How To Survive In An Unhappy Marriage And Thrive

How to survive in an unhappy marriage

Are you stuck in a toxic marriage but can’t leave? If you’re looking for how to survive in an unhappy marriage and thrive, you’re not alone!

In a recent survey carried out by eHarmony, it was revealed that about 19 percent of Americans are unhappy in their current relationships and they’ve considered leaving their partner.

It’s normal to face ups and downs in married life. Unhappy marriages are more common than you might think, but they don’t always have to lead to divorce.

Many married couples who are unhappy have successfully found a way to cope and thrive in a failing marriage.

Being in an unhappy marriage doesn’t mean your entire world has to come to an end.

When you’re in an unhappy marriage but can’t leave, there are little things you can do to help you survive a difficult marriage.

The decision to divorce or stay together and work things out is one of the most critical decisions couples make when going through conflicts in their relationship.

Many people think that when a marriage isn’t working out, the best thing to do is to go your separate ways but not everyone is lucky to have this option.

If you’re in an unhappy marriage with kids or you’re financially dependent on your spouse, leaving your marriage may not be an easy choice to make.

Luckily, there are many couples who decide to stay and work through the rough patch with their spouse instead of filing for divorce despite the unhappiness in their marriage.

And these are the ones who often end up making positive changes in their relationship.

Before we dive into how to survive a bad marriage without divorce, let’s take a look at the top unhappy marriage signs most people experience.

Unhappy marriage signs

There are several telltale signs of a failing marriage that are easy to spot if you look closely. Some common reasons for a couple to become distanced include:

Financial problems

Maltreatment of children

Work-related problems

Lack of communication

Lack of respect between partners

Infidelity, trauma, or loss

Verbal, emotional or physical abuse

No feelings for each other 

Incompatibility or lack of common goals

Unmet expectations

Being in an unhappy marriage can feel like your worst nightmare but it is possible to work things out and stay married to your spouse in most circumstances.

However, if there is any case of domestic violence or abuse in any form, it is wise to opt for separation or divorce and seek professional help as soon as possible.

Don’t think that you can sort this out all by yourself by staying with an abusive partner.

For the sake of your mental health and emotional well-being, it’s important that you work with a certified therapist who is qualified to provide the tools and support you need to survive an abusive relationship.

How to survive in an unhappy marriage and thrive


For many couples, staying together is the best option because of children, financial constraints, religious stigma, companionship and hope that things will improve.

However, there are several consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage which include:

Being neglected by your spouse, chronic depression and panic attacks, not feeling loved or wanted, little or no intimacy, constant criticism and verbal insults from your spouse, lack of true happiness and many other unforeseeable circumstances.

A healthy marriage requires commitment and constant effort, just like every other relationship.

You have to be prepared to practice a lot of patience when you decide not to call it quits and give your relationship a try.

At this point, it’s normal for you to think that it’s the end of the road for your marriage because you have been unhappy together for an extended period of time.

You may feel as if you can’t do anything right because your spouse is constantly criticizing you or blaming you for a lot of things that are not your fault.

You may even suffer from depression because both of you can’t get along without arguing. Whatever feelings or pain you’re struggling with right now, know that you’re not alone!

Many people have stayed in unhappy marriages and survived so it’s not an impossible task.

If you genuinely care about your spouse and you’re willing to put in more effort to make things work even if it’s hard, your marriage can get better.

Remember, healthy relationships don’t happen overnight. You will have to make the effort with conviction and determination.

If you’re unsure of what to do in an unhappy marriage, here are some tips to help you overcome the challenges and survive an unhappy relationship with your spouse.

1. Spend some time apart

If you don’t want to end your marriage, it might be helpful to spend some time apart from each other.

Giving your spouse a little distance provides you the chance to reflect and contemplate on the situation at hand.

It’s important to practice detachment at this time so you can have enough emotional space to think things through.

This moderate detachment would also give you the chance to regain your independence and reduce any bad behaviors that may have led to your miserable marriage.

Spending quality time away from your spouse will help you realize the importance of each other or even allow you to see where you stand in each other’s lives.

If you’re a Christian, use this time apart to turn to God, meditate on his Word and remind him of his promises for your life.

Unhappy marriage support group

2. Seek therapy or counseling

Not all marriages are built to last for a lifetime. However, when it comes to the point when you no longer remember why you married your spouse, it is advisable to seek professional help.

A certified therapist would help you see things through non-confrontational and non-judgemental ways.

They would also give you honest feedback regarding your own behavior and approach the situation in a more productive way.

If one of the partners is indulging in problematic behavior, a marriage counselor will teach you how to deal with their toxic habits and other marital problems you may have.

No matter how toxic your relationship has become, it is possible to mend it with couples therapy.


3. Join a support group for unhappy couples

You don’t have to feel lonely and left out in a bad marriage. The good news is, you are not the only one in an unhappy relationship.

There are a lot of couples who are also struggling to keep their marriage afloat amidst challenges.

To ensure your sanity during this tough time, you need to be heard and supported by people who understand what you’re going through.

Joining an unhappy marriage support group will allow you to meet people suffering from similar problems.

Being alone in a toxic marriage can be an overwhelming feeling especially if you have no one to talk to.

When you connect with like-minded people, you’ll be motivated to stay married and keep working on your marriage even during unhappy moments.

You can also find different ways to deal with issues you face with your spouse from a different perspective.

And most importantly, these support groups will allow you to feel less sorry about your marriage and even give you tips on how to survive in an unhappy marriage.

If you want to connect with supportive people and have access to resources for troubled marriages, here is a list of online support groups you can join right away.

How to live in a unhappy marriage

4. Be nice to each other

Treating each other respectfully is important in an unhappy marriage especially if you’re hoping to have a loving relationship in the future.

When you’re experiencing relationship problems, you can easily fall into bad habits and forget how you should treat each other which can be annoying at times.

Instead of constantly arguing and addressing each other with hostility, try to be more considerate and pleasant.

Let go of any unrealistic expectations you may have in your marriage and have an open mind when you interact with your spouse.

Try to focus on positive aspects of your partner that are likeable and refrain from engaging in constant criticism or playing the blame game.

If you want to repair your relationship, aim to be more mindful of how you act when you’re around your spouse and work on creating a peaceful environment for both of you.

When you treat your partner nicely, they would be more inclined to react positively to your kindness and reciprocate the same behavior.

5. Focus on yourself

When you’re in an unhealthy marriage, it may be tempting to focus on your spouse’s behavior instead of working on creating your own happiness.

Unfortunately, you can’t treat another person appropriately if you aren’t kind to yourself.

The first step to building a healthy relationship is to carve out time for yourself and do what makes you happy on a regular basis.

We, as human beings, quickly tend to lose ourselves in matters of life and neglect our wellbeing.

So instead of feeling lonely and sorry for yourself – engage in fun activities for your enjoyment and personal happiness.

Go to a spa, spend some time with your friends, read your favorite book, watch a movie or start a new hobby.

If you’re looking for how to be happy in an unhappy marriage, remember to practice regular self-care and shower yourself with unconditional love.

Giving yourself the love, care, and attention you deserve will make your marriage happier and more fulfilling. 

This is because when you approach your spouse with a positive mindset, they will reciprocate your positive vibes and respond in a pleasant manner.

Happy couple lying on the couch

6. Remember the good times 

When you’re in an unhappy marriage, you’ll be tempted to think of all the bad times and every wrong thing your partner has done.

Reflecting on the negative memories of your marriage will only lead to deeper resentments and rage which will drive you further apart.

If you want to mend your broken relationship, think of the good times you spent with your partner instead of focusing on how bad your marriage has become.

A good way to bring back pleasurable memories is to reflect on the moment you first fell in love with each other and the early stages of dating.

As a new couple, you must have taken time out for each other from your busy schedules just because you wanted to be together.

You paid attention to each other, made plans for the future, and even changed some of your habits to suit each other.

As a result of the unconditional love you had for each other, you sought each other’s happiness and wellbeing before anything else.

You were also ready to make compromises to maintain your romantic relationship. Your kind and loving gestures were the reason you got married in the first place.

Now that you’re going through a rough patch, don’t just dwell on the unhappy times – remember the happy days to keep your love alive.

Thinking about the good old days is one of the best ways to renew your love each other.

7. Stay calm and sober

Many couples argue frequently and use alcohol to chase away the pain of being in a toxic marriage but doing this will put a wedge between you.

It is easy for a simple discussion to turn into a heated argument when you are in an unhappy relationship with your spouse.

You tend to say things that you usually don’t mean and might regret later especially if you’ve been drinking excessively.

So, the best thing to do under such circumstances is to stay sober and avoid conflicts as much as possible.

Move to the guest room, take some time to calm down, and reassess the situation with a cooler temperament rather than arguing endlessly.

Taking a step back in such a tense atmosphere will save your marriage a lot of trouble.

Moreover, putting yourself together and seeing the whole situation from another perspective will probably be less frustrating for you.

If you’re battling with chronic depression or PTSD because of your unhappy marriage, talk to an online therapist and get the support you need to get your life back.

How to thrive in a bad marriage

8. Reconnect and communicate with your spouse

Lack of healthy communication is one of the common reasons for an unhappy marriage.

Marriage becomes a burden once you lose the emotional connection you previously shared with your spouse.

On many occasions, you may even struggle to have a simple conversation without it transforming into an argument.

If your marriage has come down to this stage, it’s time to reconnect and respark the passion with your spouse.

Having communication issues doesn’t have to signal the end of a marriage.

If you’ve grown apart, try to regain the strong emotional connection you once had. Share your thoughts openly, address issues as they arise, try to be honest and vulnerable with your spouse.

Engage in activities that you both enjoy doing together such as taking a walk, playing board games, or even meeting your old friends.

Plan romantic movie nights or a long drive as part of your mini dates to reconnect with each other.

Even if there is no physical intimacy and you’re in a sexless marriage, doing little romantic things together will go a long way in increasing your emotional intimacy and making your marriage work.


9. Resolve your issues one step at a time

You might face multiple issues in your marriage, but you can’t address all of them at once.

You need to take it one step at a time in order to resolve your issues and build a strong foundation for your marriage.

As a married couple, it is understandable to be overwhelmed with finances, children, and household chores but juggling everything at once is a recipe for burnt out.

Try to fix your problems one at a time through communication and co-operation with your partner.

It would lead to a better solution and give you a chance to talk in a more calm environment.

Couple not talking to each other

10. Work on your negative feelings

Having negative feelings is normal if you live in an unhappy marriage for a long time. It may get to a point where you begin to resent your partner.

You need to understand that relationships are complicated. Keeping your feelings locked up in your heart would only make things worse and even lead to a toxic relationship.

The best way to build a lasting marriage is to discuss problems as soon as they arise instead of leaving them to fester for a long time.

If you find it difficult to talk to your spouse about your feelings, work on improving your communication skills so you can have better conversations.

It is essential to express your feelings if you want to be together and revive your loveless marriage.

Most relationships fall apart because couples refuse to admit their feelings or seek help from a licensed counselor who is qualified to provide solutions to their marriage problems.

if you’re looking for how to thrive in an unhappy marriage, try to deal with your negative feelings as soon as possible.

Surviving in an unhappy marriage can be challenging. If you have made up your mind to stay married, you need to be patient with yourself and your spouse.

Things will not change overnight; it may even take months or years before you can see some positive change.

The most important thing to remember when trying to build a long-term relationship is that you will achieve good results as long as you’re both willing to keep making the effort.

Don’t forget to focus on yourself while you are dealing with a bad marriage. Do everything you can to improve your mental and physical health.

As you work to improve your marriage, you will find out that your partner is becoming more loving towards you.

They may also start to acknowledge your efforts and respond with deep love which will help to improve your marriage.

Whatever the outcome may be, remember that everything will be worth it in the end so keep working to fix your marital problems.

It will take some time to get out of your current situation but you will get there!

If you need professional help at any time in your journey, don’t hesitate to consult a certified family therapist.

Research shows that couples who work with marriage therapists have a higher chance of saving their relationship than others who refuse help.

Don’t wait until matters get out of hand before you seek professional help. The best time to go for online therapy and counseling is in the heat of the moment before everything escalates.

Another vital point to remember when you’re going through challenges is to stay faithful to your partner even if there is little or no intimacy.

If you’re in an unhappy marriage and cheating, it’s going to be more difficult to repair your broken marriage when your spouse finds out that you’re sleeping with someone else.

No matter what happens, stay faithful to your partner and keep working to rebuild your marriage if that’s what you really want.

How to survive a bad marriage and thrive

Recommended Reading:

10 Obvious Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage

How To Communicate With Your Husband Without Fighting

10 Best Tips On How To Fix A Sexless Marriage

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.

As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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