Depressed woman laying in a fetal position on her unmade bed.

7 Signs A Woman Is Unhappy In Her Marriage

When marriage hits a dry spell, you may both feel what you can’t necessarily define, let alone explain. If you’re a husband, would you recognize the signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage? And, if you’re a wife, would you even recognize the signs in yourself?

Inevitably, the unhappiness of one partner will affect the happiness of the other partner…and the marriage itself.

Sadly, most couples wait too long — six years too long, in fact — before acknowledging their problems and getting help.

Keep in mind that every couple comes together to blend diverse personal histories into at least the appearance of a unified story in the writing.

Even if you sailed through all the phases of infatuation and dating convinced you agree on everything, reality has its own story to tell.

Your idea of happiness has been influenced by a lifetime of personal and familial experiences.

You watched your parents argue (or not), reconcile (or not), show affection (or not), forgive (or not). You absorbed — at least until you could contemplate or challenge to the contrary — their views on life, love, and happiness.

Unconsciously you formed beliefs about relationships because of what your parents modeled. You even carried those beliefs into your openness to and search for love. Marriage is wonderful. Marriage is hard. Marriage never lasts. Men are controlling. Women are too emotional.

And your spouse comes with a similar but completely unique history of influence.

So fast forward past the swooning conviction that your love was destined from the beginning of time. Skip past the wedding and honeymoon phase, your first house and first child. And zoom in on the moment you started wondering what constitutes an unhappy marriage.

What made you even wonder? Why would you start contemplating the idea of being unhappy in the context of your “destined” marriage?

For purposes of this article, our focus will be on signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage.

While there are general signs that a person or couple is in an unhappy marriage, each gender manifests those signs uniquely. That shouldn’t surprise you. After all, happy hour on Venus isn’t necessarily like happy hour on Mars.

Here, then, are 7 signs a woman is unhappy in her marriage:

  1. She stops wanting to have sex.

    OK, I’m one step ahead of you here, and I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’re a guy). She never wants to have sex anyway!

    The stereotype about men wanting sex all the time and women having a complex list of romance requisites isn’t all stereotype.

    At the same time, if a woman is noticeably closed off from sex, or even physical affection in general, she may be unhappy.

    Communication about sex is as important to a marriage as communication about children or finances. And, if a woman becomes mysteriously disinterested in physical intimacy, there is probably more going on.

    If you are that woman, are you communicating your needs, disappointments, and unhappiness?

    If you’re her husband, are you communicating concern for her needs and happiness? Or are you sulking because your own needs aren’t being met?

    For a woman, the build-up to sexual desire is rooted in communication…which leads me to the next sign of her unhappiness.

  2. She shuts down because she doesn’t feel heard.

    Hearing one another with your hearts is what makes marriage truly intimate and powerful as a healer of past wounds.

    While a man may “check out” attention-wise early into listening to his wife talk, the assumption that women talk more than men is false.

    What’s the takeaway here? If a woman senses that what she says goes in one ear and out the other, she may shut down altogether. Why bother baring your soul to someone who’s not listening anyway?

    After years with the same person, it can become easy to assume you have heard “all the stories.” You get so used to one another that you think you know all there is to know about your spouse.

    But this arrested development stunts the emotional intimacy that makes marriage not only work, but thrive. ~And, when a woman feels unheard, her motivation to be a good listener disappears.

  3. She stops taking care of herself.

    It’s very difficult to find value in all the fuss of self-care when you don’t even value yourself. And lack of value — whether from yourself or your spouse — is a short path to unhappiness.

    If a woman who once had a regular workout schedule, dressed nicely, and ate healthily suddenly “let’s herself go,” she is probably unhappy.

  4. She starts talking to male friends instead of her husband.

    Even if a woman doesn’t have sex with someone outside her marriage, being unhappy is a breeding ground for an emotional affair.

    And that’s especially true for a woman who feels unheard, unsupported, or unvalued in her marriage.

    Even if she increasingly talks or spends time with her female friends, the shift may be rooted in unhappiness.

    When her husband stops being her primary confidante, that’s a major sign a woman is unhappy in her marriage.

  5. She starts drinking more heavily.

    Alcohol consumption can be a slippery slope.

    It’s socially accepted, celebrated, and easily accessible. But it’s also sneaky. What seems like an end-of-day way to relax can become a replacement for a relationship that leaves a woman feeling alone.

    Alcohol, like other drugs, is a means of damping feelings. That “edge” she wants to take off may actually hold the key to her unhappiness…and how to reverse it.

  6. She starts having physical ailments.

    We hear it so much that we often don’t take it seriously: The body and mind are inextricably connected. And, when a person is depressed, the body suffers.

    Sleep patterns change, eating habits change, and everything hurts.

    Someone who is unhappy or depressed for a prolonged period of time may start having gastrointestinal problems, decreased vision, headaches, and chronic back pain.

    If you pay attention, the body is an articulate messenger.

  7. She wants to go to therapy.

    If she wants to go alone, she may not feel she can talk with her husband and feel heard without judgment or “fixing.” And that in and of itself can be a link to her unhappiness.

    If she wants to go with her husband, she is undoubtedly admitting her dissatisfaction and unhappiness in her marriage.

    And kudos to her for wanting to reach out to experts who help couples every day find their way back to one another.

    Whether a sign a woman is unhappy in her marriage, or an interest in strengthening what’s already good, therapy can be marriage- and life-saving.

Marriage comes with natural ebbs and flows of good times, tough times, loving, fighting, happiness, and unhappiness. It’s how (and how quickly) you handle the down times that determines the odds of each and both partners being happy or unhappy.

When a woman shows signs of being unhappy in her marriage — whether that woman is you or your wife — take compassionate action immediately. The happiness and longevity of your marriage depend on it.

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, schedule a ½ hour complimentary consultation.

Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats