By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from wives whose husband is giving them conflicting messages about their marriage and his level of commitment. Sometimes he is telling his wife that although he loves her, he is not happy with her or with the marriage.
I heard from a wife who said: “the other day, my husband said that he needed to be honest with me about something very important. I thought he was going to tell me that he lost his job or that we were struggling financially. But I was completely wrong. And I was completely blindsided when he said that although he still loves me, he is not happy being married to me. I was in so much shock, I couldn’t even get out a decent response. He said he felt that I deserved to know the truth about this. He never said what he intends to do about it. So I’m still not sure why he would even tell me this unless he’s trying to warn me that he is getting ready to file for a divorce. I know that I need to ask him to clarify all of this, but the idea of him further telling me why and how he’s not happy is almost more than I can bear. What do men really mean when they say that they love you but aren’t happily married to you?”
While I couldn’t read this husband’s mind, I do hear from a lot of men in this situation on my blog. So I can share with you what many of them express on this topic, which I’ll do below.
Know That He Might Be Unhappy In Another Area Of His Life: The men in this situation don’t come right out and say this of course. (Sometimes, they don’t even realize it themselves.) But it’s often very easy to read between the lines. It’s not uncommon for this whole “I’m not happy” business to come at a time when he’s other wise struggling. Perhaps he has lost his job. Maybe he is going through a serious lifestyle change. Or perhaps something is happening with his extended family. Whatever the reason, it’s very common for a man to take a problem that has nothing whatsoever to do with his marriage and then to project that problem onto the person who is most convenient or who is the closest to him. And that person is often his wife.
Now I don’t tell you this because I think you should challenge him on the cause of his unhappiness. This rarely does any good. I tell you this because I want to put this in perspective for you. Because sometimes, when whatever the cause of his unhappiness works itself out, suddenly he is happy with the marriage again.
He Might Mean That Some Aspect Of The Marriage Is Falling Short: Often men will offer you vague, sweeping statements about your marriage when in reality, they aren’t happy with one or two aspects of it that have become very problematic. And there are many possible causes of this. Just some examples are not enough intimacy, differences about money, him feeling as if he is tied down or doesn’t have enough autonomy in his life, or him feeling like marriage isn’t what he expected.
How you handle this will depend upon what, exactly, is the issue. For example, if he is not happy because he feels like he never has any fun or excitement in his life, then you would need to show him that being married to you can be both fun and interesting. Or, if there is an issue that keeps cropping up, it’s probably time to successfully address and eliminate that issue once and for all. It’s very important that he sees you taking swift and decisive action because he needs to believe that the marriage can and will change so that he will remain committed to it.
How To Respond When He’s Saying That He Loves You But Isn’t Happy: First of all, do not get overly emotional. Don’t question him in a way that sounds accusatory or implies that he’s mistaken because of his own selfishness or because he expects too much. Make it very clear that his problems are your problems because you want for him to be happy in a very healthy marriage. You both deserve nothing less.
A suitable response would be something like: “well, it’s hurtful to hear you say this but I’m so glad that you are being honest with me so that I can address it. Can you share with me why you are unhappy so that I can decide how to make the appropriate changes? I want for you to be fulfilled so that we can be happy together. And I know that you love me, so let’s work together so that we are both genuinely happy in this marriage.”
Notice that nothing about that response was accusatory. It’s so tempting to ask him where you couldn’t meet his impossibly high standards but try very hard to resist this urge. Because he has approached you and been very honest with you. This gives you a chance to fix things before they get worse. And although I know that it may not feel like it right now, this is a definite advantage and you truly can fix this. I hear from so many women who have already been served divorce papers or whose husband has already left the home. This isn’t the case here and these are very important distinctions.
My husband also told me that he wasn’t happy in our marriage. Unfortunately, I took no action and didn’t take this all that seriously. As a result, we separated and almost divorced. I wish I had handled it differently because I had a lot of catching up to do. Luckily, I finally stumbled upon some strategies that worked. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog http://isavedmymarriage.com
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