I like some of the intent behind this article — the idea that marriage isn’t and shouldn’t be about making ourselves happy. However, as a Christian, I cannot agree that it is about making the other person happy either.
I know that this thread is not on the Christian board, nor is it even specifically about faith. However, with regard to this topic and so many others, I can only share my thoughts within the framework of my beliefs.
I believe that my life belongs to God, and that I need to strive to glorify HIM with my life, whether I’m single or married (and I’ve now been both.) Based on my belief system, whether I’m single or marrried, my purpose is to serve and obey God, and God always must be my number one priority. I need to put HIM first in every area of my life. As a result, I cannot be concerned with trying to make myself happy. However, neither can I be focused on making my husband happy, especially if what he thinks would make him happy were to be inconsistent with what God wants for him.
I believe that God’s design for marriage is for “the two to become one” — not that the individuals actually cease to exist as different people, but that the two must do a great deal of “dying to self” to experience the oneness that God intends for marriage. Scripture makes clear that Christians are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, and then goes on to elaborate the various roles involved in that submission. It also says that the wife’s body does not belong to her alone, but also to her husband. The husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife. A married person needs to be concerned with the needs of his or her spouse and does not have the right to be selfish.
I’ve found that this dying to self within marriage is a lengthy and painful process, and it is very consistent with the daily dying to self that God requires of all Christians — surrendering our lives and wills to the will and purpose of God for our lives.
To be honest, I have found that dying to self within marriage is much more difficult than dying to self as a single person. When I’ve talked with God about this, He revealed to me that the reason for this is that I am so used to loving — and being loved by — a perfect God that it is not always easy to love and be loved by an imperfect man. Likewise, as a very imperfect person myself, I constantly find myself being disappointed in my ability to love my husband the way God wants me to love him. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I’ve seen more selfishness and ugliness in my heart within marriage than I saw when I was single.
I’ve shared this quotation on several other threads, and I will share it here as well. When I was in my 20s, I heard a definition of marriage that really struck a chord within my spirit, and I never forgot it. Even though I did not end up marrying for more than 20 years after hearing it, I always kept this quotation in my heart regarding the type of Godly marriage that I wanted to have. The quote, by Christian psychologist Dr. Richard Dobbins, is this:
“Christian married love is the persistent effort on the part of two people to create for each other the circumstances in which each can become the person God intended him or her to be — a better person than he or she could become alone.”
You’ll notice that there is no mention of happiness in that quotation. However, I can say without hesitation that I have experienced great joy in having been used by God to help my husband become a better man of God, and I am extremely thankful for the many times that God has chosen to use my husband to help challenge and strectch me to become the person God intends for me to be.