These five ideas for being happy in a marriage without love will strengthen and heal your heart. I also share tips for wives who can’t say “I love you” to their husbands. You’d be surprised at how many women stay married to unhappy husbands, abusive partners, indifferent men, unloving spouses! You may be even more surprised how many wives are unloving toward their husbands.
Some wives have good reasons for staying in relationships without love. Other wives don’t need their husbands to love them because they’ve learned how to be happy without love. These tips are for wives who feel trapped, who are living in a loveless marriage but can’t leave their husbands for compelling reasons.
Walking away from any relationship – no matter how unhealthy or unhappy it is – is painful. Staying in a loveless marriage is just as difficult. If you can’t or don’t want to leave your husband, you need to find ways to be happy where you are. Some wives stay in loveless marriages while saving money to leave – as you can see in the comments section of my blog post about how to leave your husband when you have no money. Other women don’t have the energy or motivation to think about living, which is why they’re searching for help finding happiness with their husbands.
These ideas for being happy in a loveless marriage are based on the reasons you’re staying married. If you examine the reasons you can’t or won’t leave your husband, you’ll be in a better position to find happiness. Understanding why you’re choosing to stay in a loveless marriage will help you find ways to be content and even fulfilled where you are.
It’s important to remember that you – and your husband – are both making choices. You are both choosing to stay married without love. You’re both choosing to remain in the same house, living under the same roof as husband and wife, even though you know you don’t feel as happy or loved as you’d like.
It’s important to decide that you’re choosing to stay married because that empowers you to choose to be happy.
How to Be Happy in a Loveless Marriage – 5 Ideas
In this article, I describe the most common reasons a woman chooses to stay in a loveless marriage. It’s not an easy choice to make! In fact, choosing to stay married to a husband who doesn’t express love can be the most courageous decision a woman can make.
Living with a difficult husband who treats you badly is demoralizing, disheartening, and demeaning. A loveless marriage isn’t just an unhappy relationship; it can kill your spirit and deaden your heart. Unfortunately, there aren’t any easy tips to be happy in a marriage that isn’t loving, but you can look elsewhere for happiness, fulfillment, and meaning.
1. Look at your fear of what people think
“I want to leave my marriage but the thought of that is too terrifying,” writes a reader on How to Break Free From a Controlling Relationship. “I would be all alone and what would people say?”
It’s normal to care what people say and think about you – especially if you’ve been unhappily married for a long time. The opinions of our friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and even our hairdressers matter. We feel sorry for and even pity couples whose marriages ended in divorce or separation. We don’t want to be subject of other people’s gossip, criticism, or judgments.
To find happiness, you need to discern the reasons you’re staying married to a man who doesn’t love you – or who you don’t love. Maybe you’re scared of losing your house, retirement savings, or even your children. Maybe you’re worried about living alone, about starting over with nothing. Different women stay in loveless marriages for different reasons…have you figured out the root reasons you’re staying? A root reason is the underlying issue, something that is hard to admit to yourself and others.
2. Challenge yourself to stop being “the good wife”
Girls are often taught not to make waves – to be demure, kind, polite, and avoid confrontation at all costs. This could be the number one reason why women stay in loveless marriages: they don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker or a disrupter of the family. Even deeper, they don’t want to hurt their children, disrupt their parents, and destroy existing friendships.
“I have gone back and forth in my marriage so many times, I’ve finally realized it’s never going to work and I need to just stay away,” says a reader on What to Consider When You’re Thinking About Reconciling After a Separation. “I always thought of myself as the “good”, “polite” and “cooperative” girl. That was the role I played in my family of origin.”
To survive a loveless marriage, give yourself permission not to be responsible for the happiness of everyone around you. You may not have to leave your husband to be happy – but you do have to find and do things that bring joy and fulfillment to your life. Don’t let your marriage have the last say. Maybe this means leaving your loveless marriage; maybe it means asking your husband for what you need. How are you a “good girl”? What do you need to break free from?
3. Look for healthy reasons to hope your marriage will become loving again
Are you hoping your marriage – or your husband – will change? Healthy hope is healthy and encouraging; it is based on reality and truth. Unhealthy hope is unhealthy and toxic; it is founded on deception and ignorance.
I lived in with unhealthy hope for months at one point in my life. I stayed in a loveless relationship with a boyfriend who wasn’t good for me. I kept hoping he’d get nicer, want to work on our relationship, and start treating me with love and respect. When I think back on how bad our relationship was, I cringe! I can’t believe I stayed with him for so long. I didn’t respect him and didn’t enjoy introducing him to my friends. Why did I stay in that relationship? I hoped he’d change. What saved me from falling into a loveless marriage? He broke up with me.
Is the hope you have for your marriage healthy, or is it unhealthy? Read 5 Signs It’s Time to Give Up Hope for Your Relationship.
4. Consider the alternatives to surviving a loveless marriage
You’ve stayed married this long for reasons that make sense to you. If you know you can’t or don’t want to leave your husband – and you want to be happy – then you must choose to focus on the benefits of your marriage.
But if you haven’t chosen to stay in your marriage and you resent the fact that you’re searching for tips on how to be happy with a husband who doesn’t love you, then you need to examine your options. You do have options…it’s just that they’re unpleasant, uncomfortable, and even painful. Leaving a loveless marriage involves being honest with yourself and your husband. You’ll also have to face your family, friends, and coworkers. You’ll have to face your own fears, feel like the “bad person”, and maybe even be seen as the one who ripped the family apart. That’s why many women stay in loveless marriages: it’s easier to stay in an unhappy relationship than it is to leave.
5. Look for help surviving a loveless marriage
Read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope by Leslie Vernick.
Women in an emotionally abusive or loveless marriage do not need another book on how to have a good relationship. “Those books rub salt in raw wounds,” says Dee Brestin, author of The Friendships of Women. “No, they desperately need this book so that they can diagnose just how bad their marriage is and then, with Leslie’s clear expertise, develop a plan that will either begin to turn their marriage around…or give them a wise route of escape.”
If your husband is physically, mentally, sexually, financially or emotionally unhealthy you, then you’re not just in a loveless marriage. You’re being abused. Read How to Leave an Abusive Relationship.
Perhaps the best tip on how to survive a loveless marriage is to keep reminding yourself why you’re choosing to stay. You have good reasons – and the pain of leaving is worse than the pain of staying. Focus on the benefits and blessings of being married, and pursue healthy relationships that bring you joy.
3 Thoughts for Wives Who Can’t Say “I Love You”
I originally wrote this article for wives who are living in loveless marriages and can’t leave their husbands. Then a husband commented on Coping With a Difficult Husband Who Treats You Badly. He said his wife is difficult, critical, unhappy, and depressed. She doesn’t just “not love” him, treats him badly. He stays in his loveless marriage because he worries about what might happen to his kids if he left.
Are you living in a loveless marriage because you can’t tell your husband you love him? Here are a few things to think about…
1. When did you stop saying “I love you” to your husband?
The longer the marriage, the more layers of complexity. The more complicated the relationship, the easier it is to blame the other for the problems and conflict. But, if you can think back to the turning point in your marriage, you might find clues that to help you and your husband reconnect. Where did your marriage start slipping into lovelessness? How long have you and your husband lived without love? If you can look at your own actions and words, you might find insight into yourself. And that might ease the pain of living in a loveless marriage.
2. Define what a loving marriage means to you
Does your husband realize you’re living in a marriage without love? How does he feel about you and your life together? What does a loving marriage look like to you and your husband? If you can get clear and honest about how it feels to survive a loveless marriage instead of be truly, happily committed to your husband, you might inch a step closer to him. If he doesn’t know what you need to feel loved, how can he love you? And if you don’t know what you need to love your husband, you can’t love him.
3. Learn your “love language”
“My wife’s love language is ‘acts of service,’” writes bestselling author and psychologist Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. “One of the things I do for her regularly as an act of love is to vacuum the floors. Do you think this comes naturally for me? You couldn’t pay me enough to vacuum the house. There is only one reason I do it: LOVE. You see, when it doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love.”
The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts.
If you’re tired of living in a loveless marriage, you may have to take additional steps to reconnect with your husband. You may need to take the risk of saying “I love you” even when he isn’t loving you the way you need or want. You may even have to do more work to strengthen your relationship – especially if you don’t want to just survive a marriage without love.
To learn more about different types of love in relationships, read Examples of Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages.
What do you hope for in your marriage? Knowing what you want can help keep your hope alive. If the embers of hope are still burning in your heart, you won’t just be living in or surviving a loveless marriage. You’ll be living with something stronger and bigger than you – a hope that can change the way you act and feel. This might give you the power you need to save your marriage.