How to survive in an unhappy marriage, and is there a way to make things work again?
Every marriage goes through some rocky periods – they all have their ups and downs.
Sometimes, things don’t work out no matter how hard you try. But as long as both of you are willing to work on your relationship, there’s always a way.
No one’s looking forward to filing for divorce, and most couples try to avoid that at all costs, but what can you do when you’re unhappy in your marriage?
If you’re not already considering separation, there are still some things you can do.
When there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’s a solution for every problem. But both of you need to be committed to trying to have a happier marriage – after all, you’re in this together.
What can you do when you seem to be fighting all the time and feel you’re not the same people you were when you first fell in love?
It will take time, but your marriage can recover. You could have the love you used to share.
Maybe you think that it’s impossible, and unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t. The question is, how willing are you to try to save your marriage and is your spouse just as willing?
Sometimes, even thinking about the effort it’ll take to fix things is enough to make you want to give up… How do you survive in an unhappy marriage if you don’t have the strength to fight for it anymore?
Unfortunately, if you can’t invest your time and energy into your relationship, there’s no way it can work.
The problems you’re facing aren’t going to magically disappear, regardless of how much you wish they could. Feeling unhappy in a marriage is a problem, and to fix a problem, you have to be ready to put effort into it.
You probably didn’t get married with the plan to get divorced after a while. Instead, you imagined spending your life with this person.
Now you’re not happy anymore, but your marriage is not something you can easily give up on. If one of you is ready to give up though, fixing your marital problems will be almost impossible.
Always remember that you’re in this together, and as long as you do, you can find a way. There are many things you could do to try to get your marriage back on track.
You don’t have to worry about how to survive in an unhappy marriage – you can live in a happy one.
How to survive in an unhappy marriage and return to a happy one
1. Spend some time apart from each other
Getting divorced, being separated, and simply spending some time apart are three different things.
Want to learn how to survive in an unhappy marriage and be happy again? If you’ve been unhappy together for a while now, try being away from each other for some time.
When two people are always together, they can’t quite imagine a life without each other. As a married couple, you’ve been living together, and you might have started taking each other for granted.
Before considering divorce, it’s best to simply try being apart for a while. Sometimes, couples get back together even after a few days apart.
In order to survive in an unhappy marriage, see if you can live happily without your significant other. Take a few days to think about everything and get some space.
What do you want in life? Where do you see yourself in a few years from now?
Is it your marriage that’s making you unhappy or are you generally unhappy with your life? How does it feel to be away from your spouse?
A little distance like this could really make you see things from another perspective.
Maybe you got lost in being a married person and forgot who you are, so this time away will help you find yourself again.
In addition, it will help you regain independence and stop controlling each other’s lives.
Often, we see things more clearly when we look at them from a distance.
2. Don’t force each other to change
Couples often try to change each other after being in a relationship for a long time. Maybe you are trying to influence your partner’s life so that it would fit yours better.
Making compromises and adjustments is not the same as wanting your partner to be someone they’re not. Don’t force each other to change – you need to love each other for who you both are.
Yes, you should motivate each other to be the best versions of yourselves, but it’s not the same thing. You should bring out the best in your spouse, not try to change their personality.
Maybe you’re not the same people you were when you first fell in love with each other. This means that you also have to accept the changes that have come with time.
Eternity together is a long time, and everything changes as you grow older.
If you’d like to change each other, try to work on yourselves instead.
Don’t tell your partner what they should change, see what you can change about yourself. They should do the same thing and work on themselves just as much.
Why did you want to get married to each other? Remind yourselves of the things you loved about each other.
If what used to seem like normal behavior is now annoying to you, some time apart might help. Sometimes, just leaving to another room could help when you’re having problems.
Detachment can be an important part of recovery.
3. Treat your spouse the way you’d like to be treated
You can’t have a happy marriage if you don’t treat each other nicely.
Married couples easily slip into unhealthy patterns and bad habits. As a result, they forget how they should be treating each other.
Don’t speak to your spouse worse than you would speak to any other person. Instead, try to treat each other the way you’d like to be treated.
Saying mean things out of anger, name-calling, and other insults are not a part of a happy marriage.
Yes, all married people fight sometimes, but you need to exercise some restraint. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and by now, you know each other well enough to know them.
Don’t yell at each other. Instead, always try to remain calm, even when it’s not that easy.
You shouldn’t give each other unsolicited advice or make decisions without including your spouse in the process.
Most certainly, don’t always point out the bad things about each other. Remember that they are what makes you unique and that you have many good qualities.
Constant criticism cannot be constructive criticism.
Some bad behaviors could even start seeming normal in a long-term relationship. Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re treating each other poorly.
Try being more aware of how you act around each other. Take note of the times you treat your spouse the way you wouldn’t like them to treat you, then take steps to prevent it in future.
4. Be kind to yourself
If you’re not kind to yourselves, it’s no wonder that you’re not kind to each other either.
Treating someone properly is almost impossible if you don’t treat yourself right in the first place. Look after your own needs and care for yourselves.
Work and other responsibilities could make you forget what really matters – making yourself happy.
Yes, your spouse should try to make you happy, but your happiness is not their responsibility. You need to focus on yourself and try to make yourself happy.
Take some time to take care of yourself and feel good in your own skin – even if it means taking some time away from your spouse.
You can return to them in a happier and more positive mindset. It will influence them to respond positively too. As a result, your marriage will be happier.
Go on a spa weekend, hang out with your friends, watch a good movie, or read a book. Do whatever it is that you love doing and that makes you feel good.
Be yourself and make time for treating yourself kindly. Your spouse should do the same, and you’ll both be happier for it.
Don’t forget that having a life outside of the relationship is important and it makes the relationship healthier.
When both of you are in a better mood, you’ll be more enjoyable to have around.
The answer to how to survive in an unhappy marriage is sometimes as simple as making yourself happy.
5. Let go of unrealistic expectations
Unrealistic expectations can ruin any relationship, let alone a marriage. The same goes for comparing your spouse to others.
If you want your spouse to be someone they’re not, you’ll never be happy.
Maybe you’re expecting them to be someone they’ve never been in the first place. You need to let go of any unrealistic expectations you might have for your life with your partner.
In order to not only survive in an unhappy marriage but improve it, you need to see each other for who you are, not for who you want your spouse to be.
You can’t be happy with someone if you expect them to be who they are clearly not.
This is also something that spending time apart could help with.
Let each other find out who you truly are and regain the confidence you used to have. Accept each other with all the flaws and virtues – only then will you be happy together.
Drop the unrealistic expectations you might have about marriage too. Marriage is not all about milk and honey; problems are an unavoidable part of it.
You might know some couples that seem to have a perfect relationship. The truth is, it just seems that way. No relationship is perfect, especially a long one.
6. Take a step back and calm down
When an argument gets heated, we all tend to say things we don’t mean and later regret saying them.
Avoiding these situations is not as hard as it seems. All it takes is to stepping back and calming down before saying something you’ll regret.
When you feel the mood in the room change and you’re both getting very angry, press pause.
Try to calm down, even if it means leaving the room to be alone for a while.
Things aren’t going to be so frustrating if you just take a minute to stop fighting. Sit down, breathe, and think about your feelings rather than lashing out at your partner right away.
Take some time to try to calm down, gather your thoughts, and process your feelings. You need to rationalize your feelings before continuing the argument and making things potentially worse than they already are.
A calm and mature way of handling disagreements will make things less tense between you two.
When there’s a problem, don’t make it even worse by saying things you don’t even mean. Whenever you want to say something that could hurt your partner, imagine how you’d feel about it when you’re on good terms again.
Would you feel bad about it? Could it prolong the argument instead of fix the issue at hand?
Then don’t say it! That’s the best way to learn how to survive in an unhappy marriage and make strides toward regaining happiness.
Once you have rational and mature conversations, even when you’re angry, you’ll have a happier, healthier marriage.
7. Don’t obsess over your partner’s behavior
You’ll never survive in an unhappy marriage if you are obsessing over your partner’s bad behavior.
You might not be able to see now, but obsessing over someone’s behavior and trying to control it is emotionally draining and tiring. In addition, you are focusing so much on your partner’s bad sides that you can’t see the good ones anymore.
Don’t ever forget that your partner is only human and, as such, can’t ever be perfect. If you’re expecting perfection, it’s no wonder that you’re feeling unhappy in your marriage.
No one can meet such expectations, and you need to accept your spouse as who they are.
Remember everything that’s good about your spouse and try to appreciate them for these things. Instead of obsessing over your spouse’s flaws, try to show gratitude for the nice things they do for you.
8. Be polite to each other
Being a married couple is no excuse for not being polite to each other. Saying “thank you,” “please” and “sorry” is important in every relationship, especially marriage.
When your spouse offers to help you with something or does something nice, say thank you. If you say something hurtful, swallow your pride and apologize.
When you want your spouse to do something for you, say “please” and mean it.
It might sound like a kindergarten lesson, but being polite to each other really can improve your marriage.
You need a relaxed and happy mood in your household, and this is one of the best ways to create and maintain it.
Show your spouse how much having them around means to you instead of insulting them or getting annoyed by everything they do. They will most likely return the favor.
Regardless of how long you’ve been together, it’s important to stay respectful and polite.
And if you have children, this is even more important. You’re setting an example for your kids – you’re teaching them to be polite.
9. Reconnect and improve communication
Lack of strong emotional connection and communication are often the reasons for unhappiness in a marriage.
Can you not even have a casual conversation with your spouse without it resulting in an argument? Perhaps you barely even communicate anymore, and the connection you once shared seems a distant memory.
You both need to put some effort into reconnecting and improving your communication.
Choosing a neutral location where you both feel comfortable enough to talk about your feelings is a good idea. You will also need to choose a suitable moment for such a conversation.
It needs to allow both of you to be vulnerable, open, and completely honest with each other. That on its own will improve your relationship.
A peaceful environment and one-on-one conversation are much better than talking about problems on the phone or in public.
10. Do things together
Have you stopped doing things together and enjoying common interests and activities? Regaining this type of connection could really help your marriage.
Enjoy cooking something together, set the table and enjoy a meal together. If you have kids, go to their swimming lessons together.
You can spend Sunday in bed just watching movies and eating pizza the entire day. Talk about the movies too and discuss any other topics you enjoy talking about.
Find a new hobby that you can enjoy together or join a class that you could attend together.
When you come home from work, talk about your day over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
Granted, these things aren’t going to fix everything, but they will improve your connection, thus making you happier.
Don’t forget that fixing marital problems takes time, and you can’t expect it to happen overnight. Both of you will need to put effort into improving your relationship.
To learn how to survive in an unhappy marriage and improve it, you need to learn how to mend and maintain your connection.
11. Take things one step at a time
Regardless of how many issues you’re struggling with, you need to deal with them one by one. Big changes don’t happen overnight, so take things one small step at a time.
If you try to solve all your problems at once you will get overwhelmed and it will seem impossible.
Maybe you’re having issues regarding finances, chores, or the kids. These are all different problems, and you can’t fix all of them at once.
Trying to tackle them all right away could even make the issues worse. You might even end up resenting each other.
Prioritizing is important and you need to start with the biggest problem. Afterward, handling the rest one by one will become easier.
As said before, don’t forget to communicate in a calm and mature way. This is just one of the rules for a happy marriage that you need to live by.
12. Deal with your negative feelings toward each other
Negative feelings don’t have to be one of the signs you are ready for divorce. It’s only natural to have some negative feelings toward each other after having had issues for a while.
Maybe you have resentful feelings toward each other because you’ve been married for a long time. During that time, things took a turn for the worse, and repressed negative emotions started to come to the surface.
Relationships aren’t always easy, but it doesn’t mean that they have to end. As long as you still want to stay by each other’s side and put effort into the relationship, it can work.
Don’t avoid your negative feelings because they’ll just build up and result in even more problems.
Hiding your feelings and avoiding dealing with them will surely keep you unhappy. Not only that, they will eventually come out and end up making things even worse.
Sometimes, having a heart-to-heart can go a long way. Most of the time though, couples with deep-seated resentment issues need to seek help from a third party.
A new perspective on your relationship could save it, so don’t be afraid to seek help. Couples counseling has helped many married couples, so it can help you too!
Once you start working on your marriage, you might even see signs God is working on your marriage too.
13. Avoid creating more problems
Problems have a tendency to pile up and multiply.
If you are worried that your marriage might be coming to end, the last thing you want to do is create more issues.
Unresolved problems can build up and result in further unhappiness and resentment. When we are unhappy, we tend to create even more problems than we already have.
You need to try to avoid arguing and causing problems that appear unsolvable.
Right now, you might feel like your problems can’t be solved, but perhaps it’s not so. This could be your opportunity to learn and grow.
When people get married, they plan to stay together forever. But many aren’t really aware of how much time together that really is.
During such a long time, problems are bound to pop up and cause unhappiness. As long as you are committed to each other though, they can be solved.
Yes, you need to know when to quit, but you also need to know when to keep fighting.
How to know?
Well, is it worth it? Is your spouse and what you’ve had so far with them worth it?
More importantly, is it worth it to them too? If so, you will get back on track and survive this tough time.
Best of luck!