My husband can walk in the door and before he says anything I can tell he’s unhappy. He has a presence about him that permeates the entire house. The whole family may be in a great mood but if Dad comes home upset, that’s the end of that. My husband coming home upset used to be an almost daily occurrence. I would immediately start “walking on eggshells” knowing he would snap at any moment at me or the kids. I was running around doing whatever I could to try to make him happy. However, no matter what I did he wasn’t happy. It may have kept him from snapping at the moment but it never changed the fact that he was miserable. All I wanted was for him to be happy so we could be happy. I thought if he would just quit being angry and miserable all the time then things would be great.
One day it just clicked for me as I was frantically cleaning up a spilled laundry basket to keep him from getting angry. I don’t know what it was, but I just realized I couldn’t do it anymore. Not only was he miserable but I was too. I realized I was not someone I would want to be around. I was no longer even myself. I was miserable too. I blamed him for my misery, he blamed me for his misery and it was just one big vicious cycle of blame.
That was the day I decided I was not going to be responsible for his happiness. But I was going to be responsible for mine. I finally realized I couldn’t control him or make him happy. But I could control myself. I couldn’t change his behavior or attitude. But I could control my behavior and attitude.
I decided I would do whatever I could to be happy while still honoring my marriage. I desperately wanted a happy marriage with my husband. I wanted my kids to grow up in an intact family. I set out to be happy regardless of how my husband acted.
After that day in the laundry room I did pretty well, I was happy most of the time and really started changing myself. I was definitely someone I wanted to be around! My husband on the other hand was not so amused with my change. He tried so hard to push my buttons and get the reactions he was use to getting. It was a daily struggle to keep my mind and attitude right. After about 6 months and a huge change in me, my husband said he wanted a divorce. Really? I had changed so much and I was so happy now. How in the world could he want a divorce? I was devastated but one thing I learned in those 6 months was that I could not control him or make him happy.
I calmly told him I was sorry he felt that way. I didn’t want him to go, but if that was his decision I wouldn’t try to stop him. I told him I was choosing to be happy. I wanted him to be happy with me but if he chose not to that was up to him. Then I went in the bathroom and cried.
He changed his mind. He stayed. He changed.
We’ve talked about it and he says he was just trying to get my normal reactions. Normally I would have freaked out, yelled, cried and basically lost control. It was so unfair after all the work I did on myself. How could he choose to leave? Once he saw my reaction was in control, he realized I really had changed. He started asking what he could do to be happy. He started asking me how he could control his emotions. He changed to. He is now someone I want to be around. He’s a great Dad and my best friend.
This never would have happened if I gave up on myself or my marriage. I was willing to stay and be happy even if he never changed. So many people I talk to give up after a few weeks because they don’t see results from their spouse. You aren’t looking for results from them. You are deciding to take control of your life and happiness. You cannot make them happy no matter how hard you try. But you can model how to be happy and hopefully they will want what you have.
They may never change. The great thing is, you will be happy even if they never change.
If you are ready to make a change and be happy please read my article:10 steps to happiness. I outline exactly what I did to be happy even in his misery.
Notes from my husband: When she was prancing around the house just as happy as can be, I wanted her to be miserable like me. I pushed her buttons trying to get her to bite but most of the time she didn’t. Now I realize it was wrong. She was acting like the person I would want my wife to be, but I was so miserable I couldn’t see it. It took her calm, loving, no drama demeanor and encouraging me in the right direction before I retrained my brain to “be happy”.