by Lynn M. Griesemer
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all want a happy marriage. What is happiness? Is it an elusive dream? Is it possible? Many people assume that when happiness wanes their marriage is faltering.
What do you think of the following statements?
The goal of marriage is not happiness, but betterment. Marriage is the joining of two people who promise, vow and commit to journey through life for better or for worse, in sickness and in health for the main purpose of bettering yourself for the betterment of society and your soul. It is about going through life maturing in productive ways as you grow older. Marriage allows, and sometimes requires that you focus less on the self and more on another or others, if you have children.
This takes away the concept of selfish, personal happiness and makes an appeal for the greater good of marriage, family and society. We have so many community and world problems due to an overemphasis on personal happiness and personal selfishness; there is loss of connectedness and love of neighbor and it starts with individuals and marriage. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for happiness in a general sense. What is not healthy is the excessive striving from a purely selfish and self-filled ego obsession. This is not productive happiness. This kind of happiness involves hurting, using, or neglecting other people and tends to be narcissistic.
Most of us have the goal of being happy, but happiness can be fleeting, short-lived and is not really the best measure of a solid foundation of marriage. Happiness is often the result of a life lived well. Many will chase after happiness, find it for a few moments and continue the chase. When things aren’t going well, they will conclude that they are unhappy and try to change life circumstances. This is normal. But, how about living a decent, solid, helpful life and then seeing if happiness falls into place as a by-product?
Most likely, you will encounter periods of unhappiness in your marriage. Disillusion, disappointment. You might cry tears that last for days, weeks, months and for some, years. Is this when we bail out of the marriage, thinking we will find happiness elsewhere or in another partner? The statistics reveal otherwise. Many people who divorce find temporary euphoria, but interview them one year later and you will find a different story. Some wonder if maybe they could have found a way to work through their problems. Some have regrets, but often keep that to themselves. Some reassess their situation and think they could have persevered and dealt with issues.
Current statistics: Most divorces end around the 7 year point and the second marriage ends in divorce around the 5 year point. All of these couples will tell you that they were on top of the world with happiness when they got married, thinking it would last. “Our relationship is different. It’s not like everyone else’s out there,” yet they have 2 divorces in the course of 15-20 years.
When you reach your breaking point, do you have what it takes to dig in, problem solve, wait patiently, seek understanding, dissolve the wall of resentment, discuss the tough issues with your partner, or seek the right kind of help?
When you are unhappy and go for long periods of time with unhappiness, it is my hope for you that you make some movement in the right direction. This is where counseling or coaching can help you. If you are interested in learning more about coaching, you are welcome to have a free session with me to see what issues you might want to work on, with no obligation to continue. www.marriagecoachlynn.com
Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be cheerful, to see the bright side of things, even in severe hardship. Maybe you know someone who seems very happy, but has a tragic and difficult life. Certainly you can think of a few examples of people who have severe hardships, yet who are happy. Happiness is linked to a positive attitude – it comes from within and is not dependent on what is going on externally. Many people experience happiness as contingent upon what is happening to them or what is going on outside their control. You will have happier days if you wake up deciding it’s going to be a good day regardless of what happens, as opposed to getting upset about terrible weather, running late for appointments, having a disagreement with your boss and having other things not go as planned.
Are you happy? Let me ask you, are you a happy person? Do you smile, laugh and hug frequently? Are you truly content with your life? Would others describe you as cheerful, energized and helpful? Are others comfortable in your presence? Do you emit positive energy in your daily encounters with others? If you work on yourself, maybe you will have a happier marriage.
Sometimes if the woman of the household is unhappy, it sets the tone for the rest of the family. It is also well known that those who struggle with job satisfaction or cannot manage stress in life might not be happy, and very often this state has an impact on marriage and family life.
Happy as an individual / happy together – What is your passion? What is your yearning? Do you have a yearning? Have you communicated this to your spouse? Has your spouse responded? Does he or she care? Happiness is linked with caring about your partner and seeking to understand.
Are you emotionally available and connected to your partner? When there is distance or lack of caring, there might be lack of listening and understanding in the marriage. Maybe there is anger, lack of sexual fulfillment or past hurts that are not resolved. When a couple is unhappy, they are living side by side, not face to face.
Everyone has a list of how to have a happy marriage. Here is what Dr. Scott Haltzman says from Brown University. After years of experience, this is the conclusion he has reached: “Men want to be their wife’s hero. He says that many men have ADD, so act like a reporter and ‘don’t bury the lead.’ “ In other words, get to the point first and then fill in the back story. Talk less or in bullet points. Another author, Rick Johnson, says that men don’t stray from their marriage due to lust, but often boredom. So, to improve happiness, be on the lookout for boredom.
One of my blogtalkradio programs was titled: “How to Have a Happy Marriage.” Listen to this 30 minute program if this topic interests you. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marriagecoachlynn/2011/05/03/how-to-have-a-happy-marriage