I recently read an article titled, “Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness”. Maybe it sounds harsh, but let me just say that I wholeheartedly agreed with this article. Our culture can be incredibly self-serving. We hear the phrase “do you” on a fairly regular basis. We’re encouraged to do what makes us happy and to forget the rest. Our own happiness is all that matters, we’re told.
Being happy is important. Absolutely. I will never argue that. But as Lana Del Ray once said, “When someone else’s happiness is your happiness, that is love”. I think that sometimes we jump into marriage with visions of rainbows and butterflies in the days ahead. And there definitely are some rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not like that 100 percent of the time.
A sizable portion of your marriage is spent making your spouse happy – even when that means sacrificing your own happiness at times. Marriage asks us to let our spouse have that last piece of pizza even though we could totally take it down in three bites. Marriage asks us to fold the laundry a certain way even when we find it totally unnecessary. Marriage asks us to drive 15 minutes out of the way to run a special errand. Marriage asks us to bite our tongues when harsh words want to spew from our mouths. Marriage asks us to take the kids for a night so our spouse can have a girls’ or boys’ night out. Marriage asks us to compliment our spouse even when we’re having a crumby day. Marriage asks us to do the little things like vacuuming, washing dishes and scrubbing the toilets. Marriage asks us to give grace freely. Marriage asks us to love. It asks us to choose these things on a daily basis. And it asks us to do all of this happily.
I am not here to tell you that I’m the picture perfect wife who chooses these things without hesitation. Sometimes my selfishness gets the best of me and I opt to fold my husband’s socks inside out when I know he prefers the opposite. Sometimes I opt to read a book instead of cleaning the shower. And sometimes I seriously just forget to think about what it is that would make my husband happy. I fail on a daily basis, no doubt, which is why I’m forever thankful for the grace I’m given.
There’s no perfect world where we can be faultless husbands and wives. We’re all human, and we will all fail at one point or another. What will make a difference in our marriages, though, is changing our mindsets. Instead of thinking of how you will benefit from something, think of how your spouse will benefit. Instead of thinking about what makes you happy, think about what makes your spouse happy. Instead of giving love in the way you would want to receive it, speak your spouse’s love language and love them in the way that they receive it. (I won’t get into the five love languages right now, but LEARN YOUR SPOUSE’S LOVE LANGUAGE.) Instead of mindlessly going through your day, stop and THINK about how you can love your spouse. There’s always an opportunity to show love. It just takes a little more effort sometimes. We have to choose that option. We have to choose to love.
And if you truly love your spouse, seeing them happy will make you happy too. So no, marriage is not about YOUR happiness. But when we fulfill our responsibility and commitment to make our spouses happy, the happiness comes back around to us too. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.