I think as mothers this subject can be taken down many avenues; but for today I would like to touch specifically on not relying on our spouses for our individual happiness.
First I would like to give a disclaimer! I am not an expert, and I am still working on this very subject, all the time. Having said that, I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on it. I will keep it short and give an example to get things started and then open up the comments.
My grandma said something to me once that I have never forgotten. “You are responsible for your own happiness, not your husband.” I have to say I didn’t understand what she meant at the time. Wasn’t that why you are in a marriage, to make each other happy? It wasn’t until a year later that what she said started to sink in. I had to look at it a little differently.
I am in charge of my own happiness, it is my decision. My husband cannot make that decision for me. He cannot provide a mind set. He cannot provide a way to look at things.
“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” –Abraham Lincoln
Here is an example of a time I had taken charge of my own happiness.
Me and the mister had been married for just under a year when we moved to Houston. We had been there for a few months and had not made any friends, had no family, no kids. This left us to each other for sole entertainment. I am not saying this was a bad thing, it was great most of the time.
One particular Saturday afternoon I wanted to go to the movies and asked him if he wanted to go. He said no, he hated to go to the movies during the day, it was a waste of daylight. Instantly I was annoyed. It was 98 degrees outside with 80% humidity, what was he going to do, go for a bike ride? So I sat and stewed for a minute. I knew that if I stayed home I would just be bitter that he had kept me from my fun. He had made a decision to make me unhappy. I was really mad at him for about ten minutes, until I realized I was making the decision to make myself unhappy. I was playing the martyr. So I got up, put on my shoes and grabbed my purse.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“To the movies” I responded in a pleasant tone, and not the passive aggressive one. Just a matter of fact.
“You’re going without me?” he asked with a perplexed look on his face.
“Ya, you said you didn’t want to go, and that’s fine. I will stop and grab us something for dinner on my way home. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
That conversation could have went an entirely different direction had I made the decision to stay home with him. After a couple hours of my being mad it probably would have went a little something like this:
“What do you want for dinner” I would have said in a callous tone.
“I don’t care, whatever you want” would be his answer as I stomp into the kitchen “Is there something wrong?” he’d add.
“No, I’m fine” I’d answer in a passive aggressive tone. After a few more annoyed exchanges and him pressing I would respond with:
“We could have went to the movies, but no…because of you we sat here all day. So yes, I am mad, I hope your happy.” We both would have been miserable.
But instead I happily ate my popcorn, stopped and picked up some of our favorite Mexican food on my way home, then told him all about the romantic comedy he had missed out on. He had happily watched football, and took a nap. Just what he had wanted to do. We were both happy.
That day was liberating….
Of course I still compromise and do what he wants to some of the time, as does he; but I make sure I am happy with that decision.
Just in case you were curious, he always goes to the movies now when I ask-and it is a decision he is happy with because it was made by him, not a response to my attitude after he said no. That or he knows I’ll leave him!