My Spouse Admits He’s Unhappy In Our Marriage,

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I often hear from people who have unhappy spouses. These folks usually know that this unhappiness is greatly harming their marriage, or even putting it at risk. But, since the unhappiness isn’t theirs, it’s often not clear how to make this better. We’d all like to think that we could make ourselves happier, but what about someone else? This is much more difficult.

A wife might say: “my husband admits he’s unhappy. He has never denied it. I could tell a while back that he was changing his attitude and personality. I could tell that he didn’t laugh nearly as easily. He didn’t seem interested in things that used to make him happy. So when I told him that I noticed that he just didn’t seem content, he told me I was absolutely right. But he didn’t skip a beat to reassure me that I was not the cause of his unhappiness. He kept saying: ‘it is not you. I don’t want for you to think that it’s you. It has nothing to do with you. It’s just something I have to work out for myself. I have to learn to live my life in a way that allows me to lessen my stress and increase my joy. I didn’t realize that being an adult would have a way of draining the happiness right out of you.’ In a sense, I understand what he’s saying. Some aspects of being a responsible adult are a drag. But that doesn’t stop me from being happy. I love being married and part of a family. My friends and family make me happy. I don’t need for everything to be perfect. But my husband’s unease is start to affect everything. He is no longer as excited to go places and spend time with our families. It’s starting to make me unhappy also. I feel like we’re heading to an awful place and I can’t stop it. He won’t share why he’s unhappy other than to say adult life isn’t always fun. So I’m not sure what I can do to make him happy.

Understanding What You Can And Can Not Control: It can be very difficult to accept that we can’t “make” our spouse’s happy. They have to do that for themselves. However, I feel very strongly that we can cultivate an environment that is conducive to their happiness. And, since we likely know our spouse better than anyone else, we can usually help to encourage them to do those things which we suspect will make them more happy.

One thing I can tell you from experience is that you want to avoid asking or wondering aloud what he has to be so unhappy about. I know it’s tempting to say something like: “well, maybe your expectations are too high. Many people our age are dealing with the same thing, review but you don’t see them moping around and acting like they expect life to be perfect all of the time.”

While this kind of conversation would be understandable, it rarely leads to anywhere positive. I think it’s better to try to have a conversation like: “well I appreciate your reassuring me that it’s not me. If it was, I’d want to know. And I want to help you. Is there any thing that I can do to lessen what you don’t like about your life? Can I lighten your load in some way? Do you want to go and talk to someone? I’d go with you if you want. I just want to help you feel like your self again.”

Keeping An Eye On Your Marriage: He may take you up on the offer. Or he may tell you that this is something that he needs to work out alone. I’d encourage you to keep a close eye on him. Because sometimes, an unhappy spouse will eventually project their unhappiness onto their marriage. I am not saying that this will happen. I’m just saying it’s helpful to be aware of that and to try to help your spouse address this as quickly and effectively as possible.

Ideally, you want this to be a quickly passing thing and not the long term mood of your marriage. We all go through struggles. And most of us get through it just fine. There’s no shame in reaching out for help or support from your family or even a professional. Every one deserves to feel happy and as if they are living their best life. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting this. The key is seeking it together instead of allowing the spouse seeking it to become isolating and distant.

Let him know that you support him and that you want to help him in any way that you can. I’ve come to believe that the worst thing you can do is to tell him he has nothing to be unhappy about or that it needs to snap out of it. Because when that happens, you run the risk of him thinking that he won’t be happy until he distances himself from you.

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