Nobody signs up for an unhappy marriage. When you exchange your “I do’s” on your wedding day, you expect a long and joyful life with your partner. You make vows to be together through sickness and in health until death parts the two of you. In an ideal world, every married couple stays true to these promises.
However, real life is a different story. Not everything is as we expect. Sometimes, the happy marriage you dream of turns out to be a cold and lifeless one. It’s a sad truth, but situations like these do happen.
No, it’s not something that happens abruptly or just out of the blue. You don’t just wake up one day and realize that you’ve fallen into an unhappy marriage. They have underlying causes, and it’s a gradual development. These problems can occasionally go unnoticed. Slowly building up through time. An unresolved argument from last month or a fight from last year gets piled up on top of your other marital woes until you reach a point where you can no longer stand seeing your partner.
Before it becomes too late for the both of you and your marriage becomes irreparable, it helps if you can spot the tell-tale signs of your failing relationship or if you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage. Here are some of the signs that you need to look out for:
1You nag a lot at each other.
You can be in a bad mood, and every little thing just easily gets on your nerves. It can be something that your partner did. He picked you up late from work. Or he always forgets to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket even after five years of marriage. Or it can be about how he spends so much time playing his video games. In turn, he gets mad at you for nitpicking everything he does.
Everyone gets bad days like these, and we all got something to complain about. But if this constant nagging is an everyday occurrence and the two of you just always seem to be on the lookout to find faults in each other, then maybe there’s something more to it.
2There’s no sexy time anymore.
You don’t even have sex anymore. Or if you do, it happens once in a blue moon that you can’t remember the last time you did it. The spark in the bedroom just fizzled out, and you just can’t seem to get the sexy going. It can be because you just got promoted, and your work schedule has become super hectic. Maybe you’ve just given birth, and taking care of your baby has become your priority. Whatever the reason, the result is that it has caused a dry spell in your sex life.
Sex in any relationship is important. Forms of intimacy—like hugging and kissing—are the details that make your relationship with your partner a romantic one. If you fail to show intimacy for each other, then you’re clearly having problems.
3You’re both getting annoyed even with the littlest things.
One of the common unhappy marriage signs is that you become over-critical with one another. The things that you find endearing before have become annoying now. People who are in unhappy relationships also tend to be more irritable; one simple conversation can turn into a heated argument.
4Communication is sparse and impersonal.
Another sign that you’re in an unhappy marriage is the communication, or rather, the lack of it. The two of you barely talk to each other. You live in the same house, but it seems as if you’ve become strangers instead of husband and wife. The meaningful conversations are gone. You only talk to each other when you have something to discuss, like the kids or when you need to pay your bills.
You don’t spend the time sitting down, chatting, and catching up on each other’s lives, much less having pillow talks. Your partner is no longer the first person you tell about that award you received from work or the bad day you had in the office.
And the way the two of you communicate is usually brief and impersonal—whether through texts or calls or by relaying messages. It feels like you’re talking to a colleague instead of talking to your spouse. The fact that you no longer enjoy having a conversation with your partner is a clear red flag to your relationship. It goes to show that you’ve lost interest in each other’s lives.
5Stonewalling has been a common thing in the relationship.
For those unfamiliar with the term, stonewalling refers to withdrawing from a conversation. Instead of answering the person or confronting the issue, they would rather go out of the room, stop the other person from talking, divert the topic, or succumb to the “silent treatment.”
Engaging in this practice is toxic as it invalidates your spouse’s feelings. Communication is also a key to a harmonious relationship, so getting stonewalled or stonewalling your spouse will lead to an unhappy marriage.
6You always have fantasies of leaving your spouse.
Quite frankly, it’s normal for people to sometimes wonder what it’ll be like if they’re still single. As the saying goes, “The grass is greener on the other side.”
However, the thought of leaving your spouse should subtly pass in your mind; having imaginations about being single shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. So if you regularly daydream about being single and leaving your spouse, then that could be one of the signs that you’re in an unhappy marriage.
7Fantasies about the future don’t involve your spouse.
We all enjoy daydreaming from time to time, wishing for a future where we’ve reached our goals and living a happy life. Maybe you are picturing moving to a bigger house. Or buying a new sports car. Maybe it’s something for your children, such as successfully sending them to college and having them graduate from a good university. It’s a totally normal thing to want something better for yourself.
But when your spouse is no longer included in your fantasies of the future, then maybe it’s time for some retrospection. It’s a sign that you’ve become so unhappy in your marriage you’ve psychologically detached yourself from your partner. Your daydreams are your “silent way out” of your relationship.
8You no longer share a good laugh.
When was the last time you made a joke with your partner that made you laugh so hard water almost squirted from your nose? Can’t remember? Maybe the last time was when the two of you were just starting your relationship. There were plenty of times when you laughed about at just anything. It can be about silly things like penis and fart jokes. Those fun moments with your partner are what made the two of you close, to begin with. But somehow, at some point in your marriage, the laughter has ceased to exist. Now, it’s replaced with nothing but cold indifference and aloofness.
Humor is good for any relationship. It keeps the two of you bonded and made everything lighter. So when that part starts missing, you need to start asking yourself what caused it and how you can go back to the way you were before.
9You feel more comfortable when you’re alone at home.
Another common sign that you’re unhappy with your marriage is that you would prefer to be alone at your house all the time. You feel freer and happier when your spouse is not around. And no, it’s not like “Yay, I got time for self-care” kind of happiness. It’s more “Finally I can be myself and not deal with shit” kind of happiness. When you start feeling relieved that your partner is not at home, it may be a sign that you’re in an unhappy marriage.
10Your spouse isn’t your go-to person anymore.
Another sign that you’re in an unhappy marriage is when your spouse isn’t “your person” anymore. If you have a problem, your first instinct is to call on the person you rely on the most. When you were a child, if you’ve tripped yourself and fallen on your knees, the first person you’re going to ask for help is your parents. And when you’re married, that immediate person who comes to your mind is your spouse. Unless, of course, there’s trouble in paradise.
If you no longer seek help from your spouse and would rather call on someone else whenever you find yourself in a pinch, it’s a sign that you’ve become emotionally distant from your partner. Your subconscious doesn’t see your significant other as someone you can count on anymore.
11You no longer have date nights.
For couples new to their relationships, you usually go on dates 2-3 times a week. You just want to keep spending quality time together and soak up each other’s company. But when you get married, because of work, house chores, and other responsibilities that come with being an adult, your date nights become a scarce event. But not totally non-existent.
When it does happen, your date nights with your spouse are a welcome surprise. It does sometimes take more planning and getting around your busy schedule. But all in all, it’s something that you always look forward to. At least that’s how it’s going to be if you’re marriage is in good standing.
Take a good look at your relationship. Have you stopped looking forward to spending a romantic evening with your spouse? The minute you no longer make time to plan and prepare for a date with your partner is the minute you know your marriage is on the rocks.
12You feel taken for granted.
Have your tried being affectionate to be your partner but have been ignored countless times? Have you prepared a romantic dinner at home, only to be ridiculed for your cooking skills? Does your spouse no longer respond to your sweet texts?
If you’ve experienced some of the mentioned scenarios, chances are you feel taken for granted. You’re out here, making an effort to express how much you mean to your spouse while they don’t even try to reciprocate the energy. If you feel like all of your efforts are being ignored, you’re likely in an unhappy marriage.
13There’s a power imbalance.
Another common sign of an unhappy marriage is a power imbalance between you and your spouse. If your spouse doesn’t treat you as an equal and doesn’t respect your needs and boundaries, you’re in a relationship with a power imbalance. Not only would this significantly hurt the relationship, but it can also lead to physical or emotional abuse.
14You’re both always on defensive mode.
Does your partner get too defensive when being asked about something?
For instance, you asked them where they went last night, they answered that they’ve been drinking with friends. As you’re curious about the event, you casually asked your spouse who are the people included on the night out. But instead of getting a simple response, your partner gets all defensive, saying that they feel like you’re spying on them and that they didn’t do anything suspicious.
If you or your partner gets too defensive, this can only mean underlying issues in the relationship. This could also be one of the unhappy marriage signs, as married couples who have a happy and healthy connection can properly communicate their feelings.
15You’re both doing your own thing.
Are you and your partner still doing things together? Have you stopped seeing each other as a couple and are living two independent lives? If you’re in an unhappy marriage, you’re always “trying to leave.”
One way of doing that is by making decisions without involving your partner. You don’t want to hear your spouse’s sermon about you leaving your stable job to start your own company. Or even about you buying a piece of new jewelry. It doesn’t matter if the issue at hand is big or small.
What truly matters here is that you want to include your partner in your judgments because you confide in them and value their input. Even if you don’t follow their advice, sometimes, you just want your spouse to be up to date with what’s going on in your life. But if that doesn’t happen anymore, then it’s a sign that you’re in an unhappy marriage.
16There’s now an unwillingness to shoulder the responsibilities.
Another common sign that the marriage is on the brink of separation is that you’re both unwilling to do your daily tasks anymore. You both feel forced to do the same exact thing like cooking, cleaning the house, finishing the laundry, taking care of the kids, etc. And if there’s an additional task that needs to be taken care of, instead of trying to work through it, you’ll just try to pin it on another person; this can lead to a messy argument.
17You or your spouse is having an emotional or physical affair.
Unless you’re in an open marriage, if you’re having physical affairs with someone, then it’s a clear sign that your marriage is on the rocks.
Emotional affairs, however, are a bit trickier to define than physical affairs. Technology has made it easy for us to be emotionally invested in someone without seeing them. You can meet someone online through dating apps and develop feelings for them. Instead of you confiding in your spouse about your worries, you pour your heart out to another person you’ve met on the internet. You’ve replaced your spouse’s role in your life with an online person.
18The person you married is now a stranger.
You don’t talk like you used to. You don’t know what’s happening with their lives anymore. The sad thing is, you don’t even care anymore as well. The two of you are still staying in the same house, but you’re no longer partners but just roommates. A sign that you’re in an unhappy marriage is when you finally realize that the person you married is now a stranger.
How to Deal with an Unhappy & Loveless Marriage
Do the unhappy marriage signs above resonate with you? If this is the case, you and your partner must take a step back and assess the relationship. Here are the next steps you can take to resolve the issues and make your marriage happy and healthy again.
1Make your home a positive space again.
As we’ve mentioned, incessant fighting and being over-critical with one another at home is one of the common unhappy marriage signs. If you want the relationship to work, you may want to consider setting up house rules when communicating with one another.
For example, you can set up a rule that no one is allowed to curse at one another if there’s a disagreement or that unnecessary insults about one’s appearance should be prohibited.
Setting up rules may not necessarily fix the marriage, but it’s better to resolve the issues when you’re both not expressing toxic behavior at home.
2Have an honest and heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse.
It may sound cliche, but communication is the key to a successful and healthy marriage. You can’t expect the problems to resolve on their own. This is why set a time wherein you and your spouse can discuss all of the issues.
Once you’ve let it all out, discuss the next steps. Is separating the best course of action? Do you both need to see a mental health professional resolve each other’s personal issues? Should you try going on a romantic getaway? Should you both opt for more space? Here are some of the things that you can discuss with your partner.
If one-on-one seems overwhelming, you can also opt for couples therapy. Basically, a therapist or counselor would act as a mediator and help you compartmentalize the situation.
3If abuse is involved, leave the house immediately.
The steps given above may only work if you and your partner only have minor issues to work on. However, if mental or emotional abuse is involved in the marriage, the best thing you can do is get yourself and your children (if there’s any) out of the house.
Don’t try to “fix” the marriage with an abuser. You deserve someone who respects you, not someone who emotionally and physically hurt you just because of their ego. Once you’re out of the house, immediately connect with loved ones and authorities; report the incident and compile the available evidence as soon as possible.
No one gets married with the thought in mind that they’re going to separate someday. You exchange your vows, intending to keep those promises. But the future is never certain, and the most that we can do is hope for the best. If you can spot the signs of an unhappy marriage mentioned here early on, you can still fix what you have and improve your relationship.
But if you’re absolutely certain that there’s no way for you to work out your differences, then it’s time to close that chapter of your life. Remember: not all relationships are meant to last, and that’s fine. You should move forward than be stuck in a marriage where you’re miserable for the rest of your life.