Marriages are hard work- you hear it constantly, but that’s because it’s the truth. If you are questioning whether or not you are happy in your marriage, it is important to understand the signs and behaviors that might go unnoticed in order to start working towards a healthy relationship.
There are lots of little signs of an unhappy marriage that may help you assess how you’re feeling. It’s crucial to remember that every relationship is unique and complex and that while there is no one sign that you are in an unhealthy marriage, there are some behaviors that might indicate you aren’t happy in the relationship.
What does your time together look like?
When you spend time together, how are you communicating and what are you talking about? If it feels like you can never find the words to get the best reaction from your partner when you’re talking to them, this is a sign that it’s not your choice of words, but a disconnect in how you both feel.
When a relationship is unhappy, it can feel like a chore to talk to your partner and you might not even want to bring something up because you know that they are going to react negatively.
The quality of your conversations and time together can also be an important indicator of how you’re both feeling about the relationship. Maybe you are constantly talking about other people (if you have kids, it may look like only talking about them), or surface conversations about things that are going on in your lives. When you’re focusing on everything except each other, this might be a sign that neither of you is happy in the relationship.
This is where quality comes into play; do you want to tell them when something happens to you (good or bad)? Are you sharing how you’re feeling with them, or do you feel like you have to hide that? These are critical questions to ask yourself if you are questioning whether or not you feel happy in the relationship.
You should also ask yourself how you feel when you’re in the same room. If you’re unhappy in the relationship, it’s possible that you feel lonely even when you’re spending time with them. Do you look forward to spending time with them? If you are either not planning time together or are actively avoiding it because you don’t feel like it, it is important to ask yourself why that is.
A sign of an unhappy marriage is that you haven’t spent a fun night or day together in a long time. If you are racking your brain trying to remember when the last time was that the two of you had fun together, you might be in an unhealthy marriage.
This can be especially difficult for people to think about because if you are married and are living together, it is often hard to plan time together in general- but your partner should be making time for you even if both of you lead busy lives.
How do you think about your own future?
When you’re alone and imagining your life, what are you thinking about? It can be hard to think about, but when you are imagining your future, are they in it? If you catch yourself fantasizing about a life where you aren’t with your partner or they just don’t exist, this is a strong indicator that you aren’t happy.
It is important not to dismiss your imaginations or fantasies, they often hold more truth about how we are feeling than we think. You may be dealing with feelings of guilt for even thinking about a world where you get divorced, but it is important to consider how these thoughts make you feel.
Another thing that is important to consider is how your futures line up. There may have been a time where the two of you wanted the exact same things and, were happy about where your lives were heading, but circumstances change. Are you arguing about what you want in both the immediate and distant future? Is it suddenly hard to justify comprising what you want for the relationship? It’s important to remember that you are allowed to have desires and that your relationship should evolve with you.
A relationship that doesn’t allow for change is not entirely healthy and if you feel like this applies to you and your situation, you may need to make some changes in order to feel happier.
Do you fight all the time or not at all?
When every conversation you have with your partner seems to turn into a fight, it can be pretty obvious that there is something wrong with the relationship.
But fighting all the time doesn’t have to look like constant arguments that turn into screaming matches. This can also look like long-standing arguments where you feel like they aren’t listening to what you are saying or persistent problems that you can’t seem to compromise on.
Another way couples can fight all the time that can be more subtle is when you or your partner engage in behaviors that you know upsets the other, little things that just keep an argument going on forever without any resolution. This is obviously very harmful and is a clear indicator that there are unhealthy behaviors in a relationship, but it is also a sign that you are unhappy and are trying to sabotage the relationship without coming to terms with your feelings.
It is important to look at why your fights or arguments never seem to end and even potentially seek counseling to learn how to better communicate with one another.
The opposite side of this is if you and your partner aren’t fighting at all. When you lose all the will to fight and argue because you can see that it’s going nowhere, this is a classic sign that you are unhappy in the relationship and have lost an important part of your connection with each other.
If you feel like there’s no point in arguing about everything that bothers you, or you have just accepted behaviors that make you angry but you know your partner won’t change, this means that you have emotionally disengaged from the relationship. This sign of an unhappy marriage can be more difficult to notice than constant fighting, but you should remember that complacency does not necessarily mean that you are happy, and to prioritize how you feel.
Are there acts of intimacy?
Marriage is based on a mutually respectful and intimate relationship between individuals, which looks different for everyone.
Every marriage looks different when it comes to intimacy and physical relationships, so you shouldn’t compare yourself to other couples when considering how intimate you and your partner are.
What you should consider is how your physical relationship with your partner has changed since you began feeling like there might be a disconnect. This doesn’t just mean in your sex life- while that can be an important part of a couple’s intimacy routine- there are other acts that indicate how both of you are feeling.
Do you show physical affection?
Do you want to be physically affectionate with your partner?
Have you or your partner stopped or reduced how often you show physical affection? These are all questions that you should consider when looking at how you are feeling in your marriage.
It is also important to ask yourself if you are feeling satisfied with the level of intimacy in your relationship. Maybe you are still physically affectionate with each other, but it feels as if something has shifted and it has just become routine rather than something you want to do.
Only you know what level of physical affection and intimacy are good for you and you can only judge based on that. This is why it is essential that you consider how satisfied you are feeling- and where you are lacking in this aspect of your life. If you find that you no longer want to be as physically affectionate with your spouse, or that it makes you uncomfortable, you should definitely consider how safe you are feeling in the relationship and why your feelings have changed.
There is no surefire way to know if your marriage is healthy and happy
The best thing you can do if you are feeling unsure is to check in with yourself and ask the important questions that I have outlined.
If you are truthful and honest with yourself about your answers, it will be easier for you to know how you feel.
Another thing to remember is that if you are unhappy in your marriage, there are steps you can take to make things better. As long as you and your partner are both willing (and that it’s something both of you want), there are always counseling options and other methods to try and address some of your concerns with a third party.
The most important thing to remember is to prioritize your wellbeing and to consider how you feel while being completely honest with yourself.