Renee in Rochester writes:
I have been struggling with my marriage since the beginning. After 26 years I just long to be happy. Sometimes I think my husband has a mental illness. He has instant personality changes. I have never really done anything for myself, my job is low paying and basic – he has provided for me always. I feel trapped and don’t know how to get out – or if I ever will. Will I ever find happiness?
I’m not a doctor or qualified to give medical advice or diagnosis, but you aren’t too far off base in your theories. Your husband does seem to have an unstable personality. Unfortunately, I don’t see either of you directly addressing this problem.
I don’t believe you will ever do anything to free yourself or change the state of your marriage. Your husband doesn’t necessarily see your unhappiness, or anything about your life together as needing improvement. What you have is what you have. Even though you feel trapped, I don’t see you doing anything to change it, because it does offer you a level of security.
Happiness doesn’t have to be based on or revolve around your husband. Your marriage, because you choose to remain in it, doesn’t have to be a trap. Be honest. You don’t do anything for yourself because you fear disrupting this tentative state of balance. Recognize that as being your choice.
You are capable of creating a different life for yourself, but it scares you. That thought comes with struggle and sacrifice.
Your job may be low paying and basic, but only because you haven’t tried to expand or excel. Everything you do, you do to keep you in the life that you have, and inside of your marriage. It is a pretty safe world when you live inside a cage.
Renee, looking at things that make you unhappy is not a path to happiness, unless you are willing to address those issues. You have spent so much time just going along with the flow, that I don’t know that you have any clue about what happiness actually means to you. Until you figure that out, your life is going to continue on in the same patterns and habits that exist now.
Small changes can bring about big impact. But, you have to learn that you are capable of making smaller decisions and strong enough to uphold those decisions before you can contemplate the bigger issues like what to do about your husband. Right now, it seems as if your plan is to simply outlive him.
Change is usually difficult, and almost always liberating. So start small. Think in steps of achievable goals that aren’t going to create upheaval and chaos in your home. Start doing little things for you. Take a class. Join a gym. Give yourself an hour or two a week for something that is simply all about you, things that will make you feel better about yourself.
Happiness isn’t something you can just find – it is more of a state of being you create.