Body Language Of Unhappy Married Couples 13 Cues Your Marriage Is Not Working

Married Life | | , Expert Blogger
Updated On: February 5, 2024
body language of unhappy married couples

It’s not a lack of love that makes marriage loveless. It’s also the lack of friendship, intimacy, and understanding that cause unhappy marriages. Did you know you could find out if there’s trouble in paradise by looking at a couple’s body language? If not all, then most marriages go through a loveless phase which makes the body language of unhappy married couples apparent.

A research paper on body language talks about how important and effective body language is while connecting with other people. It says, “Body language is a significant aspect of modern communications and relationships.”

How Do You Know If A Married Couple Is Unhappy?

Married life is never a cakewalk. Once the honeymoon phase fades, there will be ups and downs. When you find out how to move past those conflicts, you will learn how to compromise in a marriage, adjust, and treat each other better. However, when you start having problems long after crossing the honeymoon phase, these could be because of different reasons. When unhappy couples don’t do anything to transform their problematic situation into a happy marriage, then it’s one of the subtle signs the marriage could reach its inevitable end. Now, how do you know if a married couple is unhappy? Here are some signs:

1. Lack of communication 

When you and your partner hardly communicate anymore, it’s one of the bad signs that a relationship needs some fixing. Lack of communication is one of the major factors that contribute to unhappy marriages. You need to talk to one another in a healthy manner for the following reasons:

  • To understand each other better
  • To make each other feel seen, heard, understood, and validated
  • To show and give respect 
  • To avoid misunderstandings 
  • To build a harmonious relationship 
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2. Constant criticism

There will be constructive criticisms in every happy relationship. But one partner shouldn’t always be undermining the other. You can’t use a condescending and patronizing tone to talk to one another. If most encounters with your partner soon end up in conflicts, criticisms, stonewalling, defensiveness, and mocking, it could also be due to negative body language in relationship. 

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3. Physical distance 

Unhappy body language between married couples is when they depict physical distance. Some of the body language cues of unhappy marriages include:

  • You have stopped holding hands 
  • Physical touch is a love language. When you don’t touch each other in a non-sexual way anymore, it’s a sign of an unhappy couple
  • You are always walking one step ahead or behind them
  • You feel lonely despite their physical presence
  • Playful body language is one of the signs of a happy relationship. When even that kind of physical touch vanishes, it means the couple is unhappy

4. No intimacy of any kind 

When you and your partner don’t have any kind of intimacy including emotional, intellectual, and sexual, it’s one of the signs you are unhappy in your marriage. One kind of body language in bed that screams his lack of interest in you is when he refuses to initiate sex or when they ignore your sexual advances. Furthermore, if your partner refuses to have any kind of deep conversation with you and barely shares their feelings, thoughts, and perspectives with you, this shows that there is a lack of affection and intimacy in your marriage. 

5. There are deeper issues in your marriage

Some problems are recurring, yes, but manageable and small. But if your marriage has witnessed any of the following deeper issues, it’s one of the alarming signs that a married couple is unhappy. 

  • Adultery
  • Drug addiction 
  • Alcoholism 
  • Gambling addiction 
  • One of the partners battling a mental health problem
  • Domestic violence (both verbal and non-verbal)

Body Language Of Unhappy Married Couples 13 Cues Your Marriage Is Not Working

Body language simply means the use of non-verbal cues, gestures, eye contact, appearance, and touch to convey your thoughts, feelings, or state of mind. It’s how your body reacts and communicates to people around you. For example, looking at your partner’s eyes and smiling at them is one of the signs of positive love language. Below are some indicators of the negative body language in relationships of unhappy married couples.

1. Sighing all the time 

One of the signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage is when she sighs at everything her husband says or does. Likewise, when a husband sighs all the time, it is one of the tell-tale signs a man is unhappy in his marriage. Body language can also be found in a partner’s intonation as well. Sigh is a physical manifestation of suppressed frustration and vexation. It comes out audibly when someone is annoyed, disappointed, or tired. 

Rachel, an interior designer from New Jersey, says, “I knew it was over when my husband started acting differently. I stopped hearing him talk without a sigh. It was depressing. When I pointed it out to him and asked if he wasn’t in love with me anymore, he changed the topic.”

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2. Avoiding eye contact

Negative body language in relationships is when they don’t look you in the eye when communicating or when they completely stop gazing at you. Making eye contact is sensual and intimate, or honest and loving, and lets your partner know that you are there for them. A study by body language experts says that looking into someone’s eyes will make you significantly more aroused than looking at someone whose gaze is averted.

Lack of eye contact is another prominent aspect of the body language of unhappy married couples. This doesn’t mean you and your partner have to spend time staring at each other. But when you talk about something and they aren’t looking you in the eye, then they are deliberately failing to meet your gaze. Unless they are autistic, this suggests they are either hiding something or are emotionally disconnected from you. 

Related Reading: First Year Marriage Problems: 5 Things Newly-Wed Couples Fight About

3. Being physically distant from each other

When you’re in love with your partner, you want to touch them. Not just sexually but also as a way of creating physical intimacy by holding their hand, grazing their thigh, or rubbing their cheek. Touch symbolizes closeness in a relationship. When you or your partner make it a point to avoid touching each other, it’s one of the stages of a dying marriage

Now let’s talk about an extreme case here: revulsion toward a partner. One of the signs your husband is disgusted by you is when he avoids having sex with you. Similarly, a wife who maintains physical distance is implying her unhappiness in the marriage by withholding sex. This is also evident in the body language of unhappy couples in photos when they are sitting on the same couch but far away from each other or their bodies are pointing in different directions. 

We’ve all seen how awkward Donald Trump and Melania’s body language is as a couple. There are so many iconic incidents where Trump attempts to hold Melania’s hands, and she dismisses the gesture. Body language experts have analyzed their transactional relationship many times especially when her hand swat became a viral sensation. While we don’t know the full context, neither of them seems happy in the relationship. 

4. Not being open to hugging each other 

Another significant indicator of body language of unhappy married couples is when a partner locks their elbows when the other is trying to hug or embrace them. There are ways to tell if a hug is romantic. When you look at a couple who are hesitant or resist themselves from embracing each other, it’s one of the signs they are not happy in their relationship.

A Reddit user shares how their partner’s body language made them realize they aren’t happy in the marriage. The user shared, “Over the years my husband’s affection has been dwindling to the point where he outright rejects me touching him and vice-versa. If I want to hug him or kiss him, he pushes me away, not in a mean way, just doesn’t seem to want any affection from me at all.”

When we embrace someone, our body produces endorphins. They are chemicals that help us destress. It produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. Hugging also releases oxytocin, which is commonly known as the “love hormone.” If a married couple is unhappy, they will barely hug each other. When your partner refuses to snuggle or cuddle with you, then this body language in bed is one of the signs of unhappy marriages. If you are dealing with unhappiness in your marriage, you can look for outside help. Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away

5. Furrowed eyebrows convey disdain

According to a journal on facial expressions, a furrowed brow and a lifted chin convey a mix of anger, disgust, and contempt. These emotions are used to show negative moral judgment. This body language of an unhappy married couple hints at criticism and contempt toward a partner. 

The next time you are looking for the body language of unhappy couples in photos or up close, look at their eyebrows. If either of them has furrowed brows, then there is some kind of hostility between them. 

Related Reading: 33 Most Romantic Things To Do For Your Wife

6. Crossed arms convey you’re being shut out

If your partner crosses their arms frequently around you, then it’s a sign of stress. When you are in love with someone, you will rarely cross your arms when you’re with them. An open posture is a sign of trust. If a married couple is unhappy, it is not uncommon to see either or both partners cross their arms, especially during an argument or conflict. This is one of the top unhappy marriage signs that you need to know.

Natalie, a software engineer from Chicago, says, “Whenever my partner and I would have an argument, she would always cross her arms. I later found out that crossing arms is a sign of putting one’s guard up, which is not a good thing in an intimate relationship. It is one of the body language cues you need to be aware of if you think your marriage is about to hit the iceberg.”

7. Eye-rolling signals contempt

Eye rolling is another non-verbal body language of unhappy married couples, which indicates disapproval, annoyance, contempt, and cynicism. All these things poison a relationship. If you say something and your partner finds it annoying, they may roll their eyes at you. One of the signs your husband is disgusted by you or your wife is disgusted by you is when they constantly roll their eyes at everything you say and do.

If a married couple is unhappy, this tendency to roll eyes at each other becomes far too common. According to renowned psychologist John Gottman, contemptuous behavior like eye-rolling, sarcasm, and name-calling is the number one predictor of divorce.  

8. Leaning away indicates emotional distance 

When you feel attracted to someone, you often tend to lean into their direction. Emotional intimacy is reflected by physical closeness. A partner leaning away from the other when talking to them or when watching a movie together is one of the signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage or a man is feeling emotionally distant from his spouse.

9. Biting or pursing lips a lot

We’re not talking about the sexy biting of lips here. Chewing/biting your lips is often a sign of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. Through this, a person is trying to stop themselves from saying something or holding their feelings back. The body language of unhappy couples in photos as well as in real life can be noticed by the way they bite or purse their lips.

According to Changing Minds, “Pursed lips are a classic sign of anger, including when it is suppressed. It is effectively holding the mouth shut to prevent the person from saying what they feel like saying. This may also be an indication of lying or withholding the truth.”

Related Reading: 11 Signs You Are Single In A Relationship

 10. Unhappy couples walk out of sync

When you’re in love with someone, you catch yourself mirroring their habits. You unintentionally pick up their way of saying certain words or their hand gestures. When you and your partner are walking out of rhythm, it’s the body language of unhappy married couples.

Tania, a dietician in her early 30s, says, “My partner and I used to have this indescribable connection where we would walk together, feet side by side. He suddenly began to either walk faster or slower, never in sync like we used to be. When our walking pattern got disturbed and didn’t get back to the usual even after I gently pointed it out a few times, that’s when I knew we were heading toward the end.”

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 11. Comforting touch is missing from the equation

Let’s say you have just shared concerns or you’re upset over something. Instead of consoling you and comforting you by holding your hand or rubbing your back, they just sit there, listening to you talk. When any or all kinds of touch are terminated, that’s when you know your relationship is doomed. It’s one of the signs you are in a one-sided relationship. If one person in the relationship isn’t reciprocating your efforts, feelings, and love, then it’s a glaring sign they don’t want to be in the relationship.

 12. Smirking at each other

There’s only a thin line between a smile and a smirk. A smile is genuine, whereas a smirk is offensive smugness disguised as a smile. When your wife smirks at you every time you say something, it’s one of the signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage. Likewise, a scornful look from a man is considered an insult that expresses arrogance, disdain, and mockery. It screams disrespect. That’s why body language and its role in healthy relationships shouldn’t be taken lightly.

 13. You are always distracted

One of the stages of a dying marriage is when you find yourself distracted. When your spouse is talking to you, you find your mind wandering away. Or you are on your phone scrolling through social media and you don’t seem to remember the things they tell you. This tendency to be distracted and distant can be seen in both partners who are unhappy in their marriage.

Key Pointers

  • According to research, body language is a significant aspect of modern communications and relationships
  • Leaning away from a partner, sighing, and eye-rolling are some of the body languages of unhappy married couples
  • It’s important to notice and pick up body language cues to determine how strong and harmonious your relationship is

Verbal communication isn’t the only kind of communication that takes place in a relationship. You need to read between the lines to acknowledge what’s actually happening, listen to your partner’s silence, and pay attention to their body language to gauge their emotions. If you are picking up signs that your significant other isn’t happy in the relationship, then it’s time to improve your communication skills and work toward repairing the bond. 

This article has been updated in March 2023.


1. Are all married couples unhappy?

Not at all. There are many couples who do everything they can to keep the marriage alive. They go on date nights, spend quality time with each other, shower words of affirmation, and even get experimental in bed. According to statistics, 64% of Americans say they are happy in their relationships.

2. Is it okay to be unhappy in a marriage?

Feeling unhappy or bored in a marriage is normal. Every marriage has its ups and downs. But what matters is how you deal with it as a couple. You need to ask yourself if you want to make it work. Marriage is harder than you think. It takes a lot to keep it going. 

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