After (almost) 10 years of marriage, and 4 years of dating before that, I’ve learned that making decisions about your marriage/relationship based on happiness is never a good idea. Are we supposed to make our spouses happy? Of course, God wants us to be intentional with our spouses; to cherish, love and honor them. However, happiness is NOT the ultimate objective…it can’t be.
Happiness, in your marriage (which can be applied to every area of your life) is the result of pursuing God and being obedient to His Word even if the feelings of happiness aren’t there. It becomes all about commitment and devotion to the vows you made.
As any couple will tell you, there comes a day, in every relationship, when our true colors show and all the bliss and happiness is gone and we are left with dealing with ourselves and each other. Sadly, the idea of “happiness” has been miscommunicated and misleading in our society. We are told to pursue whatever makes us happy and whatever feels good. The problem, is that happiness is an emotion, it’s fleeting and pursuing it, ultimately leads to a lack of control and in some cases, an addiction.
Let me explain, when I say addiction, I’m talking about it on a basic level where we begin to make sacrifices (financially, relationally) in order to pursue and achieve the feeling of happiness. It may look something like extended chatting with a friend (who happens to be an attractive member of the opposite sex) when your spouse isn’t around. Maybe it’s someone at work, at the gym, at the stores. It seems insignificant, but it makes you feel good, especially when you’re not “happy” with your spouse. You may be making a deposit into the “happiness account”, but it definitely cost you from the “marriage account.”
In terms of lacking control, pursuing the feeling of happiness can become an addiction like any. Finding yourself “chatting” online or messaging people of the opposite sex (which is another post altogether), starts innocent but ultimately ends tragically with pain and intense damage to your relationship with your spouse. My pastor uses this phrase regularly when talking about sin. It (sin) takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. Even good things, like feelings of happiness, can become sin if it becomes more of a priority than God, family, etc. Ultimately, anything that comes between you and God is an idol, regardless of it being “good” or “bad.”
Happiness is not and cannot be the ultimate goal of marriage. Happiness is the result of pursuing God and making Jesus Chist the center of your marriage. It’s not always easy keeping Christ at the center, especially when those feelings of happiness are clearly absent. However, it is always worth it.
Keeping Christ at the center allows you to forgive (as you realize how much Christ has forgive you of), it allows you to pray for your spouse (allowing God to do what only He can do), it opens the door to reconciliation and true healing allowing you to move forward and continue to build your marriage on the foundation of Christ.
Question: Have you or your spouse struggled with this idea of happiness? How have you worked through it together?
(Photo by Jeff Marsh Studios)