How to Communicate Unhappiness in Relationships

Every relationship has its ups and downs.
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Many people stay in unhappy relationships because they fear being alone or want to avoid a messy separation. However, those fears shouldn't keep you stuck, says marriage and family therapist Darlene Lancer in a article, “Are You Trapped & Unhappy in Your Relationship?” As long as you're safe with your partner, use effective communication tools to let him know that you are feeling unhappy in the relationship. Once you have communicated your feelings, work together to make the relationship one that makes you both happy.

1 Be Transparent

Your past relationships can affect your current relationship in ways your partner might not understand, explains marriage and family therapist Lori H. Gordon in a article, “Intimacy: The Art of Relationships.” Talk about why certain actions produce negative reactions from you. Let your partner know what he can do to help. Be transparent about your needs without analysis or accusation. Own your feelings and let your partner know how you would like things to change. You might say, “When we are with your friends, I feel ignored and unappreciated. Please include me in the activities or ensure that there will be another girl I can chat with while you and your friends play ball.”

2 Take Responsibility

Your partner isn’t responsible for making you happy, advises Kim Olver, a licensed professional counselor, in a article, “You're Unhappy But Your Partner Is Fine—What Can You Do?” Take responsibility for your unhappiness by changing things that you have control over, accepting what you can’t and leaving when the relationship is more negative than it is positive. You might change what you expect from your partner, accepting that he has friends you don’t like or that he complains a lot. Instead of placing all of the responsibility on his shoulders, develop a support system of friends who you can openly talk to and share interests with. Gain independence so that your partner isn't your sole source of emotional or financial support. Do something that makes a difference -- take a class, get a job or volunteer. When you have a purpose and something that provides a sense of accomplishment, you will find sources of happiness outside of your relationship -- and that is healthy for you and your partner.

3 Talk About It

Dialogue requires speaking and listening, so give your partner a chance to express his feelings and needs when you express yours. Listen carefully with empathy, understanding and compassion. Be patient with him when he annoys or offends you. If you both feel heard and understood, you might feel less anger and unhappiness in your relationship. You will naturally feel positive about finding a win-win solution that improves your relationship in a way that works for both of you.

4 Check In

Taking time to check in every day can bring you closer. Sit close where you can touch one another affectionately. Express appreciation for your partner. Talk about what’s going on with you and ask him the same. Talk about things in your relationship you don’t understand, such as why he just told you he'd rather play video games than go out for dinner. Instead of arguing with him about it, ask for a change in his behavior, but be sure to find balance in your requests.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.