Your spouse is crabby. You can't carry on a conversation without one of you storming out of the room. Or maybe a polite, yet strained, silence permeates the house. Maybe you haven't laughed—or kissed—in weeks, and too often you think, If this is what our marriage is going to be like for the next 50 years, then I don't want it!
If this describes you, stop for a moment. Chances are it's not your marriage—or even your spouse—that's making you miserable. Take a look around and notice what else is going on in your life. Are you in the midst of some career difficulty? Are you worried about a medical problem? Are you having trouble with one of your kids? Or maybe it's nothing more than life's common, everyday pressures and busyness wreaking havoc on your otherwise healthy relationship.
The Real Problem
One day over coffee, as my friend Karen sobbed and confided how desperate and miserable she and her husband felt, I began to imagine the worst. Were they in trouble with the IRS? Had one of them been caught hiding some dark secret from the other? When she finally caught her breath, she confided, "I don't know what's wrong! Our marriage is just not right."
Not knowing what else to say, I asked her what they did for fun.
"Fun?" She looked at me as if I had three heads. "Who has time for fun? All we ever do is work and take care of the baby."
I suggested she bring her son over to my house the following Saturday so she and her husband could catch a movie, something they hadn't done in years. She called me a few weeks later, giggling. "It's amazing! We're actually connecting again. All the time, I thought our marriage was bad when all we needed was time for us."1