You can fix it. Here's how.
Living in an unhappy marriage impacts your entire life. The sadness that pervades your home life isn’t something you leave behind when you go off to work in the morning. It’s something you carry with you 24/7/365.
The weight of your misery saps your energy. It decreases your creativity and sucks the joy right out of your life. It can cause you to start wondering, "Is my marriage over?" And your unhappiness can even make you more vulnerable to having an affair.
Allowing yourself to continue just existing in an unhappy marriage is heartbreaking. It’s not what you truly want, much less deserve. You deserve to have an incredible marriage — one that brings you tremendous joy just like yours did in the beginning.
All marriages have rough spots. Rough spots don’t have to mean you’re doomed to spending a miserable lifetime together or that you’re headed for a divorce.
The rough spots are just warnings that the two of you don’t pull together as much as necessary to more easily manage them. And because you don’t turn strongly enough toward each other to resolve the challenges you face. The result is that you’re unhappily married.
The path forward to learning how to make an unhappy marriage happy again isn’t necessarily a short one.
It will require that you and your spouse make a daily commitment to changing things for the rest of your lives. But isn’t that why you got married in the first place? To live together happily ever after?
Changing your despondent marriage into a more joyful one will require that you each embrace and practice these 4 tips:
1. Practice compassion.
Compassion may not be the first emotion you’re able to adopt when you’ve been so unhappy, but it’s a critical one.
Being compassionate for yourself and your spouse means that you’re able to accept that you’ve both been doing your absolute best given your knowledge and the circumstances at the time. This doesn’t mean that either of you are perfect. It just means that you’re now willing to start increasing your knowledge and becoming more conscious of the circumstances.
Practicing compassion also makes it easier to forgive past hurts. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to approve of the past hurts or that it was OK that it happened. Forgiveness means that you’re not going to continue stewing on the pain and perpetuating the misery that’s contributing to your unhappy marriage.
Once you’re regularly able to feel compassion for your spouse (and yourself), you’ll find that it’s much easier to pull together to resolve the rough spots. And when the rough spots aren’t quite so bad, your marriage will start feeling a whole lot happier.
2. Take care of yourself.
Feeling a bit depressed is a pretty natural response to an unhappy marriage. The depression can create an inertia that’s difficult to overcome and that prevents you from putting in the effort to care for yourself. But it’s time to change that now.
Beyond the obvious of taking care of your health and appearance, taking care of yourself also means doing things that make you happy. It’s much, much easier to have the energy and drive to work on making your marriage more satisfying if you’re feeling better in general.
3. Invest in honest conversations with your spouse.
Regularly spend time together to honestly, compassionately and responsibly talk about how you’re each feeling. Ask each other what you would like to have more of in your relationship and then work together to make it easy to achieve. Also, spend time talking about what isn’t working so well and be committed to fixing those things.
Having these conversations might be difficult at times. If you can amp up the compassion during the difficulties, then you’ll have an easier time with them. But sometimes things are a bit too difficult to do on your own.
4. Ask for help.
Talk about your situation with people you trust.
You probably know a happily married couple who seems to weather the storms in their marriage easily. Ask them how they do it. Be a sponge and soak up all the wisdom you can. Then, use their best suggestions in your marriage.
If your marriage needs a little more support, you might consider talking with a helping professional — either on your own or with your spouse. The helping professional can assist you in gaining insight into what’s at the root of the unhappiness you’re experiencing together.
And once you understand the source of the discontent and discomfort, you’ll be able to focus more intently on what you can each do to fix it.
These 4 tips are pretty straightforward but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy to follow or that your spouse will immediately agree to start working on them. But all that’s OK.
If you have difficulty with actually implementing any of these tips, it’s just because they’re new to you. Be compassionate with yourself (yes, that is the first tip) as you learn how to make your unhappy marriage happier. The more calm and easy you are about the process, the more quickly you’ll be able to shift your marriage to a happier place.
And if your spouse isn’t immediately on board with these suggestions for how to make an unhappy marriage happy again, don’t worry. There’s plenty of evidence to show that people who have started to repair their marriage on their own are successful because as they put in the effort and change, their spouse naturally did too.
Choosing to make a daily commitment to make your marriage happier will change your entire life.
As your marriage becomes happier, you’ll find that you’ve got more energy, creativity, and joy which will spill over into all areas of your life. After all, joy is a whole lot easier to carry around with you than sadness is when you leave the house in the morning.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach who helps people just like you who want support in making an unhappy marriage happy again. You can join her newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.
This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.