A LACK of (Marital) Happiness
Written By: Mark Smith
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I had a very broken up fellow come to my office this week. He had been in tears for days about the eminent demise of his marriage. In describing his marriage to me he said that he and his wife had for years had "a lack of happiness" between them. There was something that jumped out at me about that phrase. He just seemed so raw, so disappointed, so shocked, so beaten and so very disillusioned about how things had turned out given the wonderfully romantic and ideal way that things began. The reality of his situation was crushing him. It made me think about all the couples that I have seen since 1987 and just how many flavors of marital and relational unhappiness there are. Unfortunately the list seems absolutely unlimited.
Be honest with yourself. In what ways do you and your spouse have a lack of happiness between you? If you have been married for more than 20 minutes you know that a goodly bit of unhappiness goes with the deal. Do the good parts of the relationship outweigh the bad parts? If you have read my stuff much you understand that my view is that the whole unstated purpose of marriage is actually to make you so utterly miserable that you are forced into doing some very deep work on yourself that goes all the back to your childhood wounds. Is that not what happens in almost every marriage you are aware of?
Wives, is your husband critical, controlling, know it all, oblivious, self-centered, alcoholic, workaholic, irresponsible, reactive, jealous or intrusive? Does he rage, cheat, lie, drop the ball, get defensive, not hear you, not have your back, lose jobs, spend too much, look at internet porn, whine when he doesn't get sex and/or generally behave like an ass in many of his dealings with you? Those are all common complaints that I hear from the women that I work with.
Husbands, is your wife emasculating, difficult to please, depressed, reactive, critical, controlling, withholding, too passive, insecure, too needy, messy, too focused on helping others, shopaholic, jealous and sort of crazy at times? Does she rage, cheat, lie, drop the ball, get defensive, not hear you, betray you, never initiate sex, vent to friends and family about you and/or generally act like a bitch in many of her dealing with you? These are common complaints that I hear from men.
Unfortunately, we all marry our unresolved issues. You are hard wired to ONLY be attracted to people who are very much like the people who hurt you the most as a child. Have you figured that out yet? It is nature's way of teaching, healing, breaking and humbling you. Think about it. How ever you were hurt as a child, in your marriage you have found a way to re-enact it. You arranged that for yourself. It is all good and it is all fair. Pay attention. Listen.
So, do not be surprised or feel ill treated when your marriage blows up in your face because if it hasn't already it will some day. It is only a matter of time. The misery of your marriage is not about your spouse. It is about you. It is about your childhood wounds. Go back to the list of your marital complaints. If the truth be told, how many of your spouse's traits were also fully displayed with at least one of your parents when you were little?
Did you know that you are broken? Your marriage is just nature's tool used to inform you of your broken and dysfunctional condition and make you feel the depth of it. The pain of your marriage is your very best friend. Your challenging spouse is actually your very best friend in life, even if they see you as their mortal enemy. Your marriage is a puzzle that needs to be understood and pieced together with insight, openness, self-awareness and teachablity. If you miss the point about who your spouse is you could make an enemy for life and miss out on your best opportunity to know the truth about yourself as well as your best opportunity to repair as much of you as you possibly can, at this late date.
I am not sure if Mr. lack of marital happiness got to me in time to salvage and rebuild his marriage. I do know that he will be confronted very soon with more accurate raw data about his issues then he ever has in his life time. His Mrs. and his family background will supply me with the message the universe has been unsuccessfully trying to educate him with his whole life. My job is to get him to choke it down. I can employ a small but extremely sharp scalpel during the psychological surgery session or I can use a jack hammer, I don't care which, whatever it takes. Embrace your marital unhappiness. It is a gift. It is a message. It is here to make you better, deeper, healthier and happier. Dig in. Don't run. Don't quit. Don't scapegoat your partner as if they are your problem. Your potential for happiness is inside you where it has always been. Use your marital unhappiness as a spring board to help ground you, motivate you, heal you, teach you and ultimately make you into the very best you that you can possibly ever be.
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