It’s pretty scary what the stress of a bad marriage can do to you.
You got married because you fell in love and had dreams of living happily ever after. But somewhere along the way marital bliss turned to marital blah or worse.
You might even occasionally toy with the idea of calling it quits or half-heartedly attempt to work on your marriage. Instead of making any significant changes, what you end up doing is staying. You stick it out because the thought of doing anything different is just too big to deal with.
It might seem like this is the path of least resistance, but did you know the impact of your unhappy marriage is greater – a lot greater – than just feeling meh about your spouse? The stress of a bad marriage affects you physically, mentally and emotionally.
How does an unhappy marriage affect you physically?
- Weakens your immune system (source)
- Wounds are slower to heal (source)
- Increases you blood pressure (source)
- Increases your cholesterol (source)
- Makes you gain weight (source)
- Puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and arterial calcification (source)
- Causes digestive disorders (source)
- Causes hormone imbalance (source)
- Causes poor sleep (source)
- Shrinks your brain (source)
- Kills brain cells and halts new brain cell growth (source)
Although these risks apply to both men and women they don’t apply equally. Around the age of 40, the impact of marital stress on a woman’s body is much greater than on a man’s.
How does a miserable relationship influence you mentally?
- Decreases your attention span (source)
- Causes memory problems (source)
- Puts you at greater risk for mental illnesses of all kinds (source)
- Makes it hard for you to think and make decisions (source)
- Increases your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s (source)
How does a bad marriage impact you emotionally?
- Greater risk for depression (source)
- More feelings of anger (source)
- General feelings of anxiety (source)
- Mood swings (source)
- Impatience with yourself and others (source)
One of the biggest challenges everyone in an unhappy marriage faces is how to deal with it. Most people choose self-soothing activities like smoking, drinking alcohol, drug use, gambling, impulse buying and over (or under) eating to help them cope. The problem with this is that these behaviors exacerbate the risk factors that the stress of your unhappy marriage created in the first place.
The impact of an unhappy marriage on you is pretty scary. But your bad marriage impacts more than just you. It affects your spouse and your kids.
Hopefully, all this information is impactful enough for you to want to change things. But don’t jump to the conclusion that the only way to fix things is to divorce. Divorce is much more stressful than an unhappy marriage.
The place to start changing things is to get honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working in your marriage. Once you’re clear about this, you’ll also want to consider what you’re willing to do to change things.
After you know what you want (or at least have a better idea than you do now) and what you’re willing to do, it’s time to have an open, compassionate conversation with your spouse. The goal of the discussion is to develop a plan so your family can stop suffering from the mental, physical and emotional pain of an unhappy marriage.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are struggling with an unhappy marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.