Have you ever been unhappy in your marriage? I know that I have been. In the past, Lisa’s and my marriage was in a lot of trouble. If you are honest with yourself, you too probably have been unhappy in your marriage.
Many years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to compare my marriage to other marriages around me. I would see how some women would put their hands on their husband’s thighs and I would wonder why my wife never did that. I would watch other couples laugh and play together and again wonder why my wife and I were not laughing together or playing together. These thoughts tormented me for a few years. Oh, I really did not want to leave the marriage. I was committed to the marriage because of my belief in God and what the Bible says about marriage. I just was not “happy” with how some things were going.
Just writing that opening paragraph brings back some bad memories in my marriage. I was a jerk!! I was more concerned with my “ministry” than I was with anything else. I ignored my family so much because of what I thought I was supposed to be doing for the church. Thankfully, my wife had the same commitment to marriage that I did because of our similar beliefs. We really struggled because of the lack of attention I gave to my wife and children. At the same time I was “unhappy” because of how she was treating me.
Does any of that sound familiar?
DEFINITION OF HAPPY
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines HAPPY as
- feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
- showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
- pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.
Notice that the emphasis of the definition is on the pleasure of the circumstances surrounding you. With this definition, happiness can be fleeting or temporary.
The origin of the word in the 14th century actually meant lucky or fortunate.
Can a person who we would consider unfortunate be happy?
I looked up the word happy in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the word is used 18 times. Each time the Hebrew word was also used as blessed. The same is true in the 2 times in the New Testament. I use the NASB ’95 translation. If you use a more modern translation such as the NLT, those numbers will be different. The NT word for happy is “makarios” and it is translated happy or happiness only twice while it is translated blessed 63 times.
Why is all of this important? I believe that our happiness has to be much deeper than just the circumstances around us. Matter of fact Job says in Job 5:17 (NASB95)17 “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
In other words, we are most happy when God is designing us to be more like Him. True happiness is found in our relationship with God and what He is doing; not in our circumstances.
SO HOW CAN WE BE HAPPY?
- Are we right with God? I’m not asking if we are perfect because that’s not even a possibility. But is our desire to be pleasing to God? Do we want what God wants in our lives? Those questions help us understand if we are right with God.
- Are we right with our spouse? 1 Peter 3:7 (NASB95) 7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” In order for us to be right with our wives, we must be working to understand them and to treat them with the love that God desires. I know that when I was the most unhappy in my marriage, I was not trying to understand my wife nor was I loving her with an unconditional love. I was being very selfish and only thinking about my needs or desires. These thoughts led to much unhappiness and strife in my marriage. Now, I truly seek to love my bride unselfishly. I’m not perfect, but I am trying.
- Are you working to make things different? Some of our circumstances can be changed. The ones that need to be changed can be changed. Are you unhappy about how much you weigh? What are you doing to change that? The pounds do not fall off just because you want them to. You must do something different. Are you unhappy about the clutter in your house? What are you doing to change that? There are no cleaning fairies that I know of. If you know of one, tell me about it. We have to make the changes that we can change.
- Are you praying for things to change? There are many of our circumstances that we cannot change. Some of them God wants to use to change us. Some of them only God can change. Are you praying about them? When we lose sight of what God is doing, we can get very unhappy. Praying brings God back in focus. God’s work brings a deeper happiness than our circumstances can ever bring.
Our true happiness depends more on our attitudes and our choices than any thing else. Our circumstances are always changing. One day the sky is clear so that we can see and feel the warm of the big fireball in our sky. The next day, the sky is cloudy or it’s raining. Is the sun still in the sky? Of course, we just can’t see it or feel it. God is always present in our lives. It is up to us to look for Him and what He is doing.