I know that it seems like odd advice for a marriage speaker to give. But what I really mean by it is pretty simple. If you think marriage will make you happy, you are sorely mistaken. Don’t marry someone with the idea that it’s going to make you happy. When either one or both spouses head into a marriage with this thinking, it creates some of the most miserable couples out there.
Can you be happy in marriage? Absolutely. But the people who are successful and happy in their marriages are not happy because they are married. It isn’t the marriage or the person they are married to that makes them happy. They are happy and fulfilled in life apart from their marriage.
The reality is if you are looking for a man or a woman to make you happy, if you are looking to marriage for happiness, you are barking up the wrong tree. The answer to your happiness isn’t marriage. The answer isn’t another person. Some of the loneliest and most unhappy people on the planet are those with wedding rings on. Sad, but true.
All of the romance novels, chick flicks and TV shows sell the lie that the real answer to finding contentment is to find a man or woman to make you happy, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is what I say about this in my book Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage:
A successful marriage is not the result of two empty souls finding each other in an attempt to “complete” each other. Two empty, unfulfilled souls who get married will just be a marriage of two empty, unfulfilled souls. A successful marriage is possible only when two complete and happy people get together for the purpose of building a life together. They do not need the other to be truly happy, complete or emotionally whole. They are already whole people who are joining together to enjoy the benefits of marriage. The Bible says that “two are better than one.” But that is only true if they are two healthy, emotionally stable, and complete human beings. If you are a single, miserable, lonely, incomplete, and hollow soul, for the love of God, do everyone a favor and get yourself whole before you get yourself married.
Countless marriages end in divorce for no other reason than people think that they aren’t happy. They move on and find another man or woman that they are just sure will be the one to bring them happiness…only to find out that after a while this new one isn’t doing the trick either. Some go from relationship to relationship or even from marriage to marriage and never learn that true happiness doesn’t come from another person.
For those of you who are divorced or divorcing, this really needs to sink in and you need to hear it. The fact of the matter is, in most cases, if husbands and wives could grasp the fact that the other person isn’t there to “make them happy”, if they weren’t so puking selfish and self-centered, and if they would stop expecting their spouse to make them deliriously happy all the time, they wouldn’t be divorcing in the first place! Needless to say, most don’t get it and instead, they travel down the divorce path certain that by dumping their spouse, they will find happiness.
Most people in this category (especially women) think they can end the pain from the previous relationship and the misery from the divorce by finding another person who will make them happy. The carnage and scattered debris from the last train wreck hasn’t even been cleaned up and they are running into the next disaster. I often hear of men and women who are still in the process of divorcing, or at best, the ink is barely dry on the paper and they are entangled in a new romance…and dragging their kids along through all of it.
You need to slow down people. A new boyfriend or girlfriend, a new lover, a new spouse isn’t the solution. In fact, it will complicate things even more and you will be so caught up in your feelings—and probably sexually involved—that you won’t see straight. (See the post “Sex Makes You Stupid” for more information on that subject.) Take the time to heal, to get whole, and if there are kids involved you need to be there for them and focused on them…not out dating!
The Bible is very clear that God is to be the source of our happiness. It’s idolatry if you are making another person the “god” of your contentment. Whether you are currently married or single, the answer is the same: Don’t look to a man or to a woman for your happiness. Learn to be filled with joy and complete in your faith, because if you can’t be happy without someone, you will never be happy with someone either.