Women have a tendency to stay in relationships too long. Even when we know we're unhappy we override that gut feeling in the service of commitment, compassion, loyalty, patience and many other feminine qualities that serve us well the majority of the time.
While intuition is one of our greatest gifts, and the one thing that could help us attune to a deteriorating marriage, we have been trained to ignore our truest feelings at the expense of our own happiness.
Most women stay in unhappy marriages because of their children, even though as a whole they feel more empowered to support themselves and to create a new and better life. This would lead us to believe that there's an enormous amount of women out there who are living in an expired marriage, and this could very well include you.
In some circumstances, like abuse or drug addiction, the need to leave may be clear, but getting out is still challenging. In other cases discerning a terminal marriage from one that still has a breath of life can be really confusing.
Going back and forth in a state of marital ambivalence can be exhausting and frustrating but there are some pretty straightforward red flags that might point you toward divorce or its very common predecessor...couple's therapy.
Here are 5 signs that might help you with your unhappiness barometer:
Other men look more appealing to you
There will always be men walking this earth that turn your head or catch your eye. You may even have moments where you say, "Hmmm, could I be married to him?" The game changes when you start comparing your partner to other men, wising he was more like your friend's husband, or when you find yourself fully attracted to a specific man. When you're really happy in your marriage you don't feel the need to look elsewhere, and in fact you don't really even think about it. Fantasizing precedes action so if you're thinking about being with someone else you increase your chances of ending up having an affair or getting involved with another man on some level.
You don't want to spend time with your partner
Avoidance is a sure sign that there is trouble in paradise. You don't need to be joined at the hip, and having your own life is essential to the health of your marriage. However, the feeling that your bored, uninterested, or not enjoying time spent with your partner could mean that you're not happy with him. Relationships require energy, work and time so if you're not feeling invested the relationship will wilt and eventually you will find yourself with a listless marriage that is irreparable. It may be that you don't share the same interests or that he's not making an effort socially, but either way you need to address the core issue or you'll remain unhappy.
You're edgy and snappy with your partner
Feelings of unhappiness are very hard to admit because doing so means you'll have to confront some hard issues. When you avoid the fact that your dissatisfied or unhappy it manifests in behaviors like criticism, nagging, nitpicking, and anger. Resenting your partner is a natural response to unmet needs, but suffering in silence makes things worse. In fact the very reason you're not confronting your unhappiness might be the cause of it. Not being able to speak openly and honestly in a relationship creates distance and leads to a deep feeling of unhappiness. Getting under the hood and really coming clean with what you need from him might be scary, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
You would prefer to spend time with your girlfriends
As women we always love being with other girls, and it's normal to find intimacy and connection with our same gender. When you get to a point where you absolutely prefer your friends to your partner things might be off. As much as our girlfriends are essential to our livelihood, your partner is the person you really should want to be with most of the time. If this isn't the case then why be in a marriage at all? We marry to have a friend, lover, confidant and partner in crime. Your husband should be able to fill some of those needs most of the time.
You're not into having sex
Yes it's common for sex to dwindle with a longer-term marriage but it should never disappear entirely. Sexual connection is essential to your wellbeing and the intimacy you need in your marriage. If you don't want to have sex with your partner, and you've checked out your own libido and level of desire, than there might be something brewing with your happiness factor. We generally don't want to be intimate when we don't feel some sense of joy or pleasure with the person so if you put two and two together, you'll realize it might be because you're dissatisfied with him in general.
Unhappiness in a marriage doesn't always lead to divorce but it will if you don't address what's wrong. Most marriages get pillaged and burned to the ground before help is sought, and these relationships can rarely be resuscitated. Take responsibility for your own happiness first by figuring out what you need to feel the most joy in your life and then bring that package to your partner to see if he can meet you where you are.
No one can make you happy, but your marriage is the place you live most of the time so it should definitely be a happy place.