I remember the day I got married as one of the happiest days of my life. I knew it was probably the only time we would get to be with family and friends from both sides of our family at once. Everyone was dressed in their best attire, I was having my best hair and makeup day ever, and to top it all off there was cake. A happy day, indeed.
I also remember my husband and I expressing our desires to make each other happy for the rest of our lives. What I didn't realize is that while that sounded good, it was actually not possible. No other person can make you happy. That's your own job. If you're thinking you saw a pretty quote about this on Pinterest, which sounded good but it doesn't feel true in reality, I'd like you to consider that what I'm saying is good news and here's why. If another person can't make you happy, that means another person also can't make you sad.
Perhaps your husband isn't good at remembering to take the garbage out. You might have had conversations where you explain how much you need his help, and he agrees to try to take on this chore. When he still doesn't do it, you might think it is his behavior making you feel frustrated, but I have news for you. It's not. His behavior can't make you feel anything . It is what you think about him not taking the garbage out that is causing you frustration. Perhaps you have thoughts like, "He should take the garbage out. If I were really important to him, he would do it. If he cared more about our family and home, he would take out the darn garbage."
Those are all thoughts that might cause you to feel bad, and you probably have a good reason for believing them, so I'm not suggesting you change them right away. But if you can just acknowledge to yourself that it is only your thinking giving you the feeling of frustration, you will gain the power to feel however you want to feel regardless of his behavior.
Let's imagine you get really mad and yell at him. Suddenly he starts taking the garbage out. A part of you might be happy to not have to deal with mounds of trash, but you might also have thoughts such as, "He is only doing it because I got mad. He doesn't do anything unless I really get upset. It won't last long." These thoughts will still give you negative emotions like frustration or anger even though your husband is now taking out the garbage. Proof that it's not his action but your thoughts about it causing your feelings.
If you want to feel happy even though your husband isn't behaving how you want him to, begin by leaning into his behavior and accepting it rather than resisting it. While life is always going to have challenges and experiencing negative emotion is part of the deal, the majority of the stress, frustration and anger we experience is created by us and is not necessary or helpful. It begins when we resist what is going on around us because of our belief that it should be different or because we make it mean something painful about ourselves or our lives.
Once you've accepted reality, provide yourself the love, attention and support you want and need. If you pay attention to yourself long enough, you'll get to the root of what you really need, and then you can access your own wisdom about how to provide it. Your internal dialog should be supportive and compassionate towards yourself. Remember that you are amazing, and you have nothing to do with that. The credit goes to your Creator. You are capable of figuring things out, and you need and deserve your own love.
What if you didn't need your husband to change his behavior in order for you to feel good? What if you just allowed him to be who he is and do whatever he wants and you just loved him anyway? I know the garbage is a relatively small problem, but this concept applies to any scenario you can imagine.
I've worked with women who feel upset because their husbands no longer believe in their religion, who aren't there for their kids, or who are having affairs. Giving him the power over your emotions is really unkind to yourself. When you can release your thoughts about what should be and acknowledge that he can do what he wants (psst….he's going to, anyway), then from a place of peace and love you can do whatever you want, as well.
Acceptance is not the same thing as approval
I'm not suggesting you don't have expectations and make requests of him, but if he doesn't honor those requests, are you going to surrender control of your feelings to him or choose how you want to feel and what you want to do in the end? You will be much more capable of tapping into your own creative wisdom about how to solve the challenges in your life if you do it from empowerment rather than as a victim. Making decisions from a place of peace and love will ensure the decision is truly the best one for you and not just an attempt to escape negative feelings created in your mind.
"Hi babe, I noticed you're not getting to the garbage like we talked about, and I found a solution. The neighbor boy is looking to make money so I'm hiring him to take out the garbage twice a day for $20 per week because garbage-taking-out is not something I'm ready to add to my already full to-do list. I just wanted to let you know so when you see this item on our budget you'll know what's up. I'm going to deduct $5 from the groceries and $15 from your golf budget to cover it. Good plan, right? I love you, honey."
Jody is a Life Coach at Bold New Mom. She helps women understand how to manage their thinking and emotions to create the results they want for themselves, their families and their lives. http://www.boldnewmom.com