Society wrongly views marriage as being all about “my happiness,” and about “me feeling loved.” Consequently, if someone’s marriage isn’t making them happy, if they doesn’t feel they’re being loved adequately, then it’s viewed as “a Bad Marriage. ” The insufficiently happy spouse virtually has an imperative to leave that marriage, and look for one in which they will feel sufficiently loved and happy–and it can take two or three or four tries! This is making the commitment to “Your Own Happiness” rather than making the commitment to your spouse–and it is exactly backward.
1. Your happiness doesn’t depend on your spouse
Like all life, marriage is fundamentally about GOD! Marriage is what God says it is. We find our happiness within ourselves by obeying God. Much of the unhappiness we feel is often related to some sin in our life: either we are avoiding sin (as in justifying it or enabling it), denying sin (as in not admitting to ourselves that what we are doing is sin–denial), or continuing in sin when we know better (as in, “this sin feels good and I want to keep doing it!”). So to stop feeling unhappy, admit that what you are doing is sin and stop it. If the sin that’s making you unhappy is your spouse’s sin, then stop enabling them and look to your own self to do the right thing.
Also, our spouses do not “make” us happy, even though we hear this all the time. Yes, our spouses can affect the environment of our home and lives, but ultimately we choose our feelings. Do not put responsibility for yourself onto your spouse. If you do not feel loved, then BUILD love with your spouse honorably in your marriage, BUILD healthy self-worth by reading the Bible and believing who you are (a dearly beloved child of the Most High God), and BUILD happiness by obeying God!
2. Your happiness doesn’t depend on your marriage
Each marriage vow is a little unique and yet most marriage vows have a few commonalities. Most include something about “forsaking all others” meaning that there is a promise to focus 100% of affection and loyalty on the person you are marrying. Most also include something about “for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health”…well are you happy in worse, poorer and sickness? Are you happy when the worst strikes? Are you happy eating bologna sandwiches every day because you lost your job? Are you happy when you or your spouse are ill? NO!
Marriage may well be about suffering… and not necessarily for doing anything wrong.
Happiness (and love) in a marriage don’t necessarily just organically arrive–it’s not a feeling that just comes naturally (although sometimes it can feel easy). Rather it is something you build by obeying and by honoring your commitment.
Marriage is a covenant to your spouse in front of friends, family and God…and it is honored by working at being soulmates, by having intimate heart-to-hearts in the warmth of acceptance, hearing the most valued praise and understanding this earth has to offer.
3. Marriage is for holiness
Marriage is a covenant…a sacred discipline designed to help you know God better, love Him more deeply, and trust Him more fully. It is about serving your spouse (not “your happiness”) and loving your spouse (not “being loved”). Society has it exactly backward, focusing on “me, me, me!” and as a Christian, the focus is on pleasing God and spending your lifetime learning about your spouse so intimately that you can love them well.
For a man, marriage is about:
- cleaving – Genesis 2:24
- embodying faithfulness,
- honoring, and
- (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 5; Ephesians 5:23-33; 1 Peter 3:7).
For a woman, marriage is about:
- serving and
- (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 14:1; Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22, 33; Titus 2:4; 1 Peter 3:1-6).
So rather than viewing marriage as if it is all about YOUR happiness and YOU feeling adequately loved–view marriage in the exact opposite way. In a lifetime of covenant commitment, good times and bad times are going to come, so come to to see marriage as all of life: as a vessel used by God for you to come to know Him better. The bad times, when they come, are not going to “make you happy” but they will be used as life lessons to teach you to think and live in a godly way.