05 Feb I Feel Unhappy!!! Help my Marriage Liven Up!
As I talk to many women, I realize we all share the rollercoaster ride of emotional unhappiness at various moments of marriage. We go into our marriages full of love and expectation, excited to take that step into “living happily ever after”. Then reality hits, not Hollywood. We struggle, often without others knowing, dealing with unmet expectations, the defects in ourselves and our spouses and/or circumstances that challenge us beyond what we had hoped for. We can get deflated, discouraged, irritated and resentful. If we don’t learn how to deal with these feelings constructively, they can fester and cause us a lot of problems. It’s important that we work to regain our equilibrium. Talking to a trusted friend helps a lot; when needed, seeking professional help is worthwhile. No one needs “an infection” to turn into disease. Sadly, some women do not confide in others and find the help they need before situations require “serious surgery”.
We all start off marriage in love, totally into our marital relationship. When kids come along, we have less time for relationship and more responsibility. We hope our spouse can read our mind and meet our needs. Unfortunately, he’s wired differently and doesn’t always do so. We too can put our marriage at the bottom of the totem pole of “to do’s” and become quite distant with each other. Many times we will crave intimacy and be frustrated it’s not there for the taking. Matthew Kelly’s book Seven Levels of Intimacy came into my life when I needed it. It helped me gain insights I had never heard of before. It also challenged me to grow intimacy in my marriage. If you’re not a reader, listen to it as an audible. Well worth it!
Years ago, while looking at the selection of books in the library, I came across The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman. He is one of my favorite authors because he’s practical, constructive and always gives me hope. The book was relatively thin, with big lettering, and at a glance, looked to be my antidote in a moment of marital unhappiness. I took it out and was able to quickly read it amidst the mayhem of many children. Wow, was it a breath of fresh air in my stuffy life. I quickly learned I was suffering from the winter season of marriage. The book showed me how I got there, how common it was, and how I could get myself out of it. It was such a relief for me to learn that this season did not have to last forever or be the final chapter in my marriage. It offered me so much hope at a time where everything seemed to convince me otherwise.
Since that time, I realize all marriages experience conflict, tension and ice, often by our own unconscious actions. We all crave tenderness, affection, unity and communication but we don’t necessarily know how to achieve it. Often our attempts don’t meet with the outcomes we expected. We get stuck in our unhappiness, marinating in negativity, keeping score, blaming, and losing motivation to “drown evil in an abundance of good”. We want happiness in our primary relationship and we don’t feel we are getting it. We are stuck in a rut and our wheels are spinning. Today I want to say loud and clear, GET YOURSELF OUT OF THE MUD! GET A TOW TRUCK!
Easy to say, but where do you find one? Let me recommend some great services to pull you out of the ditch. They have helped me so much when I have derailed, gotten rickety, or am feeling glum. Yes you might be super busy, but carve out time for getting you healthy again. Be resourceful and creative. I listen to chunks of podcasts when I run errands, houseclean, or wash dishes. I read from books/emails/apps a bit while drinking tea, waiting in line, or am in the bathroom. Find a way that works for you and begin. No marriage is smooth sailing. Bad weather happens to everyone. Batten your hatches, bail the water and save your ship. Your lives are worth it. No one has to drown. Pick one approach below and start. They each offer quality coaching for marriages based on proven research.
The Marriage Minute by the Gottman Institute. People sign up and get emailed a one minute idea every Tuesday and Thursday morning to make your marriage stronger.
FREE MARRIAGE PODCASTS:
The Small Things Often Podcast by the Gottman Institute (5 minutes, sent Mondays and Wednesdays)
Married with Benefits Podcast by Shaunti Feldhahn (understanding men, sex, why he’s angry etc.)
Building Relationships Podcast by Gary Chapman (54min talk sent once a week)
The Love and Respect Podcast by Emmerson Eggerichs (over 125 talks that are 30-40 minutes long)
FREE GREAT APPS FOR MARRIAGE:
The Gottman Card Deck by the Gottman Institute (highly researched, fun, helps communication)
Love Nudge by Gary Chapman (practical and easy from author of 5 Love Languages)
30 Days Kindness Challenge website by Shaunti Feldhahn provides a daily 5 minute email filled with tons of formation on how to exercise kindness for 30 days. Pick the spouse option. Highly researched. I learned a ton about my strengths and weaknesses and saw how I could make a difference.
We spend tons of time studying, taking courses and developing ourselves for our job. Yet, the happiness of our marriage or lack of it, has far greater impact on every part of our life, including our physical, mental and emotional state. Choose to become a master rather than a disaster in your marriage. No one marries Mr. Perfect. Conflict and annoyance is normal. Learn to accept and work at the marital dance! There is so much available to help you master one step at a time. Consider a counsellor. Ask God’s help in learning the steps. He’s the best choreographer you can ever have and He doesn’t charge a cent! Begin, practice, stretch, try, keep at it. Master one little step at a time. Slowly build better health in your relationship through directed wisdom. But remember, there is no marital bliss without marital blisters. Begin and begin again. The struggle is worthwhile! Spring may be just around the corner for you.