Are you feeling frustrated with your spouse?
Do things just seem more intense between the two of you?
Is working from home and/or taking care of the family making you tired?
Are you worn out from keeping up with the household duties?
Do you find that you and your spouse are arguing and disagreeing more?
Are differences being exposed as a result of COVID-19 and social unrest?
Do you sometimes lie in bed and wonder if you married the right person?
Before we dig into this, I want to be clear that if you are in a relationship where someone is abusing you in any way, stop here and seek help.*
As you went through the list above, you may have answered yes to some or all of the questions. These are trying times for sure. Right now, I want to focus on the last question.
Have you caught yourself entertaining the question: Did I marry the right person?
When we experience challenges that exist for an extended period of time, it can bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Before you fully convince yourself that everything is your spouse’s fault, here’s something to consider. Everybody has been under extra pressure for the last 106-plus days and as a result, may be acting a bit extra. That being said, it’s important to recognize that most marriages go through challenging times.
Although throwing in the towel may sound tempting, it might be helpful to set the wheels in motion to have a constructive conversation with your spouse about your marriage and how to ride these waves together.
Here are some things to think about as you prepare for the conversation.
What exactly is making you question whether or not you married the right person? Sometimes we entertain thoughts but have nothing of substance to back them up. Try to nail down where this idea is coming from.
Then ask yourself, based on history in your marriage, is this narrative something that has recently come up or has it been ongoing for an extended period of time, as in long before COVID-19 hit?
☆ Does your spouse know you are having these thoughts? If you shared what you are thinking today, would they be blindsided? ☆
Here’s the thing: When you start getting irritated with your spouse, you can actually teach your brain to only see the things that get on your nerves or irritate you about them. And, the more you go there, the more you tell yourself your thoughts are justified and accurate. It’s kind of like confirmation bias. This can be very misleading and has caused plenty of people to call it quits on a perfectly good marriage.
Talk It Out
★ Maybe you are not feeling valued or heard. Or, you just don’t feel connected anymore and are bored. Instead of deciding that you are finished, find a time where both of you can sit and have a conversation away from distractions. Beware of telling them all the things they aren’t doing—instead, talk about how you are feeling and ask for what you need.
“I need help with the children.”
“I’m feeling very distant from you. I would like for us to spend time together.”
“I’m scared about all that is going on.”
“I don’t feel appreciated or respected. Can we talk about that?”
“I am bored.”
Lead-ins like this are more likely to take you to a conversation instead of a meltdown because someone feels attacked. It’s totally possible that your spouse has no idea you are feeling like this and that they would be willing to do some things differently. (It’s also possible that your spouse is struggling, too.)[Pause right here and take a deep breath.]
Instead of thinking your marriage might be coming to an end because you are questioning whether or not you married the right person, this could be the beginning of breathing new life into your relationship.
All marriages go through hard times. Talk with anybody who has been married any length of time and they will tell you, it was the times when they were hanging on to each other in the midst of the storm that brought them to the other side stronger and more energized.
Here’s the other secret: many couples have learned that there are times when they don’t like each other very much or the strong romantic passion toward each other ebbs and flows. The key is, their commitment to their relationship remains strong. And, as they continue to put one foot in front of the other, things transition—like children get older, COVID-19 calms down, work gets less intense, children are back in school, everybody is healthy, and more.
Problems and difficulties occur in ALL marital relationships. Your marriage can thrive when you respect, recognize, and appreciate what you each bring to your marriage. When you look back over your relationship, you may actually see that you have had many more good times than bad times. Be aware that we all are experiencing unique situations that we have never faced.
You might really be really asking yourself, “Did I marry the right person?” In reality, there are so many questions you are probably trying to answer right now. Give each other space and time to express and deal with the stress and anxiety from these unprecedented sets of circumstances. Avoid making any impulsive decisions right now.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***