Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Newly Engaged Friend,

Dear Newly Engaged Friend, 

I saw your excited "I said 'Yes'!" post on Facebook! Then the ring pictures and dreamy thoughts about the wedding and being Mrs. Somebody. And I smiled. Engagment is a special time in life. You are thrilled to have found a person to love and who loves you and it's finally your turn to find the perfect dress and plan your dream wedding. But then I saw a little phrase that made me pause. 

Please understand that this caution is coming from happily married woman. I'm not jaded about love or romance. My husband is an incredible man and I love being married to him. But this marriage takes place in life. A life with kids, jobs, a mortgage, and responsibilities. And we get to choose life one of two ways. 

photo courtesy of victor habbick/freedigitalphotos.net

You said, "I found the man who will make me happy for the rest of my life!" Now I'm sure your fiance is an amazing man and you adore him. But please don't saddle him with the job of making you happy. I'm a woman; I know how it is. Sometimes nothing will make you- or me- happy. He cannot always fix your feelings and he shouldn't have to try.  Your happiness is not his responsibility.  Men love to fix problems but there are some problems they can't fix. And he will drive himself crazy trying until he realizes it's pointless. You can feel unhappy when nothing is wrong and only God can help you with that. 

Your happiness is your responsibility. A man wants a happy wife but he can't make his wife happy unless she wants to be happy. If being happy is your goal you will spend a lot of time being miserable. How do I know this? Because our everyday life isn't what we say will make us happy. We want flowers, and money, and vacations, and romantic dinners, and jewelry to be happy.  We don't list crying babies, stubborn preschoolers, family problems, medical bills, overtime, homework, housework, or exhaustion as things that make us happy. And yet that's what life hands us most of the time. Your man can't fix that for you. He can't remove all your responsibilities to your family and to God and let you float around only doing  the things that make you "happy."

Instead why don't you say you found the man you are going to make happy for the rest of your life? If your goal is his happiness you will be happy. And if you make your husband's happiness your aim he will try his best to please you. It's a win-win for both of you. It's a weird paradox of life that Jesus explained in Matthew 16:25: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."  It's only as we pour ourselves out for others that we find happiness for ourselves. If you have a heart to please God and make your husband happy you will find a deepening satisfaction in life despite the crying baby and the electric bill. 

I realize this is unpopular advice. Many people would say I needed to assert myself more. Many people would tell me that life is short and I should live for myself. But I've watched those people and they are miserable. I don't want that for myself or for my marriage. And so if you see me smiling in a picture on facebook it's probably not because I'm going on a cruise or  even eating chocolate while watching tv. It's because I'm pursuing someone else's happiness. And that's a purpose worth my marriage and worth my time.