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What to Do When You’re Stuck in an Unhappy Marriage

If you don’t deal with your unhappy marriage now, you’ll get unhappier and unhealthier as time goes by. Soon, instead of searching for what to do when you’re unhappily married, you’ll be looking for marriage counselors or – even worse – divorce lawyers.

One of my most popular She Blossoms articles is How to Be Happy in a Loveless Marriage. Living as an unhappy wife is more common that you realize. Struggling with lack of love, shallow or nonexistent intimacy, and emotional disconnection is part of being married. Happily married couples learn how to work through the dry, boring, loveless seasons of marriage. 

Unhappily married women, on the other hand, allow their feelings to dictate their choices. They fall into the trap of believing their marriage won’t change and they won’t ever find happiness as a wife. Worse, some unhappy wives create serious problems in other people’s relationships and lives. That’s the bad news — but I have good news! I have tips for coping when you’re unhappily married to an unhealthy or even abusive husband.


The most important thing to remember is you can’t change your husband. Despite this, you still have power! You can change how you respond to your relationship with him — and to your life in general. How you respond and the choices you make have the power to change your marriage from unhappy to happier.

But you can’t do it alone. If you sincerely want to know what to do when you’re unhappily married, you need to draw God’s love, strength and energy. Nobody creates a truly happy marriage without help from the strongest, most powerful source of love in the universe.

3 Tips for Unhappy Wives

Have you heard of Potiphar’s wife? She wasn’t just unhappy, she was unhealthy and destructive. She tried different ways to find happiness outside her marriage, but nothing worked. We see glimpses of ourselves in her story, which is found in Genesis 39.

This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my tips on becoming a happy wife. Just keep an open mind! Listen to the still small voice that brought you here. Remember that new beginnings blossom from tiny seeds. This article — What to Do When You Are Unhappily Married — is one of those seeds.

1. Identify three possible causes of your unhappiness

Genesis 39 doesn’t tell us much about Potiphar’s wife but we know she isn’t a happy woman. Not only was she attracted to Joseph, she kept trying to break her marriage vows. She was willing to cheat on her husband, sleep with Joseph, and jeopardize his job and her marriage. Potiphar’s wife was deeply unhappy and possibly lonely. She was willing to destroy other people’s lives to get what she wanted. She thought that sleeping with Joseph would make her happy — and it wasn’t simply to have sex. Joseph was well-built, handsome, and in charge of the whole house. Potiphar’s wife was searching for happiness in the chase, excitement, and conquest of an affair.

Unhappy Wives Unhappily Married Genesis 39
What to Do When You’re Unhappily Married

Why are you unhappily married? Consider both internal and external causes. For example, internally maybe you expected more from marriage or aren’t willing to examine your own issues. Externally, perhaps your husband is distant or addicted to video games. Maybe your religious husband cheated on you and you never thought you’d be healing from an affair in a Christian marriage. Perhaps you rushed into the wedding and married a man you don’t really know. Maybe you’re an unhappy wife because you don’t have kids – and you don’t know how to be happy even though you’re childless. Take time to write down three possible reasons your marriage is unhappy.

2. Consider the simple solutions first

Cheating on your husband — even if you are unhappily married — is not a simple solution. Affairs are destructive and painful. Potiphar’s wife didn’t cheat on her husband with Joseph, but there’s a good chance she had affairs with other men. Joseph wouldn’t sleep with her so she lied to her servants and to her husband. Potiphar was furious and imprisoned Joseph. Was Potiphar’s wife happy after that? She wrecked their smooth household life, ruined Potiphar’s perspective of Joseph, and allowed Joseph to go to jail even though he was an innocent man. Lying and destroying good things does not bring peace, joy, freedom, or happiness to anyone.

You identified the causes of your unhappy marriage. Now, what are two or three simple solutions? Unhappily married wives often rush into “Should I get a divorce?” or “I want to leave my husband but I have nowhere to go.” Instead of focusing on the big dramatic changes, start small and simple. What brings peace, joy, fulfillment and happiness into your life? Start small, with sprinkles of joy and splashes of light. I can’t tell you how to be happy — but I can tell you who makes me happy! My “small” things include reading about God, hugging my dogs, walking backwards up hills and writing for She Blossoms. What little things make you happy? Start there.

3. Consider the changes you might make in your marriage 

Genesis 39 doesn’t tell us much about Potiphar’s wife, much less their marriage or family life. We don’t know if she could change anything about her husband or married life. We don’t know if she tried to save their marriage in the past, or if they were living in a loveless relationship or marriage of convenience. We do know that Hebrew women didn’t have much choice regarding who they married or where they lived…but they had more power than we realize. Look at how much power Potiphar’s wife had! She had Joseph thrown in jail for years, she disrupted the whole household, and she infuriated her husband. She had power to change her marriage — and so do you.

What changes can you make in your marriage — and your life? Don’t be a helpless, unhappy victim of a wife. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are powerless to change your life or be happy again. Do not lose your sense of self, your memories of what it was like to be a happy woman, or your hopes and dreams for the future! You can make changes in your life. First, you have to figure out what changes are within your power. You can’t change your husband, but you can change how you respond to him. You can’t change how your husband talks to you, nor can you create closeness or intimacy. But you can learn how to work through emotional disconnection in marriage.

May you find courage and wisdom, strength and freedom as you consider what to do when you’re unhappily married. I pray for healing and love to enter your life in new ways, and for you to turn to God for the help you need. I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you, and for the Holy Spirit to descend on you and your marriage in a fresh way. May you find joy and a deep sense of meaning as you walk through this season…and may the love that surpasses all understanding bring you more than happiness. May it bring light, love, and life. Amen, amen, and amen.

Your thoughts — big and little — are welcome below!


With His love,

Laurie

P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.


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1 thought on “What to Do When You’re Stuck in an Unhappy Marriage”

  1. I am 58 and have 3 grown children, they are my joy. However my husband and I have grown apart, we don’t
    go anywhere together unless it’s to the store. The last 3 years I have gone to my daughter’s I Reno for Christmas. He plays video games and whatches porn on his laptops. We have not slept together or even in the same bed for 10 years.I really want out of this marriage, he control’s all the money and only gives me enough to do what I need anytime I ask for some money. I dont5 know how to get out. I pray to God on a daily basis.
    If you have any tips for me I am open to them.
    He is controlling but not abusive.
    Thank you
    Jeanne

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