20 Things That Make Wives Unhappy In A Marriage

November 2, 2022 | | Expert Validated By
Updated On: November 2, 2022
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Even the most stable marriages hit an iceberg every now and then. If you are here looking for why wives are unhappy in marriages, chances are you are a husband wanting to know about wives’ top complaints against husbands, or you’re a wife comforting yourself by reading this, thinking you are not alone.

Whatever the cause of your unhappiness is, there’s a possibility it can be fixed. This piece doesn’t condone abuse of any kind, though. Then why are wives so unhappy in marriages that are not abusive? To find out the answer, we reached out to a standardized clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy.

She says, “Firstly, I want to bust a myth. A lot of young girls believe that marriage would solve all their problems. There. That’s a major factor in why wives are unhappy in marriages. This is a self-created illusion that results in unrealistic expectations.”

What Are The Signs Of An Unhappy Wife?

When either of the spouses is unhappy, it creates an environment where there is resentment, hostility, and indifference. Negativity surrounds the marriage. When asked on Reddit why many people are unhappy in their marriages, a user replied, “I’m not unhappy, but I think I know why some people might be. It takes WORK to keep a long-term marriage joyful. It doesn’t just happen by itself.

“It takes recognizing that the world does not revolve around you. Sometimes it takes sacrifice and sometimes compromises. And it takes TWO people doing this at the same time. Some people aren’t willing to put in the work.” If you want to know what can cause women to be unhappy in marriages, below are some reasons.

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1. She has become too critical

If your wife is constantly criticizing every little aspect of you, then it’s one of the signs your wife is unhappy. The criticism could be related to anything. It could be your physical looks or your personality or your work. The reason she is so critical about everything is that love and understanding in the marriage have been slowly replaced by judgment and antagonism. This is also one oof the signs you have a narcissistic wife.

2. She neglects herself

Devaleena says, “One of the visible signs of an unhappy wife is her appearance. When they feel neglected and unloved, they have little to no concern about their appearance. They often start neglecting themselves when their partner is being neglectful.”

For a marriage to work harmoniously, both the partners should feel appreciated for their looks, because who doesn’t like compliments? Everyone does. One of the wives’ top complaints against husbands is that they don’t compliment them anymore or they have stopped finding them attractive. 

Related Reading: “My Husband Misinterprets Everything I Say” – 17 Tips To Help You

3. She fights over silly things 

Justin, an investment banker in his 40s, says, “I feel like my wife is unhappy with her life. She criticizes everything I do. There hasn’t been a day where we haven’t had a fight. No matter how big or small the problem is. I really don’t know what to do.” Fighting in a marriage is common. The problem here is communication issues. Communication is effective only when partners encourage each other to express their thoughts and feelings instead of getting defensive. 

4. Her body language says it all

Body language is a dead giveaway for a lot of things. Unhappiness is one of them. Some of the body language signs of an unhappy married woman are:

  • She sighs all the time
  • She avoids eye contact or rolls her eyes at everything her husband says or does
  • She doesn’t embrace him like she used to
  • She often leans away from him

5. She cracks too many jokes about her marital life 

Does your wife crack a lot of jokes at the expense of your marital life? If yes, then that’s one of the signs of an unhappy wife. Not just the marriage, but an unhappy wife might also crack jokes at her husband. It’s a subtle indication that she’s bored or dissatisfied with the marriage. During such times, marriage counseling is the only choice you are left with.

20 Things That Make Wives Unhappy In A Marriage

Devaleena says, “Before we get into the reasons for a woman being unhappy in a marriage, it’s worth assessing if the unhappiness is created by her own mind – because of unrealistic expectations. The only thing a woman can do in that situation eases out those expectations. Let loose and understand that it’s your problem and not your husband’s.”

If unrealistic expectations are not the case, though, then why stay in a marriage if you are unhappy? Men and women look at marriage differently. For most women, it’s difficult to leave a marriage because of many reasons including societal stigma, kids, and financial dependency. That’s why many choose to stay in a marriage when they are not happy. Below are some things that can make women unhappy in marriages.

1. Sexual incompatibility 

Devaleena shares, “Of all the couples I have seen in therapy, sexual incompatibility is predominantly why wives are unhappy in marriage. This goes either way. Marriage and sexual compatibility go hand in hand. They are not happy because their husbands aren’t able to satisfy them or all that husbands want from their wives is sex.” 

When a married woman complains about her husband, it’s usually because there is something lacking in their sex life. Maybe the husband is selfish in bed or isn’t willing to try new things. Something is amiss in their physical intimacy.

2. Lack of communication 

Lack of communication is a big issue in many relationships. Communication is important to explain to the other person how you feel, what you want, and what’s wrong. When there are no proper means of conversing, either of the partners can feel they are unheard and unseen. 

Devaleena says, “Why are wives so unhappy? Because their husbands are not able to communicate with them. Communication is the heart of the relationship. Find out why your partner is finding it difficult to communicate. Is the communication problem with you or him? Are you not able to comprehend what he is saying or is he not articulating it in a better way?”

3. When their opinions aren’t heard 

Not valuing your partner’s opinions is a sign of disrespect. In a marriage, there could be contradictory thoughts about how to raise children, how to handle expenses and the basics of how to run a family. You both can be right and wrong at the same time. You have to meet each other halfway if you want to have a healthy marriage. This is why wives are unhappy in marriages. Because their opinions aren’t heard, respected, or valued. 

Related Reading: Emotional Manipulation In Relationships – 5 Signs And 4 Things You Can Do

4. Financial worries can make wives unhappy 

Here’s what our expert says can cause friction between a husband and wife:

  • Husband is not being a responsible spender
  • He is not earning enough 
  • He is a stingy spender 
  • He controls his wife’s finances
  • He micromanages her budget and expenditure

Marriage and money problems are another common issue every married couple goes through. As a newly married woman, I can say that conversations about finances happen almost every day. How to spend, how much to spend, and what to spend on – these become daily concerns. 

5. Husbands who do not do their share of household chores

Devaleena shares, “When husbands complain to me in therapy and say, “I don’t know why my wife is unhappy with her life and with our marriage”, my response is always the same. I check if they do their part around the house. If both the partners are working, do the husbands equally contribute toward cooking and cleaning? Do they take the garbage out?” 

Recent statistics show unequal involvement in household chores by men, where women spend 20 hours a week on household chores and men spend 11 even when the women are working. Conflict is natural due to this gender inequality at home.

6. When women have to raise kids on their own 

This is another stereotype women have to face and this is also why wives are unhappy in marriage. Raising children is no easy feat. A father’s participation and involvement are as important as a mother’s. Husbands are usually missing in action when it comes to co-parenting.

A report by McKinsey Global Institute found that 75% of unpaid care work which includes cooking, cleaning, washing, and caring for children and the elderly is all done by women. It’s baffling how men are praised when they look after their children, whereas women are just expected to do so. These are double standards. 

7. Husbands who are always on the phone/always playing video games 

Devaleena says, “In the last 10-15 years, this is a repeated contributor to why wives are unhappy in marriages. Many wives complain that their husbands are always on the phone even when they are not working. It’s one of the warning signs your partner is losing interest in the relationship. They stare at their mobile screen when the wife is trying to have a conversation.”

Always playing video games is also one of the wives’ top complaints against husbands. If the men gave at least half the time they spend playing video games to their wives, the women wouldn’t be so unhappy in the first place. 

8. Husband’s drinking problems 

A married woman complains about her husband in her email to us. Wendy, a 35-year-old homemaker, shares, “My husband excessively drinks and smokes. He comes home drunk almost every day. I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried asking him to go to therapy because I know he is on the verge of becoming an alcoholic. He just doesn’t see his drinking as a problem.”

According to research done at the University of Buffalo, it was found that heavy drinking, alcohol problems, and alcohol use disorders are all associated with lower marital satisfaction. In fact, alcohol and substance abuse are among the most common reasons given for a divorce. 

9. When he is a mama’s boy 

Devaleena says, “A man being over-affectionate toward his mother is another complaint from wives. Women feel like they are being pitted against their husband’s mothers. Men need to understand that they already have a mother. What they need is a life partner who can’t be expected to treat them like their mother does.” Mother syndrome in a marriage is not unusual. If you’ve been looking for a caretaker in your partner, then it’s high time you rectify your mistakes.

Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Compromise In A Marriage The Right Way

10. Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? No appreciation from husbands 

Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? Because they aren’t appreciated. When your wife puts on makeup, gets her hair done, and wears that dress you like so much, all they are expecting in return is one compliment. When they fail to acknowledge and appreciate the things wives do for their husbands, it’s one of the signs husband is taking wife for granted.

When women cook something, they expect their husbands to say a few nice things about the dish. When they multitask and take care of the entire house, the men in their lives better take note and not take these efforts for granted. Little things like these help a lot in keeping the marriage alive. But don’t just hide behind the appreciation, do your part in keeping the marriage afloat.

11. Husbands who do not know basic life skills

Women are called dependents when it’s men who don’t know basic life skills. How ironic! Even when women earn their own money, they are still expected to take complete care of the house because many men don’t know basic life skills. Devaleena shares, “One of the reasons your wife is unhappy is because you don’t know basic survival skills like cooking, doing laundry, or keeping the house clean.”

12. Husbands who are secretly friends with exes

Many women complain that their husbands are still in touch with their exes. It could be one of the signs he is not over his ex or he is just reconnecting to see if they are doing well. Whatever the reason is, this can cause jealousy and lead to unhappiness in the marriage.

If you are really in touch with your ex, then you need to assure your wife that there’s nothing going on beyond a casual friendship. If you don’t tell her and she finds out from somewhere else, you could be at the receiving end of her justified suspicion. 

13. Husbands who do not support their partners’ ambition

Here’s why wives are unhappy in marriages. Because their husbands don’t support them, be it emotional or professional support. When women feel like their careers and goals aren’t supported, they feel trapped and miserable. It’s one of the signs of a selfish husband when all they care about is their dreams and ambitions.

Tania, an entrepreneur from Los Angeles, says, “I wanted to start my own hair care business but my ex-husband wasn’t supportive. If you can’t find a man who supports your dreams and career, it’s better to be single rather than be with a man who doubts your potential, talent, and abilities. Why stay in a marriage if you are unhappy?”

14. Husbands who are not loyal 

Devaleena shares another common factor in why wives are unhappy in marriages. She says, “Extramarital affairs have severely damaging effects on the wife. They don’t know how to deal with a cheating husband and this severely impacts their overall well-being. But they can’t divorce their husbands because they either have kids or due to other practical issues. Leaving a marriage is not so simple.” 

If you are a man looking for ways to get his wife’s trust back, here they are:

  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Don’t just be sorry in words but also in your actions
  • Don’t force them to trust you 
  • Don’t keep any secrets
  • Be consistent in earning their trust
  • Once you’ve earned their trust, don’t make the same mistakes 

Related Reading: 20 Ways To Make Your Husband Fall In Love With You Again

15. Love languages have vanished

When there is no love language alive between a couple, then it becomes obvious why wives are unhappy in marriages. When was the last time you took your wife out on a date? When was the last time you spent quality time together? You need to indulge in love languages almost every day to keep a relationship running smoothly. Touch each other. Hold each other’s hands. Praise each other. Do little things for each other.

16. Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? They don’t feel heard 

Devaleena shares, “When husbands don’t listen to their wives, it can lead to feeling neglected in a relationship. You need to listen to what your wife is saying. Doesn’t matter how silly or big the topic is. Let them borrow your attention for a while. Women do the same for their husbands too, after all.”

You can get your husband to listen to you by using these steps:

  • Choose an appropriate time and place to have a conversation
  • Express your desires
  • Be mindful of your body language and tone
  • Don’t make the conversation one-sided 
  • Listen to his side of the story as well

17. There’s no mutual effort to bridge the gap 

When there is a rift between a husband and wife, it requires both their efforts to solve the problems. If one person is putting in all the effort, whereas the other person is not bothered about mending the gap, it is insensitivity and indifference at their peak. Devaleena says, “You can’t save a marriage when one of you has no plans of working toward fixing the problem.”

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18. Not being their husbands’ top priority could cause unhappiness 

Here’s why wives are unhappy in marriages: their husbands don’t make them a priority. This makes them feel lonely. It’s not about putting their wives over everyone else. It’s about how they manage their time. A husband can’t come home from a hectic day at work and start playing video games to “cool off” every single day while his wife is taking care of the dinner or waiting for him to talk to her. Or they can’t go straight to bed after work every day. This is one of the problems every couple faces.

Such behavior will definitely end up disappointing their spouse. Your wife knows she is not the center of your world, and she isn’t asking you for that either. But when you refuse to give her space in your busy schedule, that’s when the whole problem starts. Just spend a few moments with her. Talk to her about her day. Be curious about things at her workplace. 

19. Being controlled by husbands

Devaleena says, “A controlling husband will isolate his wife from her loved ones. He becomes extremely clingy and this is also why wives are unhappy in marriages. You need to talk to your husband about his toxic behavior before you begin to question your reality. You need to know how to get out of a controlling relationship before it’s too late.”

Here’s what to do when you find out you are being controlled by your husband:

  • Talk to him
  • Set boundaries
  • Tell him clearly he can’t invade your personal space
  • Reach out to others if it feels unbearable 
  • Try seeking therapy 
  • If it turns abusive, leave him with the help of your support system

20. Husbands who always pass sarcastic, sexist, or demeaning remarks

Fun sarcasm isn’t bad or unhealthy in relationships. But you should know that there are times when sarcasm cuts like a knife. This is why many wives are unhappy in marriages. Husbands need to toe the line between what’s funny and what’s disguised as fun but is actually a thinly veiled insult or plain old sexism. If you’re married to a narcissist or are seeking therapy for mental-health related issues, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists would be glad to help you every step of the way. 

Key Pointers

  • Lack of communication is one of the common contributors to why wives are unhappy in marriages
  • When women are not heard, their dreams are invalidated, or when they have to deal with sexist behavior or remarks, it makes them dissatisfied with their marriages
  • Women just want their husbands to appreciate and acknowledge everything that they do for them
  • Both husband and wife need to put in efforts to resolve conflicts and work as a team

When there is a problem, try solving it as soon as you can. The longer you let a problem breed, the deeper its effects remain in the relationship. But don’t let trivial problems become parasites in your marriage either. Talk to each other and speak out about your unhappiness without blaming the other.

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