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I'm Not Happy

"I'm not happy." How awful to realize this, awful enough to make you want to make a big change, like leaving the person you imagined could make you happy for the rest of your life.

"I'm scared silly" would be different. So would "I'm really angry, and I'm not going to take it any more."

"Not happy" carries no danger, no adrenalin racing through your veins, no cowering when you hear the car in the driveway or the pop-top on a beer can. "Not happy" conveys a deep loss, something important missing, an unspoken promise quietly broken.

When "not happy" hits your marriage, try this. Do the things you would do to restore your happiness if you had no spouse. Skip the ones that violate your vows, because a lack of integrity really gets in the way of happiness, but don't overlook any that violate only your mate's expectations.

Tell yourself you will leave as soon as happiness returns, if you like, but not a minute sooner. Happiness first, happiness in spite of your sad marriage.

Dance. Hit a karaoke bar. Head to the beach. Buy something beautiful. Climb a mountain. Write poetry. Ride a bike. Eat chocolate, really, really good dark chocolate with outrageous fillings and a gazillion calories. Have dinner with old friends. Help Habitat for Humanity build a house. Spoil your dog. Keep at it until you feel genuinely happy again.

And perhaps, like me, you will find you like your wife or husband a whole lot more when you feel happy, much, much more than you could possibly like anyone you just met.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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