Many people are in unhappy marriages. From a man’s perspective, many men feel their wives do not care about them as a person or the marriage. They believe their wives deem the children, their job, church activities, or education more important than the marriage and do not specifically work to establish a healthy marriage.
Decades may go by, and the couple in an unhappy marriage may still be physically together, i.e., living in the same house but living separate lives. The man feels as though his wife has abandoned or rejected him, no longer truly loves him the way he wants to be loved, nor does she desire him enough to pursue a happy marriage. Likewise, the wife may feel her husband takes her for granted and is not really interested in her as a person but in what she does, e.g., cooking, cleaning, etc.
If an unhappy marriage is not resolved, then the question becomes whether one should stay in an unhappy marriage. Should I try to salvage the rest of my life by divorcing my spouse and pursuing a life without marriage or with someone else?
Should I stay in an unhappy marriage?
What is Marriage?
What is marriage anyway? What did God intend marriage to be? I think people’s answer to those questions is the basis for their marriage problems. People tend not to discover what marriage is or what their mate feels about it. People tend to go into marriage blindly, thinking that love is enough.
First, let’s see what the Bible says about marriage.
Genesis 2:20–24 (NASB95) — 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
God made a wife for Adam because he was alone, and there was no companion for him as even the animals had. Therefore, God brought the woman to Adam to be his companion. God intended marriage to be companionship.
What does marriage mean to you, and what does it mean to your spouse? Many people get married because they are in love and have no idea what it will take to maintain a healthy marriage relationship. They have expectations their spouse is unaware of and become unhappy when those expectations aren’t met.
This is why a couple must talk about their expectations in marriage. That will help them avoid misunderstandings later in the relationship.
Happiness and Marriage
Marriage is about companionship, not happiness. It is not the job of your spouse to make you happy. Guys. It is not the responsibility of your wife to make you happy. However, I would suspect that every person who gets married expects their spouse to be a source of happiness, pleasure, and fulfillment.
I doubt if anyone goes into a marriage not expecting to have some happiness because of it. Often, we are unhappy not because our spouse is a bad person or the like. We are unhappy because our spouse is not meeting a specific need, expectation, or desire we have. That unhappiness grows into contempt, resentment, and sometimes hostility until, in some cases, it results in divorce or separation.
A man might be unhappy with his wife and marriage because of the following and more.
- She refuses to have sex with me
- She rejects me
- She doesn’t respect me
- She is a horrible cook
- She doesn’t clean
- She doesn’t work with me
- She’s not interested in the things that I am
One problem I observed is that people get married for the wrong reasons and are later blindsided by the above discoveries and more. Entering marriage should be taken much more seriously, in my opinion. A survey indicated that most people get married because of love. My father told me long ago that love is not a good reason to get married. Love will often fade, especially when the couple does not work to keep the flame going.
See my ebook, “What happens to Love in Marriage,” for much more information about love in marriage.
Marriage was not designed to make you happy. You are responsible for your own happiness, not your spouse’s. If you want to be happy, do those things that would bring happiness to you. If you want your spouse to contribute to your happiness, work together with them to gain some of that. Try to resolve the issues between you and work to have a marriage that you are happy about.
When you relieve your spouse from making you happy and pursue your own happiness, you open the door to reasonable expectations for your spouse and marriage.
Work on Yourself
Work on yourself. How can you create a better version of yourself? What can you do to increase your value to those around you, e.g., your job, community, business, church, etc.? Perhaps you could pursue a dream you’ve had for a long time. Maybe you could learn a programming language. Whatever! Just work to make yourself a better person on your terms.
Don’t try to better yourself based on what someone else says. Be your own man or woman and take control of your life. Pursue what you want, not what someone else thinks you should want.
You might argue that you’ve done that, and your spouse is still someplace else in the relationship. Unfortunately, we can’t make someone love us or do something. Not even God can do that because he gives us free will. You may try all you want to be a better person, but your spouse may still show that they do not care.
A man may work to be a better husband and father. He may learn about marriage, women’s psyche, and more in an attempt to improve his marriage, only to find that his wife doesn’t respond. She continues to do the same things that bring him grief and stress. What now?
Should I Leave My Unhappy Marriage?
I’m sure you’ve heard you should remove toxic people from your lives. To obtain success, you should surround yourself with successful people. That may mean you get new friends, new acquaintances, and a new network of people. That may also mean that you have to remove some people from your life who are holding you back or have a negative impact on you accomplishing your goals.
However, what if one of those toxic or negative people you are told to remove from your life is your spouse? What if you desire your wife to work with you in business, but she never engages? What if the companionship you want from your spouse goes unmet? Should you remove your spouse from your life?
I don’t know the definitive answer to that question. However, my personal opinion is that if your conscience is clear after trying to restore your marriage and resolve issues and unrealistic or improper expectations, you might decide to end it. Why be married to someone that is undoubtedly not your companion? I’m not suggesting that you jump ship as soon as there is a disagreement or negative experience in the relationship. However, if all of your efforts over the years have not produced at least a functional marriage, then perhaps your spouse has already left the building, so to speak.
Paul said that if an unbelieving spouse leaves, let them leave. It would be difficult for an unbeliever and a believer to be good companions in marriage. They will have different worldviews and priorities. To be sure, it was never God’s intention for marriages to end in divorce. However, many times it happens.
People come to a point where they have had enough of an unhappy marriage. Their spouse doesn’t seem to care, and they get nothing much from the relationship, not even companionship. I believe such a marriage is already over. You can’t force a person, i.e., your spouse, to be reasonable.
I’ve encountered men who said they tried to work on themselves and their marriages for years, but their wives don’t seem to care. She refuses to be affectionate with her husband. She constantly rejects him and disrespects him. Eventually, the man will say, “Enough is enough. I’m out.” The same for women. She may do all she can to be affectionate and caring, only to be constantly abused and taken advantage of by her husband.
Sometimes all hope is lost in a marriage, and one or both decides to call it quits, i.e., divorce. They choose to leave their unhappy marriage in hopes of finding happiness elsewhere.
Now, you don’t need to get divorced to look for happiness elsewhere (I’m not referring to infidelity). As I mentioned previously, make yourself happy. Spend time doing those things that bring you pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment. Perhaps a happier you will rub off on your spouse.
Should you leave an unhappy marriage? I can’t answer that question for you. However, whatever you do, make sure your conscience is clear. Make sure you are not the problem in the marriage. Do all you can to make things better by making yourself better. Always communicate with your spouse to resolve any issues. Sometimes misunderstanding is the culprit to the frustrations in the relationship.
Pray to God for wisdom and help. Remember, he wants you to have a successful marriage. He wants a wife to be her husband’s companion. So, you’ve already got God on your side. Take advantage of that. Remain committed to your marriage and do all you can to make it work.
If, after doing all you can, it is still a broken marriage, then perhaps it is time to end it because it has already fallen apart. A wife who consistently rejects her husband is abandoning the marriage. A husband who continues to reject his wife is also abandoning the marriage. If they have already left, you might wonder why you are still hanging around.
Whether you leave or stay, the decision is yours. I encourage you to do everything possible to make it better before throwing in the towel. An unhappy but functional marriage may be better than the problems resulting from a divorce.
It would be nice if there were a survey you could take to know if you should leave an unhappy marriage. However, there isn’t. What you do in an unhappy marriage is up to you. Some people stay, and some divorce.
I think it is essential to realize that marriage is not about making you happy. It is about companionship, first and foremost. Therefore, ensure your own happiness by doing the things that you enjoy. You will probably do it without your spouse’s involvement, so don’t expect it. It is your expectations that sometimes cause you much grief anyway.
Try to work things out the best you can. If your spouse has no desire to work on the marriage to improve it, then perhaps she has already ended it. Marriage is not defined by a piece of paper, i.e., the marriage certificate. It is defined by the commitment of both husband and wife. If one leaves the marriage by rejecting their spouse, you might consider ending it.
Ensure that your conscience is clear. Do all you can to improve the marriage. If nothing works and you decide to move on, you can honestly say that you tried everything, even prayer and asking God for wisdom. The fact of the matter is you cannot change the heart of your spouse. If they do not care about the marriage, they do not care about you.
So, it’s not solely about a happy marriage or not. It is a matter of companionship as defined by the couple. How is your spouse your companion? How are you a companion to your spouse? If there hasn’t been a companionship for years or decades, I would say there is no true marriage. It has already ended. Remaining together is just legality or a façade.
When have you tolerated enough? Your spouse doesn’t seem to care, and you cannot muster the energy to care anymore. You have been unhappy for a long time and are tired of it. Should you leave or stay? The decision is yours. No one can make it for you. Just think long and hard about what you do because you surely do not want to cause even more pain.
Above all, pursue your own happiness and make it your responsibility, not your spouse’s.
Save My Marriage
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