Miserable Husband Syndrome – Top Signs And Tips To Cope

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Miserable Husband Syndrome
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Are you wondering, “Why is my husband so miserable all the time?” Or why is he grumpy, angry, or depressed of late? He is moody and distant and you are facing difficulty in connecting with him emotionally. It’s probably because he’s suffering from miserable husband syndrome, better known as irritable husband syndrome.

The condition is clinically referred to as andropause. It’s similar to what a woman goes through when she’s on her period or PMSing. Much like menopause in women, andropause or male menopause causes men to go through pretty intense physical and mental changes that, to a certain extent, depend on their hormone levels too. More or less every man experiences this syndrome starting in their late 40s, intensifying as they age.

Miserable husband syndrome can wreak havoc on an otherwise happy relationship. It can cause both partners to become distant and unhappy in the marriage. We spoke to counseling psychologist Anugrah Edmonds (M.A. in Psychology), who specializes in marriage counseling, depression, and anxiety, about ways to cope with a miserable husband. We also got her views on the consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage with an unhappy husband.

What Is Miserable Husband Syndrome?

Well, it’s probably the answer to your ‘my husband is moody and angry all the time’ complaint. Dealing with men’s mood swings or coping with an irritable or unhappy husband is difficult. You need to recognize the signs of this change in personality so you can figure out how to placate the atmosphere at home. But before we get to the signs and ways to manage living with a miserable husband, let us first try to understand what exactly miserable husband syndrome or Irritable Male Syndrome is.

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According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “The Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) is a behavioral state of nervousness, irritability, lethargy, and depression that occurs in adult male mammals following the withdrawal of testosterone.” Here are a few things you should know about miserable husband syndrome to feel more empathetic toward his condition and figure out what to do when your husband is miserable:

  • It’s basically a condition that causes increased stress levels as well as certain hormonal and biochemical changes in a man
  • The major symptoms are: hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger
  • It is probably a major reason that your husband has angry outbursts more often and has become overly critical
  • The good news is this condition is treatable, or at least can be checked with proper emotional and medical support

We usually do not associate men’s mood swings with hormones or testosterone levels because we’ve been led to believe that it’s something only women can go through during PMS! But the truth is men can experience it too. A slight change in diet can make them cranky and grumpy. This is precisely the reason that their emotional or angry outbursts go unidentified and they become prey to misunderstandings.

Top 5 Signs Of An Irritable Husband

Miserable husband syndrome can negatively impact your relationship. Anxiety, stress, low tolerance levels, drop in testosterone levels, depression, anger issues, changes in diet, and hormonal fluctuations could be a few reasons that your husband is not happy, and is moody and angry all the time. He is probably so caught up with negative energy that he doesn’t realize how toxic and miserable he is making himself in the process.

Prof. Miller, a woman in her 60s, has been married for over 25 years, and never before had she faced such difficulty handling her husband’s mood swings and rough behavior. She shares, “My husband is miserable to be around. It’s like no matter what I do, nothing seems to please him anymore. He is constantly nagging or giving me the silent treatment for days. I realize that with aging, these kinds of behavioral changes are natural. But how do you stand there calmly when your husband has angry outbursts?”

Does your situation at home by any chance resonate with Prof. Miller? Does your husband make you walk on eggshells around him because you don’t know what might flip him out? If your husband, too, is moody and distant all the time and you’re desperately looking for ways to deal with the situation, we have a few tricks up our sleeve.

But before you try to cope with a miserable husband, it is important that you recognize the signs. It’ll only help you understand him and deal with his irritability better. As we said, IMS is treatable, so let’s take a look at the visible symptoms before you go ahead and threaten to leave your husband. Here are the top 5 signs of an irritable husband:

Related Reading: 12 Clever Ways To Deal With A Lazy Husband

1. Reduced energy levels and libido

Your husband is not happy anymore. Well, lack of libido and fluctuating testosterone levels are the most common reasons for irritability in a man. A decrease means men experience low levels of fitness, energy, and sex drive – all of which are key to maintaining a healthy relationship with their partners. This eventually leads to self-esteem and confidence issues, which negatively impact their behavior with their respective spouses.

Testosterone is a key hormone for the development of the male reproductive system. It is also associated with muscle mass and body hair. Fluctuation in levels is the leading reason for miserable husband syndrome because it usually causes low sex drive, loss of bone density, headaches, and erectile dysfunction. Men can get extremely cranky and moody due to hormonal or biochemical changes in their bodies leading to problems in your marital life.

2. Marital conflict

An unhappy marriage is a major sign of an always irritable spouse. If there’s constant conflict or hostility in a marriage, it is bound to cause irritability. The consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage can be damaging. It can trigger toxic changes that take a toll on one’s physical and mental health.

Anugrah says, “The relationship dynamic of stonewalling takes hold as a response to constant nagging by one partner. It can cause extreme mood swings and make men lose control over their emotions leading to irritability and angry outbursts.” They become grumpy which, in turn, makes you feel “My husband is always negative toward me”.

Signs of an irritable husband
Your husband’s struggle with confidence, self-worth, or appearance could also make him irritable or angry

3. Poor lifestyle choices indicate an irritable husband

Are you wondering: Why is my husband so miserable all the time? It’s probably due to the careless life he has been living full of booze and unhealthy eating habits. Poor lifestyle is another leading sign of irritable husband syndrome. A change in appetite can trigger irritability in a man and put him at risk of several diseases from diabetes and heart attack to cancer and a weak immune system.

The man’s physical health worsens over time thereby affecting his mood and your relationship. Change in diet or protein levels, lack of exercise, smoking, or alcohol consumption causes changes in brain chemistry that can damage your husband’s physical health, which will eventually lead to him becoming miserable or irritable.

4. Increased stress or anxiety levels

Stress and anxiety are major signs of miserable husband syndrome. It could be due to anything – work, marital conflict, reduced testosterone levels, hormonal changes. Anger and irritability become common traits for someone under chronic stress. It’s evident in the way your husband interacts or behaves with you.

Concentration issues, erratic sleeping patterns, reduced energy levels, extreme mood swings, and headaches are all signs of Irritable Male Syndrome. If you’re dealing with a fatigued or depressed husband, consider it a sign. Confusion and mental fogginess are also signs of miserable husband syndrome.

Related Reading: 20 Easy Yet Effective Ways To Make Your Husband Happy

5. Low self-esteem is a sign of Irritable Male Syndrome

It is possible that your husband is suffering from self-esteem issues and is low on confidence. We’re all humans trying to navigate life at the end of the day. His struggle with financial issues or insecurity about his appearance could also make him irritable or angry. Jenna, a 47-year-old craftsperson, shares, “My husband is always negative toward me. I thought I am not giving him more time or attention and that’s why my husband is moody and angry all the time. But no, it seems the problem is IMS. One of our kids told us about it, now everything makes mores sense to me, and him.”

So if you are are watching your husband display these signs, see if he is dealing with major internal conflicts to re-establish his self-worth. Lack of libido or drop in testosterone levels leads to low sex drive and sexual or erectile dysfunction, which could further cause self-esteem issues where your husband might feel he isn’t good enough. It may be hard for him to communicate it directly to you. He could be dealing with it all by himself resulting in irritability and anger issues.

Irritable Male Syndrome usually hits men in their forties but younger males can experience it too. It is difficult to be happy when you are living with a miserable husband around but there are ways to deal with this. It requires effort and patience but it is possible to cope with it.

More on mental illness

How To Cope When You Have A Miserable Husband

Marriage isn’t a walk in the park. Returning home to an irritable, miserable husband is difficult, to say the least. Dealing with men’s mood swings is not an easy task. If your husband is moody and distant all the time, his negativity and toxicity can take a toll and frustrate you as well. It can impact your marriage by putting you in an unhappy space.

We’re not suggesting that you stay in an unhappy marriage but we want you to know that there are ways to deal with the miserable husband syndrome. In order to deal with a cranky husband, it is important that you understand and address the issue at hand with a calm and composed mind. Here are 7 ways to cope when you have an unhappy husband:

1. Focus on and reinforce positive behavior

One of the first steps to dealing with men’s mood swings is to ensure a positive environment at home. Make sure you speak to or behave with your husband in an optimistic and sincere manner. It’s not possible to control how he behaves but you can try to influence or shape his mood by being more positive.

Encourage him to find his passion or go back to an old one to help him stay productive. Pass a sweet compliment every now and then to boost his confidence. Crack a joke or use humor to lighten the atmosphere and his mood. It’ll diffuse the tension and make him feel lighter. Involve him in different kinds of fun activities. Recall some fun stories that make both of you happy.

Related Reading: 8 Conflict Resolution Strategies In Relationships That Almost Always Work

“Try to engage in hobbies or things your husband enjoys like traveling or music. Understand what interests him and initiate those activities. Spend more quality time together. Watch a film or your favorite TV series, have a date night at home, or go out for a meal. Maybe you could go for a walk every afternoon. It’ll help him loosen up a little and feel more comfortable around you,” says Anugrah.

2. Listen to him patiently

What to do when your husband is miserable? Being a good listener is just another way to deal with miserable husband syndrome. Pay close attention to what your husband wants to tell you. Understand his feelings, needs, and desires and validate them. He should feel heard and understood. He should be able to trust you with his feelings, which is why validation is important. You may not agree with him but at least he’ll know that you understand and accept his perspective.

Anugrah says, “Listen to what your husband has to say. Allow him to share his sadness and worries. Sometimes, just venting out helps elevate the mood. Don’t interrupt or counter his statements. Don’t dispute his perspective or jump to conclusions. Just listen to him without any judgment.”

At times, your partner just wants someone to listen to him. Not say anything in return, not give advice. Just someone he can vent to and be assured that the person will understand. It will test your patience for sure but this is the least you can do for your man. Make sure you keep your calm and listen to him.

3. Practice constructive communication

Communication is key to solving problems in a marriage. Dealing with men’s mood swings or irritability is a tough job. If your husband is in a bad mood, talk to him about why he is upset. Don’t pass sarcastic comments or use passive-aggressive statements. Try to find out what’s wrong. Encourage open, honest communication. It’ll help you handle the situation better.

Appreciate and acknowledge him when he does something nice or thoughtful for you. Speak to him the way you would want him to talk to you. Be firm with your words and thoughts but also respect his feelings and opinions. Don’t expect him to guess what you feel or want. Talk to him directly. More importantly, remain calm while communicating your thoughts to him. Measure your words.

For example, instead of asking “Why are you always angry and frustrated?”, try being more polite and say, “I see that you are upset about something. I’m here to listen if you want to talk about it”. You can also try letting your guard down and sharing your worries with him. It’ll send a message that you’re comfortable around him and might just make him share his troubles and stress too. Tone and body language play important roles during communication.

4. See a therapist or get medical help

Seeking help is always recommended in situations like these because it is important to identify the underlying issues that are causing the miserable husband syndrome. Anugrah says, “Take him to a therapist or see a marriage counselor. Getting professional help is always advisable. A therapist will be able to show both partners a different perspective and suggest ways to deal with the situation better.”

One of the main triggers of Irritable Male Syndrome is a drop in testosterone levels. Changes in diet, hormonal imbalance, and biochemical changes among other things also cause irritability. If you think your husband’s moodiness and anger have spiraled out of control, seek medical help. Talk to a doctor. There are treatments available. However, if you are looking for therapy, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.

5. Be patient and compassionate

You need a lot of patience and compassion to deal with an irritable husband. Anger might make him feel powerful or work as a defense mechanism for a while but underneath that anger lies fear, anxiety, stress, low self-worth, and other vulnerable emotions that he probably finds difficult to express. He might be going through a lot of pain but is unable to address it.

Sometimes, people become irritable because they feel they aren’t being heard or appreciated. This is exactly why you should practice compassion and patience while dealing with a moody and distant husband. You need to be wise and compassionate with your reactions and statements. Make him feel safe and loved.

There is no point in addressing the problem if your husband is frustrated or angry. Wait for him to calm down and then speak to him. Anger will only fuel anger. Don’t try to control your husband if he’s angry. It’ll only make him more defensive and uncooperative. Instead, be patient and compassionate – extremely important while dealing with someone suffering from miserable husband syndrome.

Related Reading: 17 Agonizing Signs Your Husband Doesn’t Love You Anymore

6. Don’t put him down or play the blame game

Don’t go all guns blazing because “My husband is moody and angry all the time”. Don’t play the blame game either. Take the constructive communication route. It is advisable to not take anything personally or blame yourself for your husband’s bad mood. This will only worsen the situation.

“Since moods between spouses are contagious, it can work the other way too. Instead of putting your husband down, lift him up. Practice gratitude in front of him. Draw his attention to everything that is good and positive. Never respond to your spouse’s anger or irritability with name-calling or blame-shifting,” says Anugrah.

If you see him in a bad mood, ask him if he would like to talk about it. If he says that the irritability is due to something you said or did, try to understand his point of view instead of getting defensive or angry. Don’t just assume that it’s your fault. If the miserable husband syndrome persists, talk to him about what needs to be done to get yourselves out of the situation.

7. Reflect on your actions

It is also extremely important to reflect on your actions and words while dealing with someone who suffers from miserable husband syndrome. Understand and acknowledge the triggers. While it would be wrong to assume that your husband’s grumpiness and moodiness are happening due to you, accept it when it is.

It is one of the most important steps to take if you want to work on your marriage and be happy with a miserable husband. In a marriage or any relationship, there will be times when your partner is frustrated because of something you did or said. Your actions may have triggered his anger due to which your husband is moody and distant all the time.

Try to identify and understand what it is about your behavior that triggers the angry reaction and take your responsibility accordingly. Your acceptance will reduce the tension and distance between you two and strengthen your relationship. It’ll also improve communication in the relationship because your acknowledgment will send a clear message to your husband that he can discuss his worries with you without the fear of losing you or being judged.

living with a miserable husband
Some days might be rough but don’t give up that easily on the love of your life

Even though you are feeling “My husband is miserable to be around”, he is your miserable man. And you don’t walk out on the person who has been there for you all these years, especially when he needs you the most. So, you try everything in your power to comfort him and ease the situation. However, we are not suggesting that you stay in an unhappy marriage forever.

An irritable husband’s behavior can leave you feeling drained out, negative, frustrated, and miserable. If things have spiraled out of control or you see no improvement in the relationship, then, by all means, consider other options. The consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage could be grave. Anugrah says, “It can be very taxing on one’s mental health to have a spouse with chronic moodiness or irritability.

“It causes one to become hypervigilant or stay in a situation of constant stress. It may also cause the emotional atmosphere of the house to be gloomy. The burden of making things pleasant for the whole family, then, rests on just one partner. Spouses often find each other’s moods contagious. Thus, their being miserable can cause you to become miserable as well.”

Key Pointers

  • Miserable husband syndrome is a condition that transforms your husband into a nervous, irritable, fatigued, and depressed person in need of help
  • He can have sudden angry outbursts, worry too much about the what-ifs, and feel irritated at everything
  • Poor diet and alcohol consumption can make the situation worse
  • It majorly happens due to a decreasing testosterone level
  • Patient communication and positive reinforcement are essential to make him feel better

Miserable husband syndrome can ruin a marriage but a little bit of patience and understanding can go a long way in strengthening your relationship. If you want the marriage to work, then you’ll have to wisely and skillfully handle the situation. It is possible to be happy with a miserable husband if you’re willing to put in some effort. We hope the above tips help.


1. How do I live with a grumpy negative husband?

Now that you know what IMS does to a man, you may not want to take everything he says very personally. You can start by helping your husband identify the pattern of irritable behavior and other signs of IMS. It’s important to convince him that something’s off and he needs to acknowledge the issue. Plus, loads of self-care and me time for you to wash off the stress of living with a grumpy husband.

 2. What to do when your husband is miserable?

Focus on healthy communication where both of you can be outright honest about your struggles and emotions. Encourage your husband to engage in activities he loves doing, spend quality time with him, and treat him with empathy instead of pointing fingers all the time. You can seek medical assistance because IMS is a common treatable condition.

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