“Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them.” Author Steve Maraboli wisely gives us clues on how to tell your spouse you are not happy. It all boils down to how you approach the conversation while appreciating the role you play in your unhappiness.
10 tips on how to tell your spouse you are not happy
If you’re unhappy with your husband, lеаrn to аррrоасh them оbјесtіvеlу аnd not bу аttасkіng them. When you attack, you push them into defensiveness which often leads to anger. Instead of letting this escalate, follow these 10 tips.
1. Understand your root cause
How to tell your partner you are not happy starts with self-reflection. It’s very easy to blame our external situation while forgetting that happiness isn’t a constant. So, are your expectations realistic?
You cannot understand unhappiness if you don’t know what happiness is. There are many different frameworks out there, but psychologists generally agree that happiness refers to positive emotions. Thisarticle on happiness also explains that our environment, genes, and actions impact our emotions or happiness.
A common misconception is that we can generate a constant state of happiness. Life doesn’t work like that, and we cannot avoid negative emotions.
So, are your negative emotions telling you to change something about your approach to life? If you don’t feel loved, are you being loving? How good is your self-esteem? It’s worth looking at yourself first before you approach your partner.
The more you understand your inner world and motivations, the more likely you’ll know how to tell your spouse you are not happy. Moreover, you’ll communicate from a place of calm and maturity.
2. State your emotions
Once you have a better idea of what’s behind your negative emotions, the question is, “how to talk to your husband when you are not happy”? The aim is to be factual whilst defining the emotions you’re experiencing.
As you do this, avoid jumping to conclusions and blaming your partner. Simply use statements such as “I feel lonely/ abandoned/ anxious/ overwhelmed”. Whatever it is, be as specific as you can. A useful tool to help you find the words is thefeelings wheel.
How to talk to your husband about being unhappy means knowing what you actually need. Whilst we all have common human needs, we tend to prioritize them differently.
So, someone might put more importance on feeling safe and nurtured, whilst another person might be more drawn to validation and acceptance.
There is no right or wrong, but tensions can occur if you and your partner prioritize different needs. In that case, be clear about what you need from a relationship and listen to what your partner needs.
You then need to problem-solve together to find a happy middle ground.
4. Be factual about behaviors
When it comes to how your partner acts, how to tell your spouse you are not happy means sticking to the facts. So, tell them what you observe but with no judgment.
For example, “I observe that you go straight to watching TV all night when you come home from work”. You follow this with how it makes you feel rather than telling them what to change. In this case, an example could be, “this makes me feel ignored and unvalued.”
The common mistake for how to tell your spouse you are not happy is to lash out. We easily get caught up in our emotions, and suddenly, it feels like the end of the world.
It’s always good to first calm yourself and stick to the facts, as mentioned. Make sure you also remind your partner that you love them and are committed.
You want them to understand that this isn’t a final warning, so to speak, but simply a problem to work through together.
6. Refer to your long-term relationship goals
A good way to approach how to talk to your spouse about being unhappy is to refer to your overall goals. This also allows you to step back and see the big picture.
We don’t just get caught up in our emotions but also in the problem at hand. Making the connection with your relationship goals grounds you and reminds you both why you’re together.
7. Explain your involvement
Don’t forget that old saying, “it takes two to tango”. Whatever the issue and whatever your partner has done or not done, you play a role in the dynamic.
Of course, that’s hard to accept. Nevertheless, the more honest you can be about how you impact the relationship, the more likely you’ll approach the problem with positive teamwork.
In this case, how to tell your husband you are not happy means sharing that you plan to make more effort in certain areas. If you’re not sure, ask your partner what’s missing for them.
8. Be vulnerable
How to talk to your husband when you are not happy comes down to being human. If you approach it like a list of tasks to manage, your partner will most likely shut down or get defensive.
Instead, the more you share about your fears and your worries, essentially everything that makes you human, the more likely your partner can sympathize. You’re basically trying to connect deep down through your emotions while not just relying on logic alone.
9. Ask about their experience
If you are unhappy, the chances are that they are too. So, rather than putting everything on them, be curious first. Ask them questions to understand their viewpoint and what emotions they feel.
Approaching your partner with a curious and open mind is more likely to get them to relax and to share openly too. You then become thought partners in finding the solution that works for both of you.
10. Make your request
Finally, you need to state what you want from them. So, if they are simply coming home from work and going straight to the TV, perhaps you can state that you would like to have at least half an hour of their time to check in.
Before you make your request, remember that how to tell your husband you are not happy means stating your feelings and needs first. Make sure you also give them a chance to explain theirs.
Then, you can propose a request that aligns with both of you.
Moving forward when you’re unhappy with your husband
If you’re still wondering how to talk with your husband, remember that happiness isn’t something that someone can magically create for you. We have to nurture the conditions for happiness. Most importantly, we have to accept that life comes with negative emotions.
One way to move forwards is to talk to your partner about how they also define happiness. How can you create together the conditions for a happy marriage?
For instance, how can you leverage conflict to learn more about each other? What can you do to support each other’s anxieties before they blow up? How can you align each other’s life goals?
Interestingly, most people assume that happiness is either about sustaining positive emotions or about finding purpose. Some try to combine those two approaches, which is, of course, perfectly valid.
Nevertheless, psychologists now define a third option to live a good life.
Thisarticle on the psychologically rich life details that another way to live life to the full is to seek intense and diverse experiences. An obvious example is to live in a different country, but what else can you and your partner come up with?
Be creative. How to tell your spouse you are not happy doesn’t just have to be negative. Flip it around and talk about how to create happiness together. Now, that’s a change worth exploring.
Then, of course, you have your basic choice of options for how to tell your spouse you are not happy:
1. Chаngе іt
Yоu саn сhаngе thе ѕіtuаtіоn. The question you need to ask yourself is “what can you control”. The only person you can change is yourself. So, how can you impact the dynamic?
Accepting people for who they are isn’t easy. It takes a lot of personal work, often with a counselor or therapist, to manage your expectations.
Also, deep down, many of us expect our partners to fix all our problems. This is both unreasonable and unfair to them and only leads to disaster for both.
3. Lеаvе іt
Your fіnаl орtіоn іѕ to lеаvе. When faced with how to tell your spouse you are not happy, you might come across a deal breaker.
Hоwеvеr, unlеѕѕ уоu аrе іn рhуѕісаl dаngеr, I uѕuаllу recommend trying thе оthеr орtіоnѕ fіrѕt. Especially because often, when people annoy us, they mirror the dark side of our souls that we hide from ourselves.
So, usually, give it your best shot before you make such a radical decision.
How to communicate your unhappiness
Learning how to tell your spouse you are not happy means facing your anxiety. No one wants to hear bad news, but the longer you leave it, the worse things get. Just keep it simple and state your feelings and needs.
For example, “I feel isolated when you spend weeks traveling with no news, and I wonder if we could arrange to video chat more often when you’re away”.
Another example could be, “I feel unvalued when you come home from work and ask what time dinner is. Would you consider saying thank you as well?”
Alternatively, “I feel depressed because we no longer seem to have time for each other. How can we reconnect and find ways to touch base more often?”
Hopefully you now get the idea of how to tell your spouse you are not happy. In summary, state what you’re feeling and what you need whilst offering up something in return if you can.
Although, don’t forget to be curious when learning how to talk to your husband about being unhappy. This isn’t a one-way thing.
Examples of some open questions to help your partner relax and share equally could be:
How to talk with your husband about changing things in your relationship involves staying calm. The last thing you want to do is trigger anger in either of you.
That’s why it’s important to follow the non-violent communication framework already mentioned. If you want an easier way to remember it, just think in I-statements rather than you-statements.
Alternatively, watch this video that explains the approach in more detail:
It’s very tempting to say you did this or you did that. Nevertheless, how to tell your spouse you are not happy takes a bit more finesse. If you share how you can change your approach, that also helps keep things amicable.
That’s not to say you might not have a reaction. They might get angry or become sad. They might even have a tantrum.
In those cases, whatever you do, stay calm. How to tell your spouse you are not happy is about reassuring them that you’re not blaming them. You simply want the situation to change with both of you doing things differently.
If you sense that emotions are too intense and that they’re escalating out of control, pause the discussion. There’s no point arguing with someone. Instead, ask for a break and say that you can talk again when you’re both calm and grounded.
Nurturing the conditions for a successful marriage
All relationships take work and effort. You obviously assume you’re both equally committed but this requires regular check-ins. That’s how you avoid the need to learn how to tell your spouse you are not happy.
The Gottman Institute of clinical psychologists did extensive research on what makes relationships work. They came up with seven principles as detailed in thisarticle on making marriage work.
In summary, the euphoria of love soon passes and the reality of life hits with its ups and downs of emotions. So, you need to nurture your connection and influence each other positively. Most importantly, you need open communication to problem-solve effectively.
Finally, the Gottman principles also include creating shared meaning. If you can’t align your values and goals, you’ll never find fulfillment in your relationship. At that point, how to tell your spouse you are not happy could be too late.
Some useful tips include scheduling quality time together, making a point of seeing the good in each other, and learning new things together. If, on the other hand, you struggle to find the positives, this could be a sign to seekmarital counseling.
The hardest part is to nurture acceptance that life is tough. If you expect the euphoria of when you first got together to continue forever, you’ll struggle to know how to tell your spouse you are not happy.
In summary, it’s very difficult to differentiate real feelings from the chemicals high in your brain during the first stages of relationships. Don’t make the mistake of being blinded but remember the realities of life.
No one is perfect and relationships need constant check-ins.
How do you talk about the disappointment of your marriage?
If you feel unfulfilled in your relationship, here are some tips on how to tell your partner you are not happy:
It іѕ not only your ѕроuѕе’ѕ rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу to fix the рrоblеm.
Yоu аrе not blаmіng your ѕроuѕе fоr thе ѕіtuаtіоn уоu аrе іn. (Thеу mау рlау а ѕіgnіfісаnt rоlе іn thе рrоblеm, but blаmіng thеm іѕ not gоіng to hеlр).
Yоu аrе gоіng to end thе соnvеrѕаtіоn wіth а рlаn to gеt ѕtаrtеd.
Thеѕе аrе good fіrѕt ѕtерѕ for how to tell your spouse you are not happy. Idеаllу, іt іѕ іmроrtаnt to gеt ѕuрроrt to hеlр уоu break dоwn whеrе уоu mау bе ѕtuсk аnd whаt mау bе leading to your сurrеnt ѕtаtе оf unhарріnеѕѕ.
Fіndіng а thеrаріѕt оr а lіfе соасh аrе grеаt wауѕ to get non-јudgmеntаl ѕuрроrt in ѕtrаtеgіzіng your approach.
How do you express your feelings and emotions to your spouse?
How to tell your spouse you are not happy involves understanding thedifference between feelings and emotions. The article details that emotions are biological and chemical reactions within our body in response to internal and external stimulation.
Feelings are the labels and words we attribute to those emotions. For example, the body sends a signal of hunger and we feel irritable.
Alternatively, we get a spike in cortisol because someone makes us jump as they take our place in the queue. We then experience anger and maybe even disrespect.
How to tell your spouse you are not happy involves sharing the subtleties. You might not know why you feel sad but it’s ok to talk about this experience with your spouse.
By not adding a label or a feeling, you open up the conversation to joint problem-solving. This avoids blaming. Then again, sometimes you just need to share and you can simply ask your partner to listen and be there for you.
Finding fulfillment in your relationship
All of the above tips and advice assume that neither of you is dealing with mental issues or unresolved trauma. Then again, we all have issues.
You don’t need a psychological disorder to work with a therapist or counselor. We all need help to deal with our past and befriend our inner thoughts and emotions.
If not, we often don’t even understand how we impact the dynamics of a relationship. That’s why everyone can benefit from marital counseling. Not just those with mental disorders.
Then you can speak from a calm and compassionate place where you state your feelings and what you need. This doesn’t have to cause an argument but you can create a problem-solving experience where you work together to meet both your needs.
Remember that happiness is about how you approach life and your relationships. How to tell your spouse you are not happy starts with you. Get to know yourself deeply and you’ll never be unhappy with your husband again.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.