Don’t Marry, Be Happy

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.

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19 Responses to “Don’t Marry, Be Happy”

  1. Brooke says:

    I feel I was brought to your website today for a reason. That I am finally seeking to listen to good advice! I have been trying to heal myself from my many issues. I bought a copy of Gods Psychiatry when I was a child, I didnt read it at the time but I have started to read it now. I tried the authors advice of the cure for depression last week, ( the 23 psalm aloud 5 times a day) and it has helped me to separate myself from the anxiety created by a hard lived youth. I recently accepted a proposal of marriage on Valentines Day, I am so anxious about moving on and what do I bring into this relationship. Thanks for bringing this topic up today as I really needed to hear it.

  2. Letitia Mike says:

    I completely agree with what you said and this is so true. God hint this to me but the way The Holy Spirit explained it through you to me really helped me understand. Thanks so much! God bless you!

  3. Paul H. Byerly says:

    Mark – I am happier because of what my marriage has done to me – forced me to grow up. I suppose God could have found other ways to grow me up, but marriage is a very effective tool for that!

  4. Kate says:

    Even though what you are saying is true, I have to say that I agree with Paul! I would not be the person I am today, without the change and breaking of my own selfishness that has happened through my marriage relationship and an open heart to God.
    It would be truly awesome if we could all grow up and get rid of our selfishness before marriage, but I believe it is through marriage that God works out much of our selfishness. He is teaching us(blessing us as well), if we will allow Him, to become one flesh. Really marriage is the untimate place to learn to lose the selfishness. Not that people should jump into marriage, solely to refind themselves.
    I entered marriage wanting to make my hubby happy. A nobel goal many might say, but one that falls short of God’s plan everytime. When I learned and submitted to pleasing God first, I began to understand His word for marriage and untimately please my hubby as well! Marriage has changed my life and I would go through all the yuck of our first years of marriage over again just to get to where we are today on our one flesh journey! Just my thoughts!

  5. Betty says:

    I just read your article about hapiness. It is just what I needed. It feels right, but I need a little more help. How can a person be happy on his own? Isn’t love, companion and even sex necessary for someone to feel full? Can we be happy alone and independent from other people? Sorry if it sounds childish but I feel I have misunderstound.

    • Zachary says:

      Betty I must respectfully disagree with Jennifer. Marriage is more than a legal contract, it is a spiritual binding as well and certainly is necessary in God’s eyes for lifelong commitment and sex. To answer your question, I do not think those things are necessary for fulfillment. Love is, but there are different kinds of love and romantic love is only one of them. Unconditional love comes from God, and is the only one we truly must have. Companionship and sex are terrific gifts that God allows many of us to have, but again they are not necessary to have from another person, as we can find deep, intimate, companionship with God. Now, I in no way think that everyone should isolate themselves and seek no help, love, or attention from anyone else. God intended for us to walk out our faith in community, but he also made it necessary for us to be fully dependent on Him, and not on others. Hope that helped.

  6. Betty says:

    I read your article ”Don’t marry, be happy”. I found it very interesting but I need a little more help. How can somebody be happy alone? Isn’t love, companionship and even sex necessary for everyone to feel complete and happy?

    • Jennifer says:

      Love, companionship, and even sex do not require marriage. Marriage is just a legal contract between your partner and the State which binds you to the whims of family court. You can make a commitment to someone for life without getting permission from the government.

  7. Valerie says:

    I am so happy God has given you this ministry. I am single (divorced for 15 years), I married an unbeliever as a new Christian and am a testimony that that does not work. I now see the importance of being equally yoked even down to spiritual maturity. I wish I had this information 30 years ago and that fellow single believer’s would understand the importance of this & not continue to date those they are unequally yoked with. It just doesn’t work.

  8. Dora says:

    Three years ago I was introduced to your video “Tale of two brains” I ordered the entire seminar and have watched over again. I enjoy receiving the emails and I honestly enjoyed ” Don’t Marry, be Happy”. Your topics are great and I do share these with others.
    We’ve been married for 32 years this year and have learned so much together; we help others as we continue to grow ourselves. Our marriage is strong because we’ve learned to work as a team, see danger and fight it together. We may not be perfect, but, we are a perfect example of how to keep your marriage together.

  9. Nate Hamblin says:

    I appreciate your conversational and direct declaration of this truth. You are a straightforward and refreshing voice sharing the Biblical truths of marriage in a time when so many have the wrong expectation of marriage and then feel like God’s gift of marriage “didn’t work for them.” This article reflects the premise of Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, articulated in his subtitle – “what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”. These sound like preposterous ideas in our day, yet are key to finding the true joy in this beautiful mysterious relationship of marriage. Thanks for speaking truth!

  10. Norm says:

    This is a very catchy title, it grabs your attention. It is true and it is in contradiction with what much of our society believes.
    The media long ago became the main contributor of ideas that people have accepted as truth. There is no sound basis for what most people now believe to be truth.
    The most important decision in our lives is the person we choose as a spouse; it is a decision that many of us are ill prepared to make.
    I was ill prepared to make such an important decision because I had not dealt with the devastating effects of early childhood abuse.

    I accepted the Lord as my savior 27 years ago and can now say that I am in a place where I can participate in a healthy marriage.
    My wife has also been through some very difficult times in her life. With God’s help and a humble heart we can now live in a marriage where we both thrive.

  11. Katie says:

    Thank you Mark. I have been suffering by my own hand. I take out of this article, I need to redefine myself and what makes me happy. I have been blaming my husband for not making me happy when maybe I need to start on my end and make my family happy. I use to make it a point to make one person a day smile and I haven’t done that in quite some time. Seeing others smile is what used to drive me. I want to go back to smiling.

  12. Gary says:

    Guys also marry because they think that marriage will lead to a peaceful and stable union, so that they can focus on work, pursuing their hobbies, and sharing love and togetherness. Plenty of guys discover that a whole new level of game playing is what takes place instead and it is like a bucket of cold water being thrown into their face.

  13. alex says:

    Hi, I wish to start a new relationship and I keep asking God should I start it. I hear God create humans. God create man and woman to get married and I think God arrange for marriage and not us to decide.
    I read your information I agreed that when our heart , health and soul is not complete, we shall not start to have relationship.
    Living single is also can be happy and happy with the family and God is loving me everyday. I shall have faith to him that my heart, health and soul become whole and let God decide if I can love and ready for relationship and marriage.
    Now, I am not desperately to find love because God love me. I give my love to appreciate what God have given to me like my parents, brothers and sisters in Church.

  14. Myth Debunker says:

    You are completely neglecting the fact that some spouses are unkind and un-nurturing, and do hurtful things. And you are writing very harshly against such people with your language like “pukingly selfish”.

    It’s easy to debunk your lopsided logic. You state “because if you can’t be happy without someone, you will never be happy with someone.” Tell you what. Prove it. Find me a single human being in the world who is perfectly content with zero human contact for the remainder of their lives, and then you will have found the person who is “happy without someone”. But since such a person doesn’t exist, then your article has become useless. End of story.

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