Have you ever talked with people who say they are unhappy in their marriages? It is not unusual. People can be unhappy with everything from their jobs to their homes and how the kids are doing in school. Unhappiness is a normal part of being human. What matters is how a person responds to it.
Unhappiness can be a sign that something is wrong. However, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve all experienced feelings of melancholy that have no reasonable explanation. Of course, there are some people who seem chronically unhappy. There are others who seem so chronically happy that they are tough to be around. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.
Is Happiness a Choice?
It has long been reasoned that happiness is a choice. As the thinking goes, we can all choose our own thoughts and our reactions to circumstances. Our choices influence the emotions that follow. But is such reasoning correct? Psychology Today contributor Dr. David Sack believes it is, at least about 80% of the time.
Though he says that mental health disorders like anxiety and depression keep happiness “just out of reach” for about 20% of the adult population, the rest of us can be happy if we choose to be. Sack even gives suggestions for achieving happiness.
If his analysis is correct, it proves the fact that how one responds to unhappiness matters a great deal. Responding one way would seem to exacerbate existing feelings of unhappiness. Responding another way would replace unhappy feelings with happy ones.
Can Unhappiness in a Marriage Be Fixed?
Accepting happiness as a choice leads to a whole bunch of questions. For example, can unhappiness in a marriage be fixed? If happiness truly is a choice, then it can be. It is a matter of how one responds to the circumstances that foster unhappiness.
Imagine a couple seeking marriage counseling from Relationships & More. The couple works with a counselor at the clinic’s Rye, N.Y. location. In one of the sessions, they reveal that a big source of the ongoing unhappiness in their marriage is their financial situation. Money is driving a wedge between them.
Financial problems cause a lot of stress in marriages. And yet, they are among the easiest problems to solve. If the couple takes the necessary steps to get their financial house in order, they will simultaneously be removing one of the sources of their unhappiness. They can turn things around and actually be happy about their financial situation.
What Is the Right Way to Respond?
Relationships & More counselors say there is no black-and-white solution for addressing every source of unhappiness. However, the formula for figuring out the right solution is pretty straightforward. There are three basic steps:
- Figure out the source of unhappiness.
- Figure out how that issue can be turned around.
- Develop and implement strategies for doing so.
Going back to the previous example, the couple first needed to figure out that their poor finances are a source of their unhappiness. Then they figured out that getting their financial house in order would turn a source of unhappiness into a source of happiness. Finally, they worked with a financial counselor to develop and implement strategies to fix their finances.
Some people live in a state of perpetual unhappiness due to a legitimate mental health issue. For them, professional treatment is the best option. For the rest of us, happiness is within our reach. How we respond to unhappiness determines whether or not we are able to reach far enough to grasp the happiness we want.