“I wish I was as happy as you two!”
“You two look so cute together!”
“I wish my life was as happy as yours!”
“I wish, I wish.”
‘Comparison fits’ is what I would like to call them.
Yes, we are happy! Oh my we are truly happy, not only on social media – (and it’s not cliché) but down to the ground level. Am a happy wife, happy with the seasons or our life and how things are, but I can tell you for sure, the cost is too high. Very high.
We have paid the price and still are. I cannot count how many times we have sat down with Johnny till 3 am discussing over an issue. Sometimes we get to an impasse and rest for a few hours only to pick-up again.
The prayers, seeking counsel, the tears, the sacrifices, the intentional gestures, the intentional acts, the unconditional giving, extending grace to each other even when we least deserved each other, the list goes on and on.
I remember earlier on in our marriage. We wanted to be happy – clearly we were not. The name “happiness” only resonated with us when looking at the movie characters who seemed to have everything well put. They never seemed have any issues, sex was pure haven, never messy – just perfect. Pure happiness.
Happiness was elusive to us though. An emotive subject, one that evoked raw emotions – tears, bitterness, anger! We were messed up.
As we kept at it, each of us holding to our fort so hard, it hit us one day that we were seeking superficial happiness, judging each other under the law of capability, at the expense of a lasting peace – which often comes through a process. A hard process.
Happiness always asks, “What are you willing to give up?”
So don’t look at us and think we found our rhythm without stepping on each other’s toes. It was more than stepping. Probably chopping! It was bloody and messy! But we learnt through and are still learning more – work in progress is what we are.
“Buy me flowers, it will make me happy.”
“Cook for me in a certain way, I will be happy.”
“Pick up your shoes, be responsible, I will be happy.”
“Call me more often, text me endlessly, I will be happy.”
While all the above are good, appropriate, and evoke a certain degree of happiness, the truth is that they are just but a mirage. More like stuffing a hungry stomach with dessert. Its filling, pretty fast, but never holds for long.
Once he buys you flowers, you will realize that you need more than flowers to keep you happy.
Once she cooks, you will need her to regard you in a certain way to be happier.
Once he picks up his socks, washes his boxers and does all your “little laws” you will need him to go an extra mile for you to be happier.
So what really makes us happy in marriage?
What would cause you to get to that point where you can confidently say, “I am happy in my marriage.”
Here goes the jugular. Happiness in marriage, goes hand in hand with self-sacrifice. A-ha! Death to self! Totally annihilation of self.
Happiness, more so in marriage, does not trend, walk, nor drive through a dual carriageway. It’s never a two-way pegged reciprocity.
No! You don’t say “if you do this, I will get to do this.” Happiness in marriage has a cost, a tag called sacrificial giving.
It is not limited to just that tingling feeling one gets after a nice gesture has been extended to you, it’s a cost you incur on your part as the giver.
It’s a decision on your part to be the catalyst. It’s implausible and that’s where the world and the Lord face two opposite sides.
Love, is not contingent upon reciprocity. It has never been and will never be. It’s that sacrificial giving that moves the receiver to act without being literally pushed over.
“What will you give up?” asks Love.
Most people however, do not want to incur the costs. They want the product but not the process, nor the mess. It’s not possible to separate the two.
This will definitely not give you “7 steps towards happiness”, but it will give you what ultimately saved us and still saves us.
You want to be happy, this is what the Bible tells us to do!
Proverbs 3:13-18 – Happy [is] the man [that] findeth wisdom, and the man [that] getteth understanding.
You want to be happy? Find wisdom and understanding regarding your marriage. Tap from them that have gone before you. Be open to rebuke and instruction.
Is rebuke easy? No!
If you really want to stand in your marriage, open your heart to rebuke, counsel and instruction, not just comfort. If you desire comfort more than instruction, rebuke and teaching, then your marriage will forever be on diapers!
How long will you be on marriage diapers?
What do you give up? Pride!
Above all, make the Lord your ultimate God, not your spouse. Your husband or wife cannot fill that innate feeling, a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun cannot satisfy except GOD.
Want to be happy? Find wisdom, court it and walk in it.
Make the Lord your God and put all expectations towards your spouse on Him. He is in the best position possible to shape your spouse!
1 Chronicles 16:27 – Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling.
Want to be happy? Be a lady or man of honor. Honor your vows. Honor your husband. Honor your wife. Yes, be different from what the world tells marriages to be!
Is honoring your vows easy? More so towards an imperfect being? No!
So what will you give up? Self-importance!
Honor goes far beyond just being respectful. Honor is regarding someone by virtue of the position God has given them.
Wives ought to honor their husbands. You may not necessarily agree with all he has to say, but honor makes you rethink through things. You will be slow to respond, slow to anger, and try to see the bigger picture vis a vis what you may be feeling at that moment.
A husband ought to honor his wife because she brings in the favor he needs in this ridiculously selfish world. She’s his comfort, his eyes, his shield even towards himself.
Want to be happy, honor your spouse, honor your marriage.
Proverbs 14:21 – Those who despise their neighbors are sinners, but happy are those who are kind to the poor.
Love is kind. Kindness is a virtue that makes you extend grace to your spouse even when they least deserve it.
Is being kind to an undeserving spouse easy? No!
What will you give up? The “I attitude”.
You will have to learn to extend grace to your spouse not because they will be worth celebrating, but that you find what you can celebrate anyway.
I am faster at executing things and this was a major strain in our marriage until I began celebrating anything “insignificant” – (according to me) that Johnny used to do.
I cannot tell you the exact turning point, but I really don’t remember the last time I kept following him up on a project.
It costed my pride. The pride that’s cynical and critical. Laying it down and giving it all up.
Want to be happy, be kind to people and the first person who should benefit from your cup of kindness is your spouse.
Don’t miss the joy of marriage being all so critical having “shudda, wudda cudda” ministry in your marriage.
Enjoy the temporal-ness of this marriage on earth. Please experience the joys of it with the one person that the Lord joined you to.
Want to be happy? Be kind to your spouse.
Psalm 1:1- 2 – Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (them that ridicule). But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
Want to be happy? Quit all the wrong relationships. Discern demands. Put up No Go Zone signs, sieve your phone book, keep your mouth shut and guard your heart.
Invest in yourself and in your marriage. The output is always and will still be within reach.
Is keeping a right company easy? No.
What will you give up? Wrong relationships and friends.
Some of the very people you call friends, are the same people who mislead you more so in marriage.
Know who helps you build. Know who your destiny pushers are and who are your dream thieves. Be smart, but more so, be perceptive! Invest in yourself and in your marriage. The output is always and will still be within reach.
Don’t give the best to everyone else while your family survives on the leftovers and crumbs, if there are any!
Want to be happy? Know how you spend your coin on – your time.
1st Peter 4:13 – But in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.
Does marriage negate pain? No.
Actually pain is mostly a gift to us from God to drive us back from where we ran from. To draw out our ministry. To pull us out of our legalistic mindset more so in marriage. To kill our self-made idols – idols of craving marriage more than the God of the marriage.
To ash down our wrong expectations more so towards our spouses. To reveal our inadequacies that we may yearn for a Savior. To purge our pride and high stacked egos. To sanctify the spirit. To literally carry the cross and feel the weight of sacrificial giving and in the end, reflect a marriage for His glory.
But who wants that? Who wants pain? We love candy, and sweet stuff.
No one would freely pick up the cross. Our very nature calls out for self-preservation first.
How about asking the Lord to help you carry the cross?
Prayer, changes you before it changes anything else in your marriage. It changes your perspective and mindset because circumstances may not change.
Want to be happy? Find simple joys in whichever season you are in.
What will you give up? Comparison fits and discontentment!
The bible says in 1st Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
You may not have children, not working, probably having a low income, but your pain is only transitory. Begin counting simple blessings and you realize that they are not as simple as they superficially appear to be. It’s just for a while.
Love your spouse through it all. Through the bends, the lack, the turns, in plenty, in sickness, in health, through the winding paths and the steep cliffs. Love them at the face of death and in merriment.
Be joyous in every season of your life.
What to be happy? It will cost you something. The question is, are you ready to pay the price?