“When I was single, I was miserable,” explains Jake, a 39 year-old stockbroker in New York City. “But I think I’ve glamorized my single days in my mind. I met my wife through mutual friends. We just hit it off. We married six months later and have been together for six years. But lately I’ve been longing for my single days, again. I also wonder, to be honest, if I married possibly too quickly.”
Jake’s feelings are all too common. Whether we want a bigger house, a different job, a new girlfriend or the carefree days of our youth, we, as humans, always seem to fall into a pattern of discontent. But why is it that no matter what we do, where we go or how much we accomplish, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence?
This discontent may not lie in your marriage, but in yourself. Take a look at your marriage and see if there’s issues that may require discussion or resolution. Are these feelings truly about the relationship, or could they stem from work, parenting or financial stress instead? Teach yourself to become more aware of your feelings, the good and the bad.
When you feel something, try to respond to that feeling immediately without bottling it up inside. If you feel anxious or frustrated by lengthy traffic delays or road rage, pick up your cell phone and talk to someone about it or talk about it immediately when you get home. If the children are making you feel trapped, express it to someone you trust. Never judge your feelings as good or bad, and never allow anyone else to. Your feelings are always valid. Simply vocalizing them when the little things occur throughout the day can put those issues behind you and free your mind. But when you don’t talk about issues that arise, they eventually create an emotional dam itching to explode on the next available victim.
Judging someone else’s situation or position is like judging the tip of an iceberg from its appearance above water. Even reality television personalities have private, off-camera time. People show others what they want to expose, and keep the rest to themselves. The parts they hide are typically those aspects which are less attractive. Realize, when you compare your life to others’, that you’re seeing their outsides and not their insides.
In Jake’s case, familiarity breeds content. But that content is something thousands of lonely single men long for. Before you start thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, open your eyes to emerald lawn others see within your own white picket fence.
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