Editor’s note: The following article is for anyone in an unhappy marriage, but it is not meant for someone in an abusive relationship. If this is you, please read, “Are You in an Abusive Relationship?”
If you’re in an unhappy marriage, you’ve likely thought about getting out. Or you’ve panicked over the thought that you can’t. We humans do not like to be unhappy—particularly when we don’t foresee a change in our circumstances.
As a newlywed, I was surprised (and a little ashamed) at how quickly I thought, Oh no, did I make a mistake? when I felt disappointed in my new husband and our marriage. It wasn’t really that those moments were bad. It was the way they colored the future I imagined us having together. My mind played an ominous game of “what if?” and my heart followed suit. What if we’re doomed to have an unhappy marriage?
Maybe you feel stuck. Or maybe those “what ifs” have become all-consuming, and you’re sick with dread that the unhappiness you feel now will stretch on indefinitely.
Living with unhappiness, loneliness, being misunderstood, disrespected, or feeling invisible is a kind of suffering. It is completely natural to want to make that suffering stop. But like any other suffering, we should not only assess if and how it can be alleviated, but also how we approach it.
What is our posture toward marital suffering? How should we think about it? There are at least two main approaches to any kind of suffering: one offered by our modern culture and one by the Bible.