If you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage, you know the signs. The disconnection. The loud fighting or the silence of a cold war. The loneliness. His glaring, intolerable flaws. And the grief as you fear you’ve made a huge mistake.

If only you hadn’t married the wrong person, none of this would be happening, right? Should you get a divorce? After all, it doesn’t make sense to keep slogging through if it’s never going to get better.

What if you don’t want to end up as another statistic or break up your family, but you just can’t stand your husband? Then you’re probably feeling as stuck and hopeless as I did when I was on the brink of divorce.

I know it’s hard to love a man who has checked out and this isn’t your idea of what marriage should be. What if you could fall in love with him again and actually make it work this time?

Here are four ways you can tell if your husband is still “the one” – and what to do if he’s not and you married the wrong person.

1. Ask the Right Questions

The very question “Am I married to the wrong person?” fosters indecision and even contempt.

What if you asked these questions instead?

  • Am I the right person for him?

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Of course I am! He’s the one with the issues.” But stick with me here, as I promise this is going somewhere great.)

  • How can I work with his flaws just as he works with mine? (Even if his seem way, way, worse.)
  • Am I able to communicate without getting our wires crossed?
  • Could I be less judgmental in our disagreements and more self-aware? (Maybe you’ve been a saint, like I figured *I* had been. But a saint stuck in a sucky marriage.)

Write down all the things you’re not satisfied with. Then, take an honest look at your part in each of those things.

For example, if he’s a TV-addicted couch potato, have you been nagging him not to be a TV-addicted couch potato? (When a man feels controlled, he’ll dig in his heels even harder.)

Or, if your sex life is on the brink of extinction, have you been acting like his mother? (Nobody wants to have sex with his mother, by the way.)

Now it’s time for a new list. What are some of the things you appreciate about your husband?

Does he support your family by working hard or show your children lots of love? What does he do to help make your life better?

As you can see, problems in your relationship don’t always stem from the fact that you married the wrong person. What you’re mistaking for red flags could actually be reasons to stick by his side.

You may feel neglected because of his demanding work schedule when he’s actually busy providing for you and the kids. Or you may feel criticized even though his frustration is really because he hates seeing you sick or overwhelmed.

2. Get on the Right Track

Happy wife, happy life” is a cliché for a reason. Miserable people don’t have very good relationships. With everything on your plate, have you lost touch with what made you the happy woman your man fell in love with?

Rediscover things that make you happy, things you can do yourself rather than having to depend on him to do together. What would you do if only you had the time: take a bath, paint, play the ukulele, read a juicy novel, or do Zumba or a puzzle?

I know these ideas sound frivolous when you have much more important things to get done. But if you’re wanting to fix your marriage, the more frivolous, the better! Such self-care has a beautifying effect no spa can beat (though the spa is on my self-care list too!).

When a playful, contented look overtakes the frazzled old shrew face, he will notice. Believe it or not, becoming pleasable will actually make him want to please you even more. Teaching him to treat you well starts with treating yourself well.

If you feel guilty putting yourself first, do it anyway! That just means you’re on the right track.

3. Cut the High Cost of Helping

As bruised as you feel, is it possible he’s been feeling like a punching bag himself?

Maybe you complained about him not helping around the house or not listening to you. Perhaps you questioned his choice of friends or criticized his inability to wipe the counters after doing the dishes. Maybe you lectured him about getting the kids riled up right at bedtime or innocently suggested that he ask for a raise (the subtext being “You don’t make enough money”).

I know you were just trying to be helpful and probably didn’t know that “helpful” in wife language means “controlling” in husband language. Relationship expert Laura Doyle explains it in her blog: “My Husband Doesn’t Listen To Me”. It’s so frustrating trying to get your needs met when you don’t have the tools to do so in a way that he can actually hear.

What women consider disrespectful and what men consider disrespectful are just not the same.

I love being right (and used to think I was always right). I was like a dog with a bone when it came to debating the correct way to heat taco shells, much less something important like what my husband needed to do so we could have a decent marriage.

When you win the argument, what do you lose?

I lost loads of intimacy trying to be right all the time and making my husband wrong. Sometimes he would concede to keep the peace but then not do what he’d said, which meant resentment for me and even more intimacy lost for us.

Now I do things a little differently. Like hearing him out. Instead of defending yourself or being “helpful,” there are three little words that will give you communication superpowers: “I hear you.” You’re not agreeing or disagreeing, just showing respect for what he’s saying.

When you don’t need to help or solve anything, you may find it’s actually a relief. You will find him opening up and talking to you a whole lot more!

But if things get heated and you can’t help but let him have it, go back to step #2. It’s much easier to show up as your best self when you’re filled up.

4. Forget Prince Charming

Cinderella has killed more marriages than Divorce Court. If things haven’t panned out for you, it’s natural to fantasize about the guy on the white horse rescuing you and sweeping you off your feet. When you believe that you married the wrong person, it’s tempting to hold out hope for someone better the next time around.

But you know how that story ends in real life, right? Mr. Charming 2.0 ends up being just the same as the last one, and Cinderella is beating her head against the castle wall lamenting to her bird and mouse friends, “Why do I keep attracting the same man?”

The reason she keeps reliving the same story is that she is the same woman. Even with a change of scenery, her circumstances won’t change until she changes.

You already know this because you’ve tried and failed: You cannot change him. The only person you can change is you.

But what if when you changed, it turned out your guy was prince charming all along?

Final Words

Conventional wisdom says you’re just not compatible when you seem to have nothing in common. This is when you start to think that you married the wrong person. But it’s your differences, their duality, that bind your marriage.

Once the honeymoon phase is over, conventional wisdom also says you’ve fallen out of love, so move on. I say you can revive your newlywed love and keep it alive.

Accepting the man you’re with, exactly as he is, is the key to getting back the man you chose even if sometimes it feels like you married the wrong person.

He made you feel so loved that you married him. Through these trials you’re in, that love is now maturing into something that could actually be more gratifying than a divorce could ever be – if you let it.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Charlie Gutierrez

    This is pretty good advice. You write much older than you look. Love is an awesome and creative force. And a marriage can be restored. I suspect most successful marriages have seen numerous restorations. Like a house.

  2. Ellie

    I married the right man (finally) but at the wrong time and now don’t know what to do! I met him when we were both in our 30s. We had both come out of abusive relationships and met at work and clicked immediately. To this day I have never met anyone that was so perfect for me. I couldn’t have designed a better partner from scratch and was amazed someone like him existed. He made it very clear he liked me too and would openly flirt and stare at me every chance he got. We were like awkward 14 year olds, despite being grown ups. I’ve never felt anything that strong for another person.

    However, he had recently been on a trip following his break up and met someone on holiday. She lived in another country and he intended it to just be a rebound, but she wanted a passport and he had already agreed to marry her quickly so she could move over. He had given up on finding love again and had settled for her as she was available and wanted money, which he had. She was an open gold-digger, but at the time he hadn’t cared as he was depressed and was willing to have a sex for money type arrangement just to avoid being alone.

    After it was clear we were both madly in love, he spoke to her to call off the wedding. She went insane. I know his sister and she described in detail some of the calls he got from her. She threatened suicide, told him he was destroying her and her family’s life, made him feel like the worst person in the world for choosing love over her. Over the course of several months, she guilt-tripped him to the point that he was having panic attacks.

    It put a massive strain on the still early relationship we had. He said he didn’t know what to do, as he had already agreed to marry her despite knowing it was for money. Now she was saying she had secretly loved him the whole time and it wasn’t just for money. He didn’t know what to think. She then booked a flight over to our country and turned up at his house demanding that he see her. She had also been calling his elderly mother and telling her to convince him to agree to the marriage (we only found this out years after) and telling her a lot of lies about me. His mother had early stage dementia back then and was very gullible and believed what she said. So he then had added pressure from his mother saying he should go ahead with the marriage and break up with me.

    It drove me insane. I had spent 30 years trying to find this man and to finally be happy only to have it taken away by a gold-digger. In the end the pressure was too much for him and he broke things off with me ‘for the time being’ (he said). I was getting calls to my house from this woman and she started parking outside my house and threatening me and he felt like he was dragging me into his drama and wrecking my life.

    At the same time, I got transferred at work so we were no longer able to see each other every day in the office (which she couldn’t get into). I felt like I was being torn away from him and fell into a deep depression. Months later I then found out they had gone through with the marriage, albeit only a small registry office. He later told me he was hoping once she had her passport and money out of him then she would quickly want a divorce and then he would be free of her.

    Instead she demanded he buy her a big house so her family could visit, dogs, a holiday, clothes (she deliberately left all of her things in her own country and claimed poverty, which was a lie). She promised she would get a job now that she had a passport so she would pay half. That never happened. She was always going to be a leech and nearly drove him to bankruptcy.

    It took six years before she finally agreed to a divorce and she bled him dry of everything he had and left him in a lot of debt. For the last three years I lost touch with him, as it was too painful to know my other half was with another woman and hear all of the sh*t she was doing to him. Once the divorce was through, he contacted me on social media and explained that she had finally left him alone. I had spent years in therapy to deal with having my heart ripped to shreds. I was 41 by the time he spoke to me again and had given up on all of the things I’d wanted in life and dedicated myself to charity and leaving money behind for my extended family. The constant suicidal thoughts were just starting to go away. So hearing from him again nearly gave me a heart attack and it took a long time before I could gather up the nerve to respond.

    We very slowly began a friendship and then a relationship. I had and still have massive trust issues and a deep scar that will never go away, so I was terrified of letting my guard down again. I still can’t fully trust him, which has ruined what should have been a perfect relationship. I also can’t help being constantly reminded that she stole the best years of our lives. I’m now too old to have children with him, or anyone. We had planned at least two after we married, but that never happened. His health is also wrecked from all of the stress she put him through while they were together. She was a huge control freak, manipulative, a liar, cheat, nasty, cruel and constantly insulted and humiliated him in front of other people. He showed me emails and messages she had sent him over the years that were designed to destroy his identity and self esteem and they worked. I’m certain this woman is a pure psychopath and she targeted him when he was in a bad place and won. So I can’t be angry at him. I know he feels immense guilt for what happened too, so I feel like I can’t complain when at least I finally for to be with him.

    But I pine for the man I fell in love with a decade ago. He was so perfect. But I’ll never get to be with him. His body, personality, energy, life, everything has changed into someone I barely recognise. It feels like she stole my husband, broke him, then handed me back a shell once she was done. I don’t think I can fix him. It feels like too much time has passed to ever bring that man back. And that kills me inside as much as it did when she took him away. I try so hard not to think about the past, but I have dreams where we are together back then and things are how they should have been. We are getting married and building a family and home together, running the business we started together as partners (which she took over and destroyed). He is completely burnt out and is no longer interested in any of the plans we had. He did many of those things with her, so she tainted them in his mind. Although I understand this, it doesn’t help me. I never got to experience any of those things and now I never will. Even with the few things he agreed to for my sake, the novelty had worn off for him and that ruined the experience for me.

    I have so much rage towards that woman. I hate to admit that. I’m not a violent person, but I want to tear her apart from limb to limb and make her suffer. She walked away smiling with a big pay out and has move on to the next victim with no punishment whatsoever. She is truly disgusting.

    I don’t know what to do. I tried dating other men after he left me and never found anyone who came even close to being as good a match as we were. So walking away now would just leave me alone again with no one at all. But staying is tearing me apart. Every so often his mother or sister will innocently mention something that happened while they were together. A holiday they went on that she ruined, somewhere I always wanted to take him but now he doesn’t want to revisit. The home he spent months painting and decorating for her that she criticised, so now he only wants to live in a cheap flat instead of building a home with me as a couple. A random clip of him playing with one of her nephews while she looks bored, knowing that he would have been an amazing dad to the children we will never have. It is gut wrenching. I’m still in therapy and on medication, but it doesn’t stop the dreams and memories. It feels like for the rest of my life she will still be there in the background sticking knives in my back.

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