How happy you are as a mom, pet owner, friend, or wife has a lot to do with your attitude, your behavior, and your willingness to be loving even when you don’t feel like it.
Our expectations are the single biggest factor in our happiness. They influence not only how we feel, but they also influence how we behave. The more unrealistic our expectations, the less happy we will be.
People who have the least experience also have the most unrealistic expectations. They are frustrated and angry more often, which contributes to relationship failure. Having a good deal of dating and relationship experience prior to marriage will help people to have more realistic expectations.
Even so, first married couples typically go through a honeymoon period, followed by a disillusionment period. Disillusionment happens when high expectations are confronted with reality day after day. Being with a spouse every day is not going to produce the passion that occurred prior to marriage. It also gives women a chance to see their husbands at their worst as well as their best–something that may be quite surprising.
The best way to kill a friendship is to live with your friend. The same phenomena can happen when people get married. The people who are happily married have learned how to make it work and consistently do that work.
Women who remarry have more realistic expectations and less disillusionment. They will be more accepting of small differences and less prone to try to “fix up“ their husbands. They may not care where he drops his socks or towel. They are likely to be less reactive when he wants to be by himself.
Trying to train him not to drop his socks or getting irritated with his me-time will make things worse rather than better.
Most women learn that in the first few years of marriage. Those who don’t are likely to have learned by their second marriage. They will not be able to have a good marriage until they do.
The more you try to fix, the more distant your relationship will become. That will create even more things you want to fix, and so forth, creating a downward spiral. Any fixing we do needs to be overwhelmed by the loving we do in order to keep our relationship close.
The more similar we are before we are married, the easier it is going to be to keep our marriage.
Here are your first two keys to being a happily married wife:
- Have realistic expectations
- Don’t try to fix him up
The best expectation to have
The best expectation to have is that your husband is going to make many mistakes and do things that don’t make sense or are even hurtful
I recommend you have the same expectation about your kids, family, and friends, too. You see, this is the way humans really are. We mess up even when we do our best, we get insecure and lash out at the people we love the most, we do things that we know are wrong. When we are married, we hope to have a spouse who understands this and loves us anyway.
This is one reason it is great to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If you’ve ever desired to be loved despite how messed up you are, accepting Christ will give you that chance.
If you don’t accept your husband as a fallible human being, even when he is at his best, you will tend to blame him and try to fix him into the perfect husband that he can never be.
Some men are better than others, but no man is perfect.
Most of the time that people get upset it’s because their expectations don’t match reality. Accepting that you married a fallible human being who is going to mess up regularly, just like you, is going to really help you to be less upset with him. Which means you will actually be happier with him. And he will be happier with you, and you will enjoy him for the things he does pretty well.
Help your husband to have the right expectations
If he tends to get upset with you often, you will need to remind him that he married a fallible human being who is going to be moody sometimes, make lots of mistakes, and do many things he won’t like. And then, you need to thank him for loving you anyhow.
Keep in mind:
It is not his job to make sure you make him happy.
It is not your job to make sure he makes you happy.
It is your job to love him, even if you need to do things that make him unhappy in the process.
It is your responsibility to love him. You promised that when you got married. It is what God expects of us. And, just like with kids, sometimes loving someone means doing things they won’t like. We need to have good boundaries to deal with damaging behavior before it grows.
Like a weed, bad behavior will grow if left unchecked. Loving behavior has to be regularly fertilized.
Wives without good boundaries have the same problems that moms without boundaries have–being disrespected, having a lot of conflict, and being poorly treated.
Loving sometimes means not allowing people to do harmful things–that is what is meant by boundaries. If you would like to learn more about boundaries, go to my website coachjackito.com and type boundaries into the search box.
We can be happily married, but not because we are married
Let me give you my definition of marriage: Marriage is committing to a partner that we can love and share our happiness with as we face life’s challenges together.
If instead you think that marriage is committing to someone who will love you and make you happy, you are in for a rough ride, with a long period of disillusionment. If you are in that now, you need to get out of it.
What this means is that if there is something missing from your life that you need to be happy, it is your job to work on getting it, so that you can share your happiness with your husband. Ideally you would do this before even seeking a marriage partner. Maybe you had it before marriage and gave it up.
Secure women do the best job of loving their husbands and being happy. They treat their husbands very well, but do not put their husbands on a throne or at the center of their lives. They have good boundaries, their own friends and activities, and good self care. As a result, their husbands are attracted to them, respect them, value them, and treat them well.
The more you give up of yourself, the less valued you will be by others.
How about you?
Would you prefer a man with no friends or activities of his own, who depends entirely on you to meet his needs, and lets you treat him badly because he is so afraid of losing you or upsetting you?
Would you prefer a man who has friends and activities of his own, takes care of himself, won’t put up with you mistreating him, but makes you feel loved and important? Secure women seek such men. They are in the minority and are highly prized. You can be such a prize for your husband.
Three keys to getting the best out of your husband:
- Have a fulfilling life apart from your husband–friends, hobbies, career, relationship with God, etc.
- Be your husband’s cheerleader, making him feel attractive, capable, important.
- Use good boundaries rather than arguing, complaining, or criticizing, but only when they are really needed. Although you can’t make him perfect, you may have to help him grow.
Appreciating what we have, loving others, and trusting God are the keys to being a happy person, no matter what our situation and whether we are single or married. When we are married, they remain the same three keys. Give up just one of those keys, and you will not be happy.
Bringing an unhappy marriage back to a happy one
A happy marriage is reflected by two people enjoying their time together and looking forward to their next encounter. It’s the same as for a good single relationship. You can work on two things to repair your marriage, and it doesn’t involve convincing, arguing, or discussing your relationship with your husband. Those two things are spending the correct amount of time with him and making sure you are an enjoyable person to be with.
Too much time with your husband is as damaging as no time with him. I am often asked by people working on rebuilding their relationship, how much time they should spend with their spouse. The answer turns out to be the same as for all other personal relationships.
Do not spend more time with someone than they enjoy.
If you are not an enjoyable person for your husband, work on yourself before attempting to spend time with him. If your husband enjoys spending only a little time together, work on yourself so that he can enjoy you more, but keep your interactions brief. This will help him want to be with you more. Continue this process until he enjoys spending some one on one time with you every day.
Remember to also get out and spend time with your friends without your husband. If you do these two things, it won’t be long before your husband is going out with you again.
Relationships are built little by little. When they break down, they must be rebuilt little by little. Big steps result in rejection. Spending more time with your husband (or anyone) than they enjoy will lead to their losing their loving feelings for you and wanting to get space from you.
Having a life you enjoy apart from him as well as one you have with him will help him to feel desired, but not essential to your life. That helps to keep him from becoming emotionally lazy and taking you for granted. That balance will also help you to be secure and less reactive when he messes up. All husbands mess up. My wife didn’t find a perfect man either.
Beware of false teachers
The Bible is a great place to learn things. Most everywhere else is not, so you have to be careful. Satan always temps us with things that sound good or look good, but which are in fact, bad.
Let me just share a few that trip people up and keep them from having good relationships, which includes happy marriages:
- FALSE MESSAGE: We should be open and honest to have good relationships. In actuality, we need to speak in love, which means being loving and honest–not open and honest.
- FALSE MESSAGE: Telling our spouse our needs is the best way to get them met. Typically this only makes people feel criticized. Being loving and having good boundaries is actually how to get the best your spouse has to offer.
- FALSE MESSAGE: Talking about problems is the key to building relationships. In actuality, this leads to prolonged conflict and loss of love.
- FALSE MESSAGE: Love is unconditional. God’s love for us in unearned, but He still sends people to Hell who reject him. I prefer to think of God’s love as unmerited rather than unconditional, because it has more of the right meaning in today’s language. Likewise your love for your spouse should be unmerited. That doesn’t mean you should just put up with whatever he does. The same holds true for him.
There are many more false teachings. Reading your Bible regularly and thinking critically, as well as learning from experience will help you to distinguish fact from fiction.
Take responsibility for your past, present, and future
When we blame others, we make ourselves victims. When we take responsibility, we become empowered.
Consider these two ways of thinking:
- I am lonely because my husband does not spend time with me. and
- I am lonely because I am waiting for my husband to spend time with me.
The first way of thinking, I am lonely because my husband does not spend time with me, creates a prolonged bad situation that will make you feel stuck. The second way of thinking, I am lonely because I am waiting for my husband to spend time with me, will prompt you to do something other than wait, like make friends and become more active.
And, the magical thing is that if you become more active and make friends, your husband will want to spend more time with you–especially if you treat him well when you are together. Remember that you will get the best from him if you love him, but don’t need him.
You can take responsibility for anything in your life. It will make you feel powerful in a good way. It will make you more happy.
- I couldn’t go out because of bad weather–>I chose to stay in because of bad weather
- My husband treated me badly for years–>I chose to stay with my husband, even though he treated me badly.
- My kids are so disrespectful–>I allow my kids to treat me disrespectfully
- My job is unfulfilling–>I am choosing to stay in an unfulfilling job
Blame makes us victims. We can get pity for that. Some people live for pity. Pity is emotional welfare. It gets us by but it never gets us more.
You chose your husband when you could have chosen someone else. You have chosen how you treat him, which influences how much he desires to be with you. You are choosing to be with him today and your are choosing how you will respond to him the next time you see him. You have a lot of power to completely change your relationship, just by changing the way you choose to interact with your husband.
Taking responsibility and taking action opens up a world of possibilities for us. It creates positive change. Is there anything you are blaming your husband for now that you can take responsibility for instead? Take action instead of continuing to blame him if you want to be a happily married wife.
If you want to be happily married, choose to create love and respect by being loving and by using boundaries rather than needy behavior. If you are choosing not to do these things, it is not your husband who is making you unhappy–it is you.
Never put your relationship on hold
Many women have the unrealistic expectation that they can neglect their own or their husband’s emotional and physical needs while they focus on raising their children or developing their career. This is no more true than thinking that you can neglect your car’s need for gas and oil, or neglect the IRS’s demands that you pay your taxes.
Having children or a career does not decrease the need for your marriage to be maintained with daily one on one time, weekly dating, and an enjoyable sexual relationship.
Marriage requires sacrifice. That means giving up the things that prevent us from maintaining our marriage. The same is true for our relationship with God. And with our children.
If we don’t sacrifice for our relationships, we will instead be sacrificing our relationships.
Is is your life
You get to decide how you want to spend the rest of it, regardless of what has happened to this point. If you decide you would like to be happily married and currently you are not, work on the things I have talked about here.
And if you need a little more help making these changes, I would be glad to help you to have a marriage you can truly enjoy.