Is your spouse constantly crabby? Do they anger easily? Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells trying to make or keep them happy? Are you miserable because of their attitude? Should you leave and find someone who makes you happy?
When you’re living with someone who has a bad attitude, it seems like it would be easier to leave and find someone to treat you the way you should be treated. It seems unfair that their mood has such negative effect on you. You didn’t do anything, why are they treating you so badly. Should you leave?
My husband used to be very unhappy and angry all the time. When he’d come home from work, I felt like I was walking on eggshells trying not to make him angry. I tried to do whatever I could not to set him off. I never wanted to talk to him about anything that may upset him because I knew it would end up with him extremely angry and then he wouldn’t speak to me for weeks. After years of trying to please him, I was incredibly resentful of him and not very happy myself. I had turned into someone I didn’t like or want to be. I was miserable!
I remember the day very well that I decided enough was enough. He had come home from work and walked into the laundry room. The kids had dumped a laundry basket of clean clothes on the floor and he started yelling. I ran in the room and was scrambling to pick up all the clothes and put them away when all of a sudden it hit me. Even if I do this it won’t make a difference. He will find something else to be angry about. I finally got it. I had no control over his reactions and moods. He was the only one that could control him. As hard as I tried to make him happy, I couldn’t.
Fortunately I was smart enough not to point that out to him in that moment, but I made a decision that day not to let his attitude affect mine. I made a decision to be happy even if he was miserable, angry, crabby, yelling, silent, or any other negative emotion he had.
From then on I decided I would do whatever it took (within the vows of my marriage) to make myself happy. I started bombarding myself with positive messages through books, movies, anything that helped me maintain a positive attitude. I stopped watching the news and stopped talking to negative people (other than my husband). I prayed like crazy. And things got worse!! Instead of my husband changing his attitude to meet mine, he became even angrier and tried even harder to push my buttons. This went on for at least 6 months.
But I kept up with what I was doing because I could tell it was making a positive change in my life. At that point in time I wasn’t sure our marriage was going to survive. One thing I did know is that I wanted more than anything to be happy. I had no control over the choices my husband made, but I did have control over my choices. I chose to stay. I chose to be happy. I chose not to ruin my children’s lives with divorce. I chose everyday when I woke up to be happy. Sometimes I chose minute by minute. And sometimes I failed miserably. But every day I got a little stronger and my setbacks were further and further apart.
After about 8 months of me maintaining my positive happy attitude, my husband told me he was leaving. I was devastated on the inside, but I knew I had no control over him. So I said very calmly “I’m sorry you are making that decision, I love you and I want to be with you. I’m telling you right now that I am choosing to be happy. I will be happy with or without you but I’d rather it be with you. I have no control over what you do, just know that I don’t want you to leave but respect your decision.” Then I went in the bathroom and cried and prayed for God to just help me stay strong.
He didn’t leave that day. He knew the threat of leaving me was the final huge button pusher that usually set me off, either crying or fighting. When he didn’t get that reaction from me he realized that I really had changed. He decided to stick it out awhile longer and was open to changing his perspective. He started asking me how he could be happy too. We rebuilt our life together even better. It wasn’t always easy and it still takes work for each of us to be happy, but we both know we are the only ones responsible for making ourselves happy. It’s awesome now that we can share that happiness but don’t rely on each other to generate it.
I wonder what would have happened if I given up on our marriage after 5 ½ months of concentrating on my happiness. What if I had decided he wasn’t contributing to my happiness and left him? What if I decided it was just too much work? Our children would be living in a broken home right now. We would probably both be remarried and having the exact same problems we had with each other only with new partners.
It is not your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy. It’s not your responsibility to make them happy. It is your responsibility to honor your marriage vows and stay together. Sometimes that means giving way more than you take for a long period of time. It always means giving the best of yourself every day, your happy self, even when your spouse doesn’t deserve it. So do I think you should leave your spouse if their attitude is making you miserable? Obviously not, but you do need to set boundaries with your spouse and go on a journey to make yourself happy.
Here are 8 things you can do every day to help you on your journey……
- Pray every day for strength and guidance to maintain a positive attitude.
- Bombard your mind with positive thoughts and images.
- Don’t complain to anyone about anything.
- Distance yourself from negative people and influences in your life.
- Don’t watch the news or other drama filled negative media.
- Find one thing to be thankful for about your spouse and concentrate on that.
- Give grace to them even when they don’t deserve it.
- Choose to be happy, minute by minute if necessary.
Please message me if you need encouragement. It may be a long road to changing your own attitude and an even longer road to reaching your spouse. Sometimes you just need a little encouragement. I pray if you are reading this you will take the journey. God Bless!
Since posting this article, I have had many people write to me and ask what specifically they can do everyday to be and stay happy. I wrote a follow-up post to this called 10 steps to happiness that spells out exactly what steps I took to be happy. I encourage you to read it and try it. Please let me know how it works for you.
If you’d like to read an interview with my husband and see what he thought of all this click here.
If you’d like individualized help with your marriage click here for information on marriage mentoring.