What is being happy in a Massachusetts marriage? It’s an often-said desire, achieved by some, but for many couples, it feels like an endless struggle, and people are left to wonder what’s wrong with their situation. But rather than a missed opportunity, maybe the problem is the wrong approach. As noted psychiatrists say, “Marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy. It’s supposed to make you married.”
The warped perspective you have about wedded bliss is a holdover from your dating period. Everything was great. Adrenaline was firing. Time was unhurried, and the positives dominated. All of that created two lingering beliefs. Number one: This is the right person for me. They should make me happy.
This is something of a new concept. In the past, marriage was for things like social status, safety, and children. Then it shifted to a spouse being a best friend, confidante, and source of self-esteem. Many professionals call this the suffocation model of marriage, and about how higher expectations coupled with less time invested has led to increased rates of marital dissatisfaction.
There’s a certain personal responsibility for feeling happy, but just like how spouses can make each other miserable, they can also make each other feel good. Happiness is contagious. Another person can affect you.
That brings us to Lingering Belief Number Two: It will always be effortless. But with marriage and children, everything amps up – the pressure, the commitments, the exhaustion – and it’s hard to pursue happiness when you feel like you’re endlessly sharing your resources.
Love has interviewed happy couples, and they all look alike. They have each other’s backs, work as a team, and prioritize the relationship. Those are merely the components, but what might be needed is an acceptance of three things. You can be happy. You won’t be that way constantly, and negative emotions are part of the equation. The latter are actually normal and purposeful there is not an ideal ratio of positive to negative feelings. You just want more of the first.
It’s also about balance. Happiness can be a kind of trap, because it comes in short bursts. It’s like watching a football game with non-stop scoring. It’s great for a quarter, then it becomes boring. Love says to strive for contentedness. It’s a continuous state of mind, and one that feels doable. Being happy comes with pressure.
The unavoidable piece is just the commitment to trying. It’s doing things like being generous, showing appreciation, and saying thank you more than you probably are. It’s not rocket science. But couples fall into patterns. They’re tired. They want the other person to start. Again, there’s no secret to upending the inertia. It’s taking the first step, but once it happens, momentum builds and it spreads.
Time together also matters. The underlying dynamic, whatever form and setting it takes, is not always being parents. Out of that comes the part that’s often shunted aside: fun. There’s little happiness without that.
But time can feel like a limited commodity. Love says if there’s a skill to hone to conjure happiness, it’s being creative. Your partner responds well to certain things – fresh bagels on Saturday, a warmed-up towel for bath night. It’s not alone time in the classic sense, but it’s paying attention and doing more than just managing the household.
After that, it’s looking for ways to be together. People can squeeze out time for something appealing, e.g. that last- minute road trip you took. The same rule applies.
And if some of your marriage feels like less than spontaneous fun, that’s another thing to accept. The best marriages involve inconvenience. When you’re single, poor listening skills don’t matter, but they’ll be called out by a spouse, and you’ll have to adjust or be called out again. The person brings out your best and worst self. You’re probably a better person now because you’re dealing with another person’s needs. That’s how you improve.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.