I sometimes hear from wives who have just been hit with the hard reality that their husband is downright unhappy (or even miserable) with their marriage. This is often a blow that they never saw coming. And they are often confused about the best way to deal with the issue.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I have been married for eight years and we have two kids. I realize that the passion between us isn’t as strong as it was when we first got married. But I’m reasonably content and I thought that he was too. Last night, he confessed that he’s pretty miserable being married to me. He says that I’m an unhappy person in general and that I bring him down. He said that he’s telling me this because he wants to be honest with me. I was somewhat floored. I realize that we don’t have the best marriage, but he never seemed completely miserable like he is now claiming to be. I called my mom and we discussed this. She said that I’d better make some changes fast because no man is going to stay forever in a miserable situation, no matter how much he loves his children. She said he would find someone else, if he hasn’t already. And she confirmed that I’m occasionally moody and hard to deal with. What should I do?” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
When Things Are Somewhat Calm, Ask Your Husband For Specifics: I agreed that the wife needed to address this issue as soon as was possible. However, it was going to be hard to really fix things if she didn’t have a firm handle on what was wrong. Her husband had told her generally that he was miserable, but other than her sometimes pessimistic attitude, he hadn’t identified specific things that were contributing to his unhappiness.
So when things are somewhat calm, I’d suggest approaching him with a script that goes something like: “I want to follow up on what we discussed yesterday. Yes, it hurts me to hear you say that you’re not happy, but I’m more concerned about fixing the issue. Is there any way that you can share with me what I can do to make you feel more positive about our marriage? I am willing to take action and to make some changes, but I don’t want to guess at what are the right ones. What bothers you the most? What could I do to help you feel the most content?
You may not get an answer to every single question because men sometimes speak in general terms about hurtful topics such as this. But hopefully, after this conversation is over, you will have a better idea about what changes would be most effective.
Don’t Expect The Worst. Don’t Allow Fear To Influence Your Behaviors: This wife’s mother was feeding her all kinds of doom’s day scenarios. There was no evidence that another woman was involved, or even that another person would eventually come into the picture. Sure, an unhappy man may not stick around forever. But I believe that the husband brought her attention to the problem because he wanted to give her a chance to fix it. A man with one foot out of the door won’t often give you this kind of heads up. The fact that he was trying to be honest was, at least to me, somewhat of a good sign.
This wife admitted that she tended to have a pessimistic attitude when she was under stress. So it would be very easy for her to just give into that right now. But, I felt strongly that she should avoid this at all costs. Fear will cause you to be paranoid and to act in negative ways that will only make this worse.
Be very conscious of having the most positive attitude that you can muster. Because your husband has already pretty much told you that he’s looking for a more upbeat outlook at home. He’s already told you that you are bring him down. So you’re going to have to resist the urge to worry too far into the future. The better bet is to take each day as it comes with a smile on your face. I know that this probably isn’t in your nature. And I know that it may feel forced at first. But often, forcing yourself to focus on the positive will make you feel better and will bring about a natural, and genuine, shift in your attitude. This can only make your situation better instead of worse.
I’d like to make one final point. I know that it’s very tempting to want to defend yourself. But this can lead you to become so defensive that your husband feels that he needs to debate this. I know that it might be tempting to tell him that living with him is no picnic either and that he expects way too much out of you when you’re trying to raise your children and take care of every one but yourself.
But now is not the time to debate this. Your goal right now should be to improve things at home so much that the danger has passed. You want to bond and become deeply intimate again. Once your marriage is back on track, you can discuss and work through any issues you may have. But right now, you don’t want to add to the misery he believes that he’s feeling. You don’t want to do anything to contribute to the perception that things are really as bad as he thinks.
Also, it’s important to keep this in perspective. Sometimes, he’s unhappy in other areas in his life and he’s projecting this onto you. As unfair as that is, right now you are better off just trying to support him and keep an upbeat attitude rather than pointing out what you think might be his obvious misconceptions.