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Marriage and Happiness
by Diana S. Dodson
Many people feel and think marriage is work. They feel that if you don't have to work at something, then somehow it has less meaning. Marriage would be work if two people were:
It would be difficult to have an easy lifestyle with problems such as these. If you are always dealing with problems either from yourself or from your spouse, then the marriage will be a struggle and will be work. You wouldn't have time for the positive aspects of the relationship such as love, trust, and intimacy. If you want to have a marriage that is less complicated, then you would want both people to have a high level of self-esteem, to know how to treat somebody with respect and dignity, and to know how to show love. The marriage would then have a good foundation and would require less work.
At times, people are so angry or depressed; it makes it virtually impossible to have a marriage that is free and easy. Here's a theme that may fit many couples. When you have fun, it's only because the other person is willing to put away their anger. If they are happy, then everyone else is happy, but if they are miserable, they try to make everyone around them miserable too. They carry around a very heavy burden. They struggle with their personal dilemma, and when they feel a certain urge, they turn on the charm and act as if all is right with the world. When the fun is over and they're not getting their way, they go back to their negative behaviors. At times they become withdrawn, moody, or depressed. They expect you to adhere to them. They call all of the shots and set the tempo.
There are also less dramatic personalities that set the tone in the relationship. There are people who behave in immature ways, withhold their feelings, or people who always have to be right. It seems there are many types of unbalanced relationships. Certain people's personalities just seem to stand out.
Marriage will always be a give-and-take situation, and we will always be learning new things about ourselves and our spouses. There will always be adjustments and new situations to deal with, yet we don't always have to look at this as negative or as work. We can look at new situations as challenges and look forward to the new areas in our lives to conquer. If we stop to think about the other person and how they feel, our marriages would be much healthier and happier.
Many people feel they don't deserve happiness. These people feel life should not be easy. They feel to know what is good they have to know what is bad. We should all know what is good through our observations, feelings of contentment, love, and respect. We also know what's bad and should try very hard to get rid of those behaviors. We can all have some of these good feelings even if we didn't learn them as children. We shouldn't have to agonize and ponder over every little situation. We should just allow ourselves to be free and content with life.
Ideas and Examples to Try
Try to be sensitive, kind, tolerant, and empathic for yourself. Find ways to develop these characteristics before you get married. These should be the gifts we all give to ourselves.
Marry someone you're in love with. Marry someone you're compatible with. If you had a good relationship before you married, try to treat each other in that same loving way throughout the marriage.
Try not to complain all the time. It seems many people complain just to complain. You don't have to mention every little thing that happens and complain about it.
Before you get married, talk to each other about what you want and what you feel. Remember, just because we don't agree with certain people doesn't mean we are wrong, it just means we are different. Everyone is not compatible and should not get married for those reasons. We will all not love or like everybody just as everybody will not love or like us. This is okay. Don't take your differences so personally. Find someone who is like you.
When you realize there is a problem, don't become closed-mouthed. Talk about it right away. Don't let it linger on so long that you want out of the marriage.
You may want to think about some sort of compromise, something that is acceptable for both of you.
Don't assume your spouse should know how you feel all of the time. There're times you will have to tell them, and there are times they should be sensitive to your needs.
Everything is not a struggle, and sometimes people do overreact. Be selective and choose the battles you want to fight, and remember, some are really not that important.
Try to think about whose needs are the most important at the moment. For example, say your wife or husband's father passes away and you are uncomfortable talking about the death. Try to remember whose needs are greater at the moment and try to do all you can do to help them through the pain.
Try to live in the moment. That doesn't mean to go out and become careless and reckless; it means be involved in your life from moment to moment, no matter what is happening. Life is a process of good and bad, and we need to accept what is happening to us and grow from our experiences.
Don't blame others if your marriage is unacceptable. Accept your responsibility. You made that choice. You may have made a bad choice, but it was your choice. Find out what you can do to avoid making those same mistakes again. This may be a painful process for some when they realize they aren't perfect. Correct what is wrong and move on.
Longevity doesn't necessarily mean that a marriage has been successful. Many times people stay together for the wrong reasons. Some of these people truly believe their marriage is successful because there has been no divorce. Think about the marriage as successful in other terms, rather than longevity.
When there is a problem, deal with it and move on. Don't allow it to stay in your life. Some people allow the bad to stay in their lives. They never continue to grow. They just seem to stagnate. They seem comfortable with the pain, or maybe that's just an excuse to punish others. There's nothing we can do about the past except learn from it. So why dwell on it? It's easier for many to stay in a negative situation than to move on. Even though it is negative, it's what they're most comfortable with. It takes more work to change, so they take the easy way out.
Don't expect your spouse to come home every night feeling the same way. None of us will want to be totally loving or caring all of the time. We all need to be grumpy, tired, or frustrated at times. Accept that your spouse may want silence or to be alone. We can still be kind to each other. We should let each other know that we've had a hard day. We should then accept their behavior as a necessary part of life. If this behavior becomes too excessive, then we know there's something wrong with our spouse or the relationship. We will then need to seek help. Don't let it get too far out of hand.
Acceptance of life is very important. There are just some things we have no control over. It's important to be able to laugh at yourself and not take everything so seriously.
Never give to get approval. That kind of giving is selfish giving.
Sometimes it's great to do nothing, to have no goals, avoid worrying about the dishes or the lawn. Just relax, read, talk, go for a walk, and enjoy the ocean, a sunset, or some quiet music.
Make life happy and easy. It's much easier than most people think. There are some good rules to follow in our society. Some of these rules include obeying laws or treating people the way we would like to be treated. There is so much room to be ourselves and to be happy. We can dress the way we choose, eat what we desire, go to movies, play sports, and hundreds of other things. So appreciate what you have and what you are, and don't complicate your life.
Diana S. Dodson has spent many years working as a counselor and mental-heath consultant for children, adolescents, and adult schizophrenics. This article has been edited and excerpted from It's Your Life, Take Charge! (Authorhouse). Read more about how you can be more proactive and understand yourself to a greater extent. A unique perspective on life translates into self-realization and learning how to be your own guide to your own happiness. Morris County NOW (New Jersey) produces a TV show called New Directions for Women and has asked Ms. Dodson to be a guest on the show on May 13, 2009.
For more articles on marriage, relationships, and divorce, visit http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Relationships
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