Perhaps you do not have a supportive partner. You may realize that you have both changed in many ways. The burden of working through challenges and changes may seem overwhelming. You may not feel like loving this person anymore. This is why marriage vows are important. Traditional wedding vows take these things into consideration.
In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow. – The Book of Common Prayer
Of course, maybe you and your spouse wrote your own vows for your wedding. If so, you may have based them in some way on the traditional vows. Those might be a good thing to pull out when times get rough. Vows are reminders that you committed to working through the hard stuff with this person. Of course, in your euphoric optimism, you may not have been prepared for how hard things could be.
It is important to distinguish between challenges in your relationship and truly toxic and abusive marriages. Establishing the safety of all parties is vital to overcoming challenges in your relationship. Abuse can be physical, mental, or emotional. Such situations should be dealt with by considering safety.
If you are safe but in an unhappy marriage, there could be many reasons causing this.
- Depression and generalized anxiety can create rifts between spouses.
- Financial and work-related issues may come between you.
- Children require a lot of time and energy, and it may feel that you aren’t able to give your best to your spouse when you are parenting.
- Health issues are known to make things hard.
- A lack of good communication skills, both listening and sharing can
cause you to be unhappy in your marriage.
- Not being clear about expectations within the relationship.
- You are having mental health challenges.
- Your spouse is having mental health challenges.
- Caregiving for senior parents.
- Life has not met your desires, dreams, or goals.
The reasons for an unhappy marriage are vast, however, that does not mean that you have a failed marriage. It does not mean that you cannot move forward to find peace and joy as a couple.
Marriage is good, even when hard
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22
Marriage between a man and woman who love God and strive for a relationship with God is a blessing. The union between husband and wife was a part of the goodness of creation. One of the simplest first steps to work through any hardship and difficulty is to pause for gratitude. It can be hard to be grateful, yet the practice of finding even small things to be grateful for is the first step to finding joy and peace.
Take time each day to practice gratitude, both privately in your mind and toward your spouse. Notice the little things that you like about your partner. Over time it is easy to focus on the little things that annoy you rather than the ways that you see and feel love and appreciation. It takes practice to notice these things, but by making it a daily habit you will become better at being grateful.
The place of work in an unhappy marriage
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 9:9
If there is anything that the past two years of pandemics and political upheaval demonstrated, it is the burdensomeness of work. It is a lot harder to separate careers and school when it all comes into your messy living room. Careers can wreak havoc with relationships.
The burden of needing to provide for a family, the demands of a boss or company, and the piles of bills. All these things can turn a happy marriage upside down. Learning how to set healthy career goals and financial boundaries is important for a marriage to become happy.
Sharing the workload of the house is also a large contributor to a happy marriage. Understanding what you and your partner desire to feel relaxed and comfortable is how you create a home. Holding anger and bitterness about what your spouse does or does not do will lead to unhappiness for all. There is no fair way to split a workload, but practicing communication will help you to manage the workload in a way that creates support rather than resentment.
Work is a part of everyone’s life. Sharing the burden of work makes it easier for all people. You and your spouse are meant to share the burdens of life rather than compare who is doing the most work.
Love and Respect
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33
Your relationship with each other does not exist in a vacuum. You cannot just love someone when they are nice and stop when there is a problem. Love is a feeling, love is action, and love is a choice. Feelings will not always be compatible with your situation.
You may not feel love when your spouse has forgotten date night for the third time in a row, or when they are sleeping through the sick children at night. That is why you need to learn that love is a choice that you make every day.
Respect is also a choice. Gratitude practices help build respect because disrespect is often born out of resentment. Resentment happens when you spend a lot of time pointing out flaws or thinking about the ways that you are disappointed by your spouse.
It can be easy to feel disappointed by your spouse if you have unmet expectations. Ask yourself personal questions to determine if that is what is happening. Have you communicated your expectations to your spouse, or did they just stay in your head?
Do you have unrealistic expectations of your spouse? Are you in a season of life where your expectations may need to change? Are you maybe not meeting the expectations of your spouse, because they are not communicating well with you? A healthy marriage requires constant communication with one another. We must first seek to be understanding and then to be understood.
Circumstances beyond your control
Change is the only thing that does not change. Throughout your marriage, there will be constant changes. Careers, housing, children, extended family circumstances, on and off the list could go.
Learning how to accept change will contribute to your overall contentment in life and marriage, because not only do circumstances change, but they change you. You and your spouse will be affected by the changes. You will not be the same person that you were on your wedding day.
As you mature in your relationship, you will experience shifts in values and perspective. That is a good thing, and you should not be trying to recapture something from the past. Let the past be and learn to embrace the changes with open communication, love, and respect.
“Couple on a Park Bench”, Courtesy of MabelAmber, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Couple with Candles”, Courtesy of StockSnap, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Couple at the Beach”, Courtesy of pasja1000, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Couple by the Water”, Courtesy of Antranias, Pixabay.com, CC0 License