How To Be Happy In An Unhappy Marriage: Should Unhappy Spouses Stay Married or Divorce

A Pastor friend of mine who has performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies, places one condition on the engaged couples before agreeing to marry them. The condition is that they give him the satisfactory answer to one very simple question. In the Pastor's mind, there was only one correct answer to this question.

So what is the recipe for a happy marriage? He would ask them each to answer the question individually, and if at least one of them answered correctly, he would marry them. If both of them gave the wrong answer, he would not marry them without them agreeing to first have several marriage counseling sessions with him

The question he wanted them to answer was this, "Why do you want to marry this other person?" The knee jerk response to this question by the larger percentage of couples was the same. "Because I love him (or her)." If they gave this answer, the Pastor would not agree to marry them without several counseling sessions.

One day, when my curiosity got the better of me, I asked him why he would not accept this as a valid answer for wanting to get married. After all, they were telling him that they wanted to get married because they loved each other. What could be wrong with that? My Pastor friend answered my question with a question.

"What is the current divorce rate?" he asked. "The last I heard it was somewhere between 50 and 60 percent." I replied.

"And out of that 50 to 60 percent, how many of them do you think got married because they "loved each other"? He asked.

I thought about it for a few seconds, then replied, "Most of them, I would think." "Exactly! he replied. That was all he said. I thought about it for a few seconds, and then his point hit me. Loving the other person was not enough to keep 50 percent of all married couples together for life. The truth is, that when most young couples said they want to marry the other person, because "they loved each other", what they really meant was, "I want to marry this other person because they make me happy by fulfilling many of my needs."

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The inherent problem with "falling in love" with somebody because they fulfill your needs, is what happens if or when, for whatever reason, they stop fulfilling your needs. Not surprisingly, when one of the parties in a marriage stops fulfilling the needs of the other, they often look elsewhere to get their "needs" fulfilled.

A marriage based on either party swearing to stay in the relationship "until death do them part" cannot be based on loving the other person because they fulfill some or even all of the other person's needs. Though the world considers this the norm, not only is in not normal, it doesn't even begin to qualify as true love, which is why it doesn't work, and why the divorce rate, even among Christians is greater than fifty percent.

3 Ways To Have A Happy Marriage

1. What Is True Love?

The first of the three ways to have a happy marriage is to understand what true love actually consists of. For starters, true love is unconditional. It has nothing to do with your needs or the other person's needs being met, although the main byproduct of true love does result in this. Thus, the first imperative necessity in having a happy and successful marriage means making a conscious decision to desire the well being of the other person above your own. It means being willing to dedicate yourself to doing all that is necessary to nurture, protect, and see to the well being of the other person no matter what the cost to you.

2. Put Your Ego On Hold

The second ingredient in having a happy marriage is like the first. Instead of thinking about what the other person can do to please you and make you happy, you must do just the opposite. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to think about what you can do today to make the other person know that you place their well being above your own. Anybody can say "I love you". Talk is cheap.

In order to put your money where your mouth is, married couples must put there egos on hold, and always aim at doing what is right for the other person, regardless of what sacrifices are necessary to do it. If you do this, you will not have to say "I love you" to placate your mate, because over time, they will know by your actions that they are loved and cherished. This of course means employing something that most people know little about, which accounts for why the divorce rate is so high. It is a spiritual principle called "selflessness". The Bible tells us how husbands and wives should treat each other, if they are to have a happy marriage.

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"Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. (Colossians 3:18,19) Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:24) For a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body-and we are its living parts. (Ephesians 5:28-31)

3. What About The Children?

The third element in a happy marriage involves the children. The greatest influence in the development of our children is how their father and mother treat each other. Their observation of the interaction between their parents, will be the greatest influencing factor in determining what kind of adults they will become. Particularly, the actions of the husband and father in the family will determine the long range outcome of who and what their children will become.

A friend of mine, who had gotten married several years before due to wanting to "do the right thing" after having premarital sex with his girlfriend and getting her pregnant, confided in me that he was not happy in his marriage, because he felt as if he was "tricked" into marrying her, and that he believed that she got pregnant on purpose to force him to marry her. By this time, he had two children with her, both under the age of seven. It was apparent to me, that my friend was contemplating leaving his wife.

"Do you love your children?" I asked him. "Of course!" was his reply. "Do you love them enough to die for them?" I asked. "He looked at me as if to say, "What a dumb question." "In a heartbeat!" was his reply.

"If you had it within your power to give them the greatest gift that you could possibly ever give them in this life, would you?" I asked. "Certainly!" was his reply.

"And if I were to tell you what that gift was, and if I could convince you that it was in fact the greatest gift you could ever give them, would you do it, no matter what the cost?" I asked. "Yes!" he answered, with a hint of impatience. "So what is it?" he asked.

"The greatest gift you could ever give your children is to love their mother!" was my reply. He stared at me in silence for several moments as tears welled up in his eyes, than put his head down, and just stared at the floor. That was fifteen years ago. My friend and his wife are still happily married to this day. My friend turned out to be a wise man. True story.

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When marriages begin to face problems there are usually two different sides to the situation. There is the facilitator, who still proclaims their love for their partner and is willing to do anything to correct the issues. The other side is typically a withdrawn and apathetic individual who is not so sure that the relationship is worth salvaging. This combination of opposites makes it difficult to find a resolution that both sides will accept. However, if you are willing to take on the difficult road of the facilitator, then there are ways to save your marriage without the help of your spouse.

Expose the Problems

It can be hard to discuss the problems in your relationship with someone who is not communicating well with you. It is tempting to avoid conflict and hope that things will work out as time goes on. Unfortunately, waiting for a miracle solution is a huge gamble, and you risk watching things get worse. No matter how uncomfortable it may be to approach your spouse, it is necessary to get all of your problems out in the open. You need to know exactly why things aren't going well so you can work on finding a resolution. Don't be afraid to bring the topic up in conversation, just be sure to listen closely to their take on things.

Lead by Example

Even if you don't find yourself at fault for the troubles you and your partner are experiencing, the best way to break down the barriers of communication is by being the first to make sacrifices. By exposing your own faults first, you will give them an opportunity to not only voice their opinion, but it may also open the door for them to admit their own shortcomings. We all know a couple of aspects about our personal routine that irritates our spouse. Show them you are serious about fixing your marriage by offering to make your own changes. In some cases this is all you need to begin clearing the air.

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Ask the Experts

If your spouse is particularly withdrawn or resistant to suggestion, then you may have to look outside of your relationship for the answers. The internet is filled with advice on overcoming marriage problems, and some experts have written guides for breaking through to a distant partner. Since it is unlikely that a resistant spouse would go outside the home for marriage counseling, the next best things is to bring the expertise inside the home. By researching the ways that counselors help troubled couples, you can use these techniques to get past the first few difficult steps to opening up dialogue about your problems. The best part is that you can do this behind the scenes without anyone else knowing.

It can be hard to find marriage helps when you are barely communicating with your partner. While the temptation may be to hide from your problems, the better solution is to take action. Focus on finding out exactly what has come between your love, and offer some recourse to improve the situation. It is also important to educate yourself on all of the available solutions by reading the advice of experts. Ultimately, if your love is true and you remain persistent, then you will eventually find the key to saving your marriage.

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In marriages, there is give and take. You must be willing to do both if you are going to have a successful marriage. Are you anal about certain things in your life? Do they mean a big deal to you, but not to your significant other? I'm not talking about something serious such as drugs or alcohol; I'm talking about something such as a couple of minutes.

Many people get short with their significant others over something little, such as always having to be on time. Don't get me wrong, I am an advocate for being on time and always expect others to do the same. If you find yourself nagging your wife because she is falling behind, this may be somewhere in life you can make some corrections. Your wife may get your attention for one or two minutes to she can tell you something that is important to her. All she really wants is your undivided attention for just 60 or 120 seconds before you leave. Is another 60 seconds really going to make that big of a difference? It sure will, in the happiness of your marriage. The sooner you start to relax, the sooner you will start to enjoy marriage a lot more.

Three questions that you should ask yourself to find out if you are ready to build a foundation for a successful marriage are:

You first must ask yourself what do both of you enjoy doing together? You don't need to do everything together as a couple; you do need some away time. Do you enjoy going to ball games, cook outs, movies, church, visiting with your friends? You and your significant other should make time to do these events together. Go on some nice vacations together and enjoy each other.

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Are you ready to treat her entire family with the same respect that you treat your mother and father? If you are going to get married, her family will become your family. You must accept them for who they are and what they do. You cannot change them, so do not even try. You must be willing to go visit her family on a frequent basis. In a successful marriage, each gives a little when it is time to go see the other's family. You must be willing to fill your significant other's needs if you are going to have a successful marriage.

The third and final question you have to ask yourself is a big one. Many people have a huge issue with this same problem. Can you give constructive criticism to your mate without actually being critical of them? You should be able to express disappointment for her displeasure without belittling your spouse. Do not make disparaging comments to your spouse or put them down. You should always remain kind and forgiving one another for what has been done, but you should seek to correct any actions that displease you.

If you can answer these three questions honestly and dedicate your marriage to answering these three in a positive manner, you are already.

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