By ALLISON TASK
For Montclair Local
Allison Task is a career and life coach in Montclair who hosts the WMTR radio show “Find My Thrive.” Her website is allisontask.com. Need advice? Send questions of no more than 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to us at email@example.com.
Which is right, “happy wife, happy life” or “happy husband, happy wife”?
— Java Love John
I’ve heard (and probably said) #1 before, but when read with #2, it becomes evident that both are fundamentally broken. Happiness isn’t an if/then situation. If you appease your wife to make her (insert air quote) happy, so that she’ll let you watch the game or whatever floats your boat, that’s just trading favors. And there’s a place for trading favors in a marriage, but let’s not mistake that for happiness.
And with “happy husband, happy wife”, the basic concept is akin to all boats rise in a high tide, and the husband is….the ocean? Blech. Does the whole family seek cover in a storm? I’m guessing so. Partner happiness as cause-and-effect is broken. If you make one side happy and call that compatibility, someone’s getting short-changed.
A clever relationship therapist I know once told me, “I don’t treat husbands or wives. I treat the relationship.” The relationship deserves a seat in the therapy room, just like individuals. It needs to be taken care of. And these, ahem, philosophies, don’t acknowledge the relationship.
If your happiness is based on someone else’s happiness, you can’t succeed. It’s too much pressure on the other, and too little accountability for you. Don’t short-change yourself and make your happiness dependent on another.
I feel low and degraded. I’m not feeling any love from my family or friends. My grandmother who raised me is sick and will pass soon. I want to do better with my life but I’m stuck at a crossroads. I want to leave town but I have no plans, and I’m not sure what I want to do. I have limited funds but I dream big. What should I do next?
Thank you for reaching out. I am sorry to hear about your grandmother.
In your note, you describe feeling unloved, low and degraded, and you anticipate that your grandmother, who raised you, will be passing soon. I would encourage you to speak to a therapist. Please ask for referrals from people you know, a medical doctor, or find your own on www.psychologytoday.com. You can go to their web site, type in your zip code and you’ll have many options. Please find support from a professional if you are feeling low, degraded and disconnected from family and friends.
For immediate relief, there are web sites geared to helping you improve your state of mind. Try happify.com. The Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, California has a terrific web site where you can read about positive psychology research and find exercises that can help you. You may also want to try short daily meditations with an app called Headspace.
In terms of moving forward with your life, try the book Pathfinder, or the classic “What Color is Your Parachute?” Many people like “You Are A Badass.” If you have limited funds and big dreams, you may want to look for a career or life coach on www.noomii.com. You can also use LinkedIn Profinder to find a professional coach. Some coaches who respond to your posts are open to working at a reduced rate.
But please, at this point, the first step is to call that therapist. Coaching, setting big goals and going after them are a wonderful thing to do when you’re in a mentally healthy space. If done prematurely, it can add to your stress.