A fatal flaw, both in marriages and in life in general, is that many people have this illusion that another person can supply them with happiness.  In fact, the troubles in your marriage may or may not be due to dissatisfaction in your life.

However, if you feel that there is the slightest possibility that there is something that you can do to better your situation and the overall quality of your life, then by all means you should do it.  If you are unhappy in your marriage (and in life), it’s up to you to do something about it. Only you can make you happy!

Unless you know how to make yourself happy, you are destined to go through life very disappointed. Certainly marriage is not an exact science, nor is it like some magical fairytale, but you will not find it fulfilling if you are not satisfied with other areas of your life.

Psychiatrist David Viscott says: “The way to live with another person is to start with the right person.  But you can’t start with the right person until you know exactly who you are.”  He goes on to say that you “become dependent on the relationship to make you feel good – and less dependent upon it once you find yourself.”

One of my favorite authors, Michelle Weiner-Davis, in her book “Divorce Busting,” writes this passage that I think sums things up very well:

“Although loving someone can be one of life’s most gratifying experiences, it must be the icing on the cake.  In the same way that eyeglasses sharpen images as opposed to giving vision to the blind, you must be whole in order to feel whole with your mate.  Sometimes couples in love appear to be like one.  Their individualities seem to mesh frictionlessly.  However, sound marriages are in reality more like three.  There’s you, me and us – three separate identities.  Unless your life has definition and meaning without your mate, your relationship is doomed from the start.”

You need to keep in mind that no one person can satisfy all of the emotional needs of another – even in the best of marriages.  No matter how much you love your spouse, you will have needs that are not being met.  The key then is to find other ways to get these needs met. You have to make yourself happy.

Many realize that they are unhappy and have important needs that are not being met in their relationship, but instead of trying to change the situation, they do nothing, say nothing, and end up drowning in silent misery and resentment.  They feel that their spouse is the sole road block to happiness, and fail to recognize the role that they played in creating their own unhappiness. Often it results in them having an affair.

When thinking about our own situation prior to Doug’s emotional affair, it was obvious that we both were defined by our marriage.  We both did what we had to do with respect to work, chores, family activities, etc. but failed to work on our own happiness.  I placed the entire responsibility for my happiness and well-being in Doug’s hands, and he did the same with me.  When things started to be less pleasant in our marriage, I felt Doug was responsible for my unhappiness, and he thought the same of me.  Neither of us stood our ground and took the initiative for making our lives more fulfilling.

So here we are more than two years later, and it seems as though we have stepped back in time to a point in our relationship when we were just starting to get to know each other and fell in love with each other.  It’s a shame that it took an emotional affair to get us to this point, but it feels good to be back to this place nevertheless.

Just as in all relationships, ours will continue to grow and evolve over time, and we will certainly have our share of disagreements down the road, but if nothing else, we are older and wiser and have learned our lessons and will be able to recognize if our relationship is getting off track. We both know that we each have a profound affect on one another’s lives and overall fulfillment and well-being, but ultimately we are each responsible for our own happiness.

 

    20 replies to "Only You Can Make You Happy"

    • Kathy

      This is a really good post. This was a lesson I learned years ago before I met my H, and I believe it was one of the reasons he and I hit it off because I wasn’t looking for someone else to make me happy.

      But being responsible for your own happiness is something that has to be ongoing, as I found out. After 27 years of marriage, his EA helped me realized that I’d gotten lazy and had put the responsibility for my happiness on him, and I think he did the same with me.

      Now that we are past the EA and are staying together, it’s hard to get back to that place of making my own happiness, particularly because I sometimes feel doubt and fear. I hope that as I am able to find happiness within myself, the doubts and fears will fade because I’ll know that I’ll be okay no matter what happens.

      • Doug

        Kathy, I understand what you are saying, I think for the last two years I have been so focused on saving our marriage that I have put aside many of the activities that made me happy. I also was afraid to do those things because it did take time away from Doug and I wanted him to feel that I was completely devoted to meeting his needs. As time has passed I have started engaging myself in some of the things I used to do but I also have found that I don’t need those activities as much anymore because I am very content spending time with Doug and that brings me a lot of happiness. I think that in many ways I made myself so busy to avoid thinking about what was wrong in my life. I have slowed down the pace and have been forced to evaluate and really experience what is happening, and in turn has made me a much happier person. Linda

    • Yuki

      Maybe I’m looking for the negative, but my first thought is – if my husband reads this, maybe he’ll think that the way to make himself happy is to have an affair. I guess I’m obsessing.

      • Doug

        Yuki, I thought the same thing, but as Doug and I talked about it we both agreed that when couples go outside of their relationship to get their needs met there needs to be boundaries in place so affairs do not happen. I think one aspect that was lacking in our marriage was we never talked about boundaries or how we would react if someone crossed those boundaries. We never talked about trust, commitment, how we would feel if we crossed those boundaries. I think the message from this article is in order to be a good spouse, parent etc. we need to be happy with ourselves, we can’t expect our spouses to provide all of our happiness, it has to come from within. Linda

        • Yuki

          Got it, Linda. I appreciate the clarification. I did see that in my first reading of it, but I also thought I saw how someone who has had an affair may read something else into it. But that was probably my own mind reading something else into it. I’m a tad oversensitive these days. Still can’t even watch TV.

    • Andrew

      I absolutely agree with today’s post. All too often, people depend on others to make them happy, when in reality, only you can make yourself happy. Happiness is a choice, just like our reactions to different situations are derived from the choices we make. We can either choose to be angry, upset, or unhappy all the time, or we can choose to have thick skin, and let the negative things roll off of us, and keep moving forward. Our happiness all depends on our attitude, and only comes from within us. I told my wife recently that I want her, but that I don’t need her to be happy. She replied to that by saying that she didn’t want to be with someone that didn’t need her to be happy. So, she is still stuck in the mindset that she needs someone else to make her happy. Yes, having someone such as your spouse in your life, sharing experiences and their life with you helps you to be happy, but only because you are happy yourself, and helping to create that happy atmosphere within the marriage. Not every day is filled with happiness, but as long as you yourself are in the right mindset, and attitude, you both can be happy together, because happiness and good feelings are contagious. Depending solely on your spouse to give you happiness does not make you happy. I know, I was at that point myself, and I was needing my wife to fulfill all my emotional needs and to make me happy. That is where the marriage got off track. Prior to that, it was like the model that Michelle Weiner-Davis proposed: It was her, me, and then us together. We both had activities and friends separately, but we also did a lot together. There was a good balance between the two. You need balance like that in order to keep the marriage healthy. If you spend 24/7 with your spouse, that is not healthy, for there needs to be times when you have hobbies and things to do by yourself in order to keep things interesting between you. everyone needs to have some “me” time, so that you can reset yourself, and make sure you are whole yourself. Only then will you be able to completely fulfill your spouse’s needs. I lost sight of that, and took my wife and marriage for granted, and vice versa on my wife’s part. We both forgot what kept our marriage healthy, and as a result, we are in the situation we find ourselves now. We both are at fault, and I have realized my part that led to this, and have taken steps to rectify that. Unfortunately, my wife is still under the notion that she needs someone else, hence the EA, to fullfill her emotional needs and make her happy. I hope that the realization that she is the only one that controls her happiness will dawn on her soon. I can see that she isn’t happy even in the EA. I have to keep showing her real, mature love, and offer support, in order to keep my marriage. One day all the efforts will pay off. I made the decision that I was going to be happy no matter what, and to not let the circumstances control me any longer. It is not as hard as it seems to do that. We were all happy by ourselves before marriage, so we can be happy with ourselves now. That is the only thing I can control: myself.

    • Jessica

      I was happy until I found out about his EA. Now I am very sad. Its hard to be happy when inside I feel so much pain. I don’t expect him to make me happy but I never expected him to cause so much pain.

    • tryingtoowife

      I agree with Jessica. I was so happy before. Happiness was easy and simple, no effort.Life was worth the efforts. Now there is only pain and uncertainties.
      I wish I hadn’t been so stupid!

    • Yuki

      Oh, me, too. People called me the eternal optimist – always looking at the positive, always smiling and confident and happy. Now I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to not be in pain. It’s so tiring to live life this way, but separating myself from this pain is proving very difficult.

    • Lori

      I agree…. The sadness never ends, and in my case, he expects me to just forget the past and move on. Well, I can’t. Two years ago he agreed he had a EA; now he thinks he knows his boundaries with her and I need to live with the fact that she is a very good friend. I said no! The heartache is unbearable. I wasn’t married to him, so us breaking up wasn’t as difficult to him. It’s everything to me. 🙁

    • Jessica

      Lori’s post hit the mark today. I am married but wondering if I ended this marriage would the pain go away?

      • Tiffany

        I am at this point as well. I’m so tired of my own moods depending on his mood. I’m tired of trying to be exactly what he needs to make him happy. Why doesn’t he care about my happiness? Something is totally screwed up when I am the only one doing the work. Should I just walk away to try to get myself back? I have no self respect anymore, I am happy or sad depending on how he treats me and how he seems. Why am I letting myself do this? I have two young children and I don’t want my marraige to end but maybe I should if I can’t even find who I am anymore.

    • Yuki

      Jeff Murrah always says that it won’t. My divorced friends also say it won’t. If only it would.

    • jenny

      I honestly think that one of the reasons my husband had his emotional affair was because he wasn’t happy with himself. I was happy. If fact when this all happened I was re-discovering parts of myself that I had put on hold since having children. I was feeling very fulfilled. My husband has a job he doesn’t particularly like, he just turned 40 and was so busy he was losing touch with his friends and family. He met a woman who wasn’t happy with her life either and they bonded over that. I’ve never been a glass half empty kind of girl and when people complain I try to find the silver lining. I guess this isn’t comforting when a person just wants someone to listen. Since going through this and dealing with my own pain I’m beginning to better understand that, but even now I know I would never stay lost in my sadness. I visit from time to time, but then I have to move onto that silver lining. It is one of the things that has helped me through all of this. I know that if the worst happens, my husband leaves me for the OW or I just can’t forgive him and have to leave, I will be incredibly sad for us and for our family. But I know I wouldn’t stay that way forever.

    • maryanna1962

      Nice post Jenny

    • Jackie

      I agree with you also Jenny.

    • Lori

      Jenny, I agree…. the pain won’t last forever. It’s been 5 months since we broke up, and I won’t lie, it still hurts – but it’s not as painful as the first few weeks. Like everything else, I go through spurts of missing him, and spurts of not. This weekend had it’s share of both. I went on a date last night, it was our 3rd date and he treated me very well. However, I knew my ex was out of town and enjoying himself in a city where another woman who is ‘just friends’ now lives. The date was nice, but missing him weighed heavy on my heart. It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow and I won’t be celebrating with anyone. As much as I wish that I was, it’s just not in my cards. It’s sad. However, this won’t be my life forever…. just in this moment. 2011 V-day has me sad. But.. I will get stronger – just like everyone else on this site!! May tomorrow have a silver lining for all of us!! Cheers!! xoxoxoxo

    • M girl

      I’ve been lurking on your website for weeks now- trying to find answers to my pain. My fiancé due to marry in july was cheating on me for 3 mths and the pain is excruciating. I know we’re not married yet but it’s almost the same. I started a blog just to put my thoughts in one place, hope some can read and feel less alone. I think blogging would help me find a way to be happy and content, on my own. On the other hand, it may deepen my resentment, possibly. Anyway, I can’t share it with any friends so I’m reaching out to similar minded souls on your excellent website.

    • M girl

      By the way the blog is http://www.catsanddogsandeverythinginbetween.blogspot.com in case anyone is interested. Thank you

    • Michael

      This philosophy has poisoned my marriage.

      My wife was unhappy with her job, not me, but now she’s become selfish thinking only of her own gratification in a long distance relationship. The author failed to mention that this advice was never intended to be used this way.

      Now where I was happy with her and I lived for her and we lived for each other, she looks inside for her own happiness instead of toward her sworn life mate. She finds gratification with others. As a result it is my needs that aren’t being met now. I do not want to force a change in the situation and find gratification in others as she has. I can do nothing, say nothing, and am drowning in silent misery and resentment toward the people that she now allows to make her happy because she will not allow me to.

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