Do you ever wonder if you’d be happier married to someone else? Your marriage isn’t a bad marriage nor is it destructive, but sometimes you find yourself bored, or questioning whether you’ve married the wrong person.
These thoughts and feelings are not all that uncommon. I’ve talked with many women who do not have a bad marriage but are unhappy with the person they are married to. The love they once felt toward their husband, feels dead. Or, as they look back, they realized that they married their husband for the wrong reasons like wanting to get out of their parents home, or to have children.
If that’s you, what can you do now? You have a choice to make but none of your options may feel very appealing to you right now. One, you can continue to regret your choice, live in “what if” and be unhappy. Sadly, if you continue to do that your marriage will get worse. You cannot change the past. You cannot relive your decision. Living in regret is a waste of time and energy.You did it, it’s done. Move on. Make a different choice.
That brings you to your other two choices.
You can choose to give up, to end your marriage. I don’t say that lightly, nor do I believe that is the best choice but it is a choice. God allows us free will, even if we choose poorly. But divorce is not an easy decision and is not without serious consequences, relationally, spiritually, emotionally and financially.
It’s crucial that you understand that you do have a third choice.
A choice that honors God and blesses your children. That choice is learning to love the person you are married to, not the person you wish you were married to or the person you thought you were married to but the person your spouse is.
I have some friends who are in an arranged marriage. When they married they were virtually strangers. But they have learned to love each other. Probably not the Hollywood, romantic version of Valentine love, but a deep trust, a safe harbor type of love which endures over the ups and downs of family life.
Below are five things that can help you learn to love the man you’re married to. I call them the five A’s of relationship revival. Acceptance, Attention, Affirmation, Admiration and Affection.
1. Acceptance: No one has a perfect marriage or perfect spouse. Learn to be content with the person you married instead of trying to remake him into the person you think he should be.
Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong with him, start to look for his strengths. Is your husband faithful? Good with the children? Does he provide for your well-being financially? Is he handy with house repairs?
No one gets a full deck when they get married. All of us have strengths and weaknesses and the things that bug us the most after marriage are often the things that we loved the most while dating.
For example, I love that my husband enjoys doing things with me and talking, however he doesn’t love garden work like I do. I can dwell on that and quickly forget to give thanks for all the good things he does.
2. Attention: Whatever we don’t maintain deteriorates. This is true with our nails, our body, our home, our car and our marriage. Make time for your husband and marriage. Make time to talk, to play, to have romance together. Even if you’re not always in the mood, being intentional about giving attention puts the structure in place to build in the other things in your marriage.
3. Affirmation: Remember the things that drew you to him in the first place. Was he a strong leader? Perhaps he was very kind and generous. Funny. A good money manager. Let your mind dwell on those good qualities.When he gets home tell him how much you like those qualities in him.
4. Admiration: Affirmation is external, it is something we do. Admiration is more internal. It is something that we feel towards another person. But our feelings are linked to our thoughts and so we must train our mind to give thanks and dwell on our husband’s good points, not his weaknesses. The apostle Paul tells us to think on the positive things in life, not the negative things (Philippians 4:8). Paul is not negating that there are negative things, but if we dwell on them we make ourselves more unhappy.
5. Affection: Every human being needs touch. Put your arm through your husband’s arm during a movie or church service. Hold hands. Rub his back. If you’re wary that you’ll be giving your husband the message you want sex, (and do not) then do it in a more public place or at a time when more romance is not possible. However, good sex is a way to improve marital intimacy. Remember, talk and touch are the primary ways we build intimacy.
These five steps won’t cure a marriage that is destructive or abusive. But for those marriages that are running on empty, growing distant, getting boring or your mind is wondering if you’d be happy with someone else, I challenge you to faithfully try these things. Let me know if your feelings toward your husband and your marriage improve.