Lets start with some truth:
It’s not about us…
Rick Warren‘s best selling book Purpose Driven Life begins with those four words. They’re true in just about every area of our lives, but especially in our marriages.
In many ways today, we worship the gods of comfort, convenience and happiness.
But nowhere in God’s Word do I see him say, “Be happy, like I am happy.”
What He says is, “Be holy, as I am holy.”
This is not to suggest that God wants us to be miserable. It’s that He knows what will actually make us happy!
He’s the father telling the three year old not to eat the entire bag of candy, so he doesn’t get a tummy ache. The toddler is convinced that will make him happy, but the loving father knows better.
I hear well meaning, godly people telling friends to follow their heart.
This, despite the warning God gives us in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Another frequently offered piece of advice you’ll hear is do whatever makes you happy.
It’s seductive advice. It seems harmless and even rings true, but it’s anything but.
What’s amazing is, we don’t live that way in any other area of our lives.
We do what we don’t want to, and don’t do what we want to, all the time. Think about it.
• Blowing off work and just staying in bed every day might make us happy, but do we?
• It might provide great joy to walk out of a bank with a couple million dollars in a duffle bag, but do we?
• We might want to indulge ourselves by eating nothing but the most decadent desserts all day and engaging in no physical activity whatsoever, but do we?
• Spending the mortgage or rent money on a new hot tub, or a vacation, might be more fun, but you wouldn’t recommend it.
• Or how about driving 80 miles an hour everywhere we go?
• Or telling your boss what a jerk you think they are.
We voluntarily make decisions to deny our own happiness, for very good reasons, every single day.
Yet when it comes to our marriages, if we aren’t happy, we’re likely to bail.
We believe the lie that this one was just a mistake, the next one will “be perfect.”
We’re setting ourselves up for great disappointment. Or a string of them.
The truth is, no matter how promising the next one looks, or how exciting it is at the start, it is highly unlikely to bring us any lasting happiness. At least not unless we make the changes in ourselves, and in our thinking, that would’ve changed our perspective in the first relationship.
(NOTE: If you’ve already lived this, and restoration is impossible, then of course it is wise to learn from our mistakes and apply these to current circumstances.)
When we make happiness our goal, we’re chasing shadows. Carrots on sticks.
It’s not even happiness that the human heart craves. What we actually want is joy. And real joy is a fruit of the spirit. It’s a by-product of truly following Christ, of surrendering our wants and desires, and giving up our futile quest for happiness, of living on mission for God’s glory and the good of others.
This is part of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5.
“6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Our joy is filled when we aren’t chasing it.
Our happiness and joy comes from growing together in Christ, climbing the mountains together, serving together and striving to love each other the way Jesus loves.
The biggest lie, that will kill your marriage, is the idea that marriage is meant to make us happy.
Gary Thomas goes deeper into this in his book Sacred Marriage, which I highly recommend.
Also, I read a great article by One Flesh Marriage that points out some of the lies and truths we believe about marriage.
This is really important, because so many marriages today are in trouble, or even ending, in large part, due these kind of misconceptions.
Some of the lies we believe include:
“My spouse needs to change to make this marriage work.”
“Marriage is meant to make me happy.”
“I can love my spouse completely and meet all their needs.”
For more about these lies and some helpful marriage TRUTHS, check out this post from Kate at One Flesh Marriage.