You don't have need to be married for long before you reach a low point in your marriage. It's not just one of those times where you and your spouse argue for a day or two. I'm talking about those kinds of low points where you argue about something for the umpteenth time—again. You end up ignoring each other—again. And this time you're thinking more seriously about your marriage lasting. Is it going to work out or would you both be better off apart? After all, you haven't been happy for a while. And marriage is supposed to make you happy…isn't it?
Even if you never believed in those fairy tale endings about marriage, there's a belief that marriage is supposed to make you happy. The truth is, that's just not the case.
Your happiness doesn't depend on your marriage
Marriage is a wonderful thing. Marriage can bring you some of the happiest moments life can offer. Birthdays, anniversaries, vacations together and even quiet everyday surprises have brought you so much joy. But if you are solely relying on your marriage to make you happy all the time, you're missing out on a lot of what life offers.
Yes, marriage can make you happy, but so can friends, family, accomplishments, your career and achieving goals. In my marriage and family therapy clinic, I regularly tell people to diversify their identity to be happier. What I mean by this is finding several things to find fulfillment in other than your marriage. Your marriage and/or spouse shouldn't be the only thing you find fulfillment in. Believe it or not, there's more to life than your marriage.
As you find new things about yourself to enjoy, you'll find new aspects of happiness that will only enrich the happiness in your marriage.
Your happiness doesn't depend on your spouse
If you're depending on your marriage for your happiness, it puts a lot of pressure on your spouse. Think about the responsibility of trying to make someone happy for the rest of their life. That is unrealistic. Your partner simply can't do that for you.
As an individual, you have so many desires, needs, wants and likes that it is hard for you to figure them all out. To rely on your spouse to meet all those desires, needs, wants, and likes when you don't even know what they all are yourself is setting up your spouse and marriage for failure.
Ironically, when you stop relying on your spouse so much for your happiness, you will be happier. You will find joy in places other than your marriage. To name a few, you can find happiness in volunteering, in your family, and even in your spouse's achievements. Being a happy person is contagious. Soon, your outside happiness will reinforce the happiness found within your marriage.
Yes, your marriage should be a happy one, but it's not supposed to make you happy. No matter who you married, no matter how much they love you, no single person can do that for you. Happiness comes from a lifestyle of fulfillment. When you start a lifestyle of fulfillment that includes more than just your marriage, you'll find you are closer to that fairy tale ending.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.