I’m Unhappy In My Marriage, But I Still Love My Spouse

I sometimes hear from people who feel quite guilty for being critical of or unhappy in their marriage.  This is usually because, by their own admission, their spouse is a good, caring person who has done nothing wrong.  However, the marriage just isn’t fulfilling for whatever reason and they aren’t sure how to rectify the situation.

Someone might say, “This is going to sound selfish and I’m almost embarrassed to be talking about it.  But for the last eight months or so, I have realized that I’ve been somewhat unhappy in my marriage.  But the ironic thing in all of this is that my husband is truly a wonderful spouse.  He is a fantastic person.  He is loving, kind, and generous.  He is funny and patient.  I have no right whatsoever to be complaining about him. I know that I am very lucky.  But lately, I feel like something is missing.  Many of my coworkers seem to be more ‘in love’ than I am. Also, my husband and I pretty much just get home from work, eat dinner together, and then binge watch our favorite TV shows.  Although there is comfort in this on some nights, there are times when I am ashamed of this and feel like this is a pretty pathetic existence.  Sometimes I feel like life is passing me by because I’m married or that I can’t travel or be adventurous because I am tied down. I know that this makes me sound selfish and like I am a 20 year old who needs to sow wild oats. This isn’t really the case.  I’m a pretty mellow person and I don’t want to be wild.  But I do want to have life experiences that have nothing to do with romance or hooking up.  I’m talking about traveling or taking classes or volunteering.  And I’m not sure it’s fair to ask my husband to do all of these things, although he’s such a kind person, I’m sure that he would.  I don’t want it to seem like I do not love the guy because I truly do.  It sounds very silly, but I honestly believe that I love my spouse but am unhappy in my marriage.  When I think about separating or divorcing, I become sad because I know that my husband is a wonderful person and I do love him.”

It might make you feel a little better to hear that what you are saying is not that unusual. I’ve heard from others that feel the same way that you do.  And some have stuck it out in their marriage and others have not.  Some of those who left a perfectly good and loving spouse have regretted it when they learned that they were no happier separated or divorced.  My take on it is that it is rare to find someone who is kind, loving person with whom you are genuinely a good match.  It might be hard to replace such a person and not worth it to try.  Leaving or pausing the marriage is a huge risk because, although you might have a different lifestyle, you might still have a void because you’d no longer have the most important person in your life.

Considering this and from seeing other people struggle through this, my suggestion would be:  I’d sit down and make a list of the things that you felt were missing from your life.  Rank them.  Perhaps what is most important right now is travel.  Maybe you’d like to have more varied activities after work.  Whatever the case may be, try to be as clear as you possibly can about what might make you happier within your marriage.  Then, set out to make those things happen.  Sometimes, it’s simply as easy as telling your husband that you want to take a major trip this year and then booking it.  Or perhaps you suggest that twice per week, you are going to try new restaurants and outings.  Or you may tell your spouse that you’d like to take an extension class.  Some of the time, you can do these things and your spouse will jump to support you. When this happens, you don’t even have to make a huge deal out of your unhappiness because once the changes are in place, your happiness level may increase naturally.  Sometimes you just need a balance.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with binge watching TV with your spouse sometimes, but you want to balance it out with other things.

That said, sometimes, your spouse will wonder why you’re suddenly wanting to make all of these changes.  When you go to explain it, try to make sure that it doesn’t sound personal.  Instead of admitting that you are not exactly happy with him so that he feels that this might be his fault, say something like, “I’ve just noticed that I’m feeling a little stuck and stagnant.  I’d like to challenge myself and shake things up a little more. I’d like for you to share this with me because I love being with you.  I hope that you support me because this is something that is really important to me and I think that making these changes will increase my happiness and level of excitement.’

Most loving and supportive spouses will meet you half way.  Sometimes you’ll have to explore some things alone – like taking a class.  I know someone who had a similar sense of unhappiness until she was honest with her husband and confessed that she felt like the artistic side of herself was lost.  She took a class at night with her husband’s support.  Eventually, she started a side business selling her work.  This increased her life satisfaction level tenfold.  And when she felt good about herself and about how she was spending her time, her satisfaction with her marriage followed.  That’s why I suggest trying this strategy before you divorce or separate from a kind and supportive man whom you love.  Letting that go seems like a sacrifice which could also cause unhappiness.

As someone who has gone through a separation, I can tell you that it can be painful.  It can also put your marriage at risk.  Personally, I’d do anything to avoid it if you know that you are already married to a good man who loves you.  It was very difficult to save my marriage during the separation, which is why I’d try to fix the life that you have first. You can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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