Marriage is a real challenge. It’s never what the movies make it out to be. Conflicts aren’t resolved in 90 minutes and the problems of this week can often build upon the problems of last week.
Having children doesn’t fix a marriage any more than getting married fixes our self esteem problems. In fact, adding more people into any equation will often result in more confusion, not more clarity.
At some point someone in the marriage might start thinking something like, “This isn’t what I thought it was going to be.” Eventually the question of “Should I stay or should I go? will come into their mind.
That is a good question to tackle. If you are debating that question yourself I would encourage you to try to remove emotion from your assessment. If you aren’t questioning the longevity of your marriage, I encourage to answer this question ahead of time so you can apply the answer without having to figure it out amid a plethora of emotions.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Are your beliefs based on truth? I constantly hear people say “I deserve to be happy?” Or “God wants you to be happy!” I don’t think God is against happiness, but nowhere in scripture does God promise happiness. Peace, joy and contentment are there but not happiness. Believing this lie will lead you to justify a quick exit instead of forging ahead and working things through.
2. Are your expectations realistic? Reasonable means that most people would expect it. Realistic is determined by the person you are expecting something from. Based on their behavior over the past 1-6 months, what consistency have you seen in their behavior? That is what you can expect.
If your expectations don’t match your spouses recent pattern of behavior, then you are being unrealistic. If your expectations aren’t realistic, then the insanity you are living in is partly your fault.
3. Who should pay the price for your decisions? If you believe you have a right to be happy then you are at risk of allowing your children to pay the price for your happiness.
If you weren’t forced into the marriage and chose to bring children into it, then their stability comes before your happiness.
I don’t agree with raising children around domestic violence, but the vast majority of divorces are about the parent’s happiness and not abuse.
4. Stop the tit for tat syndrome. Your spouse’s bad behavior is not an excuse for yours. Yes, you are in pain, but you need to work through that instead of getting even.
5. Are you really doing all you can? Once our focus adjusts from our “right to our happiness” and onto contentment and the stability of our children, other options emerge. Look for them as if it was important to discover them, because it is!
6. Your marriage influences generations. You aren’t just fighting for your happiness, you are training generations how to handle difficult situations. Maybe you weren’t trained well, but that’s no excuse. It’s now your responsibility to change your family’s pattern of dysfunction.
7. Grieve. Realizing your marriage isn’t going to be what you had hoped is heart breaking. Because it’s constantly around you it can be the most difficult grief process you’ve ever encountered. Grieve the loss of your dream, and learn how to be content in a new reality.
8. Get help. If you are struggling, get help.Don’t be a minimalist in your search; seek it until you find it!
The answer to your question is best found not in your rights, but in your responsibilities.
Your decisions have longer lasting effects than you realize, so choose wisely.