unhappy marriage but can't leave

What To Do When You Can’t Leave An Unhappy Marriage

Last Updated on August 1, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Unhappy marriage can feel painful and hopeless, but you can’t leave!

It can lead to resentment and loneliness that never ends. Inadvertently, you compare your marriage with photos of happy couples on social media. You wish you could have the same.

Couples who believe they cannot leave an unhappy marriage are more likely to get into terrible arguments. You are able to press the right buttons, use words that dig deep and use words that make a difference. It’s a fight to see who can shout the loudest or who can shut down the doors the most.

Sometimes, it is the tense, quiet treatment. Sometimes you avoid speaking to your partner for several days, sometimes even longer. Confrontation can be dangerous and you feel like you are walking on eggshells. You are more cautious and continue to live together as roommates. Why should you be the one to initiate communication? You feel trapped – like you can’t get out of an unhappy marriage.

Why Arguments Are Good?

Arguing can be a normal part of a relationship and can be productive if it is managed well. Arguments can help you get to know your partner better – their preferences and triggers. If you don’t try to reach a compromise, it will be easier to continue arguing over the same issue, which can eventually turn bitter and ugly.

Fighting can be unhealthy if you fight for the sake or shame your partner, or blame them. You don’t have the right to allow this to happen. There are many ways to solve past conflicts and learn to communicate and argue better.

Arguments that become physical or emotionally abusive are unacceptable , even though fighting is normal in relationships. If you suspect you are being victim to domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Is Your Spouse Really the Problem?

Many spouses believe their partner is the problem, just like my Uber driver. Many of these people are determined to prove their partner wrong and get therapy.

This black-and-white thinking can lead to frustration and a tangled web of conflict between you because you don’t get your way. It is not obvious that your actions toward your partner can cause the opposite reaction to the one you want. It is easy to forget that marriage is made up of two imperfect people with different perspectives, life experiences, temperaments and habits. Then you start to wonder why you’re not always on the same page.

What to do When You Can’t Leave an Unhappy Marriage

Understanding your role in the conflict and taking responsibility can help you to build a mutual understanding and connection. These are some steps to help you re-establish your marriage if you feel you cannot leave an unhappy marriage.

Be There For Your Partner

Be There For Your Partner
Be there!

Are you listening to your spouse’s story about the day at work? Or are you giving him your full attention? Are you more likely to say no to your spouse when she asks for something, like to watch her favorite TV program or to go on a walk with her? It makes her feel lonely and unloved if she is constantly ignored and dismissed.

Are you able to recall what attracted your partner? How was your friendship? What were your favorite activities together? What do you know about your partner? It’s also best to nurture the friendship that you have.

Check-in With Your Partner Daily when Both of You Can’t Leave An Unhappy Marriage

Couples tend to focus on their work, children, and finances. How often do your relationships get discussed? A 20-minute check in is better than none if you have busy work schedules. Talk to each other for 10 minutes about your day, your feelings and not logistics. Which grade would you assign to your marriage? What are you looking to do together?

Stop Making Assumptions About Them

Stop Making Assumptions
And don’t overthinking…

Are you sure your spouse is aware of your feelings? Your spouse may not be able to read your mind. Even if you have been married for 30 years, your spouse may not be able to see everything in your head. Give your partner the benefit-of-the doubt. We can feel more emotionally connected if we share our views with each other and recognize that there is no malicious intent.

Recognize and Accept Your Part in the Argument

Own it, even if it is a small part. Are you interrupting her as she speaks? How about raising your voice? Have you failed to do something? Accept it. This will help reduce defensiveness. Recognizing what you did wrong and your partner recognizing theirs would help you two negotiate on what to do.

Practice Self-soothing When You Can’t Leave An Unhappy Marriage

Practice Self-soothing When You Can't Leave An Unhappy Marriage

It is easier to express anger than to be honest about your feelings of sadness, hurt, shame, or fear. Anger can temporarily make us feel powerful and take our attention away. Anger can cause your brain to lose its ability to reason logically. You can make impulsive choices, cause deep injuries, or regret things you did. Although you have the right not to be angry, it is up to you to decide what to do with your anger. When things get heated, ask for a time-out. You can go for a walk or listen to music. Or you can practice relaxation breathing. Self-soothing can change your physiology, and bring your thinking brain back on track.

Learn to Validate Why You Can’t Leave An Unhappy Marriage

You will be more open to understanding your partner if you feel heard and seen. You may try to make the fight win by coming up with the best possible response, but you often miss the whole message that your partner is trying to convey. It can be helpful to say “I understand why you behaved that way” or “That must’ve been frightening for you.” This can ease tension. It doesn’t matter if you feel uncomfortable at first. Learn to validate your partner using your own words. It takes practice and time to develop new habits.

Find ways to show appreciation every day

show appreciation every day

You may find it easier to deal with difficult times if your spouse is able to recall positive events in your relationship and kind gestures.

If you have kids, find a private, safe space in your home to talk calmly with your partner.

Children can find it very distressing to hear or see you argue. Children can sense when something is not right, and it can cause anxiety or outburst behavior. An unhappy marriage does not just affect you and your spouse if you have children. Your children will be affected if you have a bad marriage.

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