DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
It’s a horrible feeling to know you are unhappy being married to your spouse. It may be a recent feeling, or something you have felt for years. Perhaps an affair caused you both to disconnect or maybe once your kids were born you felt invisible? It could also be possible you don’t know how to openly talk to each other anymore. You know how you feel but it is hard to say it aloud, especially to your partner. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, so you continue on with your daily routines, hoping things will get better.
Seeking help from friends, family, or a professional may prove to be a valuable option for the two of you. Sometimes an outside perspective is essential because you may be so engulfed in negativity and anger that you can become blind to solutions and change.
Perhaps you tried a therapist, and it “didn’t work.” In actuality, the therapist may not have been a good fit for you. Not all personalities click and a particular therapist may not “get you,” and that is okay. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing. Perhaps challenge yourself and consider trying again with someone new. Hence why people say marriage is “hard work,” because it takes work to continue making it wonderful and long-lasting.
If you want to try to figure this out on your own, then focus on being open and direct with your partner, in a respectful and considerate manner. For instance, if you want your spouse to come home earlier from work, then explain why it is important to you. Sometimes people genuinely don’t realize the importance of a decision they are making and the lasting negative effects it can have on those they love.
Your partner is not your enemy. In fact, you want to keep things amicable and approachable no matter what happens, especially if kids are involved. If you are sad or angry, let your partner know. Give your spouse a chance to do something about it. Be specific about what you want and need. Offer real examples about things your partner has done in the past which hurt you, and share what changes you would prefer and need, just in case you find yourselves in a similar situation in the future. Request feedback from your spouse, so that changes could be made from your side as well.
Force yourselves to talk about things which have been hidden under the rug for years. Create a space where you can actually hear one another. A space that feels safe, non-judgmental, and one that won’t have consequences. In other words, your partner may already know that being honest with you comes with being ignored by you for several days, or will result in a yelling match, so your spouse may shut down and suppress genuine feelings.
Instead, press the brakes a bit. Take things one step at a time. There is no need to rush if you promise yourselves that you will have the rest of your lives to figure it out. Be kind, loving, but most importantly, patient, especially when a love like yours is worth it.
Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. Visit www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.