Merriam-Webster defines “sham” as: 1) a trick that deludes: hoax, 2) cheap falseness: hypocrisy, 3) an imitation or counterfeit purporting to be genuine, and 4) a person who shams. If any of these definitions (or all of them) describe your marriage, join the club.
As you read this, you may be one of the many unhappy spouses who have mastered the fine art of “pretending” to spend every day in marital bliss. Perhaps you deserve an Academy Award – and that’s saying a lot. It’s not easy putting on a smiling face and acting like everything is fine, when it’s not. It takes work to pretend like you have a happy marriage when behind closed doors, it’s anything but.
Not sure if your marriage is a sham? Or, perhaps you’ve been in denial all these years but your heart has been aching, yearning for something more? Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of someone who’s unhappily married but doing a great job putting on a “show” for the outside world. Do any of these describe you?
- You go to bed next to your spouse fantasizing about being romantic with other people, not your spouse.
- In your mind, you fantasize about being intimate with a neighbor, co-worker, old friend, or someone you know from your church or community.
- Sometimes you despise your spouse and wish they would leave you or cheat on you so you have a “reason” to file for divorce.
- You are happier when your spouse is not home.
- You resent your spouse for trying to control you.
- Given the choice, you’d prefer to travel with friends than with your husband or wife.
- You are not attracted to your spouse anymore, but you’re definitely attracted to other people and think about it constantly.
- Before going out someplace with your spouse, you get into heated arguments but act like everything is okay when you’re in public.
- You no longer complain about your spouse to friends and family because you don’t want them to know how unhappy you really are. You’d prefer for them to think your marriage is intact.
- Sometimes, you can’t stand being in the same room as your spouse.
- You often think about how you’d be much happier if you were single.
- If it weren’t for money (or your kids), you would have divorced years ago.
- When talking to people, you say how happy your marriage is, while inside you know you’re lying through your teeth.
- You hate it when your spouse’s birthday, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or your anniversary rolls around because you have to say things you don’t mean in cards you give your spouse. You feel the same about glorifying your spouse on social media but you feel like you have to worship them on Facebook and Instagram on those special days.
- If you have kids, you don’t want them to end up in a marriage like yours.
Can you relate to any of the above signs and symptoms of a fake marriage, a sham? If so, you’ve probably had thoughts like, “I don’t know why I stay. I’ll revisit divorce when the kids move out. Maybe I should just cheat but stay married. Eventually, something has to give. I don’t want to be a failure so I might as well remain unhappily married.” If you’ve had these types of thoughts, you’re not alone!
The question is, should you stay unhappy or should you move on? Of course, only you know the answer to that, but it is something to seriously consider if your marriage is for lack of better words...a sham, a fraud. You could be lying to your family, your kids, and worst of all, you could be lying to yourself. But at what cost? Your happiness, your physical and psychological health?
How Stress Affects the Body
When you’re unhappily married and lying about it to everyone you come across, you’re not in an ideal situation. For one, the stress of being unhappily married is going to affect you emotionally and possibly physically. The stress of a bad marriage can affect sleep patterns, it can lead to weight gain or weight loss, and it can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and cardiovascular problems. For some people, the stress of a bad marriage leads them directly to drugs or alcohol, or both.
Secondly, pretending to be happy is stressful. You could have just gotten into a bad fight with your spouse but as you go to your spouse’s Christmas party, or as you attend your child’s soccer game or dance recital together, you have to put on a fake smile and act like you have a great relationship, like you adore each other. Your spouse may even demand that you “put on a show” whenever you step out your front door – this gets exhausting!
“Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you may not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stress, including stress from an unhappy marriage, can affect your thoughts, your feelings, your behavior, and your health. If stress is left unchecked, it can lead to serious health problems, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Here are just some of the ways stress can affect you according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Chest pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Stomach issues
- A lack of focus or motivation
- Substance abuse
- Eating too much or too little
Related: Are You Crazy or Emotionally Abused?
If your marriage is a sham and you’re tired of pretending like everything’s okay, we invite you to contact our firm to sit down with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free. In a confidential consultation, we’d be happy to give you legal advice.