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5 Lessons for People Wasting Time in an Unhappy Marriage

5 Lessons for People Wasting Time in an Unhappy Marriage

When you are in an unhappy marriage, you may tell yourself certain things, using them as an excuse to stay because you are scared. Such myths may include, “I have put too much time into this marriage for it to end,” or “I have sacrificed way too much and invested way too much time into this relationship. I’m not just going to walk away from it.” Viewing your marriage as a time investment, when that relationship is no longer a healthy or loving one, serves no purpose but to prolong your suffering. If you find yourself in this situation, there are five lessons you must embrace so that you can give yourself the chance to move on.

1.  Quit viewing your years of marriage as some sort of investment. It’s not.

The time you have put into your marriage is not a non-refundable down payment, so do not treat it like one. When people justify staying in an unhappy marriage, they usually justify it through the lens of time spent, not through the lens of actually being healthy and happy. In a healthy and happy marriage, time spent together is beneficial– you have good memories, the joys of building a family, and more comfortable living. But once the marriage unravels, you cannot invoke those years spent as a justification to stay in a relationship, especially when the relationship has broken down and both partners are no longer invested in it.

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2.  Accept that you deserve better. Do not treat your life and happiness like a faceless commodity. 

Unless you are learning to play the piano, you are an athlete who must train 8 hours a day to keep in form, or you are hand-painting the Sistine Chapel, erase this false narrative that time put in = a guaranteed return. You deserve more than that. You deserve better than just seeing yourself, your relationship, and your life as as commodity subject to negotiation. When you view your marriage as merely an investment of time, and use that time as a justification for staying in something that is no longer healthy, you only hurt and demean yourself.

 3. Those married years taught you a lot, but they don’t owe you anything. 

This lesson is not meant to sound harsh. Most of us have some wonderful memories from our marriage, and it is important to acknowledge those good times. They gave us happiness and helped us grow. Yet be cautious of your selective memory. You must also recognize that the years in between those memories–the not-so-good-ones– are not collateral and an excuse to remain in a marriage that is no longer working. You may have been married 5, 10, or 20 years, and made sacrifices during that time. You may think that you are owed something because of those unhappy years. But to treat those sacrifices and unhappy years as a bargaining tool, thinking it entitles you to happiness, gets you nowhere.

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You must think of those married years as experience; you were taught about relationships, families, and about who you are because of that time in the partnership. Be grateful for those lessons, but do not attempt to use them as a bargaining tool to remain in a marriage that is no longer sustainable. To do so denies you the opportunity to move on.

4. You may be using the time myth to stay in an unhappy marriage because you’re scared. And that’s okay.

The time you put into a relationship, even if you or your spouse is no longer happy, was at least time in which you were comfortable, and your life, for the most part, was predictable. The end of that relationship signifies an end to the vision of life you had planned for yourself—the illusion of normalcy that assured you that you were like everybody else. You may be afraid to start over, afraid to go “back to the beginning”—whatever that means—because you think you are too old, too financially unstable, or too emotionally distraught to do so.

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Give yourself more credit than that—recognize that you are smarter, more organized, more adaptable, and a hell of a lot stronger than you can even imagine.

It’s okay to feel scared about starting over. The fear is what makes you human, but it’s the courage to give yourself another shot at happiness that makes you truly remarkable. Overcome the wavering and excuses of  “I have put so much time into this marriage” and get past that fear and bargaining and you will get that second chance at life.

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 5. Time invested does not equal happiness. But you can find happiness on your own.

As heartbreaking as it is, sometimes marriages run their course, regardless of the years of effort and sacrifice you invested. It’s okay to move on, okay to start over, and okay to find happiness on your own terms.

But here is where time spent does become your responsibility. As you start or continue to make a new life for yourself, you are given a choice about time. You may choose to spend it angry, bitter, or heartbroken about the end of your marriage, or you may choose to invest time in yourself and your own happiness. You are not destined to live a life of hurt and misery because you are separating or divorcing. However, you can be destined for greatness and the opportunity to move on and become stronger, more compassionate, and a happier person. And putting your energy into that happiness is time well spent.

Featured photo credit: Wife and Husband/Roland Tanglao via flickr.com

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Martha Bodyfelt

Certified Divorce and Recovery Coach

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

4. What are my goals in life?

Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

6. What do I not like to do?

An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

Reference

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