Your wife says she isn’t happy, and hasn’t been for years. How do you increase the intimacy and love in your marriage? By stepping back and taking an objective look at your relationship.
Here’s what Ben (not his real name) says:
“My wife came home from a trip two months ago and told me that she was not happy, and had not been for several years. I was floored, but after thinking about it, I completely understood. She has been gone so much over the last four years. I became depressed, and not a very good support system for her. I realize that she always loved me, but she was gone so often that and for so long that she says we lost our connection and never got it back. Since she told me she was unhappy, I did a lot of soul searching and made a lot of changes. But, she says she doesn’t know what she wants anymore. She assured me there is nobody else, just that life is too short to be unhappy and she doesn’t know what to do to be happy again.” – from How to be a Good Husband to Your Wife.
First, Ben deserves kudos for reaching out for help and advice – and for going for marriage counseling! I didn’t include his whole comment here, but in his original comment he says he’s in counseling even though his wife is working overseas.
Not many husbands search the internet for what to do when their wives aren’t happy, much less share their stories and ask for help. So if you’re a husband who wants to increase intimacy and love in your marriage, I tip my hat to you.
Do you regret the break up? It's not too late... How to Get Your Ex Back
Even if you can’t make your wife happy, you are learning how to be a better man.
When Your Wife Isn’t Happy – 6 Ways to Increase Intimacy and Love
Validate her feelings
That’s a fancy way of saying listen and try to understand where your wife is coming from. One of the best things you can do for your wife is listen closely without dismissing her needs and feelings, or defending your own actions.
But don’t listen silently! I hate when my husband doesn’t respond when I share my feelings and thoughts. It makes me wonder if he’s asleep, bored, or thinking about his zodiac. Now, he’s learned to say, “I don’t know what to say. I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know how to respond.” That makes me feel much better than if he just listened silently.
So, husbands, if your wife isn’t happy, don’t try to convince her of anything. Just listen and repeat back what she says to you. Try to understand where she’s coming from.
Make sure you understand why your wife isn’t happy
Ben understands why his wife isn’t happy: she was working away from home a lot, he became depressed and controlling, and they lost the intimacy and love in their marriage. He seems to be clear on why she’s unhappy, which is great.
If you aren’t sure why your wife is unhappy – or even if you think you know why she’s unhappy – I encourage you to talk to her about it. Put her unhappiness in your own words. Ask her to listen while you verbalize why you thinks she’s not happy, and ask her for confirmation or further explanation.
This is part of validating her feelings, because it’s you trying to understand her. That in itself will increase the intimacy and love in your marriage; it shows her that you care.
If you think there’s no hope of increasing intimacy and love, read Marriage Crisis – Surviving When You Have Nothing Left.
If your wife won’t tell you why she’s unhappy…
Sociologist Linda Nilson recommends asking your wife’s friends and family why she isn’t happy with your marriage. “Ask her close friends,” she writes in How to Keep Your Woman — And Keep Her the Way You Love Her. “Ask her mother or sister if you’re on speaking terms with them. Take notes. Be completely open to all you hear. Just take it in. Don’t argue or otherwise defend yourself.”
Try to see your marriage – and your own behavior – from your wife’s point of view. The more you understand where she’s coming from, the greater your chances of increasing intimacy and love in your marriage.
Give her time and space
“Don’t chase her – you’ll just chase her further away,” writes Nilson in How to Keep Your Woman. “The more desperately you want to get her back, the less you should let her know it. Act like you believe her decision to leave was a good one, at least for her. Your showing her this kind of respect might be just what she was missing from you before.”
My friend’s husband recently left her, saying he hasn’t been happy for years. She has no idea how they lost the intimacy and love in their marriage – or how to increase it. She says she didn’t even know he was unhappy. Her husband has moved out, and she can’t stop texting, emailing, and calling him. I think this is the exact wrong thing to do, because it makes him even less happy! It doesn’t make him want to be with her.
Sometimes, to increase intimacy and love in your marriage when your wife isn’t happy, you need to let go.
To learn if getting back together is possible, read 9 Signs You Can Fix Your Love Relationship.
Improve your mental, emotional, and physical health
In When He Says “I’m Not in Love With You Anymore”, I encourage women to learn how to love and respect themselves. After all, if they don’t love and respect themselves, how can they expect a man to love or respect them?
You need to get as healthy as possible, for your own sake. The added benefit is that wives are happy with and attracted to their healthy, happy, strong husbands! To increase intimacy and love in your marriage, you need to become aware of and start working on whatever issues you have.
Remember that you aren’t responsible for your wife’s happiness
You can be the best husband in the world, but you can’t make your wife happy. I’m a very happy woman – but my husband isn’t the sole source of my happiness. When I’m unhappy, it’s because of me…not him.
You can set the stage for a happy marriage – and you can increase intimacy and love in your relationship – but you can’t make your wife a happy woman. That is, if she’s unhappy with her life, there may be nothing you can do to change it. You can’t change how she feels – you can only change how you respond to her and your marriage.
What do you think – can you increase intimacy and love in your marriage when your wife isn’t happy?