“I SHOULD BE HAPPY BUT I’M NOT” (Marriage Lies 3)
Are you as happy now as you expected to be when you got married? If you say “yes”, it means you’ve worked through some hard times, made adjustments and grown together. If you say “no”, then you’re stuck back where you started. The world promotes the “I should be happy” lie, everywhere: TV, movies, ads, music and books. But is happiness God’s highest purpose for marriage? Let’s start with some of the lies behind this lie which Satan uses to destroy marriages.
Behind the “I should be happy” lie is another one stating “It’s their responsibility to make me happy.” Our entitlement mentality, taught from childhood on, is that I’m supposed to be happy. “Others are to meet my needs and put me first.” “If this mate can’t make me happy, there must be someone else who can.” Lies, all of them.
A couple who had been married over 15 years, with children old enough to have a life of their own, came to me because they weren’t happy. They were bored, in a rut, and constantly picking at each other. They didn’t try to keep the peace as they did when the children were younger. He had promised he’d make her happy if she married him, and it wasn’t happening. She wasn’t making him happy either.
The truth is that no one can MAKE you happy! First, you have to define “happy.” When you do, you’ll find it’s a very shallow, self-centered emotion that is easily challenged by the reality of life. If the purpose of marriage is to make us happy, how can single people find fulfillment? Actually, we were made to need something much deeper than happiness and that is joy.
Satan uses this lie on singles as well. They can believe they need to be married to be happy. This lie makes them dissatisfied with the life God has given them. They look to others to meet needs only God can meet. Finding happiness can become the most important thing in life.
The pursuit of happiness is an idol we must destroy, or it will destroy us. Joy is deep inner satisfaction despite outer conditions. Happiness is dependent on our circumstances. Happiness is self-centered, joy is all encompassing. Happiness comes from being served, but joy from serving, as Jesus serves us. Life doesn’t always make us happy. It is hard. We stretch and grow through trying times. Our goal in marriage is oneness, not happiness. Take your unhappiness, discontent, etc. to God, not to your mate.
The other lie behind the “I should be happy” lie is, the purpose of marriage is to be happy. The entertainment industry sells us on the idea that we are to “live happily ever after” if we are with the right person. Yet most people “live miserably ever after.” But that isn’t the fault of marriage. As Christians, we are sometimes guilty of putting too much responsibility on the husband to meet all his wife’s needs and make her happy. We do the same to wives, whose submission is to bring happiness to marriage. When those impossible expectations aren’t met, we become discouraged with our mate or ourself.
The truth is that any time you take two very imperfect, self-centered human beings and put them together 24-7 you won’t get perfect unity. Not only do they have a sin nature, they are of the opposite sex, temperament, and often birth order. That is a recipe for disaster, not ecstasy.
The purpose of marriage is for our growth and God’s glory (Colossians 1:16-18). Holiness is much more important than happiness (1 Peter 1:16). Marriage gives us opportunity to face the ugliness in ourselves and grow through it so we become more like Jesus. Happiness is temporary, holiness is eternal. Happiness costs us nothing, it just happens to us. Holiness comes at the high cost of sacrifice, pain, obedience, self-denial and continual forgiveness. It is a fruit God’s Spirit produces in us (Galatians 5:22-23).
Instead of striving to be happy, seek contentment. It doesn’t come naturally; it is a learned skill (Philippians 4:11-13). Don’t expect marriage or your mate to meet all your needs. It will never happen. God won’t let it happen. He is a jealous God and won’t let anyone replace Him in your life. He will make sure your mate falls short so you still need and go to Him. Marriage can’t and won’t meet all your needs, but it can turn you to the One who can meet all of them (Philippians 4:19). Don’t expect a finite being to meet needs only an eternal God can meet. Your relationship with your mate is temporary, but your relationship with God is eternal.
Marriage is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 9:29). Marriage, when faced from a Biblical world view, helps accomplish that. We see areas where we need to change and we have a mate who loves us unconditionally and helps us make those changes. God’s purpose for your marriage is that you each look more like Jesus because of each other.
Has your marriage been accomplishing that? What is happening in your relationship now to stretch you and make you holy?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
Copyright © 2021