“When we got married, I was under the assumption that she was the solution.”
“I truly thought he would make me happy and I thought I could change him.”
“We put so much focus on the wedding, the why of us getting married was secondary.”
“I got married because I was 33 and that’s what everyone was doing around me at the time.”
“I never questioned the societal belief that being with someone is better than being alone…that being married is better than being divorced. I just don’t see it that way anymore.”
These are real statements from clients.
Can someone else make you happy?
Since an early age, you have been inundated with the notion that another person has the ability to make you happy. You saw it in movies (not only the Disney ones!), read it in magazines and books, and heard it in song after song. The message that someone else makes you happy has been drilled into your subconscious mind and integrated into your belief systems.
The problem with this misunderstanding is that the opposite almost always reels its ugly head. If you believe someone else makes you happy, then you also have to believe the opposite, that another person can make you unhappy.
Now, I am not saying the people I work with aren’t actually unhappy much of the time. They are.
However, let’s look under the hood of this assumption that another person is where we get our sense of well-being and love from.
I was speaking with a client, let’s call him John. John admitted to me that he had gotten married in his 30’s because he felt pressured to do so. So, he met a lady and did love her, so married her. After 6 years, there level of communication was virtually nonexistent. They separated for a year, lived in different cities, and saw each other once a month. After a year, John’s now ex-wife Christy said she didn’t want to be with him anymore. Secretly John was ecstatic! He was so relieved and happy.
John then mustered up the courage to ask another woman out. To John’s delight, she said yes. They began to date and after 6 months, the new girl, Jen, said the exact same words to John. “I don’t want to be with you anymore”.
John was devastated! He went into a deep and dark depression that culminated in a suicide attempt. John knew he needed to get some help.
He began to go to seminars and read books. He eventually came across a different paradigm for relating to himself and his relationships. John saw that it wasn’t the women that caused the difference in his reaction. It was how he thought about these women, the story and meaning he associated with each woman, that fueled his completely polarized reactions. After all, these woman said exactly the same thing to him. The first time he was happy. The second time he was so sad he attempted to take his own life.
Also watch: How to Find Happiness in Your Marriage
It is a cultural myth that another person can make us feel unhappy
A lot of people believe that other people can make them feel something, like unhappiness, is simply scientifically inaccurate and is the basis for a lot of unnecessary blaming, shaming, and ultimately emotional suffering.
Think back to your own relationships. Didn’t you still have moments of anger or boredom or sadness even in the beginning of your relationship? Consequently, have you ever been somewhere where you felt peaceful, joyful, and connected, even when nobody else was there?
I invite you to start noticing your own inevitable fluctuations in mood. Are you really unhappy every second of the day? You may think so, but is that really what’s going on?
Now, even though the feeling of happiness is generated from within (unconsciously usually), it doesn’t mean that you should stay together with someone.
I also am not saying that it is all in your head. Real things happen in relationships: cheating, physical violence, mental abuse, tragedy, etc. These things really do happen.
The point I want to make here is that when we fall in (or out of love) with someone, that is happening within us, in our own thoughts, body, and biochemistry.
This is relevant because it only takes one person to see this inside-out nature of life.
It only takes one partner to not give importance to his/her habitual thinking about his/her partner and marriage.
It only takes one person to not act or react in his/her habitual way, for a change to take place.
The thinking that comes to us is different than the thinking we do. There is hope for happiness again. You do have the inner resources to experience it more consistently again, with or without your partner.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Amy Leo worked with children and teens discharged from psychiatric hospitals and their families for 5 years in New York City as an Intensive In-Home Counselor. Fueled by the notion, "there has got to be a better way", she quit her social work job to pursue an apprenticeship in the field of mental health education. Since completing the one year apprenticeship program, Amy has worked in the private practice sector and as a consultant for others in the helping professions. She now works with singles and couples, teaching them how to make their minds work for them, instead of against them. The core result is that her clients experience resilience and clarity of mind that they use to guide their choices as they deal with real-world challenges such as loneliness, depression, panic attacks, infidelity, abuse, separation, and divorce. Amy is a featured expert writer, published author, and speaker on various platforms such as: Amazon.com, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Contact Talk Radio, Three Principles Supermind, The Anxiety Coaches Podcast, Consciously Speaking, Waking Up, and more.
(Amy Leo is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in West Haven)