Episode 7: When an Unhappy Partner Doesn’t Want to Separate

by Aug 16, 2022Podcast

What Do You Do When Your Partner is Unhappy, But They Don’t Want to Leave the Relationship?

If your partner is unhappy, but doesn’t want to separate, they’re giving you some very important information – they’re committed to staying in the relationship, but they don’t know what to do.

Is the Unhappiness Really About the Relationship?

We often project things on our partners. We might think there’s something wrong with our person, that they’re failing in some way as a partner – and that that’s the reason that we’re unhappy, but in reality we may not be able to understand or express why we’re unhappy.

If your partner is unhappy with you or with the relationship, but can’t express why, it’s important to figure out, what is the unhappiness really about? Is it relationship unhappiness, or is it personal unhappiness? Someone experiencing depression or discontent with their life might think it’s the relationship causing the unhappiness.

What’s the Most Effective Way to Support Your Person?

While your person is working through their issues, do they need time or space away from the relationship? Do you need to check in on them sometimes? It’s so important to pay attention to and understand what soothes your partner.

Don’t Take Too Much Responsibility For Your Person’s Unhappiness

Just because your person is upset or angry with you doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wholeheartedly take in what it is that they’re unhappy about. Yes, it’s important to pay attention to what’s making them unhappy! But don’t get so involved that you lose clarity around your boundaries. Once you start experiencing guilt and shame in response to what they’re saying, that takes you out of really listening to what your partner is saying to you – you start to make excuses or to defend yourself. Respect their experience without getting involved in your own guilt and shame.

Working Together for the Same Purpose

So how do you resolve the issue of your partner’s unhappiness? Get on the same page and find common ground – what is it that you both want? Maybe your partner is telling you that you don’t spend enough time with them. In this example:


Don’t interrupt, make excuses, or defend yourself


Ask the important question – “What is it that you really want?” This is a great time to use mirroring – paraphrase what your partner is saying to you back to them, to let them know you hear and understand what they’re saying. If your person tells you what they really want is more intimacy in the relationship, then…

Work Together

If you would like more intimacy in the relationship, too, then great! You are now on the same page, and you can work together for the same purpose.

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