13 Tell-Tale Signs A Man Is Unhappy In His Marriage

Working On the Marriage | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
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Signs a man is unhappy in his marriage

Has he been joking about the strength of your marriage a little more than usual? Perhaps his phone is now more important than you, and the only conversations you have are regarding specific household chores. You can’t remember the last time you shared a genuine moment with your partner. The signs a man is unhappy in his marriage usually manifest in the form of his clear disconnect from his spouse. 

When a man is unhappy in his marriage, he may have emotionally checked out long before he even lets his feelings be known. What’s worse, others around you may be able to spot his disconnect a lot quicker than you do.

To make sure you don’t let things get to the point of no return, catching the signs a man is unhappy in his marriage early on is critical. With the help of psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couples counseling, let’s list all you need to know. 

am I in an unhappy marriage quiz

How Do You Tell If A Man Is Unhappy In His Marriage? 13 Tell-Tale Signs 

What makes a man unhappy in a marriage can be subjective but the signs tend to manifest themselves in somewhat similar ways. According to studies, the most common causes of divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity, and/or constant arguments. We’re pretty sure the signs of discontent in all three of those scenarios appear similar; it depends on whether you pay attention to them or not. 

When your husband doesn’t love you anymore, it’s possible those signs might manifest themselves even unbeknownst to him. He may distance himself from you without even realizing it, and that’s exactly why it’s so important for you to notice them. Renowned American psychologist Dr. John Gottman said, “Some people leave a marriage literally, by divorcing. Others do so by leading parallel lives together.”

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1. Signs a man is unhappy in his marriage: Your sex life has suffered

Let’s not jump the gun on this one – there can be a myriad of reasons behind a decreased libido in men. Even so, there’s no denying the fact that one of those reasons may very well be that his heart is not into this marriage anymore. A major part of the intimacy dynamic is physical intimacy. Any disparity in this can be a very loud tell-tale sign of relationship discontentment.

“One of the most important signs a man is unhappy in his marriage, irrespective of which stage it is in, is if there is a decline in a couple’s sex life. Each marriage has a different frequency of sex that they consider normal. If there’s a major deviation from that frequency, it may be a cause for concern,” says Nandita

2. If he’s spending all his time away from you 

Business trips always end up being extended, late nights at work have gone from once in a blue moon to three times a week, and his weekend plans never involve you. Is he unhappy in his marriage? 

When your husband doesn’t love you anymore, the first casualty may be the quality time you two spend together. “One of the early signs a guy is unhappy in his relationship is that he will try to avoid being with his partner. This may reflect in the sharp dip in the time you spend together. He may suddenly get extremely busy with work, or a hobby may eat up all his time. 

“He’ll spend more time talking to other people like colleagues or friends. You might just see him make plans over the weekends that don’t involve you, which basically means he enjoys any activity more than spending time with you.” Spending quality time together is one of the pillars on which marriage stands. If that pillar shakes, so does the entire marital structure.

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

3. He’s having an ‘object affair’ 

If it sounds like he’s cheating on you with an object, it’s kind of like that. An ‘object affair’ refers to when a partner starts spending all their time on a new hobby, an object, or a new interest. Perhaps he went from never having cycled in his life to ordering all sorts of equipment in the span of a week, or he’s spending all his time on social media. This situation would ultimately leave you sidelined. 

Different from other types of cheating, this one may slip under the radar more often than not. How can a hobby ever harm a relationship, right? The next time he disappears for the entire day to tinker away at his motorcycle, don’t just shrug it off like it’s nothing. Escapism comes in all shapes and sizes. A newfound obsessive interest can very well be a way of him trying to avoid being with you. If this behavior sustains and you feel that he’s been distant, it is definitely something to address.

4. The future appears too distant 

Signs someone is unhappy in a relationship: There's no future
If you’re never talking about the future, it may be a sign he’s unhappy

When two people are married, discussing your “happily ever after” often includes retirement plans and the expectations you have of each other and your life at that stage. But if it seems like your husband avoids planning vacations with you for the next year, your “happily ever after” may not be a given anymore. 

This situation, where a man literally can’t see a future with his spouse, begs the question – why do guys stay in unhappy relationships? The answer can range from laziness to oblivion, but what’s more important is the fact that there’s trouble afoot. There has to be a reason for this procrastination and it needs to be pondered upon.

5. He may start withholding communication 

“When a man is unhappy in his marriage, he tends to stop sharing small day-to-day activities that he may have had a habit of discussing with you earlier. This could simply be because he finds it inconsequential to share them with you. Things like sharing how the day went, the little intricacies of what he has been up to, all see a notable decrease,” says Nandita.

If your marriage has lasted around a decade, you’re probably not talking to each other like you used to anyway. But if the conversations you have with each other all revolve around household chores, the lack of connection speaks volumes about the strength of your marriage. 

Try to ask him about how his day went and what he has been up to lately. If the answers all contain just a couple of syllables at best, tell him you’d like to have a conversation with him where he doesn’t look at his phone. If there’s a consistent lack of communication, it’s one of the clear signs a man is unhappy in his marriage.

Infographic of signs a man is unhappy in his marriage
Top signs of an unhappy man in a marriage

6. He may stop looking after himself 

The man who once used to don his Sunday best on every date night with you now couldn’t care less about the way he looks. Perhaps he has stopped working out as much as he used to and the healthy eating habits all have gone out the window. When a person starts taking himself for granted, it is likely that this tendency creeps into other parts of his life.

In happy relationships, men often feel driven to be better for their partners. But when a man is unhappy in his marriage, that motivation chips away slowly. And if you’re wondering why guys stay in unhappy relationships, it may be because they’re not motivated enough to change the situation. 

Related Reading: Relationship Burnout: Causes, Signs And Tips To Overcome

7. His social media may hold all the answers 

“If he has stopped sharing snippets of this life with you on social media, it could be a sign that he is not happy with the state of the relationship. Often, this can be a subconscious choice. A lot of men don’t even realize that the reason they have stopped sharing family photos and couple photos is that their relationship no longer brings them joy,” says Nandita. 

Whether we choose to accept it or not, our social media accounts are an extension of our personality. And one of the biggest signs a man is unhappy in his marriage is if his partner never makes it to his stories or posts. Active social media users usually project their entire lives on these platforms, especially the parts that are most important to them. So if you only get a guest appearance in your spouse’s social media activity, something is up.

8. Signs a man is unhappy in his marriage: It’s all he thinks about 

“When a man is extremely unhappy, he might just end up ruminating about leaving his wife or whether a divorce might be better for him. He may not necessarily follow up on it but it’s apparent he’ll spend a lot of time thinking about such subjects. This change in his perception may leave you feeling like you’re walking on eggshells in your marriage.

“It turns into a “grass is greener on the other side” situation, where he may truly convince himself that he’ll be happier without his wife,” says Nandita. He may not explicitly say it out loud but constant comparisons and him being critical of your relationship are signs that he has been overthinking the negative aspects of your marriage.

What makes a man unhappy in marriage may vary from person to person and relationship to relationship, but when he does feel this way, he’s bound to overthink your future together, making your relationship dynamic extremely stressful. The longer he stays in this downward spiral, the farther he will go. It is vital that you pull him back from it as soon as you can.

9. You’re walking on eggshells when it comes to his temper 

When his overthinking induces all that stress, it’s going to lead to a lot of irritability. “Another common sign someone is unhappy in a relationship is if he becomes very irritable, very quickly with his wife. There can be many other reasons behind a bad temperament, but if it is accompanied by other signs of unhappiness, you need to watch out.

“An unhappy man may resort to sarcastic comments and jibes, he will trivialize his wife’s concerns or not listen to her small complaints in an active manner. He may ignore her and act cold with her, as though she doesn’t matter to him anymore,” says Nandita. 

If he snaps at you for the smallest of things, perhaps you already know the answer to questions like, “Is he unhappy in his marriage?” If this is the case, it is high time that you have a conversation about where your relationship is headed. This behavior is not healthy for either of you and the marriage.

On Loveless Marriage

10. His body language has probably changed 

Even if there’s an attempt to hide the signs a man is unhappy in his marriage, his body language will reveal them, whether he realizes it or not. Some simple giveaways can be avoidance of physical intimacy, him being grumpy around you, or not acknowledging your presence.

Say goodbye to those surprise back hugs in the kitchen; he’s now as cold to you as humanly possible. Even if he doesn’t want it to be, his lack of affection toward you might be painfully obvious. It is possible that these changes took place over time and you wouldn’t have even noticed them.

When was the last time you two indulged in a bit of PDA? You’re probably not hugging each other like you used to, and “making out” seems like something you only did a million years ago. Look for other signs as well, like him never looking at you when you’re talking, or if he never appears to be warm and inviting. 

11. He feels like he’s not enough 

Sometimes, the signs a man is unhappy in his marriage may have nothing to do with the quality of his relationship but may stem from a negative outlook. If you’re in love with a man who has low self-esteem, his doubts about himself might make him believe that he’s incapable of making you happy. 

This negative outlook toward the self also answers the question, “Why do guys stay in unhappy relationships?” They do so because they think they don’t deserve anything more. Such people are usually not very vocal about their issues, which makes them even harder to address.

He might not feel accomplished in his career or may have trouble accepting his shortcomings. When he’s always cursing himself for “not being enough”, the hostility eventually manifests itself in your marriage. You might find yourself helpless in this situation; seeking professional help to address the underlying issues is strongly recommended.

Related Reading: Marriage Counseling – 15 Goals That Should Be Addressed Says Therapist

12. Signs a man is unhappy in his marriage: He’s joking about it a little too much 

“In some cases, you may see men making too many references or just joking about leaving their wives. It’s important to note that this may just vary depending on the nature of the person. But if he complains about his wife regularly to his friends and family, it’s time to take notice of what is going wrong. It could just be a sign the marriage is over for him,” says Nandita.

Is he telling all the single guys around him to never get married? Perhaps his favorite topic of conversation is “marriage is such a hassle” while all your girlfriends can’t stop talking about the lovely vacation they just took. There is a fine line between harmless (lame) humor and hiding deeper thought processes in that humor.

The jokes may appear harmless when they’re few and far in between, but regularly bringing it up might be one of the signs someone is unhappy in a relationship. We understand that this would be very irritating, but we’d suggest that you should still consider having an honest conversation about it.

13. If he’s a shadow of the man he used to be 

When a man is unhappy in his marriage, he’s not going to be too lively and happy in general. Think about it, he basically feels “trapped” in a marriage that isn’t making him feel fulfilled. His general demeanor is going to be like someone who’s always spaced out. 

Granted, men seem to space out in a matter of seconds, but if you can spot all the other signs a man is unhappy in his marriage, you’re probably also going to see him being extremely melancholic. Marriage is one of the most important relationships and not being fulfilled can obviously suck out the life of anyone.

What Can You Do If A Man Is Unhappy In Your Marriage?

If you notice any of the above signs, it is understandable that you are distressed. Don’t sweat it, we have got a plan to help you navigate this situation. Since you have made it this far in the article, we assume that you want to make your marriage work. Here are some ways you can reach out to your unhappy spouse and make an effort to reconnect with him:

  • Have an honest conversation: The remedy for most relationship issues is having an honest conversation about your issues. Transparent communication and empathy can help heal any wound as long as you and your partner are keen on making amends. We’d suggest you let them speak while you listen in this instance because a reflex defensive response can prove to be counter-productive
  • Identify what’s not working: Communication will reveal how you both feel about the state of your marriage. When you let them open up to you and confide in you, it is likely to get better from there on. You can then work together to get to the root cause of his unhappiness and identify what’s not working in your marriage
  • Try to find solutions together: Once you have clarity on the issues and their gravity, you can work toward finding solutions. Doing this together might prove to be a great way for you to revive the love in your marriage
  • Decide if the marriage is worth saving: All this communication and introspection will give you a reality check on the intensity of the damage. Is it repairable or is it beyond repair? Sometimes spending time apart could be a smart move, while at others, ending the marriage may be in the best interest of both partners. We advise you to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome while also preparing yourself for the worst-case scenario

Key Pointers

  • A man who is unhappy in his marriage can be very difficult to live with and can prove to be the cause of your marriage failing
  • It is important that you don’t let it get to a point of no return and catch the signs of a man being unhappy in the marriage early on
  • Signs like cold shoulder, frequent complaining, or a compromised sex life should be immediately addressed
  • If you notice these signs, try to have an honest conversation to find out what the problem is so that you can find a solution together

Instead of trying to figure out the answer to the question, “Why do guys stay in unhappy relationships?”, try to catch the signs so you can stop it from ever getting to that place. If in your case, it looks like irreparable damage has been done, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help guide you through your marriage troubles, so you can get back to the days of bliss that you so yearn for.

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