Many men and women are in marriages that they hate, which causes some of them to hate their own lives. What should a person do when they hate their marriage and, subsequently, their life? What happens when the dream of a happy and fulfilling marriage seems impossible to achieve?
You may have attempted to make your marriage a fulfilling one for many years, but your spouse doesn’t seem interested. You may even have tried therapy, counseling, or educating yourself about marriage. However, all your efforts do not help. Your marriage either stays unfulfilling or worsens. What should you do?
In this article, I will provide some insight and suggestions to deal with an unfulfilling marriage and help you strive to love your life regardless of the state of your marriage.
The Effects of a Bad Marriage
A bad marriage causes stress. The thought of coming home to your spouse nags you, and sometimes you wish you could go someplace else or be with someone else. Maybe an affair would make you feel better until you realize that infidelity will probably worsen things. Perhaps divorce is the solution, but that may bring on a different set of problems, especially if you remarry.
As the years pass, resentment germinates as you blame your spouse for an unhappy marriage and a miserable life. Intimacy has declined significantly, and sex has become a distant memory. You may find it difficult to initiate intimacy with your spouse. The emotional connection between you has diminished or vanished.
Remaining in an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage affects you negatively. The most significant of those is stress. Stress can lead to health issues.
Some feel trapped, and hopelessness may creep in. They may think that getting married was one of their biggest mistakes. They fantasize about a life being alone or with someone else.
Unfortunately, many people are in bad marriages. The joy they felt on the wedding day and the accompanying hope has long vanished. Arguments are frequent, frustrations increase, and the relationship suffers. I have found that some people’s ill feelings for their marriage creep into their personal lives. Their lives are miserable since their marriage makes them miserable.
What Can You Do?
The first thing you should do is try to improve the relationship. Simply put, work at your marriage. Marriages are not going to be fulfilling or happy on their own. It would help if you made an effort to build a happy marriage for it to occur—like anything else in life. What can you do to improve your marriage? Here are some suggestions.
For Better or For Worse
I want to remind you of your vows. You may have created your vows for the wedding day (like I did). I’m confident that you included promises to love each other in thick or thin, good times and bad, etc. The love you professed to your spouse on the wedding day was not based on emotions, or I hope it wasn’t. One should not get married merely because of feelings (emotional love). That is not sufficient to sustain a healthy relationship.
My point is you promised. Make good on your promise and work at your marriage even when you don’t feel like it. You may have grown to resent your spouse, but do what you need to do to make things better.
Now, I understand that you may have been in a bad marriage for a long time, and you have had enough. Perhaps you have reached your limit of toleration. I hope you have tried everything to make things better and not merely expect your spouse to read your mind and know you are unhappy.
Don’t give up on your marriage if trouble has recently introduced itself. You promised to love for better or worse, or something to that effect. So make good on it.
Many people end their marriages by separation or divorce. They have decided that they have had enough trying to make things better. The reason that they can salvage their lives by ending the stressful and unhappy part of it, i.e., their marriage.
There are essentially two choices in dealing with a bad marriage.
- Stay in the relationship and keep trying to make it better
- Separation or divorce
The bottom line is that you either stay in a bad marriage or end it. There may come a point where you have had enough of a bad and stressful marriage. It depends on your tolerance for an unhappy relationship. Is it ten years, twenty, or thirty? It all depends on you.
Keep Hope Alive
Unless you plan on separation or divorce, you should first remain hopeful that the relationship can get better and you can experience a happy marriage. It’s hard to pursue something if you don’t think it is obtainable.
You might be saying that you’ve kept hope alive for decades, and the marriage still sucks. That’s okay. Still, dream of a better day unless you’ve already given up.
Don’t Dwell on the Problem
It is easy to rehearse how bad your marriage is daily. Instead, start thinking about things that will bring you happiness. Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, start a business, etc. Ideally, you want your spouse to be with you in those pursuits. However, you should not expect them to be with you suddenly.
Dwelling on a bad marriage and how unhappy it makes you will only produce more stress, frustration, anger, and resentment. Meet your responsibilities in the household and help your spouse, but dwell on positive things instead of your dissatisfaction with the marriage.
It can be devastating when you realize that your spouse has checked out of the marital relationship. They may declare that they are not in love with you anymore or something to that effect. The emotional connection that you once had is gone. There is little sex, deep conversations, planning together, etc. Your marriage has been relegated to a business relationship where the bills get paid, the house is cared for, the children are educated, etc.
The problem with roommate marriages, i.e., marriages with little emotional connection, occurs when the husband or the wife desires or craves that emotional connection and doesn’t get it. They start to feel deceived, alienated and unloved by their spouse.
Always respond with an effort to improve the marriage. Do not respond from your emotions because that will probably make things work. For example, a husband who constantly complains to his wife about the lack of sex is not being constructive in restoring intimacy.
Try to determine what happened. That can be difficult, but there is usually a reason someone checks out the relationship. Perhaps you deeply offended your spouse, or they experienced trauma.
In any case, work to resolve the issue instead of dwelling on it.
The Deceitful Spouse
I was once an idealist regarding marriage. I believed that there was always a solution, and if you worked at it, your marriage could be happy and fulfilling. However, I have since learned that such is not always the case. Sometimes people get married for ulterior motives. Let me illustrate.
A man proposes to a woman because he wants to spend the rest of his life with her by his side. He imagines them spending time together and growing closer. He visualizes her by his side, helping him in his business, ministry, or hobbies. He is excited to get married.
However, the woman looks at the arrangement from an entirely different perspective. She sees a sense of security and a moral environment for having children. She may love him, but her motive for getting married is more functional than an intimate relationship. The problem is that the man will not know that until that perspective is manifested many years later.
One of the first signs of deceit (or misunderstanding) is when children enter the household. The wife then effectively abandons her husband to care for the children. She makes significant sacrifices for the children that she never made for her husband. She can make time for the children, her job, or hobbies, but not for spending quality time with her husband.
She deceived her husband into thinking she wanted him. She wanted what he had to offer. The same applies the other way around. Sometimes a man proposes to a woman because he thinks he will get a housewife and someone to raise the children. He deceived his wife into thinking he wanted her when, in fact, he only wanted what she could offer him.
It is devastating to discover that your spouse was not genuinely interested in spending a life together. They were interested in marrying you because of what you offered. They wanted a functional relationship, not an intimate one.
It is essential to express your feelings to your spouse. You should also be prepared for the truth. Perhaps your spouse doesn’t have a problem with you, but marrying was not about you personally. Maybe they are okay with a functional relationship. You must deal with that situation because you cannot make them want an emotional connection.
Pursue Your Happiness
It would be best not to let your marriage keep you from happiness and fulfillment. It would be wonderful if your spouse desired to be with you in your world. However, many times that doesn’t happen. Continue to work to improve your marriage, and continuously pursue happiness with or without your spouse.
I am not suggesting that you abandon or neglect your spouse. I am saying that if your spouse isn’t with you, do things for yourself. Instead of thinking that your spouse will make you happy, make yourself happy.
As much as possible, find ways to spend quality time together. Discuss your desires, dreams, passions, etc., with your spouse. They need to know how you feel about the relationship. It is bad practice to tell your spouse something you didn’t like that happened or started years prior.
Enjoy the times that you can with each other. If your spouse isn’t pursuing an intimate relationship with you, then talk about it and accept whatever you can get. Above that, find your own happiness. You may find that you must leave your spouse behind to pursue your dreams and happiness.
Build your relationship with God and pursue him earnestly. Read your Bible and absorb the principles it reveals to you—practice them. Pray for wisdom for your marriage, and don’t be afraid to swallow your ego and do what is right for the relationship.
I’m suggesting to neither give up on yourself nor your marriage. Invest in yourself. What do you like to do? What hobbies would you enjoy? Where are some places you would like to go, even if alone?
Start pursuing the things that you enjoy. Make your life happy yourself. Take control of your life. Learn to love your life even if you are not satisfied with your marriage. Learn to take care of yourself.
Bad marriages are not good for us. However, many couples experience a bad marriage to the extent that it spills over, and some start hating their own lives. They have allowed their marriage to define their happiness. Don’t do that.
The objective here is to make a happier, more fulfilled, and better you. Hopefully, a more positive you with a changed disposition would do well for your marriage. It starts with you, which is why blaming your spouse is counterproductive.
A marriage won’t get better if you don’t get better. It starts with you, not your spouse. Be happy and fulfilled by pursuing those for yourself. Stay committed to the marriage, and don’t allow it to pull you down. Be there for your spouse, and at the same time, be there for yourself.
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