“If I’m not happy, I don’t see why I should stay in this marriage.”
She looked down as she quietly said those words. It was as if she was afraid to give them voice, but believed them completely. With her husband to her right, it was an honest admission of her core belief. Marriage, to her, was about self-fulfillment and at that point, she was less than fulfilled.
As a pastor, I hear those words often. A couple entered into marriage believing they found their life partner, the one who would bring them happiness. But somewhere along the line, it all got fuzzy. Life became harder than they ever imagined it would be and their spouse was no longer able to make them happy. Welcome to marriage.
My wife and I have been married for thirty-three years. Along the way, we have brought each other great joy and immense pain. We have both let each other down, yet we have provided profound companionship. We are best friends. But we have failed to keep each other happy. That was never our goal. We committed before God and witnesses to love each for better or for worse and ended up experiencing a lot of both. I would not have it any other way.
To shoulder someone with the burden of keeping you happy will doom both of you to deep disappointment and ultimately, failure. If happiness is your goal, get a puppy. Release your spouse from that impossible burden. Then choose to love without expectation. Give yourself to a relationship that will change you from someone seeking self-fulfillment to someone who gives life.
It is only when you choose to give yourself to another that you will find the love you have been desperately searching for.