Don't Marry...Be Happy

I put a new spin on the title of Bobby McFerrin's hit song from the 80's to get you to read this. (If that catchy tune is now stuck in your head, I sincerely apologize.) But now that I have your attention, I wanted to make a point of real substance. Here goes...

Do not depend on your spouse to make you happy.

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That's the number one thing I hear from individuals who are walking away from their marriage: "I'm not happy." These people are apparently putting the burden of responsibility of their own happiness squarely on the shoulders of another person. The result is constant dissatisfaction because they are expecting someone to do for them what only God can do.

When I perform weddings and we get to the vows, I will often remind the couple that nothing else in the course of their celebration is of much consequence when compared to the vows that they are about to make to each other. The decorations and the music and the expensive reception...the things they have labored to prepare and display are truly just "stuff and fluff." The only thing that really matters is the vows. It is the moment when a couple enters a covenant with God and each other. It is the moment when they pledge themselves to one another "til death do us part."

Note that there is no part of the traditional marriage vows that mentions "I'm counting on you to make me happy." And that's a very good thing. In fact, if couples I am marrying want to write their own vows and what they submit to me sounds too much like the "you complete me" drivel that our culture has bought into, I will ask them to re-write them. Vows should be about our commitment to our spouse, come Hell or high water, not about our expectations of what our spouse will do for us.

Because you cannot depend on your spouse to make you happy.

I'm not saying that your spouse cannot be a part of God's design for bringing joy to your life. I find my marriage to Jenifer to be the most rewarding part of my life. However, we must keep things in perspective. My relationship with Jen makes my life better and more satisfying. But it is ultimately Christ who gives me joy. He is the source. Jen just makes life better. If I were looking to her (or she were looking to me) to bring happiness, we would both be disappointed. Or divorced.

A recent blog post from Mark Gungor got me thinking about these issues and his thoughts are more insightful than mine.

Consider this as your homework:

Give careful consideration to how happy you are. Then evaluate if you are starting to resent your spouse for your unhappiness. If there is even a hint of that in your heart, perhaps you need to look to God to restore your joy, not because He's going to "fix" your spouse, but because He has adopted you as His child. Because He has forgiven your sin. Because He has given you hope and life and peace in Him.

Finding joy in a relationship with Christ frees your spouse up to not always be a disappointment to you. There is a God and your spouse is not Him. Stop looking in the wrong place to find happiness.