistently shows that these people have higher rates of illness when compared to others in happy marriages.
It’s no secret that conflict in a relationship leads to greater stress levels. And this may bring about a variety of adverse responses in the body, such as headaches, fatigue, inflammation, and marked changes in appetite.
An interesting 2021 study found that staying in an unhappy marriage can shorten a man’s life span and significantly increases his chances of suffering a stroke.
We cannot ignore that our emotional and physical well-being are intrinsically linked. While a good relationship can boost our health and happiness, an unhealthy one will likely do the opposite.
Perhaps you sometimes fantasize about a life without your spouse. And you may well often catch yourself wondering, ‘how much does divorce cost?’
Well, divorce may or may not be the route to go. But first, you must assess your relationship and weigh up whether or not it still adds value to your life. You can begin that assessment by checking out our top unhappy marriage signs below.
1. You Don’t Feel Safe
This is both the most obvious and the most serious sign that your marriage may be doomed. Above everything else, it’s vital that you feel physical and emotional safety in your marriage.
In a healthy relationship, partners turn towards one another. But if you don’t feel safe, you may elect to turn inward or away to avoid a sense of danger. Humans are social creatures and work hard to create nourishing connections. But if that sense of safety has gone, you might find that your focus has shifted to protection instead.
You may feel unable to express your honest thoughts and opinions in fear of the repercussions.
It can be challenging to recognize that you’re in an abusive relationship. It’s a good idea to talk to someone you can trust, able to offer an outside perspective on your situation.
If your marriage is abusive, you can contact the National Domestic Violence hotline. To do so, call 1-800-799-7233 or text “START” to 88788.
2. You’re Not Having Sex
Physical intimacy is a cornerstone of most relationships, and a marriage that has become sexless is probably breaking down.
When someone begins to feel less attraction or desire towards their partner, it can create a snowball effect of marital problems. The spouse may feel rejected or unwanted, leading to fierce resentment that can end up driving you apart.
A lack of libido can cause little or no sex, but whatever the cause, it’s a marital problem that needs to be addressed before it destroys the fabric of your relationship.
Note that a lack of hugging and kissing are also signs that your marriage may not be as happy as it once was.
3. There’s Constant Criticism
If little things said or done are found to be grating, it indicates that feelings towards each other may have changed for the worse. Constantly criticizing suggests that your feelings of love and kindness towards one another have been replaced by judgment and hostility.
Getting under each other’s skin a little too often is a clear sign of an unhappy marriage.
As we’ve already alluded to, open and loving communication is key to maintaining a marriage. A couples therapist may be a good option if there’s a tangible air of contempt. These underlying feelings of resentment must be addressed if the marriage is to become happy and healthy once again.
There is often an underlying reason, tucked away in our subconscious mind, for this type of behavior. You may feel under-appreciated or jealous, and this unaddressed emotion has the potential to slowly wear down a happy marriage all the way to divorce.
4. You’re Avoiding One Another
It’s healthy to spend some free time away from your partner. But you’ve got a significant issue on your hands if you always want to be away from them or find it a chore to be in each other’s company.
Maybe you now choose to turn to someone else instead of your partner in good and bad times, which means you’re replacing them emotionally while avoiding that sad truth.
Furthermore, shutting down and withdrawing are not signs of a healthy relationship. Marriage is hard work done together as a team, and if you’re no longer on the same team, the marriage is destined to fail.
There are many reasons you may be avoiding your spouse, but the only way to get to the bottom of it is through open and honest communication.
5. You’re Keeping Secrets From Each Other
You may be coming to realize that communication is integral to marriage. And you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of trust.
If one party suspects the other is keeping secrets, your marriage could quickly unravel. The stories and details they tell you may not be adding up, and it’s common knowledge that trust takes a long time to rebuild.
A spouse may be trying to cover up an affair or an addiction. This can place huge amounts of stress on a marriage, especially if the culprit is unwilling to address their behavior and the fading levels of trust.
6. There’s an Unhealthy Amount of Arguing
Well, this can go both ways. You may find yourself arguing way too much or too little, compared to when you were happy together.
A healthy amount of arguing is good for most marriages, but it’s a cause for concern if it’s happening every day. Assessing whether you’re fighting too much is a matter of perspective, often depending on each individual’s childhood environment.
Not arguing at all may mean that the two of you have given up on trying to make things work. You’re no longer willing to fight for your marriage, which can spell a whole lot of trouble.
“Stonewalling” can be worse than fighting too much, and refusing to come together to resolve conflicts is a major sign that the marriage is not working.
7. It’s Not Fun Anymore
You may be unhappy with marriage if you’re no longer having fun with your spouse. You two may be stuck in a rut. Indeed, marriage isn’t fun at times, but you and your significant other must be able to be playful and laugh together.
Overlooked at your own expense, fun helps us endure the various difficulties of life and positively impacts our mental health.
There may be a lack of fun in your marriage due to time constraints or a boring routine. Or it may be more internal. Playfulness and fun cannot occur without trust, respect, and a feeling of safety.
Losing the fun and spontaneity of happier days is common in marriages. Still, it can often be rectified by being kind, attentive, and gracious, while also consciously planning fun things to do together.
8. You’re Fantasizing About Divorce
It may be of little surprise that this sign spells disaster for your marriage, especially if you regularly daydream about leaving your spouse or being single once again.
Imagining a happy future without your significant other is a sign that you’ve probably fallen out of love. Your mind may be preparing you for divorce. You should acknowledge that you have serious marital problems if the thoughts of leaving your partner fill you with excitement and relief as opposed to fear and apprehension.
A marriage can be saved if both partners are willing to put in the hard work. The problem is not the fantasies themself; it is why you have these fantasies in the first place. This will take some investigation and no shortage of open and honest conversations.
9. You Want Different Things
A relationship will be placed under heavy strain if you and your partner want very different things out of life. Maybe you want to have children, and your wife would rather have a carefree life with her focus elsewhere.
If your goals in life no longer match up, it can be very easy to slip into feeling unhappy in marriage. There must be compromise, sacrifice, and forgiveness to make it work. Or else you’ll be headed in the direction of resentment and eventual heartbreak.
It’s normal for life goals to shift, but if you cannot find a way to compromise as a couple, you may have to admit that there is no future together.
10. There’s Been a Breakdown in Communication
By now, it’s undoubtedly clear the important role communication plays in maintaining a romantic relationship. There’s no doubt that for a marriage to last, it requires two adults prepared to have mature and honest communication to solve all types of issues that may arise.
No matter how many years you’ve been together, a lack of understanding, presence, and love will have ramifications. And a breakdown in communication can bring the whole thing down. It’s synonymous with toxic behavior patterns whereby the partners get used to relating to one another in a hurtful and unproductive manner.
Constant criticism of your partner, refusing to accept responsibility, an attitude of contempt, or stonewalling will inevitably lead to the demise of a marriage if not addressed and rectified.
What to Do About It?
Well, now you may be wondering what your options are. And ultimately, there are two; To work on it together, or to file for divorce.
These ten signs are big clues that your marriage is in trouble. But it doesn’t mean you should give up. A strong desire to make things work is a great place to start, being attentive and reminding yourself that you love and care about the other person.
By attending couples therapy and devoting yourself to fixing the relationship, you could one day look back at this rocky period and laugh. It’s no walk in the park, and you’re going to have to ask yourself and your partner some hard questions to assess if you still have a future together.
Commit to listening to your partner, and work together to figure out how you can live happily together. Built on a foundation of friendship and love, your marriage could be stronger than ever once you come out the other side.
If a future together doesn’t seem possible, or one of the parties isn’t interested, you should consider separation and divorce.
A divorce can be expensive and messy, especially if kids are involved. It can be scary too, but sometimes you must trust your intuition and admit that unhappiness in marriage is no life to live.
Everyone Wants to Be Happy
From the ten signs detailed above, it’s clear that open and honest communication is critical. A desire for happiness is natural, and it’s important to recognize if your marriage is contributing to your happiness or not. Hopefully, these ten signs have helped you understand that better.
Sometimes, the problems of your unhappy marriage are solvable, but if there aren’t two people who want to make things work, it’s probably the end of the road.
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