What To Do When
You're Not Happy In Marriage
Corwin, Marriage & Family Educator
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
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
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 husbands lack of appreciation and criticism
make her feel toward him and the marriage relationship? Does it
make her feel romantic? The husbands 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 dont 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 doesnt go well. In fact if
you show me a man who feels negative about things in general, Ill
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 lifes stresses, it can be easy to forget how much we
need family love.
7. UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR SPOUSE IS DIFFERENT FROM THE PERSON
Our personalities can change through time and circumstances. Many
happily married couples can eventually balance out each others
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
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? Its our spouse and
then our children. If love doesnt work at home it wont
work any other place.
9. DONT 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 dont
feel romantic or in love. Romantic Love is possessive of the feelings.
Its not lasting. Reciprocal Love says "I love you if you
love me." "Be good to me and Ill be good to you."
But the trouble with Reciprocal Love is that no one is married to
a mate thats 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
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. Dont 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 couples home or in a church setting
for a couples group.
Talk and plan together how you will add more happiness and romance
to your marriage.