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I am not happy in my marriage. We are good at pretending we are happy, but the truth is, things are bad. I harbor a lot of resentment toward my spouse for the things he’s done in the past. I can hardly stand to be around him. We pretend to get along for the children, but there is no love in my marriage. I wish there was some way to fix our situation but I don’t think I can change how I feel. Any advice?
Life is a classroom and every experience is here to teach you something. I guarantee this situation is in your life to give you a chance to become a better person. The question is, how? How are you supposed to step it up, make some changes in yourself and become a better person through this situation?
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You will have to listen to your own inner truth for the answer. You may be in this situation to learn about leaving the marriage and standing on your own — or you may be in this situation to learn about forgiveness and making a relationship work. Only you will know which course is right for you, but I’ll teach you a couple of principles that may help.
Principle: A healthy marriage requires good communication.
When you have been hurt by your spouse, you must speak your truth about it. You cannot bury the hurt, withdraw or withhold love if you want this relationship to work. You must express your feelings about his behavior and ask for what you want and need. You must also give your spouse the chance to express regret for that behavior and try to change.
If you want a healthy marriage, both partners must be able to speak their truth and talk openly about how they feel, and handle these conversations in a loving way. If you attack your spouse, you will not get anywhere.
These conversations must be mutually validating for both people. ( I wrote an article on how to have validating conversations I recommend you read.) If both parties are committed, you can work through many issues this way.
Principle: Choosing to handle mistreatment with love will create more happiness in your life.
If you want happiness, you must treat every person — including your spouse — with respect and kindness, even when they don't deserve it. You will do this not because of who they are, but because it’s the kind of person you want to be.
Choosing to handle situations with love does not mean you automatically give the other person what they want. It means protecting yourself, enforcing your boundaries and asking for what you need — all in a loving way.
You should never tolerate abusive or disrespectful behavior, and being loving does not mean you have to continue your journey married to this person. If you cannot rekindle feelings of love, respect and trust toward your spouse, you may decide that continuing your journey away from this person is the most loving option.
Whatever you do, do not make any decision in anger. Decisions made with this kind of energy seldom turn out well. If you leave this relationship holding onto resentment toward your ex-spouse, you will take the bitterness with you into your future relationships.
Relationship expert Barbara De Angelis said, “The more anger toward the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.”
Base your decision in love.
If you decide leaving is the right choice for you, you still must forgive your spouse as part of that process. You must hold onto the lessons, but let go of the pain and resentment. You must forgive your spouse so you can move forward with peace. Forgiveness is about healing you.
It is not about the other person.
Principle: Forgiveness is about healing yourself.
If you choose to stay in this relationship, then make a commitment to do so with love. Decide to forgive your spouse because you’re not perfect either. Recognize his honest efforts to do better and give him some room to grow and learn. Give him permission to be an imperfect work in progress, just like you.
We are all struggling students in the classroom of life, and we must give other people permission to be imperfect and learning.
You are also going to have to practice patience. It takes time for change to happen, and it is a lengthy process to rebuild trust — but it can happen.
Remember, forgiveness is not denying or minimizing the hurt that you suffered. Forgiveness is the decision to let the pain stay in the past. It is about releasing the pain, animosity and angst toward a person because it doesn’t serve anyone when you to hold onto it.
You may think that holding onto anger protects you or benefits you in some way, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t right the wrong, it doesn’t punish the wicked, it doesn’t make you feel better and it doesn’t help either party to grow and learn.
Principle: Forgiveness is the most difficult but powerful way you can change your life.
Trust that this situation is in your life for a perfect reason and the universe will provide all the guidance and help that you need. Remember, this situation is here to serve you, not to punish you. You will be a stronger, wiser person no matter how it turns out.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in self esteem and renewing hope.