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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things

If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things

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 May 17, 2019

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

The pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

But do you know the biggest obstacle for most people trying to achieve their goals, the silent dream killer that stops people before they ever even get started? That obstacle is the comfort zone, and getting stuck there is bound to derail any efforts you make towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you want to achieve those goals, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at how your life will change once you build up the courage to leave your comfort zone.

What Is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone is defined as “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”

What stands out to me the most about that definition is the last part: “using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.” How many successful people do you know who deliver a steady level of performance?

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The goal in life is to continually challenge yourself, and continually improve yourself. And in order to do that, you have move out of your comfort zone. But once you do, your life will start to change in ways you could never have imagined. I know because it’s happening right now in my own life.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You will be scared

Leaving your comfort zone isn’t easy. In fact, in can be downright terrifying at times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little trepidation when you’re embarking on a journey that forces you to try new things.

So don’t freak out or get overwhelmed when you feel yourself getting a little scared. It’s perfectly normal and all part of the process. What’s important is that you don’t let that fear hold you back. You must continue to take action in the face of fear.

That’s what separates winners from losers.

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2. You will fail

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before, and learning things you’ve never learned before.

That steep learning curve means you’re not going to get everything right the first time, and you will eventually fail when you move out of your comfort zone. But as long as the failures aren’t catastrophic, it can actually be a good thing to fail because …

3. You will learn

Failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned more from each one of my failures than I have from each one of my successes. When you fail small, and fail often, you rapidly increase the rate at which you learn new insights and skills. And that new knowledge, if applied correctly, will eventually lead to your success.

4. You will see yourself in a different way

Once you move out of your comfort zone, you immediately prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving more than you thought was possible. And that will change the way you see yourself.

Moving forward, you’ll have more confidence in yourself whenever you step out of your comfort zone, and that increased confidence will make it more likely that you continue to step outside your comfort zone. And each time you do, you’ll prove to yourself again and again what you’re really capable of.

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5. Your peers will see you in a different way

Whether we want to admit or not, people judge other people. And right now, people view you in a certain way, and they have a certain idea of what you’re capable of. That’s because they’ve become accustomed to seeing you operate in your comfort zone.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you’ll prove to other people, as well, that you’re capable of much more than you’ve shown in the past.

The increased confidence other people place in you will bring about more opportunities than ever before.

6. Your comfort zone will expand

The good thing about the comfort zone is that it’s flexible and malleable. With each action you take outside of your comfort zone, it expands. And once you master that new skill or action, it eventually becomes part of your comfort zone.

This is great news for you because it means that you can constantly increase and improve upon the behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And the more tools and skills you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

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7. You will increase your concentration and focus

When you’re living inside of your comfort zone, the bulk of your actions are habitual: automatic, subconscious, and requiring limited focus.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you no longer rely on those habitual responses. You’re forced to concentrate and focus on the new action in a way you never do in your comfort zone.

8. You will develop new skills

Moving out of your comfort zone requires that you develop new skills. One of the many benefits you’ll experience is that you’ll be stepping away from the “limited set of behaviors” and start to develop your ability and expertise in new areas.

Living inside of your comfort zone only requires a limited skill set, and those skills won’t contribute much to your success. Once you can confidently step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, there’s no limit to how much you can achieve.

9. You will achieve more than before

With everything that happens once you move out of your comfort zone, you’re naturally going to achieve more than ever before.

Your increased concentration and focus will help you develop new skills. Those new skills will change the way you see yourself, encouraging you to step even further out of your comfort zone.

Featured photo credit: Josef Grunig via farm3.staticflickr.com

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