If you’ve been wondering; “Should I get a divorce?” there’s a few things you should know that will help you determine if you can save your unhappy marriage.
From bliss to boredom, from soaring hopes and dreams to wondering why you ever got married. You may be asking yourself, “Why am I so unhappy?
Is my marriage over? Should I get a divorce?” You may even have one foot out the door.
Plenty of couples stay in marriages that look miserable from both the inside and the outside.
Thank you, Mother Nature, for providing all those juicy hormones that magnetize couples and set the stage for the survival of the species!
“What? She’s not always in makeup? He really does watch football all day on Sunday? And when did my partner suddenly lose interest in all the amazing, thought-provoking things I have to say?”
This stage is a tough one. It’s also inevitable. This is the point where you get a real awakening to your partner’s humanness and what that altar-commitment meant.
Ahh, the drama of it all! Suddenly all those self-interests come back into view, and you’re often individually pitted against the needs and interests of the marriage.
This is when how issues are discussed is more important than what issues are discussed.
Remember that big dream of the mansion filled with pitter-pattering feet and countless Ivy League-bound activities?
Well, somebody has to pay for all that. And somebody has to change the diapers and drive the bus.
Inevitably the complexities of marriage force you into management-mode. Business as usual. The marriage can wait.
Those tears at college orientation may have to do with more than just missing the kids.
All those years of “getting them to this point” come rushing into this one moment of the stark reality: Your nest is empty, and your marriage feels that way, too.
Time to focus on that stranger who is driving home with you.
This stage can happen at any time but makes a big presence during mid-life.
All the mishaps of life seem to be accelerating — job loss, forced retirement, illness, eldercare, etc.
This is the hard-won stage that makes it all worthwhile.
You know yourself well, you know your spouse well, and you both feel the youngsters inside of you coming out to play again.
It’s as if life has come full circle, but with a history of struggles that enriches the final stage.
You knew your marriage would go through various stages. You’ve watched family and friends navigate them all.
But it’s different when you’re actually in them. Your heart may say one thing, while your head caters to resignation and asks, “Why stay in an unhappy marriage? Surely I could be happier alone or with someone else.”
Research by psychiatrist Levi Baker and his colleagues found that for couples who stick it out, their commitment isn’t based on their current level of satisfaction.
It’s based on their expected level of relationship satisfaction in the future.
The only time current satisfaction is a predictor of commitment is when both partners expect their relationship to continue being satisfying. (“Don’t rock the boat, and we’ll be fine.”)
In other words, the reason couples are willing to stay together, despite current unhappiness, is that they believe things will get better.
Their commitment is the quintessential example of delayed gratification.
Their current level of satisfaction, while not an indication of their commitment, does serve to provide information about problems that need to be addressed.
Contrary to an unhealthy marriage, an unhappy marriage can be bolstered by the determination of the couple.
Something as simple as deciding to go to couples therapy can boost the very expectation for a happier marriage in the future.
In this way, the very unhappiness that makes marriage seem disappointing and even hopeless can be the threshold to the marriage’s renewal.
The couple that truly means “‘til death do us part” just may be more motivated to make that marathon a pleasant one.