“Should we even still be married?”
“I’m just not happy.”
“We don’t communicate.”
“I don’t think I love her any more.”
“We’re pretty much going through the motions for our kids.”
The words may vary, but the sentiment is the same. The plan was to live happily ever after but when that falls apart there is always disappointment. Expectations are not being met. Promises have not been kept. Bitterness and resentment have pushed to the brink of breakdown from years of “trying” to make it work. On your wedding day, you were ready to be in this forever. You weren’t planning on feeling this way. But now that you’re here, what can you do?
This begs the question. Can marriage make us truly happy? Should marriage make me happy? Is there something wrong with me? Shouldn’t we be having fun? The answer may surprise you.
We’re not trying to over-simplify it. Marriage cannot make you ultimately happy. Nor is it intended to. The only relationship that can truly make you happy is the one with Jesus. Here’s why: God’s got it rigged. Nowhere in Scripture are we promised happiness. You see, happiness is fleeting at best. It’s circumstantial. It rarely lasts.
Maybe you used to think that marriage was designed to keep us from being lonely, or to populate the planet. Or maybe you had lofty visions of marriage making two people into a force for good. But the truth is the goal of marriage is to trek toward Jesus Christ, becoming more like Him daily with someone we’re committed to love for our entire life. If we approach marriage differently, we’ll be tossed around in a life raft full of holes, where our primary job is frantically trying to keep this thing from sinking. It is only the call to pursue holiness in our individual selves as married covenant partners that is the difference between surviving and thriving.
If the goal of your marriage has been to make each other happy, you are aiming too low, and taking on an impossible task. The goal of marriage, therefore, is to make each other holy. But here’s the good news: the natural by-product of holiness is something closely akin to happiness … the Bible calls it joy. The purpose of marriage is not to make us happy. It’s to make us holy. Happiness follows holiness. Never the other way around.
If you are struggling to find that holy, joy-filled place in your marriage, here are a few suggestions:
First, pray. Ask God to reveal anything in you that would hinder you from being the best spouse you can be.
Ask a trusted friend: Do you see anything in my actions, attitudes, or speech that you consider unhealthy as a Godly spouse?
Seek Godly, professional guidance. Sometimes things have gone on for a long time and run very deep. We have a great counseling assessment coordinator here at Southland. You can contact Jennifer Wallace here.
Finally, continue to grow and learn together. There are great resources available. Here are a few meaningful ones: Love & Respect, You and Me Forever, and for a really good swim in the deep end, Sacred Marriage.
The world has sold us a bill of goods in trying to convince us that the purpose of marriage is happiness. And that if we’re just not happy, we need to move on. But as Christ-followers, we are constantly called away from self-centeredness. Away from demanding our own rights. Toward our ultimate mission as Christ-followers: holiness.