For some couples the goal of a happy marriage might be unrealistic…
I think most of us know from our life experience that it’s harder to get along with people with whom we don’t have a lot in common. And when you have to live with people whose lifestyle habits and behaviors don’t mesh well with yours it can often make your daily life a living hell. In a case where you and your spouse are just two fundamentally different people, the best you can strive for in your marriage is peace and relative harmony. No one can ever truly be “happy” to live with someone whose way of living is the complete opposite of the way they need to live in order to be happy.
Personally, I don’t actively aspire to have a happy marriage
By that I don’t mean that having a happy marriage does not matter to me. I mean that I no longer spend time actively chasing after that goal. I think it’s unrealistic to aim for perfect harmony when you’re dealing with human relationships. I don’t think love requires perfect harmony.
We can all agree that it’s better to be married to someone you like with whom you get along. It just makes life easier when you and your spouse don’t have a long list of things about each other that you don’t like. The more in sync you are the better you will get along. The better you get along the more content your marriage.
Compatibility makes for stronger more fulfilling relationships. But not all of us are so fortunate to have married someone with whom we are in sync. So what when you and your spouse do have a long list of things about each other that you don’t like? There’s no way you’re going to be always (or even often) happy in the relationship. So how do you survive being married to someone whose habits and choices in life are more likely to annoy and upset you than fill you with joy?
Stop taking everything so seriously
You’ll probably never find yourself in a situation where your marriage is perfect. Life isn’t perfect so why should your marriage be? But even if the goal of an always and forever happy marriage might be unrealistic, there are things you can do to make living together less unpleasant for yourself and your spouse. One of those things is that you can stop taking everything so seriously.
I have seen and have been involved in relationships that have been destroyed over the smallest most meaningless things. Relationships between children and their parents, relationships between siblings, relationships between friends–some people can take harmless little things and turn them into F5 strength tornadoes that destroy everything in their path.
People don’t like to be told to take responsibility. For instance, my son often gets upset with me because I like to tell him that irritations and annoyances aside, he is still responsible for becoming irritated and annoyed and acting under the influence of those emotions. Things can be irritating and annoying; but for you to become irritated and annoyed, you have to react in a particular way to the irritating and annoying thing. The thing does not create your state of mind. You do that by your reaction to the thing.
So much of the conflict between people in so-called unhappy marriages is about perception and reaction to minor annoyances and irritations. We take no responsibility for how we react to things. We don’t question if something warrants becoming upset because we don’t self examine. We just throw ourselves blindly into our rage. Then our like-minded spouse reacts to our reaction, taking no responsibility for their initial action or their reaction to our reaction. And madness ensues.
Take responsibility for your actions and your reactions
As a general rule don’t do things that you know will upset your spouse. That doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself and deny yourself the things that give you pleasure in life. Provided you are not violating your spouse’s trust or otherwise doing things that are unlawful, immoral and wrong, your spouse should not try to deny you your right to the things that give you pleasure in life. But insofar as your actions are underhanded and devious and destructive, you should consider your spouse. Because even while they are responsible for their reaction to whatever you’ve done, it is unfair to put them into a situation where they must quietly suffer on account of something you have done.
On the other hand, if your spouse does something to upset you, don’t immediately fly into a rage. Stay rational and calm. Think before you react. Try to be reasonable. Half the time there is no real damage done except that your ego gets bruised. And it might be a faulty perspective that causes the bruise to your ego. So try to think things through. Try to be rational. Be willing to self examine. Because sometimes we make more of things than is necessary.
As for the goal of a happy marriage?
Don’t focus on this idea that some marriages are happy and some marriages are not. Marriages are relationships and relationships are as transient as the nature of life itself. Sometimes you’ll get along. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes things will be peaceful. Sometimes there will be conflict. Your marriage is not a product that is only good if it remains in a certain condition. You might think your marriage isn’t working when in fact there is really nothing so drastically wrong. Because you’re looking for evidence of a working marriage that is based on generalized ideas. So because that perfect marriage Q&A you filled out scored your marriage a failure based on the answers you checked, you’re feeling like you have to either save your marriage or start contemplating divorced. Stop over-thinking things and let life happen. Whatever happens, you can and and you will handle it.