If you’re feeling restless in your marriage, you may be wondering if you’re better off alone. These thoughts on dealing with restlessness in marriage are inspired by a reader who has been questioning her happiness.
In Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, Harville Hendrix shares how to create a more loving, supportive, and deeply satisfying relationship with your spouse. If you’re feeling restless in your marriage, you may not be getting the love you need.
Here’s what one reader says: “This past year, I’ve been questioning my happiness and whether I still want to be married. I’ve been feeling trapped and unhappy and missing the exciting life I had before… I feel like he loves me more then I love him. I do love him but I wonder if I’m not IN love with him. I’ve been feeling bored and I sometimes feel like I can’t be my entire self around him… I haven’t felt completely connected with him for a good year and started thinking I wanted to leave few months before his last deployment… I don’t feel passion for him – it’s like we’re just going through the motions. I don’t look forward to sex with him…. He knows I’m not completely happy right now but I’m sure it would come as a huge shock if I told him I had thoughts of leaving him. Please help me – any advice would be very much appreciated. I feel so lost right now.”
She’s 27, and has been married for two years. Her full comment is on my article How to Get Help for Your Marriage.
How to Deal With Restlessness in Marriage
I don’t give advice or offer relationship counseling, but I’m happy to share a few thoughts on what to do if you feel restless in your marriage. When I got married, I was 35 years old. I wrote 4 Reasons to Wait Until You’re 35 to Get Married because I think restlessness in marriage is more common if you get married in your 20s. Of course it depends on the person – some people get married at 18 and stay married for 60 years.
You’re not alone if you feel restless and unhappy, yet your spouse is supportive, kind, and loving! I wrote this article for a reader in the same boat: You’re Married to a Great Guy – Why Aren’t You Happy?
Signs of Restlessness in Marriage
- Feeling trapped and unhappy
- Questioning the meaning of your life
- Having affairs
- Taking out your frustrations and anger on your spouse
- Picking fights
- Being irritable
These signs of restless were all mentioned in my reader’s comment. She asked if her affair (she cheated on him once when she was drunk) was a sign that she didn’t love her husband. I don’t think so. I think cheating is a bad decision and a betrayal, but not necessarily a sign of lack of love.
Sometimes an affair can save your marriage (though I am not condoning cheating!).
Is it your marriage…or is it you?
Here’s a famous quip that is much deeper than it seems: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
It actually means that you are still YOU whether you’re married, single, living in Africa, rich, poor, fat, skinny, educated, healthy, sick, etc. The essence of you – including your problems, personality, weaknesses, strengths, memories, habits, genes – will be with you no matter where you go in the world or in your life.
The key is to figure out if your current restlessness and unhappiness is because of your marriage, or because of the existential angst we all face in life. Some of us struggle with the meaning of life more than others. And we get easily distracted by the frivolous parts of life, such as dating, traveling, sex, job jumping, drinking with friends, etc.
If your romantic life is settled – you are married and thus aren’t distracted by dating, meeting guys, sex, etc – then the more deeper, scary parts of life may be creeping in. Maybe you’re restless not because of your marriage, but because you’re questioning your life.
“Is this all there is?”
Maybe what you’re really facing is the meaning of your life. Maybe it’s not your marriage that is making you unhappy and restless…maybe it’s existential angst about the meaning and purpose of your life.
See why I don’t give advice to readers? Because there aren’t any easy answers. I don’t know you, your marriage, your past, your future…I can’t tell you if you’re wondering if you should still be married because your relationship isn’t worth saving.
Practical tips for restless marriages
I think it’s worth talking to a counselor about your marriage, your life, and your feelings. Maybe your marriage was a mistake, and you should leave. Or maybe you need to find a reason to be alive, a purpose for your existence. Your marriage is one part of your life. What about the other parts – are you connected to God, a meaningful job, people you love, animals, nature?
And, remember that marriage can be really hard. It’s a chore in many ways – it requires dedication, sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, and the ACT of love (not just sexually!). Marriage isn’t what Hollywood paints it out to be…there is no happily ever after unless you create your own.
If you’re restless and bored, read How to Know When Your Marriage is Over.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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What do you think – do you still want to be married, or is your restlessness a sign of something else you need to take care of in your life? I welcome your thoughts on restless marriages below, but I can’t offer advice or counseling.