“I Married The Wrong Person, Please Help”

“I Married The Wrong Person, Please Help”


By Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC

We receive many questions from married couples who are struggling to find happiness together. Often many of them have begun to wonder if the reason they’re unhappy is because they married the wrong person.

The ideal marriage is one that creates a partnership for life. However, facing the rest of your life together when you believe you’ve married the wrong person can be disheartening and depressing.

What To Do If You Think You Married The Wrong Person

Below is a question we received from Andrew, a man in just this situation. He’s concerned that he may have made a mistake when he married his wife and is unsure of what to do about it. My answer follows.

Reader Question:

I married the wrong person. I’ve been married for 12 years. And I now realize that I settled for my wife. She wasn’t really what I wanted. It was convenient to marry her, and to be honest, convenient to stay with her. However, as I’ve grown over the years, I find myself truly unhappy in our marriage and have come to the conclusion that I married the wrong woman. I have really nothing in common with my wife: conversation interests, political, religious, hobbies, nothing. No matter how much I try, I cannot get interested in her conversation. We now have a 7 and 6 year old, to complicate this further. Recently, we have had to separate due to my work, and I was bored one evening, and spent some time with another woman, who I am now having an affair with. I never thought I would be cheating on my wife, but I don’t regret this, and find myself trying to figure out how to handle being married to the wrong person. Does this make me a horrible man?” -Andrew

Andrew is in a bad spot. Not only is his marriage suffering, but he’s also now compounded the problems by having an affair. It’s not surprising he’s questioning his marriage, but it’s good that he is.

My Answer:

I hear, “I married the wrong person” regularly, from both men and women. When people are unhappy in their marriage they look for reasons to explain why, the easiest target is the other person.

Rather than see things they don’t like about their partner as things that could change, most people feel they just need to change partners. With that line of thinking, it’s then very easy to develop the belief that you must have married the wrong person in the first place.

Part of the problem with Andrew’s belief that he “married the wrong woman” is that it feeds the misconception that there’s the “right” person or “perfect” partner out there somewhere and that, when you’ve found your true love, you’ll be happy forever.

As romantic a notion as this is, it’s simply not true.

Songs, books, and movies would all have us believe in the happily ever after. And there is a version of that for many people – but it takes WORK to keep it going. They leave that part out.

Relationships take work – all of them.

Relationships also change over time because people and life change over time.

In all relationships, we’re either growing together or growing apart. If we don’t regularly feed a relationship, invest in it, and make it grow, we can become unhappy, no matter how perfect the other person seemed at the beginning.

No, Andrew, you’re not a horrible man. But you are a man cheating on your wife and that needs to stop.

Nothing you’re facing with your wife will be made better by introducing a third person into the mix and betraying your vows.

You may be right when you say, “I settled for my wife.”

However, even if that was true then, it doesn’t have to mean your marriage cannot become happy and successful now. You’ve built a life together and in 12 years have likely found reasons to love each other.

Talk to a couple’s counselor, by yourself to start, and learn the ways you can change your marriage and find the happiness you’re seeking in it, rather than outside of it. Here are some of the benefits of couples counseling.

Why Does It Seem Like You Married The Wrong Person?

There are many reasons it can feel like the person you married was the wrong one. Most of the time that feeling arises when you realize that you no longer feel the way you did at the time you exchanged vows. Or perhaps you feel like you never really loved your partner in the first place.

What people often fail to recognize is that feelings within a marriage do change over time and that’s completely normal.

That original new-love feeling doesn’t last forever, and it’s not supposed to.

In a healthy relationship, those feelings deepen into an even stronger, but different, love that’s the necessary foundation for a family and life together. That doesn’t happen without work though.

If you’ve begun to feel like you married the wrong person, it could be because you’ve grown apart and no longer feel the closeness and intimacy a strong relationship needs.

This is generally a result of:

And each of these (and others) can be fixed.

What To Take Away

Every successful relationship requires attention in the form of time, effort, and communication.

Unfortunately, it’s far easier to recognize the need for those things than it is to make them a reality.

If you’re worried you’re with the wrong person, it’s quite possible you’ll feel differently once you and your partner start working together on making changes to your marriage.

Before you give up, spend some time thinking about the following:

  • Many assume that because of the love they start the relationship with it means that work won’t be necessary. The opposite is actually the case.
  • Love changes over time and that’s not a bad thing.
  • It’s effort and work that nurture the love and help it to grow stronger.

So, next time you’re thinking, “This is too hard, I think I married the wrong person,” take a step back and look a little closer.

Is it the person or the amount of effort that’s really the problem?

Do you believe you married the wrong person? Share why you believe that in the comment section below.


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