Being a great spouse, a loving parent, advancing your career: each is a full time job in itself. When we’re that busy, it’s all too easy to just keep pressing on, focusing on the next task on the to-do list, but never taking the time stop and ask ourselves how our marriage is doing. What are the signs of an unhappy marriage you could be missing, and how do you fix them?
Marriage problems rarely appear overnight or out of thin air. They usually grow, bit-by-bit, day-by-day. But that means it can be all too easy not to notice them (or to avoid noticing them) until it’s too late.
To deal with problems, we need to spot them first. Here are a few of the tell-tale signs that could mean that your marriage is failing at making you (or your partner) as happy as it should.
1. The silence is deafening
The importance of communication to a relationship just can’t be overstated. It is through communication that we can feel closer to each other, build and demonstrate trust, and work through our problems. It’s a sign of trusting, loving relationships, and without it a relationship will ultimately be unsustainable.
If you find yourself speaking less and less to your partner, that your only conversations are functional small-talk, or that you rarely speak about anything other than the kids or other people rather than each other, ask yourself why, and what harm it could be doing. Silence is just one of many signs you’re unhappy in your marriage we tend to overlook because of how common it is.
2. You have your secrets, and they have theirs
If you’re not communicating, chances are there are secrets between you.
We can all have parts of ourselves that we want to keep private. But if you’re routinely keeping secrets from your partner, or feel that you can’t be open and honest with them, it shows you don’t trust them, and means they won’t trust you either. Love cannot live where there is no trust.
3. The laughter has stopped
Remember you and your partner making each other laugh so hard your stomach hurt? Remember how connected you both felt? When was the last time it happened?
We all know that laughter is good for the soul. It’s vital for relationships, too. Indeed, a shared sense of humor is often what brings couples together in the first place. If you find that you and your partner rarely laugh together any more, ask yourself why and how you can change that. And just as importantly, think about what you’re missing out on.
4. Quality time is limited
With the daily hamster-wheel of school runs, work appointments and life in general, it’s easy to think of excuses for why you’ve ended up spending less and less time with your partner.
Are those the real reasons? Or are you avoiding them on purpose? Is there something bigger that you’re trying to avoid having to deal with?
Even if it’s not a sign you’re in an unhappy or bad marriage, a lack of time spent together – quality time, when you can connect with and focus on each other, work through problems and make each other feel loved – could soon cause other issues.
And no, spending time alone with your partner doesn’t mean neglecting your kids. In fact, it’ll make your relationship with them stronger as well. Children who see their parents in happy relationships trust their parents to meet their own emotional needs more than children with unhappy parents. Do not underestimate the effect your own happiness has on your children.
5. You avoid eye contact and intimacy
Happiness comes when we feel a connection to people. Whether emotional, spiritual or physical. If those connections are lost, problems can arise.
A lack of eye contact suggests a lack of trust: as Shakespeare said, “the eyes are the window to the soul”. What is it that you don’t want your partner to see? What are you trying to keep hidden? What are you missing about how they’re feeling? And what harm is that doing to your relationship?
6. You feel fake
Everyone should be able to feel comfortable in their own skin. And if there’s one person around whom you should always be able to be the real you, it’s your spouse. When you’re with them, you should feel safe, confident, and loved for who you are.
If you regularly feel like you’re having to hide your true self, your marriage might be headed toward a divorce. Ask yourself: “Is this the way it should be? Is this the way it has to be?”
7. Small things they do frustrate you
Do your partner’s habits – those things you used to find endearing or quirky – now really annoy you? Do you feel like they’re always getting things wrong? Or do you find yourself criticizing everything they do?
Step back and ask yourself why. Is it really the way they leave the lights on or how they chew their food that’s bothering you, or is there something else going on?
Is it about what they’ve done, or is it about how you feel and how – for whatever reason – you want to make them feel?
8. You don’t feel loved
You deserve to be loved. And to feel loved. That’s not selfish, it’s the core of a healthy, happy relationship. Your relationship might not be the same intense, passionate love affair that it was when you first met. That’s normal. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still feel valued, respected and loved – unconditionally loved – by your partner. Never forget that.
Being in a marriage is hard. Giving unconditional love is hard. There will be good times and bad times, highs and lows. A marriage isn’t a document you sign and put away in a drawer. With how common it is to joke about marriage causing relationships to turn boring, it’s easy to believe that’s what’s supposed to happen. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You and your spouse need to continuously work to keep each other happy and not let the happiness slip away.
However, you deserve to be happy. If your marriage isn’t making you feel that way, be honest with yourself, and don’t just hope that it will be better tomorrow. If you notice your marriage is exhibiting one or more of the signs above, take steps to change that. Speak to your partner, reach out to friends you trust, talk to a counselor or therapist. Problems can be solved. You owe it to yourself, your partner and your family not to ignore them.
It’s important to note that an unhappy marriage and a bad marriage are two separate things. Marriages take a lot more work than most people expect. A lot of couples go into marriage thinking the love they feel for each other will get them through any problem, but the truth is it takes a lot of effort and working through struggles together.
Many times, a marriage becomes unhappy because we stop trying. Life gets in the way, responsibilities come up, and before you know it, it’s been a month since you spent quality time together. Another week passes, one by one, until you feel it’s too late.
Is your marriage unhappy?
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