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Are you really happy in your relationship?

Dear readers,

is happiness just a state of bliss and smiles? Or is there a distinction between true happiness and just being happy? I submit that true happiness with ones partner comes from a state of contentment that has nothing to do with your material possession. Consider the following:

Chineme and Paul, her husband of 22 years, have struggled with this definition individually and jointly for the past five years and each of them has come to get my perspective.

So, Chineme says to me as we gathered amongst friends having a good time. “Dr. Nj, what is true happiness? I am ready to call it quits this year with Paul. He doesn’t excite me, doesn’t hold my hand, and doesn’t contribute to the things that concern me. He is just there like part of the furniture, I am not truly happy with him,” she states.

The other two friends and I were disturbed as we looked up to see Paul on the other side of the living room looking very dejected as if he heard our conversation on this end. I blurted out, ‘what do you mean Chineme?’

She continued to list all her grievances with Paul, These ranged from issues with the way he behaved both publicly and privately and the like. Our friend, who sat with us in the lounge, suggested that may be Chineme’s dissatisfaction was a result of her conservative nature. It goes without saying, the modern ideas about female role within the marriage also mirror our “traditional responsibilities” which demand that the woman should satisfy her husband and make him happy.

So in modern times, Chineme has failed because she is too conservative and does not give Paul what he wants especially sexually and traditionally, the source of happiness lies in “what the woman is capable of bringing into the marriage: children, luck, satisfaction,” etc. 

So Chineme is at cross roads and she is blamed even by us sitting in that room as we barraged her with “What do you mean?” and thought that maybe she was at fault.

But wait a minute; many of us are dissatisfied in our own marriages too.  Aren’t we tired of being responsible for everyone else’s happiness? Whose job is it to make us truly happy?  Many men are just like Paul. They provide financially and demand sex just for their satisfaction, never mind that, we need cuddling, affection, and romance.

So, Chineme continues: “Paul does not really care about my needs. He does not even notice whether I gain weight or not, whether my hair is tidy or not, whether I feel sad or not, whether I have been down with a cold for the past two days. I need him to notice me. When he wants sex, he just takes it and turns and falls asleep. Can’t he talk to me for 10 minutes at least? I still provide half of the income for us to live the way we do so it is not like I am completely irrelevant.”

Our other friend who had been quiet except for her initial contributions about culture and modern times then blurted out: “Wait, you are better than me. I literally finance our lifestyle, yet he still treats me like I am non-existent.  I even pay for his cellphone as well as everything else, yet he does not appreciate me. He still expects sex, which I give. I must come from Mars.”

I doubt that any woman will tolerate these guys except if they were having affairs. Then what he does would not matter. I listened to these two women talk about their contributions in the home and the lack of attention from their husbands and it was a no brainer to say that they were not truly happy.

So what is “true happiness” I dared to ask Chineme? What would make her truly happy? She said: I don’t even mind supporting everyone if he would appreciate me and say thank you once in a while.”

I noticed that she dragged the conversation back to Paul; so I chimed in: ‘if he says please and thank you, you would be happy? It is not just that, she corrected, it is about being romantic, just appreciating our moments together. Giving each other joy and fulfillment. Sometimes, I feel that he hates me and regrets our marriage. This has gone on for too long and I want out before I die.”

Are you really happy in your relationship? (2)

That really got me thinking. Too many sisters are in a rut in their marriages and don’t even know it. Several just get by accepting what I call “the inevitable necessity.” Society believes we ought to stay married but which is more important: the marriage itself or our happiness within the marriage?

So that brings me again to the question of true happiness. Is it okay to just be barely happy and continue to live day by day or should we demand the joy and fulfillment that Chineme talks about above? For one brief moment, I reflected on these seeming new concepts: joy, fulfillment, true happiness! What is it that gives that sort of feeling when we can say, ‘yes, I am truly happy? Is it contentment, is it inner peace (that surpasses all human understanding), and is it patience? Well, I know what it is not: it is not success, it is not material accumulation of wealth, it is not riches, it is not climbing the ladder of our careers.

What is it then you might say? Sisters and readers alike, it is the joy of knowing that nothing matters but being closer to the Creator. It gives us an assurance that no one can steal our joy. Do not allow the Pauls in your life to take away your true happiness. If you have been together those many years, separation at this stage is not wise. I think you can work it out. He might not even know that he bothers you in that way. My point is that your happiness lies in your own hands and that you do not need someone else to make you happy.

I turned to Chineme and said if Paul is quiet and acts nonchalant, bring everything you desire out of him. Become exuberant, plan getaways, fix dinner parties and cocktails in your home, socialize more, study the bible together, drag him to prayer meetings, involve the children, chase after your innermost hobbies and interests.

If you pay the entire bills, encourage him to find a job so that he can pay his own bills. Do not lord that over him. Thank God that you are capable of handling the family; it is an honour from the Creator. Do not boast about it or make him feel bad, just love him for the good things he brings to the table; I mean bedroom, home, — well, you know what I mean.

True happiness is a state of mind. You can achieve it if you are able to understand what life priorities are. You need to make a decision about being happy. So what if he does not notice that you lost five pounds? You have taken note of it now, celebrate it. Enjoy yourself, enjoy your children, and cherish your friends and family. Embrace your work; thank God you are able to earn without much effort. Many have skills but can’t find jobs, many have food but can’t eat, and many have children who are on the streets.

So what, he doesn’t cuddle. Sneak up to him and force him to cuddle. Slow down and smell the roses, take a walk and just appreciate nature. Bring him too; he may soon have a change of heart about issues.

Happy New month

Dr. NJ

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