For some people, divorce just isn’t an option. Whether it is due to social pressures, kids, or anything else, you may not want to end your marriage. An unhappy marriage can be devastating to your emotional as well as your mental state. Today, we guide you on how to survive in an unhappy marriage.
If you are stuck in an unhappy marriage, you have to embark on a two-step process. The first one is to learn how to survive in your marriage. You must learn how to find happiness even when things seem bleak. Once you have that foundation, you can learn how to rebuild once again and turn your unhappy marriage into a satisfying and happy one.
Thus, we will divide this guide into two sections. The first one will focus on surviving for those who are struggling with their marriage. The second one will dive into recovery from that unhappy state.
Is it OK to Stay in an Unhappy Marriage?
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If you look at other places online, they usually answer this question with a resounding no! They mention how your own happiness is more important than anything else. While that is true, my answer is slightly different.
It is OK to stay in an unhappy marriage if you think there is a chance that your relationship with your spouse will be better one day. Almost all marriages go through unhappy times, but those times end too. It could simply be that your marriage is going through a period that is generally difficult for most couples.
The problem is that couples unhappy with marriage tend to take out their frustrations on each other. Chances are you have done the same at some point. That is by far the worst thing you can do. Instead, consider down the following:
Focus on Your Children
Children are one of the most common reasons why unhappy couples stay married. No matter how amicable the divorce is, there is no way for it to not have a negative effect on the children.
If you are blessed with kids, shifting your focus from your unhappy marriage to your happy children can be a great way to relieve stress. Putting their happiness above your own can provide you with the meaning that is necessary to live a happy life.
What’s great about children is that they can not only help couples stay married, they can help them bridge their differences. If the two of you are adamant about doing what is best for your children, the two of you may also be willing to reconcile your differences. After all, this is the best course of action for their well being in the long run.
If your spouse is not a good parent, you should still not feel hopeless. Do all you can for your children, and focus on turning your spouse into a better parent next.
Focus on Other Positives of Your Marriage
When married, your life is intertwined with your spouse. Even if the two of you do not get along, there may be a lot of positives in your relationship that you haven’t thought about.
For example, if one of you is interested in a creative pursuit that does not pay a lot, the other one could work a full-time job to help pay for that pursuit.
Another example could be the friends you have made through your relationship with your spouse. Try to think of the ‘couples’ that you have befriended and have a valuable relationship with. Would that be possible with your marriage?
Try to Spend Some Time Apart
Usually, couples in an unhappy marriage spend a lot of time fighting and arguing. Sometimes, it gets to the point where they are arguing simply for the sake of arguing.
Practicing detachment from each other may help fix this. I am not saying you should opt for separation (although it can sometimes be helpful in saving your marriage). Just try to not come into contact with each other for a short while.
It could be done through a vacation where only one of you goes. This would allow one of you to relax while simultaneously giving them time to think about their marriage. It could also be done on a daily basis. Simply schedule your day in a way where both of you spend only a little time with each other for a few weeks.
I am not saying this is how your marriage will be from now on. All I am saying is that some time apart will help put things in perspective. It will help make the two of you realize what you truly want from each other.
Remember That Your Spouse is in The Same Boat
It is rare to see only one person unhappy in marriage. Chances are that your spouse is going through something similar. If they still haven’t filed for divorce, this means that there is a chance for your relationship to survive.
The most common problem that couples face when they want to save their marriage but cannot seem to do so is the breakdown of communication. The two of you may feel the same way about each other, but may not know how to express it. Pride and resentment over petty disputes can often lead to long drawn-out fights that only further harm the marriage.
How Does an Unhappy Marriage Affect You?
An unhappy marriage will be devastating for you in the long run. Not only will it affect you directly, but it will also change the way you behave towards other people. I have seen people take the anger that they have for their spouse and direct it on other people numerous times.
The mistake that married couples usually make is thinking that this is how their marriage will always be. Remember that it is the bad times that make the good times enjoyable. All marriages run into problems, and solving them so that you and your spouse can be happy is one of the most rewarding feelings you will ever experience.
I stated before that the only reason to stay in an unhappy marriage is to make it better one day. Now that you know how to survive in an unhappy marriage, let’s take a look at how you can turn it around and make it a happy one.
Being afraid of starting over is one of the most common reasons why couples avoid divorce.
What you can do though is start over with each other. Try to pretend that your relationship is still in its infancy. Act as if the two of you have begun dating and try to get to know each other all over again. I am guessing that you and your spouse have been spending less time with each other in recent years. This means that the two of you are probably unaware of how different both of you are.
This is not a bad thing, as change is natural. Once you reacquaint yourselves with each other, you will find that you still have a lot in common. The connection that you built your marriage upon is still there. You will find that you are drawn to each other in ways that you never were before, and that will make your marriage better day by day.
Of course, I do not mean that you should throw away the past when starting over. One exercise that I suggest to couples in this situation is to have a ‘first date’ once a week. On this date, the two of you should pretend that you have never met before. Try to learn as much about each other as possible, and watch the excitement return in your marriage.
Try to Find Common Interests
I personally believe that successful marriages are based on common values, not common interests. However, finding things to do together can be a great way to rekindle your friendship. Here are a few things you can try:
- Join a workshop together. It should be something that is calming, peaceful, and enjoyable for you both.
- Avoid conversations about topics that will only lead to arguments. I am not saying that you should avoid critical discussions about your marriage. However, discussing politics if both of you have opposing viewpoints is going to simply worsen your relationship.
- Try watching a movie with the entire family. Something that is positive and family-friendly may be ideal. In general, spending time together with your kids is a good idea as discussed above.
- Get out with other couples as much as you can. Preferably, go out with couples that have happy marriages. Try to learn their behaviors and see how they treat each other. Implement as much of that into your marriage as possible.
Try to Rebuild Together
If you want to return to the days when your relationship with your spouse was perfect, then your spouse has to put in the effort as well. It is important that you discuss what you have learned here with your spouse and try to integrate some of the activities into your marriage.
Try to make sure that everything you say to each other is meaningful. Try to be as positive as possible, and survive through the bad times so that you can appreciate the good ones when they come.
The two of you should especially consider professional help. Having a person who is experienced in saving marriages can help you think through your thoughts. He or she can help bring underlying issues to the surface so that you can discuss them in detail. In the end, he or she can give you valuable insights into your marriage and ‘prescribe’ the best path for its recovery.