By Divorce.com staff
Updated Nov 16, 2022
If your husband seems completely different from the person he was a few years ago, he might be experiencing miserable husband syndrome. Thankfully, this common issue doesn’t need to spell the end of your marriage.
Understanding what causes miserable husband syndrome and repairing issues within your home dynamic can help to set things right again.
What Is Miserable Husband Syndrome?
Miserable husband syndrome is a colloquial term, not an actual diagnosable medical condition that can be treated or cured. It’s a lot like a midlife crisis or work burnout. Essentially, miserable husband syndrome is a set of circumstances that can cause someone to feel overwhelmed or stressed out.
If you believe your marriage is experiencing miserable husband syndrome, your partner isn’t necessarily to blame — and neither are you.
Miserable husband syndrome can come from several causes. Some of them are natural parts of life, while others are an accumulation of unchecked bad habits or problems that went too long without being addressed. Once you can pinpoint why miserable husband syndrome is happening, you can take steps to get back on track.
When men age, their testosterone levels change. This can leave them feeling anxious or irritable. Many men will experience mood swings and changes in sex drive as their body acclimates to naturally declining testosterone, making them feel disproportionately angry or sad.
This cause of miserable husband syndrome comes from nature. Men who don’t understand why they feel the way they feel may blame their daily life or the people around them for these common changes. Their actions during this transitional time may complicate their marriage and upset their partner, putting an avoidable strain on their relationship.
This cause of miserable husband syndrome can actually be managed with the help of medical professionals, and men who feel this way often feel much better if they seek treatment for low testosterone levels.
Stresses tend to accumulate throughout a marriage. At the beginning of a relationship, things are easygoing: You go out to dinner, see a movie, and eventually return to your own homes.
Marriage combines everything. Mortgages, children, and family finances are a lot more complicated than a single person paying rent on an apartment. Financial stresses and home life stresses increase when two people combine their lives to create a family.
Some people handle stress better than others, but stress can have chronic and damaging effects. Miserable husbands might feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Over time, this feeling might begin to seem inescapable, making miserable husband syndrome rear its head.
Lack of Communication
Communication is the key to a healthy marriage. If both partners don’t frequently check in with each other about how they’re feeling or what they need, that lack of communication can create a great divide. Most couples need to communicate to solve problems together and support each other, but that communication is a two-way effort.
If one or both partners aren’t playing their roles, this can lead to a feeling of listlessness that may feel unsolvable. It’s hard to know where to start.
What Are the Signs My Husband Has Miserable Husband Syndrome?
If you feel like miserable husband syndrome may be impacting your marriage, here are some of the signs that something is amiss.
Significant Changes in Personality
Most men begin to feel different as they age, and they may attempt to avoid those feelings. Men with miserable husband syndrome may try to recapture their youth in an attempt to make up for “lost time” or cope with the realities of aging.
They may lose interest in things they once loved or suddenly take up new hobbies, appearing to be withdrawn or “in their own little world” most of the time.
A Dismissive or Irritable Attitude
Your husband might seem constantly annoyed or like he doesn’t care about your relationship, responding with disproportionate irritation to simple requests. It might also seem like he’s taking less of an interest in your personal life or in your future together.
A telltale sign of miserable husband syndrome is if he attempts to shift the blame onto you for tasks that are commonly mutual responsibilities.
Your Husband Spends More Time Away From Home
Miserable husbands may attempt to avoid their family or their household if they feel it’s the root of their stress. They may work later hours or spend more time with their friends. They’ll also find activities to do outside of the house, like going for longer workout sessions at the gym or running every errand.
How to Support a Husband With Miserable Husband Syndrome
Finding small ways to support your husband can make your home life easier while you’re working to reach a solution for miserable husband syndrome.
Let Him Have His Space
If your husband seems irritable or snappy, leave him alone. Let him have a sufficient amount of space to process his stress and his feelings. Check in with him daily, but don’t stifle him. Some of us simply need time and space to hear ourselves think and process changes in our lives.
Ask your husband how he’s feeling, and avoid making the conversation about you’re feeling. Your feelings matter, and that’s certainly an important discussion, too — It’s just a different conversation from the one you need to have right now.
Volunteer to listen without judgment, and don’t interject when your husband expresses how he feels. If your husband feels safe talking to you when he’s stressed out or upset, rebounding from miserable husband syndrome can become much easier.
Don’t Take It Personally
If your spouse has miserable husband syndrome, it can be difficult to take this colloquial “condition” seriously. It’s important to remember that your husband’s emotional state isn’t your fault: Your spouse likely needs to learn to communicate and cope with their feelings.
Even if you’ve upset him in one way or another, he can’t expect you to be a mind reader. He’s responsible for his own emotional maintenance. As long as you’re supportive, you’re doing everything you can do.
How to Cope with Miserable Husband Syndrome
Miserable husband syndrome can be resolved, like any other source of stress in a marriage. The health and mental state of both spouses is equally important. Coping with miserable husband syndrome might mean that both partners need to take efforts to prioritize their wellness, like the options below.
See a Doctor
If you’re a man that’s 40 or older, you might be experiencing low testosterone. If you think this change could be happening to you, medical intervention can dramatically improve the way you feel.
Only a doctor can help you manage these age-related changes. It’s important for a miserable husband to speak with their doctor. A wellness check can get to the root of physical changes contributing to the problem. In some cases, restoring a miserable husband to optimal health can ease a lot of the tension he’s experiencing.
Avoid the Blame Game
Everyone is responsible for recognizing their own feelings and making sure their own needs are met, even though the words and actions of others can impact us significantly. It’s often important to communicate feelings and make changes to accommodate your partner instead of playing the blame game.
Consider where you’re at now and what it would take for you to feel better. Focus on communicating a better path forward rather than litigating the past. To move forward, many couples can benefit from thinking about what both partners need to be happy right now, rather than reflecting on things that have made them unhappy in the past.
Make Necessary Life Changes
Removing stress from your lives can ease miserable husband syndrome by making life less complicated. Someone with miserable husband syndrome may need to change jobs; moving to a less expensive town can ease financial pressure; creating a better parenting structure can ease the stress of parenting. There are so many ways to build a new normal that benefits both you and your husband.
Some husbands may feel better if they take up an enriching hobby and spend a little more time on themselves. Going back to school can be an option for husbands who are dissatisfied with their professional lives and carrying the stress back home. No matter how you shake things up, these little changes can make a big difference.
If a couple has a history of lackluster communication, therapy can be a powerful tool for helping to restore communication. It can be difficult to talk about emotionally driven topics, and the buffer of a professional counselor can make it easier to express what you’re feeling.
A couples therapist can also help you create communication strategies that will work within your marriage. As long as you’re willing to take the therapist’s advice and practice better communication techniques, you might experience slow and steady changes that improve your household dynamic.
Should I Divorce My Miserable Husband?
Divorce should be a last resort when combatting miserable husband syndrome. It’s best to attempt to fix the issues before you decide your differences are too significant to sustain a marriage. Keep divorce on the back burner until both partners are certain that there’s no way to move forward with a marriage.