Have you ever thought “I’m really unhappy in my marriage?” You’re not alone.
Every Wednesday on To Love, Honor and Vacuum we talk marriage, because I love sharing things that will build up your relationship. Today Esther from Wellness Mom Life is chatting with us about unhappiness in marriage, and how to find happiness again.
Without further ado–here’s Esther:
My husband doesn’t make me happy. It sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually not. I used to be very upset about this fact, until I learned some important lessons about happiness.
I didn’t start out unhappy in my marriage.
Let me start back at the beginning. My husband and I met when I was still in high school. We worked at a Christian bookstore together in our town.
We quickly developed a friendship and had a lot in common. He made me laugh, and his blue eyes made me melt. Almost a year later, we were dating and spending every moment we could together.
A long 4.5 years later, after I finally graduated college, we got married. Through those dating and engagement years, we certainly learned a lot about each other. But we also spent a lot of time apart. I went to college 2 states away, so we stayed in contact by phone, email, and yes, snail mail.
Both of us also traveled abroad during that time for extended periods of time – I was in Central America for 3.5 months, and he went to Vanuatu with Teen Missions for an entire summer.
The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was very true in our relationship. We spent so much time apart, and we truly couldn’t wait to see one another again.
During those years, I usually felt like Scott made me happy. I loved spending time with him – he made me laugh, he wrote long letters to me, and I loved his passion for God and for Bible study. We definitely had our moments when we did not agree, but overall, I just couldn’t wait to be married to him.
Fast forward a few years into our marriage, and I didn’t always feel happy when I was around him.
I became seriously unhappy in my marriage. I didn’t get the butterflies in my stomach when I heard his voice. In fact, sometimes we had disagreements that caused us both a lot of pain and tears.
Then our daughter was born, and things got even harder. I was physically exhausted, mentally worn out, and emotional. I started becoming resentful that Scott didn’t make me happy.
In fact, sometimes he made me mad. I was disappointed in the state of our marriage, and I wondered if we were going to make it. I was tired of being unhappy in my marriage and longed to have a marriage that I loved.
He was a youth pastor, and I was working part-time and also trying to build a business. We were involved in a small group, and had lots of support around us. But I still wasn’t feeling happy.
About 7 months after my daughter was born, I attended our church’s women’s retreat. I wasn’t sure if I should go, since I had 2 other weekend events that month that involved traveling with my daughter. This, in and of itself, was a challenge with a child who didn’t have a regular sleep schedule and cried if she wasn’t being held.
Learning how to be happy despite any circumstances
Attending that retreat was probably one of the best things I did for myself and my marriage. That weekend helped me to realize that it wasn’t my husband’s responsibility to make me happy. It wasn’t my friend’s responsibility or my church’s or my family’s. It was mine.
Let me explain: I recognized that it was my responsibility to understand and acknowledge my place in God’s kingdom. If I truly understood that I was a child of God – that He loved me and that He died for me – then I could be happy no matter what.
I could live with an attitude of happiness, even when the circumstances around me didn’t constitute happiness. I could be happy because of my position and not be dependent upon my circumstances.
I’d like to say that I never expected my husband to make me happy after that, but I’d be lying. However, I did start to realize that I had been putting way too much pressure on him and on our relationship to fulfill me.
It’s easy to feel happy when you’re dating and things are going amazing. It’s natural to feel happy when you experience really exciting things in your relationship, your life, or your career.
But when things are harder, that feeling of happiness doesn’t come as easily. It’s then that you must recognize the true source of happiness. For me, that source is Jesus, and my relationship with him.
Free to be happy
I can be happy because of what He has done for me and who I am in him. Then, I am free to be happy whether or not my husband meets all my needs. I’m free to be happy even if my friend betrays me, my child screams all night, or my family member criticizes me.
So my husband doesn’t make me happy, but Jesus does. Yes, sometimes I feel happiness because of something my husband does, and I love that. But I no longer rely on him to make me happy or to meet every need that I have.
Esther Littlefield is a feisty pastor’s wife to her husband, Scott, and mom to her spirited daughter, KJ. They live in Maine where they enjoy as many outdoor adventures as possible in the midst of homeschooling, business, and church life. In her free time, you’d probably find her with a cup of coffee, a good friend, and a sink full of dishes. Esther is the founder of WellnessMomLife, helping moms balance marriage, motherhood, and ministry. Esther is passionate about helping other moms create a marriage they love.
Have you ever felt unhappy in your marriage? What did you do to fix the problem? Let’s talk about it in the comments!