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How to Be Happy in an Unhappy Marriage

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After two failed marriages, Janice decided to try one more time for the relationship she dreamed of. Yet, just one year later, her marriage to Hank was crumbling. Defeated and confused, Janice cried out to God for some answers. "In that moment," she says, "I began to realize that there is no perpetual honeymoon to any marriage. Sometimes it's just plain hard work. It was then and there that God told me I could not depend on my husband to make me happy, I would only find my true happiness in God."

Even as Christians, many of us have grown up with unrealistic expectations of marriage. Hollywood and Harlequin have taught us that we must find our perfect match—our soul mates—to be happy. When difficulties occur in our marriage, we may wonder, like Janice did, whether we have found the right person or may even think we have made a terrible mistake. After twenty-six years of marriage and over two decades of counseling couples I have learned that God created marriage to mature us and for us to enjoy, but it was never intended to fulfill us or make us happy.

Marriage is God's great idea, but in every marriage there are seasons of difficulty and times of dryness where one or both partners may feel dissatisfied with the marital relationship. As we work to improve our marriage, sometimes our efforts don't produce the changes we want. During these times, the question we need to ask ourselves is not, "Should I leave my spouse so I can find another person who will make me happy?" but rather, "Can I learn to find contentment and joy while in the midst of an unhappy marriage? And if so, how?"

Change Your Focus

Everyone I know wants to feel good inside but few know the secret to lasting happiness or even what happiness is. Is happiness a feeling of emotional ecstasy? Intense pleasure with life's circumstances? An internal state of well-being or contentment? Happiness can comprise all of these things.

Several years ago my husband surprised me with a beautiful pearl necklace I had admired. I felt really happy—for about three days—until I began longing for some earrings to go with it. We all search for something to fulfill us and make us happy, whether it is people, objects, or positions of status. When we get what we desire, we feel a certain emotion we call happiness. This feeling, however, is always short-lived and, like Solomon with his 700 wives and me with my pearl necklace, we begin longing for the next thing we desire that will bring us more satisfaction.

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June 27, 2014  9:38am

I agree with the content of this article that happiness is only through the love of God, but struggle with that all the same...I did not realize this when I made my marital choice and now am having deal with the consequence! If we enter a marriage thinking it will make us happy when we were unhappy in single life we will be sorely disappointed! Ladies we need to find contentment and joy in ourselves through the fulfillment of God's grace first! A happy woman will make a better choice in her husband...and be a better wife! ps - However, I agree with the comments that we have to take action steps in an unhappy marriage with both ourselves and our husbands...but only after self evaluation through conversation with God. Otherwise we create strife.

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March 16, 2014  10:18pm

This article has been very helpful to me. I have been married for 25 years with the last 5 being the most difficult. I have prayed to God asking him to free me from this marriage but I am still here. This article has helped me to understand that marriage should only be a part of my life happiness. I should seek fulfillment through my relationship to God, my friends, family, and other activities I enjoy. Women in my generation were raised thinking you would only be happy if you were married to the man of your dreams. We need to teach our children the truth!

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Gigi Ford

October 20, 2013  7:05am

I really enjoyed this article...believe it or not I had just spent the morning prayer to Jehovah to help me in understanding my marriage and situation. The v same exact questions were answered in this article. I found it so helpful and shared with my spouse right away. We both m just cried. And really applied the scriptures. Wonderful article

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