Suffocating in Marriage

Marriage, once a place of comfort and companionship, can sometimes feel like a heavy burden. When you feel trapped, it's often due to unmet expectations, losing your sense of self, or unresolved issues, making you seek solutions or even consider divorce.
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Key Points:

Losing your individuality, facing high expectations, dealing with control issues, and having unresolved conflicts can make marriage feel suffocating.

We expect so much from our marriages, but without putting in enough emotional effort, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and trapped.

Lack of communication, no intimacy, feeling unappreciated, and having different values and goals can signal an unhappy marriage.

It starts with feeling disappointed, then communication breaks down, emotional detachment follows, leading to physical separation, and possibly ending in divorce.

We’ve all experienced it at one point in our lives, that feeling of an elephant on your chest, and it’s no different in marriage. This intense emotional state leaves you feeling alone and trapped.  It’s the heartbreaking realization that your marriage, which should have been a haven of comfort and companionship has turned into an oppressive force slowing your growth, happiness and maybe even yourself. This means if you are reading this article then it is highly likely you are looking for answers and possibly a way out. Let’s look into why you might feel this way, explore the suffocation theory of marriage, recognize signs of an unhappy marriage, understand its stages of disintegration and discuss whether it would be better to divorce or remain unhappily married.

Why Do I Feel Suffocated in Marriage?

There may be many reasons for feeling suffocated in a marriage varying from one couple to another depending on their unique  relationship. Analyzing these justifications will help identify the root causes so that you can breathe again. Here is why you may be feeling suffocated in your relationship:

Loss of Individuality

One frequently reported cause for the suffocation feeling is loss of individuality. In essence, marriage is about combining two people who lead separate lives into one.

Overbearing Expectations

The modern belief surrounding marriage is that your partner must be your best friend, lover, confidant and sometimes even a therapist. Though having high standards is not inherently wrong, this can become suffocating when they are impractical. The pressure to meet this criteria creates feelings of dissatisfaction and animosity that worsen the feeling of entrapment.

Control and Dependency Issues

A suffocating marriage may also result from issues such as control or dependency problems. When one spouse controls the other in terms of decision making, friendships, finances or even daily routines it might make them feel trapped. Similarly, dependence whether it is emotional or financial may also leave you suffocated. This limits one’s freedom and independence hence turning marriage into more like a prison than partnership.

Unresolved Conflicts

Inadequately resolved disagreements are a key factor that leaves one feeling suffocated. When we choose to sweep them under the carpet instead of addressing them, they do not go away but rather simmer and create tension. The marriage develops into a pressure cooker due to this ongoing tension as there appears no way out of the cycle of unresolved issues and their negative emotions.

Varying In Growth

People change and grow over time; it is just a natural process of life. Though when people grow at different rates or even towards different directions then this can result in a rift between partners. If you think your partner is not growing at the same pace as you—or vice versa—it can bring about disconnection within your relationship.  

It is important to identify exactly why your marriage makes you feel smothered if you want to deal with it effectively. Taking action may include talking openly with your spouse, individual therapy for yourself or perhaps couples counseling. Also remember that suffocation does not have to mean that your marriage will end up in divorce eventually. You might be able to restore a relationship that is both supportive and liberating by making efforts, communicating or meeting with marriage professionals.

What Is Suffocation Theory?

In an article published by the Association for Psychological Science, experts  found that today’s marriages are subjected to enormous societal expectations and emotional satisfaction levels in what is referenced as suffocation theory. This approach suggests that while aspirations from marriages have skyrocketed, spouses haven’t actually given more time or emotional energy toward them resulting in dissatisfaction.  

Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage

Realizing signs of an unhappy marriage could be difficult especially when you are right in the middle of it all. They include constant fighting or no communication at all, absence of intimacy, feeling unappreciated or disrespected by your partner, daydreaming about being single again and having a different life from your spouse.

Dollnita Winston is a Certified Marriage, Life, and Divorce Coach offering personalized coaching programs.  She works with clients to clarify goals, identify stressors, and build self-resilience. 

Marital Breakdown Stages

Breakdown of marriage does not occur in an instance. It usually follows a certain pattern that starts with discontentment leading to more conflict or even disengagement. The stages may include:

1. Disillusionment: Realizing that your marriage is not what you had imagined

2. Erosion: Slow disintegration of communication and affection between partners.

3. Detachment: When one emotionally detaches themselves from their spouse, often leading to physical separations as well.

4. Physical Separation: Living apart which could result in seeking for alternative solutions outside the marriage.

5. Legal Action: This is the end of the road involving lawyers particularly possible divorce.

Is It Better To Divorce Or Stay Unhappily Married?

There are long-term emotional effects staying in an unhappy marriage that can damage not just the partners but also children involved. On the other hand, divorce provides a stage for liberation and self-searching although it comes with its own baggage such as emotional distress and financial consequences.

It is important to get professional advice before making any decisions.  Look into the benefits of marriage coaching with a certified coach to determine whether you want to continue in your relationship.  Or schedule a free consultation for marriage coaching to obtain insight into what your next move might be. 

If you’ve already made your decision, you should consider talking with a divorce coach to start working through your goals during and after divorce by focusing on personal growth and fresh starts.

Feeling smothered in a marriage means that there is something vital that is not working well. This disconnect results in feelings of depression and spiraling.  Whether from unmet expectation or lack of communication or simply growing apart as couples; recognizing the problem is the first step towards resolving it. Understanding stages and signs of marriage breakdown and identifying unhappiness symptoms will guide future decisions from now until then on where to go next. Finally, deciding either to remain or leave your marital status remains personal choice but remember there are resources available should take you through this journey safely.

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