20 Things That Make Wives Unhappy In A Marriage

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Even the most stable and happy marriages hit an iceberg now and then. If you wish to know 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, because you can see you’re not alone. Either way, we can tell you that you have come to the right place today.

Whatever the cause of your unhappiness is, there’s a possibility it can be fixed. Unhappy marriages exist for all kinds of reasons, but it does not mean that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. 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 couple’s counseling and family therapy.

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

What Are The Signs Of An Unhappy Wife?

Table of Contents

When either of the spouses is unhappy, it creates an environment where there is resentment, hostility, and indifference in the relationship. 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 married women to have a hard time in their marriages, below are a few 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, but it points to underlying issues in your relationship.

Her criticism could be about your physical looks, your habits, your lack of conversations, 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. OR this could be one of the signs you have a narcissistic wife.

2. She neglects herself

Devaleena says, “One of the signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage is when she stops paying attention to her appearance. When married women 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? One of the wives’ top complaints against husbands is that the men 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 fought. No matter how big or small the problem is. I don’t know what to do.” Fighting in a marriage is common. The problem, sometimes, is communication issues.

Communication is effective only when partners encourage each other to express their thoughts and feelings instead of getting defensive. And the one expressing their concerns needs to understand how to get their point across in a healthy way too.

4. Her body language says it all

Body language is a dead giveaway for a lot of things. The way she holds herself around you can give you a lot of information about what is going through her head. Unhappiness is one of them. Have you ever noticed the body language of unhappy married couples? Now apply that to women who are unhappy with their partners:

  • 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’s expense. 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

We are going to tell you in detail about why wives are unhappy in marriages. But here is what you need to keep in mind first:

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 mind, such as because of unrealistic expectations. The only thing a woman can do in that situation is to ease 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.

However, if you want your wife to feel safe and joyful with you, and not compromise or suffocate, go through this list of things that can make women unhappy in marriages. It’ll help you improve the situation, for both of you.

Related Reading: Secure Relationships – What Are They And What Do They Look Like?

1. Wives’ top complaints against husbands: Sexual incompatibility and loss of intimacy

Studies have shown that “perceived sexual compatibility was consistently associated with sexual and relationship satisfaction in both women and men.” When a married woman complains about her husband, it’s usually because something is 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 for sure. Or perhaps the wife hasn’t properly expressed her needs to her husband.

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, worse, all that husbands want from their wives is sex.” 

2. See if there’s lack of communication if you think “my wife is unhappy with her life”

Lack of healthy communication is a big issue in many relationships. Here is why a flow of communication is so important for relationships to sustain and flourish:

  • For clarity: 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
  • For conflict resolution: During a conflict, when a couple refuses to talk it out, that is the biggest mistake in itself. Couples need to consciously make an effort to discuss the issue at hand so it does not fester
  • For sharing expectations: If a wife expects her partner to call her every day after work and does not communicate it to her husband, she will harbor resentment when the partner fails to do so. Communicating one’s expectations in a relationship is essential to having a good marriage

Devaleena says, “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. Their opinions aren’t heard 

Why are wives so unhappy? Devaleena answers in short: “Because they feel unheard.”

Not valuing your partner’s opinions is a sign of disrespect and it happens in most marriages at one point or another. 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 

Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? Well, they can’t be in good spirits if they are stressed about expenses. Here’s what our expert says can cause friction between a husband and wife:

  • The 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. They are burdened with all the 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 partners are working, do the husbands equally contribute toward cooking and cleaning? Do they take the garbage out?” 

It is no news that a married woman complains about her husband when he doesn’t do what’s required in terms of distribution of duties. Women have had this struggle since ages. 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 have a paid job. Conflict is natural due to this gender inequality at home.

Related Reading: 6 Steps To Take If You Are Feeling Trapped In A Relationship

6. One of the most common reasons your wife is unhappy: She has to raise kids on her own

This is another stereotype women have to face and this is also why wives are unhappy in marriages. Emotional intimacy aside, it is also important to focus on your duties as a couple to have a happy marriage. And in that spectrum, 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 double standards should answer the ‘why are wives so unhappy?’ query.

7. Their spouses are always on the phone/always playing video games 

Devaleena says, “One of the wives’ top complaints against husbands 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. They stare at their mobile screen when the wife is trying to have a conversation. It can also be one of the warning signs your partner is losing interest in the relationship.”

This takes away any form of emotional closeness in a couple as one partner is always closed off and doing their own thing. 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. 

When asked on Quora what a woman wants her husband to do for her to be happier, the user shared, “I want him to put down his phone and pay attention to me when I talk, because I’m not a person who opens up easily. I want him to put down his phone and hold me close when we watch a movie, go to bed. I want to have a real conversation with him when we go out to a meal, without being interrupted by a buzzing phone. I want him to stop checking his notifications when he stops at a red light, because it’s just not safe.”

8. Drinking problems of the partner can make women miserable

A married woman complains about her husband in her email to us. Wendy, a 35-year-old pianist and homemaker, shares, “My husband drinks excessively. He comes home drunk almost every day. I can’t get him to quit smoking either. I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried asking him to go to therapy because I knew he was 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. Alcohol and substance abuse are among the most common reasons given for a divorce. 

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

9. Women feel abandoned by husbands who are ‘mama’s boys’

Devaleena explains, “A man being over-affectionate toward his mother is another complaint from wives, or when the men prioritize other extended family members over them. Women often feel like they are being pitted against their husband’s mothers. Men need to understand that what they need is a life partner, not a mom, and she can’t be expected to treat them like their mother does.”

Mother syndrome in a marriage is not unusual. Many wives suggest that this habit of husbands choosing their family over them makes the men self-centered. It is certainly a recipe for a bad marriage as it makes the husband complacent and lazy. If you’ve been looking for a caretaker in your partner, then it’s high time you rectify your mistakes.

10. They are unhappy when they receive no appreciation from their spouses

Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? Because they aren’t appreciated. Ask yourself, when was the last time you genuinely paid her a compliment? 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 sincere compliment. When men fail to acknowledge and appreciate the things wives do for their husbands, it’s one of the signs a husband is taking his 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 too.

11. Wives feel frustrated when their husbands don’t know basic life skills

Women are called dependents when many a time 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. 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.”

If you are concerned about your wife’s well-being and mental health, then think long and hard about what you are doing to ease her burden. If she works all day only to come home to an unclean kitchen and have to cook a meal from scratch, it is no surprise that she feels unhappy. Want to make your wife feel special? Do your part to keep the house running.

One Reddit user talks about how a lack of initiative from husbands can affect a marriage, “Yes we are making huge strides in women’s rights and societal expectations but the fact remains women are STILL responsible for the majority of the household and child-rearing tasks while also being bread-winners or full-time employees. The pandemic has shown that women are the ones whose career will be sacrificed when childcare is not available.”

Related Reading: Effort In A Relationship: What It Means And 12 Ways To Show It

12. Their husbands 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 they are not over their exes or they are just reconnecting as friends. Whatever the reason is, this can cause jealousy and lead to unhappiness in the marriage.

  • Talk to your wife about it: Are you maintaining boundaries for being friends with an ex? If you are really in touch with your ex, then you need to assure your wife that nothing is going on beyond a casual friendship. Let her know that she is the only one for you and your ex is in the past
  • Allay her insecurity: When you do hang out with your ex, make sure that you inform your wife. 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. Why are wives unhappy in a marriage? They don’t feel supported in their ambitions

There are many husbands who don’t support their spouses, be it emotional or professional support. When women feel like their careers, goals, and big decisions in life aren’t respected, they feel trapped and miserable. It’s one of the signs of a selfish husband when all they care about is their own ambitions. This lack of support can also cause an emotional distance between a couple, and this is why wives are unhappy in marriages.

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, it’s better to be single. Why stay in a marriage if you are unhappy? Why be with a man who doubts your potential and abilities? I would much rather embrace my single life instead, and focus on my goals.”

14. Their spouses 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.” 

Research has also shown that after an instance of infidelity, partners who have been cheated on may experience a lot of stress, resulting in poorer mental health, such as increased depression and anxiety symptoms. So if you are a man trying to understand the reasons your wife is unhappy, then your cheating episode could be a big one.

If you are looking for ways to get back her trust, here they are:

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

Related Reading: How To Help Your Wife Heal After You Cheated

15. Wives shrink when love languages vanish

Understanding and being receptive to each other’s love languages is a crucial part of cultivating emotional intimacy in any relationship. 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 various types of 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 to make the other person feel loved and cherished.

16. They don’t feel heard 

Devaleena shares, “When husbands don’t listen to their wives, it can make the women feel 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. Many 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. Make sure he’s not busy or stressed
  • Express your desires clearly and specifically
  • Be mindful of your body language and tone. Don’t be accusatory
  • 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 hard work and ‘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 sheer insensitivity and indifference. As Devaleena says, “You can’t save a marriage when one of you has no plans of working toward fixing the problem.”

A Quora user says that if a couple doesn’t move in tandem, the pressures of life can create problems in a marriage. When asked the ‘why are married women unhappy’ question, they said, “The same reason most married men are unhappy, I can only presume. One or both change after marriage or the pressures of kids, bills and mortgages kick in. If both are not pulling in the same direction, it leads to more stress and arguments till eventually you have to part to keep your sanity.”

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. He also shouldn’t go straight to bed after work every day without touching base with his partner. This is one of the problems every couple faces. As a husband, you should do this:

  • Acknowledge that you’ve caused a rift: Acknowledge your wife’s disappointment. 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, own up and apologize for this harmful pattern of behavior
  • Show her you care about her life: Spend a few moments with her. Talk to her about her day. Be curious about things at her workplace and try to be involved in her life in any way that you can

19. Being controlled by their partner would make anyone feel trapped

Devaleena warns, “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.”

According to a study, “individuals who do not perceive control over their environments may seek to gain control in any way possible, potentially engaging in maladaptive behaviors.” If as a husband, you are trying to regain a sense of power in your life, it is possible you are redirecting that energy to your wife.

As a woman, if you can relate to feeling unhappy because of being controlled in a relationship, here is what you can do:

  • Talk to him and ask for a fresh start in how you navigate your relationship
  • Set specific 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

Related Reading: I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore – My Marriage Made Me Lose My Identity

20. Women often have to hear “fun” remarks that are sarcastic or sexist

We’re talking about those men who are not evil, and can be lectured and explained why their behavior is harmful. Fun sarcasm isn’t bad or unhealthy in relationships. But you should know that there are times when sarcasm cuts like a knife. A husband being unaware of this nuance (intentionally or not) 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 just someone who hurts you unintentionally, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists would be glad to help you every step of the way. 

Key Pointers

  • Lack of healthy 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 the things 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. There are different ways of approaching an issue, and you can certainly improve your relationship over time. But don’t let trivial problems become parasites in your marriage either. Talk to each other and speak up about your unhappiness without blaming the other.

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