Relationship Experts Reveal The #1 Complaint They Hear From Unhappy Wives In Therapy

What do women seek from marriage counseling?

woman in therapy Ilona Kozhevnikova / Shutterstock

Studies about marriage counseling have shown that most married couples try hard to resolve their issues before they seek therapy.

And they usually don't jump right into therapy, either — the average lead-up to marriage therapy is four to seven years.

The shared goal, naturally, is to save the marriage. But once they do decide to see a counselor, married men and women often bring dramatically different relationship complaints to their sessions.


According to one recent study that looked at the reasons for and efficacy of marriage counseling, women are more likely than their male partners to be concerned about sexual intimacy, child-rearing, and jealousy. Both men and women are likely to cite a lack of emotional intimacy, a lack of communication, a loss of trust, and stress outside the relationship as factors that led them to seek marriage counseling.

The bottom line is that, in most cases, marriage counseling can work — if both married partners are committed to making it work. That begins with a willingness to understand the point of view of your partner.


YourTango Experts reached out to four relationship experts to identify the most common complaint they hear from women in marriage counseling:

RELATED: 20 Signs You May Need Marriage Counseling

1. 'Our marriage is stale and dull'

We know that everything in the universe is constantly moving, and change is the order of the day. 

Yet, somehow, it appears that many people adopt the idea that once you get married, the deed Is done, the deal sealed, and that is that.

That premise is wrong in every way.

The main concern voiced by married women is that their marriage is stale, and the hubby doesn’t want to do anything about it. Bottom line: Any and all relationships need energy and freshness to keep them alive and interesting. 


Hubby may be happy living a staid life following a routine. But there are two people in the relationship and the wife wants interaction, something life-giving: perhaps a mutual hobby like dancing, pickleball, a charity they can work together. 

One couple joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters and adopted a youngster. Another got involved in their church activities or did a game night. 

Take some time to figure out what values or interests you share that can turn into a fun, meaningful activity and keep your marriage interesting. 

- Jean Walters, life coach, and spiritual transformation author   

RELATED: 8 Easy Ways To Stop Being Bored In Your Marriage


2. 'Our sex life doesn't satisfy my needs and desires'

The most common reason that keeps married women unhappy is sexual incompatibility. Their husband doesn't understand and in most intimate situations and doesn't care for their sexual pleasure.

This can include things like what turns women on, what they enjoy the most while making love, exciting foreplay, their erogenous body parts, and satisfaction.

The husbands miss hitting these spots.

At the end of it, the wife finds no alternative but to stare at the ceiling waiting for it to finish. With some exceptions, a marriage is incomplete without sexual contentment.

It urges the wives to rethink the future of the relationship and how long they can go with their sexual needs being unsatisfied, disregarded, and not taken care of.


- Sidhharrth S Kumaar, Astro Numerologist and spiritual coach

RELATED: How Long Sexless Marriages Last (And When To Walk Away)

3. 'I feel ignored by my husband'

As a psychologist in private practice and as a life coach, I have seen many unhappily married women. Most blame their husband.

They cite their husbands working more hours, drinking heavily when he comes home, playing more golf, or poker, or watching endless sports. 

The result is the same. The most common complaint I hear from unhappy wives in therapy is how “lonely” they are, how “abandoned” or even “lost” they feel, resulting in mounting anger.  

Unhappy wives may turn to ways to soothe themselves, drinking more at home, or going out more with the “girls," and drinking. They try to control their lives by focusing more on keeping their home spotless or they sink into a depression in front of the TV, eating popcorn or candy.


They may also begin to complain to their husbands about how distant they feel and pick a fight. The upside of arguing is that they are trying to connect.

But they need more than a connection to their husbands. Even more importantly, is there a connection with themselves?

What unhappily married women often lose in a marriage is their identity — a focus on their needs, wants, abilities and dreams. 

There is still so much pressure on women for themselves and their homes, to look a certain way, to have their children be near perfect, and to meet their husband’s needs, that they get squeezed out of their own lives.  

- Patricia O’Gorman, clinical psychologist


RELATED: 8 Sad Signs He's Falling Out Of Love With You

'4. My husband doesn't really know me'

In my 30-plus years of relationship therapy, the biggest complaint I hear from wives centers on the wife not feeling known by her husband.

It may look like her husband not being present with her to really listen, or he doesn’t notice when she is distressed, or jubilant, or even when she’s had a drastic haircut.


This feeling of not being noticed gets compounded when her husband has a whole different approach to his friends or his own family. She may wonder why he can listen and respond to them but not to her.

How is it he can go help his buddy with his car, or his mother with cleaning leaves out of the gutter, but he ignores her requests for their own household maintenance?

Over time, wives begin to feel taken for granted or not valued, which then strains the fabric of their relationship. She loses attraction to him, and he wonders what happened to their love life.

It easily spins into a negative spiral marked by anger and eroding respect.

The sooner that spiral gets interrupted, the better the prognosis for their relationship.


- Judy Tiesel-Jensen, marriage/couples counselor

RELATED: 8 Types Of Marriage Counseling — Which One Will Work Best For You

Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for experts and wellness with YourTango.