For most my marriage I felt like I married the wrong person, and it’s never quite felt right to me. What has always felt right is my relationship with God and my career. Even being a mother to my kids feels right. Marriage never has.
There was a time when we were engaged that my dad (who I’m close to and who is a really good man) counseled me to break it off with my husband. I was stubborn and I didn’t. I’m getting hung up on that and wondering about what my life could have been like if I had made a different choice.
At some point I know I need to figure out how to want and love the husband and life I have, but I’m not there yet. I know he loves me and he’s trying so hard. Talking about this to him would not be productive.
Do you have any ideas to help me embrace the reality and stop getting hung up on what might have been? It’s a daily battle to want to be around him and stave off the aching sadness I feel inside.
I believe there comes a time in marriage where we have to consciously decide where we stand and what we want. For some people, that happens before we marry someone. For others, it may have thirty years into the marriage after they’ve built a life together.
I have seen situations where divorce made sense. Anytime a couple is dealing with patterns of abuse, addiction or affairs, divorce often is considered as a way to protect the dignity and safety of the victims. However, I have seen more situations where divorce didn’t make sense. In fact, it rarely makes sense, especially when there are children involved.
I think it’s smart of you to stay married while you’re asking these questions. Blowing out of your marriage to answer this question would be selfish and destructive to your children. There is no question in their mind about how they feel about their parents. They count on both of you to be there for them. If we asked them, they would most certainly tell you to get your relationship figured out so it’s there to protect them forever.
I believe we all marry the wrong person when we get married. None of us are who we need to be when we’re first married. Our reasons for getting married are often about us. We love them. They’re just like us. They like what we like. They’re attractive to us. The list goes on. We select someone because they make us feel good and we like being with them. In other words, most of our reasons are self-centered. At some point in the course of marriage, our commitment expands beyond our narrow self-interest.
If we stayed exactly the same as we were when we first married, most of us wouldn’t be able to stay married. It requires us to adapt and grow into someone who can really be there for someone else. Marriage is the perfect environment to rid us of selfishness. Adding children to a family presents us with more reasons to lose our self-centeredness.
Take a look at how you’ve both changed since you married each other. You see him trying hard to be different. I agree that this isn’t something he needs to hear from you. It’s your turn to see what is working in your marriage and build on that. Leaving him would only trade this set of problems for a whole new set of problems. If you’re looking for a problem-free marriage, you’ll be looking for a long time.
Good marriages are built by two people who are constantly asking themselves what they can do for the other person to ensure their comfort and happiness. They aren’t constantly taking their own temperature to see how they’re doing. They recognize that they have a responsibility and commitment to care for one another and their children.
Even though you and your husband are different people who may not choose each other today if you were both single, you did choose each other years ago and have built a life together. You have to choose each other every day and make decisions that reflect your commitment to turn toward each other. I am confident you can turn your heart to your husband. It’s a choice, not a feeling.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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