Sometimes, the signs of problems in your marriage are clear, other times, it can be general sense of sadness or unhappiness with in your life. Establishing if your marriage is in fact the thing that is the cause or accelerator of your anxiety or sadness is key to deciding what to do about it.
It is so important to evaluate what is troubling you in a supportive environment. If you cannot go to therapy, I suggest starting to journal about all aspects of your life. Look, as honestly as you can, at what is good and what is bad in your life. Journalling (with a pen and paper) is a form of processing your thoughts. But here is the key, make sure that your journal is a safe place that will not be read by anyone else, pouring out the negativity and be disastrous if found by the wrong person.
Marriage can be impacted by so many aspects of our lives, how are you coping in your work life, what is going on with your kids or extended family? Ask yourself as honestly as you can about what the issues are, as you see them, in your marriage. What is missing, what has changed and, most importantly, what are you willing to accept or not?
At this point, it also helps to ask what you are doing that is contributing to the problems that you see, and ask what you can change about your self. For a more specific guided journalling process, I offer an 8 week self reflective journal process that clients can work through at their own pace. In therapy sessions, this process takes time to unpack and get to the root of the dissatisfaction, but the self awareness of what you want to change or keep the same is very empowering.
If your spouse is open to the idea, having this discussion together about what is good and what is not working can lead to repairing the marriage or even couple’s therapy and a greater commitment to each other, but even in the absence of working together, you will need to take the steps to process what is going on and what exactly is making you unhappy.
When everything becomes too much, the feelings, the day to day, the kids, it is easy to become overwhelmed and feel bad about yourself. Try taking some time to yourself (even if all you can get is 1 hr in the bathroom!) to reset. Start by calming your body with deep breathes and a personal Mantra (I CAN do this, it will all be okay...) next, grab some paper and a pen and make a list of all that is overwhelming you. Start with a to do list, then the feelings then the ranting, get it all out, cry if you need to.
Consider seeing a therapist or even finding a good friend that you can rant with with no judgement. Come out to our monthly meetings.
Our brains are really good at finding all the problems, without looking for solutions. But when we write it down, when we get it out of our heads, that is when we start to be able to process and really think through all the things that are going on in our lives. Nothing is as overwhelming, once it’s out, as it is when it’s in. Recognize that you are moving forward, that change is hard and that you will get through this.
Take a moment and remember why you are doing this, remember all the things that you are good at and what you have done so far. There is no time limit on this process and there is no clear roadmap. But with support from the people around you, you can do what you need to do to get through.
It is okay to not have everything done, to not be perfect, to not clean the house today. Give yourself permission to be sad, to take some time off. Spend some time with your kids and do something fun. You got this and we can help.
If your kids are the ones who are struggling (acting out, crying etc) give them permission to be sad, mad, upset, be clear that it is not something that we wanted in life, but we are a family and we will work through it. If needed, get your child a therapist or even talk with their school counsellor. ROCK has a great walk in therapy option that is free for families in Halton (the link is in the resources below).
Also remember that you can keep those boundaries and limits, it is absolutely normal to be mad or sad, but how they choose to react may be not okay - be clear about that and help them to find positive outlets for their feelings.
Sometimes, when it is all said and done, we find it hard to let go of the past. If you are feeling stuck, try to focus on where you want your life to go now, make goals, plans and new traditions. This is your new life and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
As you move forward, be mindful of the path you have taken, ask yourself what you want to have differently in your life and what lessons you learnt from this journey. this is a new start, but it will be whatever you decide it should be. start a day gratitude journal to learn to focus on all the good things around you. it is always okay though, to take a moment and be sad about the life you thought you would have. take that moment, but, don't live there, move forward and make your new life even better.