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What To Do When You're Not Happy In Marriage

Kathy Corwin, Marriage and Family Educator by Kathy Corwin, Marriage & Family Educator

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." Romans 12:10


1. KEEP ROMANCE ALIVE
Romance is inside each one of us and is expressed when we open ourselves to experiences and activities that we really enjoy. Savor enjoyable experiences together! You can increase romance in your marriage by making the ordinary into the extraordinary. These ordinary events, or smallest happenings, can bring the greatest enjoyment and satisfaction. Try sitting on a log in the forest with your partner, soaking in the beauty and relaxation around you, while sharing a leisure conversation. Romantic events do not have to be as grand as a trip to the Caribbean.

2. BE SPONTANEOUS
Doing the unplanned and being completely spontaneous can be fun. More spontaneous interaction between husbands and wives can bring great satisfaction in marriage. If we allow ourselves to become more spontaneous, we will be less likely to "put off" joyful experiences and more likely to bring romance into our marriage relationships.

3. SHOW APPRECIATION
Nothing is more important in generating and sustaining happiness in a marriage than the expression of appreciation. William James, a famous psychologist and philosopher, once wrote a book on human needs. Some years after the book was published, he commented that he had forgotten to include one of the most important needs of all - the need for appreciation. The records of marriage and family counseling clinics suggest that many – perhaps most marital complaints and problems – stem from a lack of feeling appreciated. As one wife stated, "If my husband would just see my good points…if he would recognize the worthy things I do and compliment me or let me know he is aware of what I do, it would make me feel much better about myself. As it is, he just complains and criticizes." How do you think her husband’s lack of appreciation and criticism make her feel toward him and the marriage relationship? Does it make her feel romantic? The husband’s behavior is self-defeating if he wants romance.

4. PLAN FOR GOOD TIMES
Many couples drift apart because they stop spending time together and because they allow themselves to get into routines where they rarely do anything fun or pleasant together. Happy couples with lasting marriages spend a lot of time doing fun pleasurable activities together. They plan many of these activities, and look forward to them as dates. So there is anticipation in these times together just as there was when they were courting each other before marriage. Couples with happy marriages plan these pleasant times together in a variety of forms. Some are expensive. Others cost nothing. Getting away on one or two night trips somewhere three or four times during the year helps us to feel closer and renews the flame. It is so much easier to give each other our full attention when we are away from our daily routine and don’t have to answer the telephone, pay bills, and do household chores. Couples need to schedule dates together just as they would any other event. If needed, plan for childcare. Many couples mentioned that they enjoyed watching sunsets together or taking walks together. Some enjoy conversation during early morning hours, while others plan for a lunch for two. Pleasant fun activities do not need to be elaborate or expensive.

5. EXPRESS KINDNESS AND CONSIDERATION
Happily married couples consistently report that acts of kindness and consideration play a very important role in creating an atmosphere of romance in the marriage relationship. Kindness and consideration reflect the presence of a high regard for each other and respect for the differences in each other. Both are essential for romance and marriage happiness. As an example Pamela is a manager whose work periodically becomes hectic. She talks about how the kindness and consideration of her husband during one of those times was a lifesaver for her. "He pitched in and helped me with a lot of the paper work that had to be done. He worked with me every evening for over a week. He also cooked dinner every evening during that time. When couples give acts of kindness and consideration to each other they create and interpersonal atmosphere that leaves each partner feeling love, important, and supported. Kindness overshadows short- comings and irritations. It creates and atmosphere where romance can blossom.

6. REALIZE THAT YOU NEED FAMILY LOVE
When things are not right at home, the world goes a little dark and everyone seems less friendly. It seems that people are harder to get along with and our work doesn’t go well. In fact if you show me a man who feels negative about things in general, I’ll show you a man who has hurt relations at home. We forget how much we need family love. If we let ourselves get overly busy and involved with life’s stresses, it can be easy to forget how much we need family love.

7. UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR SPOUSE IS DIFFERENT FROM THE PERSON YOU MARRIED
Our personalities can change through time and circumstances. Many happily married couples can eventually balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses through the years. As a spouse changes, we need to be aware of those changes and be flexible. Every marriage is expected to experience change, growth, and different traits throughout time.

8. CONSIDER THAT LOVE IS A CHRISTIAN COMMAND
In Matthew 22:35-40, Jesus commands that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is your closest neighbor? It’s our spouse and then our children. If love doesn’t work at home it won’t work any other place.

9. DON’T FORGET THAT CHRIST DESIGNED THE HOME AS A PLACE WHERE WE LEARN TO LOVE
Happy couples learn to love each other through years of trails and joys. They grow and learn in their marriage because they have each other as mirrors, reflecting exactly as they look. In every marriage, love takes time. The saying, "A Christian at home is a Christian everywhere," is definitely true.

10. REALIZE THAT CHRISTIAN LOVE LASTS
Romantic Love says, "I feel in love." "I love you when it feels good." The problem is that sometimes we don’t feel romantic or in love. Romantic Love is possessive of the feelings. It’s not lasting. Reciprocal Love says "I love you if you love me." "Be good to me and I’ll be good to you." But the trouble with Reciprocal Love is that no one is married to a mate that’s perfect all the time. Then there is the lasting love called Christian Love, which in Greek is Agape’ Love. Agape’ Love is different from Romantic Love and Reciprocal Love, because Agape’ Love says, "What can I do for you?" What can I do to make you happy?"

11. REMEMBER TO PRAY
If a couple think they have lost their love for one another, they need to understand that it is at the very lowest times in the marriage that God can create a deeper and stronger bonding of love than ever before. Couples need to ask God to give them love. They can pray, "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me." Then wait for a miracle to happen. Lasting love comes from God.

12. GET OUTSIDE HELP
There are hundreds of resources to help marriages. Read books, listen to tapes, watch videos, take a seminar, or see a Christian marriage counselor. Don’t wait for your marriage to disintegrate but rather be proactive. Couples who have happy marriages are proactive and continually work on preventive action steps to maintain their healthy marriage. We recommend our "Love Takes Time" marriage seminar videos or tapes that can be used in the privacy of the couple’s home or in a church setting for a couple’s group.

Couple Assignment
Talk and plan together how you will add more happiness and romance to your marriage.

 

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