I stopped expecting happiness from my relationship when I realized it wasn't necessary

M. Brown

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**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Do you ever have those moments where you get totally bogged down by the relationship upkeep required to maintain a functioning, healthy relationship?

Do you ever just want to quit and run away?

I do. I’m admitting it now. And I would consider myself to be a person who is pretty satisfied with my own relationship.

What if you’re completely content in your marriage or long-term relationship and feel like you wouldn’t want to be with any other partner in the world besides the one you’ve already got — yet you still have thoughts of giving it all up sometimes?

Are people in relationships allowed to have days where they feel like throwing it all out the window?

Of course they are.

The problem is that, so often, we’re inundated with this abstract and idealized concept of what ‘happy’ relationships are supposed to look like in our film, TV, and social media culture. What happiness in relationships means to us — or what we think it should mean — is often at the root of challenging issues when they come up in relationships.

Realizing that a state of ‘happiness’ is not fully achievable for any great length of time in life is the key to a successful partnership and marriage.

Once you come to terms with the fact that happiness is a fleeting feeling, you’ll be able to create partnership expectations that are much more grounded — more practical.

This is not to say that people in long-term relationships or marriages are unhappy or should expect to be unhappy. It’s about being cautious about the amount of gratification we expect from our partners. Accepting happiness and expecting happiness are two different things.

The term ‘happiness’ is generally used to describe pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction and subjective well-being.

All of the above sounds great. However, when you attach these emotional states to expectations in a relationship or marriage, over a period of many years or decades, it will become clear that these are not realistic relationship goals. They are individual goals.

The key to any long-term partnership or marriage is how content, healthy, and well-functioning each individual person is within that relationship. What each person brings into a relationship matters.

There are only so many degrees of happiness that can be attained in life. The rest of it requires hard work, unwavering grit, sheer determination, and focused effort. The same is true for relationships.

The more lofty our expectations are for what we think a ‘happy’ partnership or marriage should look like, the more likely it is to fail. The more we focus on the fact that we’re not happy all the time within our relationships, the more disheartened we become.

I’ve been married for a while now and I’m still satisfied with the partnership I have with my partner. If that categorizes me as ‘happily married’ to the rest of the world — cool.

However, I still have days when I get fed up or just want to quit. I’m human. Most of the time I’m not floating on a happiness cloud. I’m usually in varying stages of emotions — some good — some not so good — and some in between.

I don’t expect to be happy in my relationship every day or even every week.

What I do expect is for myself and my partner to keep working together as individuals, continuing to improve alongside one another in a loving relationship with a sense of mutual purpose and goals.

That's how a healthy relationship evolves over time.

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