As the founder of the Happy Wives Club, a community of more than 600,000 women in over 110 countries around the world, I have the benefit of engaging with hundreds of wives daily about the principals of a happy marriage.
In 2012, I traveled to 12 countries on six continents to interview couples happily married 25 years of more for my book Happy Wives Club. What I discovered was the difference between happy couples and miserable ones was often found in their thought process. What they focused on daily became their life. Those whose focus was on all things their spouse did right each day seemed to find more and more things to be grateful for and gratitude, in each and every relationship, was the gateway to happiness and fulfilment.
Based on the research for my book, there are five reasons your marriage might be miserable.
1. Your focus is on you. Ralph Waldo Emerson brilliantly said, “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.” We live in an individualistic society, one that tells us “me first” is what is most important. In marriage, that can’t be further from the truth. In giving with an open and loving heart, you will receive in return.
Some call this karma. Some look at it as the principal of what you sow is what you reap. Whatever you want to call it, this I know for sure: In traveling the world and interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more for my book, Happy Wives Club, this was a common denominator among them all. Their focus was not on themselves, it was on the gratitude they have for everything their spouse does right and an appreciation for each other’s differences.
2. You think you should be married to yourself. I love this quote by business consultant Sandra Steen, “If both of us are identical then one of us is unnecessary.” There are over 7 billion people in the world. And yet you — yes, you — chose your spouse. What was it about them that made you forsake all others and pledge to remain together ’til death do you part? What was it about their unique personality that drew you to them?
One of the worst mistakes we make after saying “I do” is to begin a new molding and shaping process of our spouses. You have a lot of roles to play in the life of your spouse but molder should not be one of them. Supporter, yes. Encourager, absolutely. If you were looking to marry someone identical to yourself, you probably should have remained single. But if you want to take your marriage from miserable to happy, accepting each other’s differences is paramount.
3. You’re missing the point of marriage. Marriage is meant to make you stronger, not weaker. It is the greatest partnership in the world. When utilized properly, it allows you to succeed in life like no other relationship. William Galston (White House Administration) was once quoted as saying, “You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty — finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.”
A marriage rooted in a genuine partnership allows you to climb twice as high, go double the distance and oftentimes in half the time. Similar to a relay race, you may only run the first leg of the race, but as long as your partner finishes, you get credit for the entire thing. Marriage can be the most beneficial union of your life, if you look at it that way. You have a built-in support system that singles simply don’t have. So, use that to your advantage! Figure out how you and your spouse can team up to succeed in life and to reach your highest dreams.
4. You still think marriage is about you. When Seth Adam Smith wrote the viral post, “Marriage Isn’t For You,” he set the web on fire. And although it set tongues wagging and sent opinions flying, what he said was spot on. Successful and happy couples understand this very important principal: Marriage is not about you. Yes, marriage should be wonderful but marriage is not meant not to make you happy. If you were a miserable person going into marriage, you will be a miserable person married.
Happiness must always come from within, never from without. The beauty of marriage is in the giving. It is in the loving of another person so deeply that you would give everything you have to make them happy. And in return, they will do the same. Again, you can call it karma, you can call it sowing and reaping, I simply call it a fact in the lives of those I’ve interviewed whose marriages have stood the tests of time.
5. You look into a mirage and believe it will quench your thirst. One of the most detrimental things we can do in marriage is to begin (even if only subconsciously) looking for a plan B. Tom Robbins once said, “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.”
Statistics show that 67 percent of those who get remarried end in divorce and 73 percent of third marriages end almost as quickly as they began. There is a reason for this. The perfect lover is a mirage. It doesn’t exist. No marriage is perfect because it involves two imperfect people. But at least, what you have now is real. Couples who choose to cultivate the marriage they are in, rather than looking externally for happiness, find that what they’ve been seeking so desperately was right in front of them the entire time.
There are 12 universal secrets to a happy marriage you can apply to your own relationship each and every day. You can find them in my newly released book, Happy Wives Club. It’s been described as Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages but I simply call it inspiring. The couples I interviewed inspired me, revolutionized my own marriage, and I trust they will do the same for you.