Why Settle For An Almost Happy Marriage in 2023?
If you’re not happy in your marriage, you’re probably not happy in general because your relationship with your spouse affects every single area of your life.
According to Wikipedia, “Happiness, in the context of mental or emotional states, is positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Other forms include life satisfaction, well-being, subjective well-being, flourishing and eudaimonia.”
What would your life be like if that statement reflected your marriage?
According to VeryWellMind, “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction.”
Psychology Today says, “Happiness is defined differently depending on who you ask. Some people define happiness as a positive emotional experience. Others define happiness as having two parts called hedonia (pleasure) and eudaimonia (thriving). Outside of the scientific world, most of us define happiness as a mixture of positive emotional experiences and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life.”
According To PursuitOfHappiness.org, “Leading Positive Psychologists claim that happiness has three sources, i.e., that the “Happiness Pie” has three slices: Slice 1: Our genetic makeup. Slice 2: Our environment. Slice 3: Our actions.”
Sonja Lyubomirsky, an author and researcher on positive psychology, says that happiness is “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” (Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Publishing Group, 2007. Accessed 19 October 2022.)
How we think about what we feel matters as much as what we experience.
Dictionary.com isn’t very helpful as it defines happiness as “the quality or state of being happy.”
Fortunately, its second definition is a bit better, defining happiness as “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.”
Happiness” is hard to pin down. Generally speaking, happiness is somewhat subjective, something we feel, very individual, isn’t guaranteed, and can be fleeting – it can come and go.
What Does Happiness Mean To You?
That’s the most important question.
More importantly, what does a happy marriage look like to you? How does it feel, sound, and function? And is that the kind of marriage you had in 2022?
Are you happy?
Here’s an eye-opening assignment, go to a restaurant sometime in the next few days and observe the couples discreetly. Can you tell which couples enjoy being with each other?
You’ll notice some couples sitting silently, eating their food without saying a word. Others will be on their phones, ignoring each other, more interested in what they find in the virtual world than in what’s sitting right in front of them. You’ll notice some couples smiling and holding hands while others are completely devoid of intimacy and romance.
You deserve a happy marriage, but you have to earn it because no one will give it to you.
Time Passes Faster Than You Realize
When you’re younger, it feels like you have all the time in the world for things to turn around. But then, one day, a few years later, when you’re a little older and wiser, you realize just how fast time goes.
And somewhere between when you said “I do” and where you are now, your marriage became something you never thought possible, a cold, lonely, unfilling, and dissatisfying place.
Why? How? Because you either weren’t paying close enough attention or avoided facing issues along the way that would’ve kept your relationship on course. Instead, you drifted along and coasted to an unhappy destination.
Happy marriages don’t just happen. Having the kind of marriage you dream of and want takes effort.
You have to face the music and take uncomfortable actions along the way to protect what you have. There will be many awkward and uncomfortable conversations too.
What’s Stealing Your Joy?
Of course, you want a happy and satisfying marriage.
If you’re unhappy in your marriage, what would make you happy? What would it take to create an “emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment” in your marriage?
What are some things that are stealing/blocking your joy and happiness?
What are the top two or three sources of your discontent and pain? Write them down. Make it real and name them.
Cultivate Your Own Happiness
Look at the items on your list that make you unhappy and dissatisfied in your marriage. Why haven’t you done anything about them? And will you do something about them in 2023 or continue avoiding them like you’ve been doing?
Thinking that things could be worse or being afraid of making things worse is no way to live because your marriage is the pulse of your life – it’s the relationship within which you live, move, and have your being. It defines or affects everything you are and do!
Look, facing something is better than avoiding it because knowing is better than not knowing.
Do not settle for “almost happy” or “mostly happy.” What?!
Your happiness is, at least partially, in your hands. You have the power to address your marriage and make it happier and more satisfying than it is right now.
Start with a loving, caring, respectful, and honest conversation with your spouse unless you realize they’re dealing with issues that require the help and intervention of a therapist, which, if that’s the case, start with seeing a therapist first yourself to get much-needed advice with how best to move forward.
Next, along with taking action to make your marriage happier, pursue happiness personally, .
According to Psychology Today, “regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction. It isn’t happiness per se that promotes well-being, it’s the actual pursuit that’s key.”
Life is an ongoing process that unfolds daily. People make the mistake of focusing on the destination – of allowing themselves to be happy only when they get what they want; that’s a mistake.
If you want to be happy, do what you must to make the process enjoyable because you’ll be a happier person when you enjoy the process.
Lastly, please don’t believe everything you hear or are being told about yourself, especially by your spouse, who might be so unhappy that all they want to do is hurt you for hurting them or not making them happy.
You’re a great person with good traits.
You have gifts and skills and hopes and dreams.
Of course, you’re not perfect. But don’t let that keep you from evaluating your life and identifying the many good qualities within you.
You’re not helpless, stupid, a monster, or any other bad thing you’re being called that’s tearing you down piece by piece.
By taking back your power and owning your life, your happiness will no longer be in someone else’s hands; you’ll no longer be at the mercy of circumstances or things beyond your control.
Cultivate and nurture your happiness.
Become clear about what matters most to you for your marriage in 2023, and focus on those things by taking action to have a happier marriage.
Shape your marriage in 2023; don’t let your marriage shape you.
Complacency, apathy, and avoidance will only get you more of the same. You have to interrupt that cycle. Take action to control the dynamics of your marriage to create an emotional environment that makes you and your spouse happy, secure, and satisfied.
Although the quality of your marriage has a powerful effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life, remember that happiness comes from within, primarily.
So, embrace ways of thinking and behaving that allow you to pursue happiness and increase your enjoyment personally.
One thing is for sure, you can’t control everything that happens to you in 2023, but you do have a say in how you interpret it.
Also, remember you have a lot to do with how happy your marriage will or won’t be. If it isn’t as happy as you want it, do something about it; otherwise, you’ll still be here twelve months from now except unhappier.
You know in your heart what needs to happen to have a happier marriage. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether this is the year you’ll do something about it.
Don’t settle for being “almost happy” in 2023. Take charge of your life. And work with your spouse to unlock your happiest and most satisfying marriage. A year from now, you won’t regret taking action; but you will regret not doing anything about it.