An Unsupportive Spouse Can Make You Sick

An Unsupportive Spouse Can Make You Sick

We are all evangelical about the good choices we’ve made.

Left your job to start your own successful company? You’ll tell everyone that being an entrepreneur is the way to go.

Bought a house in the suburbs in a great school district? You’ll probably encourage your friends to do the same.

Bought an apartment in the city so you can be closer to the center of things? You probably believe that this is the ideal lifestyle.

The point is that we all fall victim to our own confirmation bias – and tend to parrot evidence that validates our point of view.

I try extra hard not to fall into that trap, but you may reasonably disagree.

That’s why I’m sharing this article with you on the perils of an “ambivalent marriage.”

This is not an argument against marriage. This is an argument against BAD marriage.

According to a BYU study posted in the New York Times recently, “ambivalence in a relationship – the feeling that a partner may be unpredictable with his or her support or negativity – can take a quiet toll on the health of an individual.”

This is usually where people who have been burned by marriage pipe up and say, “Aha! I told you so! All that stuff about married people being happier is bullshit!”

Actually, it’s not; and it’s important to  establish that publicly.

Marriage isn’t a magic panacea that instantly makes you happy and cures your ills.

Being single isn’t a sad one-way ticket to Loserville.

I think that’s pretty obvious, but  I still think it’s worthy saying out loud.

In fact, what  this study (a small study, but still) illustrates is that  that “23 percent of the couples were in supportive marriages with low levels of negativity. The remaining 77 percent of couples gave mixed responses, suggesting their marriages were more ambivalent in terms of positive and negative feelings toward each other.”  And, of course, these negative feelings caused negative effects like stress and lower cardiovascular health.

Take your time choosing a better partner, and you’ll have a better marriage (and a happier life, as well).

This is not an argument against marriage. This is an argument against BAD marriage.

Every post I’ve ever written has stressed the virtues of GOOD marriage, based on compatibility, consistency, communication, kindness and comfort.

The “ambivalent” marriages in question only go to show what anyone could have told you: it’s hard to be happy in relationship in which your partner is critical or unsupportive.

Take your time choosing a better partner, and you’ll have a better marriage (and a happier life, as well).

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

Join our conversation (19 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1
    In Not Of

    Makes sense to me.

  2. 2


    Take your time choosing a better partner, and you’ll have a better marriage (and a happier life, as well).”

    I’d add: “Take your time becoming a better partner, and you’ll have a better marriage, and a happier life as well!”

    1. 2.1

      Definitely agree to work on becoming the partner you want.   Like just about anything else in life, you get from a relationship what you put into it (and if your partner doesn’t reciprocate your efforts, then ditch him and find someone else who will).   I find that with a good guy (like my boyfriend), he’ll treat you like a princess when you treat him like a prince.

      Even bad relationships I had before, with critical and unsupportive guys, really took a toll on me.   I lost so much weight from the stress that people started asking me if I had developed an eating disorder and got really worried.   I can only imagine how much worse it is to be married to someone unsupportive!   For that reason, me and my boyfriend are taking our time assessing each other before we even think of marriage.

    2. 2.2

      I’ve been married 45 years have supported this man through military and retirement. I have been at his beck and call when he needed me. Now that I need him because I have a heart condition he wants to ignore and drag me places to keep doing things for him. He acts like it is all in my head. As I face open heart surgery because of an aorta aneurysm and a leaking valve. To be supportive and a good spouse you must make those kind of decisions they don’t just happen. You choose to change your life to be more like Jesus. I feel as a bother.

  3. 3

    BTW, saw that Evan just celebrated his 7th anniversary (?) Congratulations!   (Sorry if that’s belated but only just saw that.   As evidenced by the comments section, it isn’t easy to find a great relationship so cherish each and every single moment)

  4. 4

    I believe this to be true not only with a partner/spouse, but anyone you have a close relationship with and have to interact on a daily basis  like family or coworkers.   My boss is so old-school, negative and unsupportive I can’t take working with him any longer.   It is physically starting to take a toll on me.   No job, no   ONE is worth it.

    1. 4.1

      I’m sorry to hear that, is there any way you can quit and find another job?   I was in a similar situation and quit (and relied on backup savings and help from family in the interim until I could find another job).   If it’s that bad, it’s no longer worth it.   And you can’t really hide that negativity.   It can seep into job interviews with other prospective employers, and hurt your odds of getting jobs with them.   It might benefit you to get away from the negativity first, so you can approach a job search from a more positive place.

      I’m not sure if quitting always hurts your chances of getting another job.   If anything, when I looked for a new job while still working my old one…prospective employers asked me well, if you’re already working a job similar to this one anyway, why do you want to leave it to work for us?   It made them question my interest in them.   Not to mention, depending on their circumstances, other employers might want someone who can start working for them right away–and won’t have to delay the start date because they have to give their old employer prior notice, finish up old business with them, etc.

      Just my own two cents.   A lot of this also applies to bad relationships too!

  5. 5

    I have a doozie of a story. Dated someone who exhibited the emotionally supportive qualities I was looking for but never did the future talk, speaking about where we were headed as a couple because his life wasn’t in order to think that far out. I subjected myself to this kind of torture for about a year and then came down with a mono relapse. So you’re right Evan, the stress of an unsupportive relationship really can make you sick. We are no longer dating and I have found a better guy (even though I still have mono – no we haven’t kissed haha!) and he’s just such a gem who treats me better than any guy I’ve ever dated before. And I definitely followed your advice prior to meeting the new love in my life. Thank you for what you do, Evan! To anyone who feels stuck or unhappy in a relationship – set yourself free and just do what makes you happy. The right person will enter your life if you are open to receiving them.

  6. 6

    Your spouse or SO is supposed to be the one person above all that you can let your guard down with and share your innermost thoughts and fears.   If he or she negates your feelings, or worse, betrays you, there’s no purpose in continuing the relationship.

  7. 7

    Evan, would love to see some more detail /posts on here about recovery from abusive relationships, how to date after etc. As always, love your work 🙂

    1. 7.1

      @  Nina  #7
      You raise an important point.

      Although I have no experience of an abusive romantic relationship I did have an abusive boss for several years and in retrospect I can see many parallels between the two situations. I never really understood how people stayed for years in abusive relationships until I was exposed to the scenario myself. I consider myself quite a strong type, yet when confronted with a colossal bully it proved difficult to cope.
      Rather than being forced to stay due to a common household or children, I was confined to my situation due to economic necessity and financial obligations. So it wasn’t until the general macro-economic environment improved — consequentially providing me with options – that I was finally in a position to leave.
      Firstly, actually managing to leave.
      To actually extricate oneself from an abuser is in itself difficult. They are rarely simple mono-faceted monsters; rather a mix of charm and cunning, calm and explosive, scheming and manipulative. They know how to push and pull people to suit their own needs. So when they sense you are considering walking  they will use charm and even humor to try  prevent you from leaving.
      So you have to make a plan. Plan your getaway. Write your note, or prepare your speech. And consider where you’re going to go next. And then when the opportune moment arises, calmly implement your plan. And no matter what they say, no matter what angle or ploy they try to pull, no matter how much they promise to change, stick steadfastly to your plan and walk. And never look back. They don’t change so you have to cut them off. Forever.
      Take a break
      The basics. A few weeks of good rest, exercise and good food to unwind is essential. A night out with friends to relax or partaking in whatever your favorite activity is. All the little things count.
      The physical break from your environment, the change in scenery and culture change will also provide a mental break. I flew to South America on my own, hired a car and traveled around for some time. Fully immersed in another culture meant I didn’t think once about home and its associated problems.
      Reassess Priorities
      Once home  I spent some time considering what I wanted in my next place of employment. What were my goals, what type of work did I want to do?   Who did I want to work with?
      Rather than simply chasing the highest offer and the most prestigious job-offer as I had done previously I adjusted my criteria to accommodate a more holistic quality of life. Money was now just one aspect of many to consider.
      Make a(nother) Plan
      Once I had reassessed my priorities I set a plan. When considering my next place of employment I was determined not to allow a repeat of what happened previously so I made it my business to suss out the dynamic of the office. Rather than just jumping in and hoping for the best I spoke to other employees and carefully scrutinized the character of my direct boss and the main boss/owner to develop an awareness of what I was getting into in advance.
      Get back in the game!
      Once I had fully healed and my goals were clear I was then ready to start again.
      The whole process took about 3 or 4 months. Although not directly comparable to a romantic relationship I still learnt valuable lessons which I will use when ever exposed to abusive people again.

  8. 8

    I agree with Evan’s post 100%. I am divorced and happily single due to not having a supportive partner. After speaking to numerous people who were happily married, being supportive of each other was one of the reasons why they were happy married. They also said, just like Evan has been saying all along, that when you are married to the right person, marriage does not require a lot of work. If I ever meet the right person, I would remarry. If not, then I’ll continue to remain happily single.

  9. 9
    Evan Marc Katz

    For once, I agree with you. I think there are MANY people who make terrible partners. They are not selfless. They are not easygoing. They are not flexible. They are not honest. They are not emotionally available. They are not good communicators. They don’t value commitment. They fight unfairly. They don’t like and trust the opposite sex. Whether it’s men or women, there are PLENTY of people who should be left alone. Which is exactly what I advocate. I don’t think there should be more bad marriages.

    I think – as a coach for women – that women should choose men who have the qualities that make for good husbands…and men should choose happy, supportive, easygoing, warm, accepting partners. Which is why I’m always surprised when your crew gets on my case, because my advice to women completely echoes your values. The difference is that I have sympathy towards them and you take only one side.

    Finally, I think it’s obvious that many who classify themselves as an MGOTW are probably lacking in many of those good spouse qualities. Whether it’s because of a lack of confidence, lack of positive family experience, lack of positive experience with women – I ain’t judging how you got there, but it equals an overall negative impression of women and marriage.

    Again, I don’t begrudge your life experience or perspective or desire to opt out – but I REALLY don’t understand why you troll sites like mine where people are looking for marriage and men who believe in marriage. If you don’t like what we’re serving, don’t eat at the restaurant (and don’t picket it either). Just stay home with your Call of Duty, y’know?

  10. 10

    Good marriages improve one’s quality of life.   Mediocre or worse marriages are destabilizing and unhealthy.   Sounds about right, to me.

  11. 11

    I have to agree with obsidian.    I have been reading the blog, but not commenting for awhile now.   It is a great blog Evan, but you can be very intolerant of some opinions.   You just want them to shut up.   It js a great opportunity to explain your point of view, withoutcalling someone a troll.

    1. 11.1

      Another one… Evan Explained his point of view Million times and always does. Aren’t you reading at all..?!!!

      If you feel he is ”intolerant” to your opinion – just do Not give your opinion,which is with NO value anyway,as you are an Nobody.. And a troll is a Troll – straight from the barrel.. Why calling it something else..?!


  12. 12

    What is your point..?!!

    To prove Evan he is wrong..?!! Or to try make him feel small or …what…?!!

    I did not even read all of this rant,but… is so sickening – narrow minded people- the typical – ” the thief yells- get the thief”…

    Aren’t you people have lives and can’t you just take the Good points from what you read and keep going on your path…!!!?

  13. 13

    My partner of 11 years expressed his disgust of me being fat in such a vulgar offensive way that tonight I really threw my pent up rage in his face. Sure shocked him and he was upset even more when I told him I didn’t believe he loved me- actually told him how jealous I was of my friends who have supportive spouses/partners/loved ones and explained to him their behaviors compared to his. I am thinking it is not worth my while to pursue this relationship.   He thinks all along he’s been communicating this message when actuality it started about four months ago. I just don’t know if you and worth my while. I don’t think it’s worth losing sleep over and hardly function at work I’m exhausted.

  14. 14

    This is true. Yet it doesn’t tell me much. Choose a supportive partner: umm… are there indicators?

    Also in another article one woman writes about her unsupportive partner and in the endeffect she blamed it on herself for not communicating enough. I bet she was both a business and good partnership entrepreneur.

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