The Truth About Marriage!
During our pre-marital counseling, we were told that our “biggest weakness” was that we were both too optimistic about how great marriage would be. ‘If that’s our biggest weakness, we have nothing to worry about!’, we thought to ourselves and laughed, leaving the session feeling quite confident and perplexed at the evaluation.
Two years later, I realize what our counselors actually meant by that assessment is: If you plan to place your happiness into the hands of another human being, you will surely be let down at some point. Many times, might I add. Actually, if you make your happiness contingent upon any life circumstance or material possession, you will surely be let down – many times. They were trying to teach us that happiness comes from a decision within, and when you can achieve bliss on your own, then you are ready to give and receive love from another.
When you’re single, you have no choice but to rely on yourself for happiness day-to-day. You don’t even realize you’re doing it. But when it comes to marriage, by having such painfully high expectations that life would be “blissful” because we were married was flawed logic and is a dangerous mindset to fall into – single or married. If you’re single and unhappy, thinking that marriage will “make you happy” is only partially true. Sure, most of us crave companionship and having a partner to “do life” with, and once we find that, it does make us very happy! But that’s only half of the story.
The defining point in marriage is not how you handle the beautiful and magical moments. Rather, it is defined by how you respond to the hardships in life that we all inevitably and sometimes relentlessly endure. That is when your happiness and satisfaction cannot be based upon circumstance or other people. You have to learn to draw peace and joy from something more transcendent. As my pastor Peter Haas says, “happiness is not a circumstantial issue, it’s a spiritual issue”. The key is to cultivate happiness despite life’s problems and shortcomings. Actually, you must find a way to be happy regardless of problems in life, because life will never be problem-free.
The truth about a blissful marriage is this: If you take ownership of your own happiness, every single day, you can be happily married. A lot of conflict in marriage stems from placing our expectations of happiness upon another flawed human being. A lot more conflict can happen if we refuse to forgive our partner for being “flawed.” Our job is not to point out the flaws in another, but help them feel accepted for exactly who they are today, and who they are striving to become.
What I’ve learned is that it’s not how much happiness you can get out of a marriage, it’s how much happiness you can breathe into it, after cultivating it on your own accord. Truly, marriage is sanctifying and beautiful. Two people hold space for each other to grow, learn, and heal. Every day you choose faith, choose grace, and choose to love. And when you give those things freely away to another person, you can experience true bliss.
What are your thoughts on marriage? Forgiveness? Happiness? Grace? Are you married or single? Lets chat in the comments! Also, feel free to join the conversation on Twitter by using #howtobehappyjanuary.