So....I've been thinking a lot about happiness, and what it means in a marriage especially. I guess it's been on my mind because the more I talk to people, the more I hear that they divorced because they simply weren't "happy". I had dinner with a friend the other night who said he was married for 14 years and he was happy for 13-1/2 of those years until his wife told him they weren't happy...which he says was news to him. They had fertility problems, so I'm sure that was one of the big contributing factors....but I digress.
I know that I wasn't always "happy" with my ex, and he wasn't always "happy" with me. I know that in the last 6 years or so, I didn't express affection the same as in the beginning. I know that every time he didn't communicate with me about his emotions or whatever, it pushed me further and further away....and I'm sure that everytime I blew off doing the dishes so that I could re-charge my batteries, he was pushed away from me (it's relative to what is important to each person). BUT, even with all of those things, I had decided to keep a committment to our family - and if my husband wasn't "making" me happy, by golly, I was going to find things that would so that in the home, I could feel happiness.
Of course, I threw myself into parenting, which wasn't a stretch because I love it. I started taking more time to read books and I really loved that (I even joined a book club). I rode my bike a little more often; I took up an occasional knitting project; I had dinner club with my girlfriends once a month; I carved out time to nurture my friendships a little more. I welcomed my ex to do any number of these things with me, but these weren't the things that brought him joy so he always declined. What he felt was fulfilling was working on an inanimate project around the house; drinking a martini each night; riding his motorcycle; diving deeper into his work. OK - clearly, we are just different people.
My point is....we were each allowed (for lack of a better word right now) the space to do things like this and for me, I brought the joy that I gained from doing these activities into the home so that peace could reign. He could never do that...it's like, if he was never really happy....and I just wonder why he couldn't have made a choice to be happy or find happiness in the things he already had. I mean, he would get back from a trip to South America - where he was obviously having his needs met by another woman, and he still could not come home and be civil to his daughter (and she was the only one the coward took his unhappiness out on because she was more vulnerable - he didn't dare take it out on me, which is DISPICABLE!).
I think back 20 years, when I spent 3 months in Brazil. Each day, I budgeted a certain amount of money to give to the poor people of the streets. Sometimes, entire families would be begging....and I have to say, even these people expressed a certain happiness (Brasilians in general are a very happy people). There was a certain acceptance of their plight in life (which has good and not-so-good sides to it). I came across people who live in a hut with a dirt floor, only to see them sweeping that dirt floor as they do have a sense of pride for what it is they do have. Somehow, they chose to be happy with their lives - maybe because they felt it would never change and they needed to accept it...or, maybe because life is just more simple for them.
I just wonder (after this mini novel) if happiness is really a choice that people can make.
Remember: A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.