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Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Marriages

What is a happy marriage?

This is something that has been on my mind for about for about a month now. There was a question posed on Facebook by one of my close friends which read "how do you help your husband feel loved after you have a baby?" One of my other friends responded with an insightful account of her own thoughts that surprised me.

The response was a narrative of her thought process after she read the question. She wondered if she was a bad wife because she hadn't thought too much about her husband after their first child was born. She was busy dealing with adjusting to being a new mother and all of the wondrous "issues" that come with it (pain, breastfeeding, late nights, lack of sleep, bouts with postpartum depression, etc.).

As she reflected on this time in her life she felt a twinge of guilt and asked her husband if he had felt neglected. He, being a good man and loving husband, was surprised and answered no. He explained to her that he knew she was going through a lot at the time and felt that it was his job to support her at that difficult time.

She finished her account by proclaiming that she had the best husband in the world. :) (and he is a great guy!)

While I still maintain that I am the best husband in the world (just kidding, I try to be though) my friend's introspection inspired me to do some thinking and to reconsider my idea of a happy marriage.

I mean what really constitutes a happy marriage? Is it gushing affection? Loads of physical intimacy? Talking? Spending a lot of time together? A great friendship?

The media promotes ideas about what is romantic and what dating should be like. Authors write of undying affection and admiration for another person. It is clear what dating and newly wed life is "supposed" to be like but how often do we see a movie or read a book about that boring old couple that has been together for fifty years? What is a happy marriage supposed to look like?
Photo Courtesy of Vial Photography

Cami and I have a vision of what a happy marriage is for us and we work really hard to achieve and maintain it. We have decided that for us part of one aspect of being happily married is to seek to clearly put each other before ourselves, the children, work, church, and everything else in our lives. We don't need money to be happy (but we would like more!), we just need each other. No judging, selfishness, or lies and inviting God into our marriage help us to be happy.

However, our vision of a happy marriage isn't necessarily what everyone's marriages should look like. Each couple is unique, their situation and needs are different, and how best to achieve happiness in their marriage is up to them to decide. 

For my friend who posed the question on Facebook "how do you help your husband feel loved after you have a baby?" clearly she has chosen to put her husband before herself, even at this extremely inconvenient time of her life, because that is how she and her husband have chosen to pursue the goal of a happy marriage. For my other friend who responded to the question and sparked my thoughts on the matter and her husband I believe that they too have a happy marriage.

So who is to say which is happier and which is right? Certainly it isn't me. I guess the moral of the story is that we should concentrate on making our marriages happy and let others worry about theirs. I know for Cami and me there is plenty to do within our own marriage to keep it happy without spending time judging the marriages around us.

Happy marriages come in many shapes and sizes, ours is just one of them.

Regardless, however, of the exact "shape" of the happy marriage there are three things that ALL truly happy marriages have in common:
  1. The husband and wife love each other more than they love themselves. Selflessness is a key ingredient. If you aren't willing to sacrifice yourself for your spouse you haven't qualified yourself to possess their whole heart. If you aren't willing to sacrifice yourself for your spouse you haven't given them your whole heart.
  2. Each spouse invests a considerable amount of time and energy into loving the other. Happiness is work. A lot of work. However, it pays dividends quickly. Do something nice for your spouse and see how quickly it gets repaid. You'll be surprised, especially when you make it a habit, of how quickly doing little nice things for your spouse makes a huge difference.
  3. They treat their marriage as a treasure, "a pearl beyond price". How would you care for a tree on which money grew? Or a goose that laid golden eggs? You would guard it jealously and fiercely protect it. You would care for it tenderly and nurture it. Your marriage is even more valuable. Treat it as such.
What do you and your spouse consider the traits of a happy marriage to be? Please tell me in the comments!

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to find out the prizes for the 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge!

1 comment:

  1. What a great picture of the two of you! I think effort has a lot to do with a happy marriage whether it is hard or not. Sean and I share love languages which makes things easier for us, but some will need to try harder or at least gain more awareness about their spouse. When one stops trying, things get hard, and when both stop trying, it's pretty much over. I had a blog rant on that very topic today:


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