The Real Reason You’re Unhappy in Marriage
Unhappy in Marriage
This is for the woman who finds herself feeling unhappy in marriage today. You look at your marriage from the outside, and you see everything that you’d think would make a woman happy. You’ve got a kind and handsome husband (yeah, he’s got some sass, but the brotha’s legit), he provides for your family, he makes you laugh, he supports your crazy dreams, he loves you well and he even takes you out time to time. You’ve got the cutest kids with him and he loves and parents them well. He’s absolutely amazing, and you know it. Yet… deep down inside, when all the noise and chaos settles, you find in yourself something’s oddly there.
Discontentment. Detachment. Disinterest. Unhappiness.
I’ve been the woman described above, so I know what it is to feel guilty for being in that place. And if I’m honest with you, in my nearly four years of marriage (#marriagevet), I’ve been there a couple times.
If you’re unhappy in marriage today, I want to encourage you – it doesn’t have to be that way. It isn’t what’s normal, it’s not what’s to be expected, and it isn’t just “how it’s going to be” – there is better.
The point of this post is not to guilt you or to make you feel even worse than you may already feel. My hope is to walk with you through what you’re feeling, perhaps help you find its source and encourage you to do something about it. Through my own experience I’ve learned that seasons of an unhappy marriage sometimes come simply because I have the wrong perspective.
So, here are 8 problems I believe may possibly be the reason for your heavy heart toward your marriage today. With each problem I’ve provided solutions that I believe can help get you out from under it. Please note that the problems, symptoms and solutions listed below are not meant to be exhaustive – cause girl, every one of us are different. Ultimately, I do hope you find the help you’re needing here.
1. You’re not Present Where You Are | You’re Focusing on the Wrong Things
2. You Have Unrealistic Expectations | You Compare Him to Others
3. You Assume the Worst | You Do Not Forgive
4. You’re Not Prioritizing Your Marriage | You’ve Given Up
- He’s always saying, “you’re on your phone/computer too much”
- You give him your full attention… hardly ever
- You have a rough time listening when he speaks
- He says or asks you to do something and moments later you can’t remember what he’s said – and you do this often
- You interrupt him a lot, changing the topic to things like the kids, ideas, work, etc.
- You compare your life to where you wish it was – i.e. to other people’s lives
- You compare your life to where you think it should be by now
- You’re consumed with getting a house, with getting a job, with getting pregnant, etc.
- You often fantasize & focus on future plans (trips, vacations, life milestones, goals, etc.)
- You never stop making new plans – you reach a goal & rather than feeling satisfied, you start planning and thinking of what’s next
- You focus on past mistakes (yours and/or his), past pains, missed opportunities, etc.
- Your relationship feels “boring” and you’re disconnected from him, despite all his efforts
The Run Down:
When we get into a funk where we’re caught in the future or stuck in the past or when we become fixated on meaningless things, it damages our relationships. The relationship that’s closest to us – our marriages – reap the consequences of a life lived this way.
I’ve personally struggled with being present for much of my life. I’m constantly thinking ahead, to where I want to be in x amount of time, and the possibilities that could be if this or that fell into place. Whether it be my desire to travel, start a business, buy a home or whatever, I get so fixed on these things in my heart and I become consumed – really it’s just sick. All the while my life is happening around me, and it’s as if I’m standing on the outside peering in.
When we get caught up in what we want our life to be, we begin to become unsatisfied with what our life is. And rather than seeing the many blessings laid out around us, we simply lock eyes with everything that isn’t the way we wish it was. And when we look in shallow places for comfort, we drown ourselves in ungratefulness and lose the ability to breathe in any thankfulness or appreciation for what we do have.
Through my personal struggle with these things, God has spoken a message over me time again and again. It goes a little something like this: “Come back from where you’ve wandered. Rest here with Me. Look at what you’ve been given. Know that it’s everything you need. Be present in the journey and be where I have you today. Trust in Me – My plans for you are never delayed.”
When we aren’t present where we are and when we focus on the wrong things, we rob ourselves of joy with our husbands. We will miss out on so much.
Our husbands are good men, but our struggle with these things (if they haven’t already) will cause them to feel unloved, unwanted and not good enough. Unless we want to destroy our husbands and our marriages, too, we have to fight to actually begin living our lives again.
This may sound melodramatic, but when it’s our turn to leave this Earth, I don’t think any of us will give two hoots about the things we get swept away with now. We won’t care what goals we did or didn’t achieve, or where we did or did not get to go. We won’t care about the money in our bank accounts, or the amount of likes we get on Instagram. In those moments we’ll be concerned with how we lived our lives in the things that really matter. Did we love our husband and our children well? Did we give them the time and attention they deserved? Did the life we lived leave a legacy and a lasting impression of who God is and our love for them?
So, my prayer is we wouldn’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking rightly. Instead we would come back from wherever we’ve wandered because we’re not needed there. We’re need here, right where we are today. Our husbands need us to be with them when we’re with them, appreciating them for the men they are today.
So, whenever you’re feeling pulled forward or backwards again, or if you find your gaze wandering to where it shouldn’t be, remember the sweet invitation God extends to you:
“Come back from where you’ve wandered. Rest here with Me. Look at what you’ve been given. Know that it’s everything you need. Be present in the journey and be where I have you today. Trust in Me – My plans for you are never delayed.”
- You literally compare him to others – i.e. your girlfriend tells you about something her husband did while you think, “My husband never does that,” “I wish my husband was more like that,”
- You find yourself becoming attracted to other men, even thinking of other men (perhaps one man in particular) on a regular basis
- You get upset very easily over small things
- You have a hard time giving your husband grace when he messes up or comes up short
- You feel distant/apathetic when he tries to connect with you
- When he does something nice for you, you notice what he could’ve done better, or what he’s done wrong – and you’ll vocalize it
- You expect him to know and understand what you want/feel without having to say it
- He says things like, “You’re never satisfied” “Nothing I do is ever good enough” “I try, but you don’t ever notice”
- You complain a lot, about everything – big and small
- When he disappoints/hurts you, you can’t stop thinking about how much he hurt you, and you make sure he knows just how bad he messed up
- You have a hard time looking at yourself and admitting your own imperfections
- You can list all the things he’s doing/done wrong, but you have a rough time coming up with even a few things you’ve done/do wrong
- You believe good/happy couples don’t argue or ever have conflict
- When your husband doesn’t spend most of his time with you, you feel unhappy – i.e. you get bothered when he wants to hang out with his friends, etc.
- You have countless deal-breakers – all of them are things you see worth fighting over
The Run Down:
Most women who deal with these problems are unaware of their bent toward never feeling satisfied and their constant focus on the negative. Because these habits are so deeply embedded in how we’re raised or how we’ve lived our lives, they’re real hard to recognize. Often, we have justifications or excuses that we feel give us reason for us to be this way, so it takes a lot to finally see that it’s wrong.
When we have too high of expectations, we forget that we’re dealing with another human being – a.k.a. our husbands. If you get honest with yourself, you have never lived up to all of your expectations for yourself. You’ve failed, you’ve fallen short and you’ve compromised. Yet, for some odd reason with our spouses we believe that they should be able to carry that weight. We’ve put them to a task that we know they won’t succeed at, yet we hold them to the flames when they fail.
Side Note: Did I mention I struggle with lofty expectations, too? *palm to face – merp*
Often, it’s our unreasonable expectations that cause us to compare our husbands to others. These lofty expectations distort our view of reality because the people we compare them to aren’t real people -they’re merely a part of a person. For example, say your friend does tell you about her husband and how he planned this whole trip and surprised her. Instantly your mind goes to thinking about your husband and how he’s never done that, how you wish he’d be more that way, how you’re disappointed he isn’t that way and off you go into all the other imperfections he has.
But do you see what’s happened? The human-like parts of who your husband is – the sin and imperfections – were measured up to the best parts of who her husband is. It’s simply an unfair battle – and if we’re honest there are probably things her husband does that would tick you off and cause you to grow grey hairs, too.
For the woman who struggles with lofty expectations, come back down from your high place – I mean that with all respect. When we build an endless mountain of expectations for our husbands to climb, it reveals that we’ve put ourselves on a pedestal. We have a high view of ourselves, and we move about our marriage in an entitled manner.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t have expectations, but girl you gotta be reasonable and you have to be willing to see that you just may have way too many expectations. After all, your husband is just human – imperfect, in need, broken, just like you.
So, I encourage you to recognize your issue and the role you’ve been playing in causing the “disconnect” in your marriage. I know you love your husband, so let it be your prayer and pursuit to seek humbleness. Because, yes, you are amazing, but you’re not perfect – just like your husband, you fall short, too.
Let God meet you in your brokenness, let Him carry you down from your high place. And remember Christ – the One who came to serve, rather than be served. Unlike us, He had all right to demand perfection and praise, but instead He chose to humble Himself and dwell among us. And not only that, He died for us, and He speaks on our behalf today. Follow His example sis – serve and love your husband with humility and grace.
For the ladies who compare their husbands to other men, remember that your husband is not all of those other people – he is who he is. And to be frank, that’s why you married him! You didn’t marry him because he’s Bob or Joe, you married him because unlike everyone else, he’s uniquely him. Thank the good Lord that he’s your husband and not those other guys. And you know what? God made him wonderfully sis, and I really think you know that.
So, I encourage you today – go take a pen and paper and write down everything you appreciate, admire, love and find sexy about your husband – that includes focusing on his character. Write down your favorite memories with him, the things he does today that make you laugh, and the things he does to love you well. Keep this list, add to it when you need to, and revert to it in your time of need. It’s great for when we begin to compare our husbands to other men because it refreshes our hearts and give us a nice slap across the face to get us back to reality.
- You assume he does things that make you upset on purpose
- You’re convinced he “plays games” to intentionally press your buttons
- After he makes a mistake you go over and over in your mind about what he really meant, how terrible his intentions must have been, what he could have done differently, etc.
- You bring up his past mistakes in arguments and/or hold them over his head
- Days/weeks/years have passed and yet you’re still emotionally triggered at the thought of something he did wrong
The Run Down:
I think we all have probably been guilty of this before. We jump to conclusions, we get defensive, we play the Blame Game and then we get bitter. Arguments/disagreements come and go and they don’t ever get resolved, and so we just wait around til we “get over it” – or so we say. Yet, days, weeks or even months later when another argument arises, that past hurt gets brought up (by us) and we use it as a form of ammunition to prove whatever point we’re fighting for.
When we do this we only prove that we’re harboring unforgiveness toward our husbands. If you had truly forgiven him, then there’d be no need throw it in the ring. The fact that you do simply shows that it’s still on your heart, and you haven’t really “gotten over it.”
And what about those moments when your husband does something you’ve asked him not to do like ten times? Or when he does something that you assume he knows would upset you? Do you assume in those moments that he did it on purpose? Do you instantly get upset and feel offended? I think these responses are natural to the average human, but it isn’t helpful to the health of a marriage.
Unforgiveness is a silent killer – it disturbs and creates distance. When we assume the worst of our spouses, and fail to give them the benefit of the doubt, we contribute to the disconnect and apathy that we feel. Because after all, who feels safe with an enemy? And who desires to be around someone who they’re still upset with? *cough – no one – cough*
Forgiveness takes intentionality – it’s a decision of the will. It isn’t something that comes when we just “get over it.” If you think about it, God’s given us the best example of what forgiveness looks like. We can use His forgiveness as a measure of our own. He didn’t just get over our sins and look past our continual pursuits of everything but Him. No girl – He made a decision to love us anyway, to send His Son to save us and to plant His Spirit within us. That’s no willy nilly stuff right there.
So, likewise with us! We can’t float about our marriages and just hope one day we make it to forgiveness and healing. No – we’ve got to work at it, pray for it and fess up to it. We need to exercise some of that good ol’ communication and let our husbands know, ”Look, you really upset/hurt me when you did x, y, z. I’m like super struggling to show you grace and forgiveness right now, cause if I could, I would whine to you about it til you understood every nook and cranny of how it made me feel. So, please give me time with this. I’m still upset, but I just need time to pray and cool off. I’ll get there. Now leave me alone.” Easy-peezy.
Lastly, when we assume our husbands do intentional crud to hurt us, we make them out to be an enemy who’s “out to get us.” Last I checked, when we do something mindless that upsets our husbands we don’t do it intentionally. Sooo, perhaps it’s the same the other way around? *shrugs* Let’s be honest, I don’t think our husbands have the time or the energy to sit around plotting ways to upset and hurt us – they’ve got better things to do. We’re talking about the men who work hard for us, who love us, who made a commitment to spend their lives with us. We’ve got to give those guys grace, ladies.
So, my encouragement to you is to simply remember that your husband loves you. He isn’t out to get you, he isn’t your enemy. He married you because he wants to see you happy and well. So, remember that in the moments you want to sprint to accusations. Remember when he does dumb stuff to be the grace-giver he needs in his lowest moments. As many men will admit, sometimes they’re just clueless about what they’re doing or how to make us happy, so lighten up and give him the benefit of the doubt.
- You think you know everything about him – and you’re okay with that
- You go long periods without seeking out one-on-one time
- He feels ignored and undesired – and he’s told you this
- You’re always distracted – you don’t pursue quality time
- Their birthday, your anniversary, special/important dates come and go – you sometimes even forget the day altogether or you don’t plan anything (big or small)
- You tend to take your irritations with other things out on him
- You’ve “come to terms” with the state of your relationship – and it ain’t good
- You say things like, “I’m only staying with him for the kids”
- He’s asked you many times if everything’s okay, and if you’re happy
- Your time and attention is poured into your children – leaving nothing for your husband
- You don’t desire to have sex with him and you see it more as a burden or a “duty”
- You do things that your husband has specifically asked you not to – i.e. spending money, going out with certain people, talking bad about his family, making fun of him in front of others, etc.
- You feel attracted to other men and you even find yourself thinking of them often
- You have thoughts of divorce and separation
The Run Down:
I think this is the category that most women fall into because we tend to struggle with putting marriage first after kids come into the picture.
For the new mom. Suddenly you have this little human who literally needs you for everything, and then there’s your husband who’s like 87% capable of doing things for himself. “Putting your marriage first” to the new mom just sounds like you’re being told to neglect your new little baby. So, instead we let our entire selves get sucked into motherhood and even when we notice that we’re drowning, we don’t have it in us to reach out for our husband’s hand.
For the mom with adolescent/teenagers. Life is busy with taking the kids here and there, helping them with their homework, tending to their pubescent emotions and so on. You get swept up in just “getting things done” and so your marriage gets put on the back-burner for “a while.” But before you know it, your marriage gets cold – even though all the other things are getting done. But because this is your new normal, you put your head back down and just keep with the motions.
After so long of this, our hearts dry up for our husbands. What was once vibrant and full of life, will feel dead and dying – after all, if you don’t water a plant, how can you really expect it to grow (ignore air plants for just a moment lol)? And so, feelings of disconnection, apathy and unhappiness creep in noticed – but we don’t have the energy or desire to stop it. So you don’t pursue your husband like you did before, you stop having curiosity about him and you feel content/bored with what you already know. You do nothing about his vocalized concerns, and sometimes they even irritate you. You’ve come to terms with the state of your marriage, and so you simply co-exist with him.
If you haven’t caught on already, there are so many ways we get in our own way of maintaining a healthy marriage. When we fail to prioritize our marriages and we neglect them of the time and attention they desperately need, we will reap the (dead) fruit of our non-existent labor.
If you think you know everything there is to know about your spouse, you’re wrong. I don’t need to know him to say that, cause it’s a fact that people change. The man you married is not the man you’re married to today – even if you’ve only been married 6 months. The man you’re married to today, will not be the same man you’re married to a few years down the line – and that’s okay, it’s normal. Just as he will change, so will you. So many people get divorced because they say the person they’re married to isn’t who they married – well, duh! You’re not the same person either lady! So my encouragement to you is to be curious about who your husband is, get to know who he’s becoming, and walk alongside him in the change. Don’t let change divide you, fight for your marriage and let change draw you nearer to each other.
If you’re distracted by life, kids and other things – prioritize your marriage and spend regular time with your husband again. Get away and have un-distracted time just the two of you. Develop curiosity in him again and discover who he is today. Recognize that your children need the example of a strong marriage in their lives – it gives them security, confidence and joy. There truly is no better gift we can give our children than a strong, God-centered and happy marriage.
If you disrespect your husband by not listening to what he says – stop it. It’s really as simple as that – stop your disrespect, take his feelings into consideration, don’t be so selfish and learn to compromise. You can’t expect to grow your relationship in a positive direction if you make him feel unheard and ignored with your choices. Recognize that you’re a married woman, so what you do no longer impacts only you, it affects him too – he does get to have a say. Respect his reasonable wishes, just as you desire yours to be respected.
If you’ve accepted the fact that you’re in a loveless marriage – change your perspective. It doesn’t have to be that way, things can get better. You have to recognize that you’ve played a part in getting your marriage where it is today. You’ve got to take ownership for your part, ask for forgiveness for your neglect and work with your husband to revive what’s been forgotten. Marriages bounce back every day from what seemed to be the pits of hell. Just like anything in life, it will take lots of prayer, hard work, intentionality and dedication to get it back. And when it is revived know that it may be different than before, and perhaps that’s a good thing. Regardless, there is hope for you.
In the End…
No one said marriage would be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s meant to be unhappy either. If we find ourselves in a marriage with a man who loves us and does his best, but yet feelings of unhappiness and apathy begin to creep in, perhaps we’re doing one of the above. These habits don’t allow us to be grateful, and they ultimately steal our joy in marriage. When we get honest with ourselves and share with our husbands what’s been going on, we start the process toward healing. I don’t believe for a second that God desires for anyone to be unhappy in marriage. God designed marriage to exemplify Christ and the Church, so back-burner marriages surely can’t be an intention of His grand design. No, we’re meant to be sanctified in our marriages, and we’re meant to thrive because of them.
Hoping this helps you wherever you are today. There is no shame here <3
In All Honesty,