In This Article
At some point, you may experience some challenges in your marriage – regardless of how sweet it has always been. You may disagree with your partner on some issues or experience occasional fights. However, it is expected that things should even out after a short while.
Being unhappy in marriage is no one’s idea of fun. This is because the consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage are too many to count. Your partner is supposed to bring you joy, peace, and happiness and not discomfort and disappointment.
Constantly feeling miserable in marriage is a sign that something is wrong somewhere. Hence, the feeling must not be treated with a wave of the hands. You must discover the cause of your feelings and find a permanent fix immediately.
In this article, we will examine what being in an unhappy marriage means and how to stay in an unhappy marriage (or call things off, as the case may be).
What is an unhappy marriage?
Before defining an unhappy marriage, let’s look at what it’s not.
The fact that you got into a little brawl with your spouse today over breakfast and they took their keys and stormed out of the house doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in a toxic relationship. It could just be their way of dealing with a stressful situation.
An unhappy marriage is one in which you constantly fight with a feeling of despair. Unhappy marriages are characterized mainly by passive aggression from one or both partners, constant fights, resentment, anger, and excessive toxicity from both spouses.
It is not uncommon to experience declining happiness in your marriage at some point. This can be caused by multiple reasons including external pressure, different parenting styles, and different emotional/sexual needs.
However, the major difference between these scenarios and a downright unhappy marriage is the feelings that reside deep within every individual. When you’re just feeling pissed at your partner for something, there’s every chance that you’re willing to work things out with them.
Unhappy marriages, on the other hand, are characterized by a deep resentment, bitterness, and mostly negative feelings toward the other. In an unhappy marriage, you do your best to stay away from your partner, reducing your communication to the barest minimum.
10 signs you’re in an unhappy marriage
How exactly do you tell if you’re in a loveless marriage? Do not just base your decisions on what others think of your marriage. Instead, take a look at the top signs of an unhappy marriage to be sure. Some of the unhappy marriage signs are listed below.
- Less or no time spent together
- Lack of emotional interdependence
- Lack of physical intimacy
- A lot of criticism from both partners
- Avoiding any kind of confrontation
- No celebration on special occasions
- Not sharing with each other
- No proper plans for future
- No vacations together
- Not supporting each other in tough times
10 consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage
As we already mentioned, the consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage can be dire. Sometimes, you may look back and even ask yourself why you didn’t step out of the marriage all those years ago.
Here are 10 not-so-good things that can happen when you keep on staying in an unhappy marriage.
1. Low self-esteem
Research has proven that long-term unhappy marriages are detrimental to self-esteem and a person’s overall well-being. You may begin to second-guess yourself and what you’re worth when you’re in a relationship where all you seem to do with your spouse is fight and quarrel every day.
This low sense of self-esteem is also one of the reasons why people in unhappy marriages seem quite reluctant to let go of such toxic relationships. Since they may now have a warped sense of self-identity, they may be left with the idea that they’re no longer worthy of love.
The longer you spend in a loveless marriage, the more your self-esteem depreciates.
2. Mental health challenges
In addition to low self-esteem, your overall mental health will take a beating when you’re in an unhappy marriage. Studies show that people in toxic marriages are more prone to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and have suicidal tendencies.
Think about it for a second. If you have ever worked with a toxic boss, you know how stressful keeping up with them was. Imagine having to deal with that amount of stress every day – for all the long hours you spend at home. The thought alone can be demoralizing.
To reduce your chances of dealing with these adverse mental health challenges, you may want to consider leaving an unhappy marriage as soon as possible.
3. Your physical health takes a beating as well
One of the main consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage is that your physical health will be affected as well. In many cases, the deterioration of your physical health is the result of what’s going on inside – your mental and emotional health.
When you’re with someone who denies you care and affection, your body tends to break down more often in response to the lack of love you’re experiencing. Then again, anxiety and depression affect your immune system, causing frequent illnesses.
4. Social isolation
If your marriage has gotten physically abusive (where your partner hits and leaves marks on your body), you may begin to withdraw from your social circles.
In many cases, you’d do this to prevent raised eyebrows and because you may not be willing to reveal the extent of the damage done to your marriage.
Social isolation usually begins slowly until you suddenly realize that you are left to deal with an unhappy marriage all by yourself – with no support system that could have helped you scale through.
Then again, the constant pain and rejection you receive from your partner can cause you to become prickly, thereby forcing people to avoid you in general.
5. Trauma to the children
One of the biggest consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage is the negative impact it has on your children.
One of the most significant determinants of how well a child will turn out when they grow up is the type of family they had when they were younger. Research has proven that the quality of interparental relationships is an important influence on adolescent psychopathology.
This means that children who grew up in toxic homes are more likely to experience mental and physical health challenges, deal with sleep challenges, and be socially stunted.
Children are avid learners and one of the most effective ways to teach your child is to model a particular behavior to them. When your child sees you constantly fighting with your spouse or giving them the cold shoulder, they may store these in their subconscious as acceptable behavior.
When they get into romantic relationships in the future, they may begin to replicate these tendencies they picked from you. Hence, they may experience relationship challenges as well. This soon becomes a vicious cycle that continues.
6. Less productivity at work
One of the biggest consequences of being in an unhappy marriage is that it impacts the quality of your work. Time spent with loved ones should be filled with happiness and love. When this is the case, we are inspired to give our best when we return to work.
If, however, all the time you spend with your partner is marked by unhappiness and resentment, these negative emotions can spill over and negatively impact your work.
Hence, you may start experiencing short attention spans, wandering thoughts, inability to stick to deadlines, and the quality of your work may drop over time. In adverse cases, this can cost you your job or lead to loss of clients/customers in your business.
7. Life loses its spark
Can it remember how it was when you first met your partner? Do you remember how every little thing excited you and the burst of colors you experienced every time you wet out into the morning sun?
Think about the childlike joy with which you approached life and the positive energy you always felt every time your partner was within eyesight. The opposite soon becomes the case when you’re in an unhappy marriage.
Remaining with someone who cannot meet your emotional needs and doesn’t want to make an effort to understand you may cause you to lose your spark. At some point, you resign yourself to whatever fate has for you.
Even the thought of stepping away from your relationship (no matter how toxic it is) soon loses any allure. You may give up on your personal ambitions as well, especially those ones your partner doesn’t seem on board with.
Related Reading: 5 Ways to Bring the Spark Back into Your Friendship
8. You lose the ability to take care of yourself
Self-love and care are necessary for us to function at our best. However, staying too long in an unhappy marriage may soon strip this power from you. At some point, you may stop putting your needs first and give more room for your partner to act the way they want.
This loss of ability to take care of yourself can manifest in many ways including making excuses for your partner’s bad attributes, feeling out of touch with your body, constant lack of inspiration, and the decision to stay with them no matter how bad they get.
Whenever you decide to settle for less by staying with someone who is clearly a terrible choice for you, it is a sign that you may have started losing the ability to prioritize your needs and give yourself the love and grace you deserve.
Looking for a self-care action plan, watch this video:
9. You tend to believe the worst of everyone
Another disadvantage of staying in this type of marriage is that you soon begin to see every other person from the same lens through which you view your partner. The idea of falling in love sounds alien to you, and you see everyone as having an ulterior motive.
You see every good gesture as transactional. Hence, you may soon be caught in a loop of trying to always one-up people when they do something nice for you. While this may look good at face value, it could be a sign that you’ve accepted that you aren’t worthy of goodness.
At extreme levels, you may become prickly toward people. This is the result of transferring aggression from your relationship to the outside world, and this can scare people away from you.
10. Unhealthy independence
This is also one of the major consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage.
Your ability to function as an independent entity is necessary for maximum achievement. However, when you shut yourself away from the world because you’re scared of getting hurt, you may lose out on all the amazing things that could have been.
One of the final consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage is that you soon learn to face everything by yourself. Life soon becomes a case of you against the world. You will struggle to accept help, even when you should.
5 ways to survive in an unhealthy marriage
After identifying the signs of a bad marriage and determining if you’re in one, your next assignment is to clearly define your next steps. Here are 5 ways to survive in an unhealthy marriage.
1. Effective communication
Effective communication can be the difference between an amicable resolution and having your marriage splinter into a billion tiny shards. Try not to take any steps until you have spoken to your partner first.
Wondering how to fix an unhappy marriage in a subtle way? Find the best time to talk to them about the things they do that you don’t like and the effects of their actions on you -mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Don’t just tell them what they’re doing wrong. Tell them how they can fix it.
2. Take some time off
Maybe, what you need to get back to how you used to be at first is a little time off this doesn’t have to be a separation or divorce. It could just be that you need a solo vacation.
Consider taking some time off to visit some of your dream destinations. Explore your solo interests and rekindle your passion for living.
3. Explore new things with your partner
Maybe, the key to getting out of this painful fix in your marriage is to creatively explore new things together. Instead of trying to jump into a new relationship, how about you consider jumping into new activities together?
How to survive in an unhappy marriage? Sit together and make a bucket list of things you’d love to experience together. Do you want to go see the Eiffel Tower? Do you want to share a passionate kiss under a mistletoe tree?
Feel free to add some spicy bedroom activities to this list. It doesn’t hurt to work on your sex life while you’re at it.
4. Go for marriage therapy
The role of marriage therapy cannot be overemphasized in this context. You may need the help of a professional to better understand what went wrong and devise an actionable plan to get back on track in your relationship.
Related Reading: Marriage Counseling vs. Couples Therapy: What’s the Difference?
5. Know when to step away
At some point, you may have to come to terms with the fact that your marriage may have deteriorated beyond repair. At this time, your best bet would be to call it quits and focus on getting your life back on track.
Leaving a marriage can be difficult, especially if you have children to think about. However, working with a marriage therapist can help you define the best way to get out of this marriage without causing extreme damage to anyone.
Commonly asked questions
So far, we have outlined the major consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage. We also have pieced together some of the most commonly asked questions on this subject and provided simple answers to them.
Is it selfish to leave an unhealthy marriage?
Considering the adverse effects of staying in an unhealthy marriage (as we have already examined in this article), it is not selfish to step away from one.
However, ensure you’re not throwing in the towel without giving it a fight. When you’re sure you’ve given it your all, feel free to walk away.
Is it better to be alone than be in a loveless marriage?
In simple terms, yes it is. It is better to be alone than remain with someone with whom you shouldn’t be because you’re afraid of going back to being single. Think about your mental, physical, and emotional health as you make this decision.
An unhappy marriage can lead to an unhappy life!
It is not just enough to know the signs of an unhappy marriage, you must know what to do if you’re in one and how to get out if it can’t be fixed again.
In this article, we have covered the top 10 consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage to help you see the effects of such relationships on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Marriage therapy will help you decide the next best steps to take for yourself. Ensure you get the help of a therapist as you navigate these trying times.
What are the negative effects of unhappy marriage? ›
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Depression, and Identity and Personality Disorders are some of the most common ways that an unhappy marriage affects you and your mental health. Not only is this incredibly disabling for the people in the marriage, but for the children of the married couple as well.What kind of effect does staying in a seriously unhappy marriage cause? ›
Frequent conflict in your relationship may lead to lower self-esteem, according to 2021 research . Low self-esteem can then play a part in unhelpful behaviors during conflict, like withdrawal or unwillingness to compromise. These patterns can take even more of a toll on self-esteem for you both.Is it better to divorce or stay unhappily married? ›
American studies mirror our findings. A 2002 study found that two-thirds of unhappy adults who stayed together were happy five years later. They also found that those who divorced were no happier, on average, than those who stayed together.How long do you have to stay in an unhappy marriage? ›
Most couples wait an average of six years before seeking help. There's an important question you both need to answer if you are facing an ongoing unhappy marriage or divorce. Are you motivated to save your marriage? If so, are you willing to do whatever it takes?How do I know if it's time to end my marriage? ›
- Lack of Sexual Intimacy. ...
- Frequently Feeling Angry with Your Spouse. ...
- Dreading Spending Alone-Time Together. ...
- Lack of Respect. ...
- Lack of Trust. ...
- Disliking Your Spouse. ...
- Visions of the Future Do Not Include Your Spouse.
Conflict in a relationship can lead to damaging responses in the body such as inflammation, changes in appetite and increased release of stress hormones, all of which can affect numerous aspects of health ranging from heart function to the immune system, previous research has found.What does a loveless marriage do to you? ›
What is a loveless marriage? A loveless marriage is a relationship where one or both partners do not feel in love. Instead of being romantic lovers, they often feel more like roommates or siblings. Being in a loveless marriage often breeds isolation, resentment, and hopelessness.What are the psychological effects of a toxic marriage? ›
Stress from a toxic relationship can lead to a variety of symptoms, including sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and weakened immunity. Marital conflict has been linked to an increased incidence of mental health problems, such as depression and alcohol abuse.When should you walk away from an unhappy marriage? ›
There are times you MUST leave—if there is ongoing abuse or if you are in danger of physical harm, you should only consider staying safe. Repeated bouts of addiction, cheating, emotional badgering, and severe financial abuse need to be handled with extreme care as well.What's the number one reason for divorce? ›
Lack of commitment is the most common reason given by divorcing couples according to a recent national survey. Here are the reasons given and their percentages: Lack of commitment 73% Argue too much 56%
What are the hardest years of marriage? ›
While there are countless divorce studies with conflicting statistics, the data points to two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8. Of those two high-risk periods, there are two years in particular that stand out as the most common years for divorce — years 7 and 8.What are the signs of an unhappy wife? ›
- She stops wanting to have sex. ...
- She shuts down because she doesn't feel heard. ...
- She stops taking care of herself. ...
- She starts talking to male friends instead of her husband. ...
- She starts drinking more heavily. ...
- She starts having physical ailments.
A narcissistic husband is usually a very selfish person and will only think about themselves, and not about you or your relationship together. They might expect you to do all the housework, or they may want to have sex with you when they want it, but not when you want it.What is walkaway wife syndrome? ›
What Is a Walkaway Wife? Also referred to as the "neglected wife syndrome" and "sudden divorce syndrome," walkaway wife syndrome is "nothing more than a term used to characterize a person who has decided they cannot stay in the marriage any longer," says Joshua Klapow, Ph.How do you hint you want a divorce? ›
Use “I” statements, focus on neutral language, report how you feel, and be sympathetic about his/her feelings. Say “I know this is difficult to hear, but our marriage is finished and I want a divorce. I don't believe marital counseling will fix our relationship, but we might benefit from seeing individual therapists.”How do you know when it's time to separate? ›
You don't feel like having a romantic meal together, going out to have fun, you are no longer concerned with the other person's wellbeing or emotional needs. You prefer to spend time and effort on someone else, such as your children or friends. You feel more alone than ever.How long do most marriages last? ›
The average length of a first marriage that ends in divorce is roughly eight years—7.8 years for men, 7.9 for women. Moving into second marriages that end in divorce, the timeline shortens somewhat. In these cases, the median length for men is 7.3 years, while for women it drops to 6.8 years.What is the most common way to end a marriage? ›
1. DIVORCE. The most common or well-known end to a marriage is a divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage. California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that neither spouse has to prove that the other has done anything wrong or provide legal reasons.What does a failing marriage feel like? ›
Research shows that people in bad marriages usually have low self-esteem, struggle with anxiety and depression, and have a higher rate of illness than those who don't. People feel sad and grieve when they decide to let go — but people who divorce do recover emotionally, and Cole says most find new relationships.Who is more unhappy in marriage? ›
Looking at the results, the women appear unhappier in their marriages and also were more likely than men to make the decision to file for divorce. Specifically, when asked if they had thought about leaving their spouse in the last year, 20% of married women said yes.
What are the effects of a broken marriage? ›
After divorce the couple often experience effects including, decreased levels of happiness, change in economic status, and emotional problems. The effects on children include academic, behavioral, and psychological problems.What is Gaslighting in a marriage? ›
The term gaslighting became popular in the 1960s. It is used to describe the manipulation of another person's perception of reality. Gaslighting is a common tool used by narcissistic and abusive spouses to control their partners. When done correctly, gaslighting can make a spouse doubt their own senses and memory.At what point can a marriage not be saved? ›
"A marriage may not be worth saving if your partner refuses to work on anything or take responsibility for creating a joint life," Sherman says. "If they call all the shots and none of your needs are ever heeded, you may decide that the only way to create a healthy relationship is by yourself or with someone new."What are the signs of an unhappy husband? ›
- He doesn't spend time with you anymore.
- He has a new obsession.
- Your husband is emotionally unavailable.
- Your husband stops communicating.
- He will not discuss the future.
- Your husband has developed a short temper.
- Your husband starts nitpicking.
Just like toxic chemicals, toxic people can make you sick—both physically and mentally. Living in a toxic marriage day in and day out can be dangerous to your health, especially if the level of toxicity rises to physical and emotional abuse.What does a toxic marriage look like? ›
A toxic marriage is a chronic condition characterized by ongoing unhealthy mental, physical, and emotional issues that are unresolved and fester into even bigger problems. Physical abuse, substance abuse, adultery, desertion, or other major transgressions are obvious signs that a marriage is in trouble.What happens to your body when you're in a toxic relationship? ›
The impact of a toxic relationship on our physical and mental health can be significant and negative, says Wilkie. 'Research shows that the physical effects include poor sleep, a higher risk of heart problems, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune system and organ damage,' he says.Why is GREY divorce? ›
Gray (or grey) divorce refers to a divorce involving individuals who are 50 years of age or older. Many high-profile cases, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, have brought attention to the growing number of gray divorces.What are the four horsemen in marriage? ›
The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.Who initiates divorce more often? ›
A study led by the American Sociological Association determined that nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by women. And the percentage of college-educated American women who initiated divorce is even higher.
What is the average age for divorce? ›
The average age for newly married couples going through their first divorce in the United States is 30 years old. About 34% of all divorces initiate spouses aged 25 to 29. The percentage of people 55 to 64 years old who got divorced for the first time is about 43%.What is disrespect in a marriage? ›
Some behaviors of disrespect in relationships include nagging, criticism, stonewalling, lying, put downs, pressuring the other, disloyalty, and threats to end the relationship or marriage.What is a dead bedroom? ›
Social media sites have popularized the term, “dead bedroom,” where one person's disinterest in sex leaves their longtime partner feeling frustrated, unappreciated, depressed and resentful. This struggle over bedroom intimacy can cause other aspects of the relationship to suffer as well.What year do most couples break up? ›
The likelihood of a breakup jumps down as the second and again the third years of a relationship pass. But the fourth year of a couple's life is just as likely as the third to end in departure. It's only after a couple reaches the 5th year of their relationship that the likelihood of break up falls sharply.What years of marriage are the happiest? ›
According to a team of researchers from Pennsylvania State and Brigham Young University, married couples reached their happiest point at the 20-year mark. For the study, scientists looked at relationship satisfaction in 2,034 marriages with an average age of 35-37.How do I know if I have fallen out of love with my wife? ›
Signs you're falling out of love
You're less interested in spending time with them. You feel more comfortable apart than you feel together. You're thinking about them less and less. They start to feel like a burden.
The cause of every unhappy marriage is most likely a deep-rooted sense of unfulfillment. A feeling that there is not enough love, affection, trust, respect, or other crucial components for a satisfying connection. By nature, a woman is more connected to her emotions.What are the signs of a loveless marriage? ›
- You have physical symptoms.
- At least one of you is kind of acting like an a**.
- You're constantly criticizing your partner—or vice versa.
- You stop turning towards each other.
- There's a whole lot of contempt.
- Your partner is always on the defensive.
Narcissists are misogynists. They hold women in contempt, they loathe and fear them. They seek to torment and frustrate them (either by debasing them sexually – or by withholding sex from them). They harbor ambiguous feelings towards the sexual act.What are the red flags of a narcissist? ›
Here are some narcissism red flags to look out for: Lacking empathy. They seem unable or unwilling to have empathy for others, and they appear to have no desire for emotional intimacy. Unrealistic sense of entitlement.
How does a narcissist treat her husband? ›
Narcissistic partners act as if they are always right, that they know better and that their partner is wrong or incompetent. This often leaves the other person in the relationship either angry and trying to defend themselves or identifying with this negative self-image and feeling badly about themselves.What is a run away marriage? ›
Usually, you elope to get married without anyone knowing in advance. The word elope probably originated with the Middle Dutch word lopen, meaning "run away." Couples who elope typically don't seek anyone's permission before running off to get married, not even their parents.What is stonewalling in a relationship? ›
What does it mean to stonewall someone? In simple terms, stonewalling is when someone completely shuts down in a conversation or is refusing to communicate with another person.Can an unhappy marriage affect your health? ›
Conflict in a relationship can lead to responses in the body such as inflammation, changes in appetite and increased release of stress hormones, all of which can affect aspects of health ranging from heart function to the immune system.What are the effects of being in a toxic marriage? ›
Controlling behaviors; extreme jealousy; and verbal, physical and emotional abuse are all major red flags, she explains. “Being in a toxic marriage can result in physical and emotional abuse, low self-esteem, increased anxiety levels and even depression,” Jackson says.Can an unhappy relationship make you sick? ›
The impact of a toxic relationship on our physical and mental health can be significant and negative, says Wilkie. 'Research shows that the physical effects include poor sleep, a higher risk of heart problems, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune system and organ damage,' he says.Can a toxic marriage make you sick? ›
Just like toxic chemicals, toxic people can make you sick—both physically and mentally. Living in a toxic marriage day in and day out can be dangerous to your health, especially if the level of toxicity rises to physical and emotional abuse.What does God say about toxic marriages? ›
Here is my answer: Ephesians 5 tells us the rules on how to lay the foundation for a healthy marriage (mutual respect), but it doesn't talk about what to do inside a toxic marriage. Ultimately staying or leaving a toxic marriage for a Christian persons is between them and God. No one can make that decision for you.What does an unhealthy marriage look like? ›
When a marriage is unhealthy, issues of control are usually evident. Finances are an easy weapon of control. One partner starts deciding how money is spent and how much the other spouse can spend. Control can also spill over into areas like friendships and outside activities.Can your spouse make you depressed? ›
Relationships and depression can be linked. Sometimes, the relationship itself triggers someone's depression. However, people can also experience depression even if their relationship is a happy one. People may use the term “relationship depression” to describe depression that develops due to relationship difficulties.
What are the signs of a toxic person? ›
- They gaslight or lie to you. ...
- They don't apologize properly. ...
- They don't understand how their behavior makes others feel. ...
- They think they are superior to others. ...
- They see themselves as a victim of their own behavior.
Unhealthy relationships may contribute to a toxic social environment that can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. It is important to recognize the warning signs and find ways to reduce or avoid relational toxicity. This is especially true for people recovering from a history of substance abuse.What is gaslighting in a marriage? ›
The term gaslighting became popular in the 1960s. It is used to describe the manipulation of another person's perception of reality. Gaslighting is a common tool used by narcissistic and abusive spouses to control their partners. When done correctly, gaslighting can make a spouse doubt their own senses and memory.What is a toxic husband? ›
Your relationship may be toxic if it is characterized by behaviors that make you feel unhappy, including disrespect, dishonesty, controlling behaviors, or a lack of support.What are the signs of a toxic wife? ›
- They Cause You To Feel Self-Doubt. ...
- They're Controlling. ...
- They Are Overly Critical. ...
- They Try To Alienate You From Friends And Family. ...
- They Lack Compassion And Empathy. ...
- They're Not Pitching In. ...
- They Prevent You From Having Financial Independence. ...
- Your Fights Are *Bad*