Many wives who feel as if their marriage is in trouble suspect that they aren't giving their husband what he needs to feel completely happy in the marriage. Sometimes, these unsatisfied husbands will tell their wives exactly why they are so unhappy with complaints like: “I just don't feel like we're compatible,” or “you are too insecure.”

Other times, the husband won't give you any such specific complaints. If you're lucky, you might get a vague “I'm just not happy,” or an “I just don't think that we should be married anymore.”

A wife might say: “I'm clearly not giving my husband what he needs to be happy in the marriage. At first, he was just dropping hints that married life wasn't what he thought it was going to be and then eventually he started suggesting that maybe we should take a break from one another. And then last week, he mentioned moving in with some friends for a while. I ask him what I'm doing wrong and what I might do to make him happy, but then he just gives me silly responses like 'it's not you, it' me.' This is so frustrating. What concrete things can do to make sure that he is getting what he needs so that he either wants to stay married to me or he wants to save, change or improve the marriage that we have now?”

The answer to these questions would be different depending on the husband about which the questions are being asked. What each husband considers the ideal marriage is going to vary depending upon his personality, his views on marriage, and the examples that his own parents probably set for him.

So while I cannot tell you what your own husband might need to be happy, to stay married, or to save your marriage, I can tell you something about the thought process of some husbands.

Many Husbands Do Not Expect For You To Be The Perfect Wife, But They Expect You To Be As Good A Wife As Possible For Them In Particular: Wives will sometimes tell me that their husband has very unrealistic or outlandish expectations. They fear that he's not going to be happy unless she's willing to have sex every night, always has a wonderful sense of humor, is the world's best cook, and constantly heaps attention and praise onto her husband without asking for much in return.

I don't hear a lot of men asking for this type of wife. Honestly although what men want in a wife varies, I do hear the same themes over and over. Like us, men want to feel as if we are enthusiastic about being married to them. They don't expect us to want to have sex every night, for the most part. But they'd like for us to desire them enough to make the time when it's realistic.

A man will also want to feel understood. In other words, he wants you to know him enough to realize what is most important to him and respond accordingly. For example, some husbands could care less if you keep the house spotless, but they'd like for someone to share what is really important to them, like their love of sports, or fly fishing, or comedies, or whatever the case may be. They want you to understand what makes them tick and to share in or appreciate it, every once in a while.

There is nothing worse than feeling lonely in your marriage because you don't feel as if you're spouse gets you enough to reach out. And after a while, resentment can build up because of this. He feels as if he shouldn't have to ask you for what he really wants and you feel as though you can not possibly read his mind.

You Don't Have To Solve All Of Your Husband's Problems But He Should Feel As If You Support Him None The Less: Many wives who are in a marriage where their husband is saying that he's just not happy feel as if he expects them to solve all of his problems. Many wives tell me that they suspect that the marriage is not truly the source of the husband's unhappiness. Often, they theorize that it's stress from his job, or money issues, or a health and family situation. In other words, he is just unhappy in general, but he thinks that he's unhappy with or doesn't get what he needs from the marriage.

This is often not so far from the truth. And this frustrates a lot of wives who often ask me things like “what does he expect me to do, solve all of his problems?” I know that it can feel that way. But often, he doesn't expect you to solve all of his problems - although he would like to know that he can count on you to listen and be his springboard. (Don't fall into this trap. I did and it almost costs me my marriage. I convinced myself that my husband's wish-list was unattainable during my own separation and I almost gave up. Thankfully, I changed course and got my husband back. More on that here.)

Almost without fail, if you can both figure out a way to make your husband happier in his life, he will often then be happier with the marriage. Often, it's not that your marriage is not giving him what he needs, it's that his life is not giving him what he needs. So if you can find ways to lighten his load, it's going to benefit you greatly also. Encourage him to engage in the hobbies, places or people who make him happy (within reason of course.)

Often when I explain this to wives, they are skeptical because they feel like this is either pushing their husband away or giving him so much space that he's going to drift away. But often, you can pursue and enjoy these things with him.

In truth, no one person can provide everything that someone else needs. He has to provide a lot of his own well being and peace of mind. But it certainly helps when he knows that his wife supports him in the process. And if you can help him be happier with himself and your relationship, he is much more likely to be more open to staying married or saving your marriage.

None of this is impossible. Try to be the spouse that you yourself would want. You don't want him catering to your every whim, but you want to know that he always has your back and that your well being is hugely important to him. The same is true for him. And quite honestly, you know your husband better than anyone else. Use this knowledge of him to decipher what he really wants and needs right now and do your best to provide it - even if sometimes that means you help him to provide it for himself.

I know how this feels. My husband and I separated because he felt that our marriage wasn't giving him what he needed. It took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out what would make him change his mind. If it helps, you can read about the process of saving my marriage on my blog at

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