Charles and Susan got married in the beautiful city of Lagos. They express their marriage vows in front of family, friends and well-wishers. 3 years later both Charles and Susan were done with their marriage and are both seriously considering a divorce. Their reason is that they are both unhappy. Having been involved in marriage counseling for a few years, I hear stories like this quite often and I ask myself why people think happiness is a criteria for a successful marriage rather than a bye product of a healthy marriage? I also ask myself if happiness was part of their marriage vows. Let’s examine their marriage vows?
Often times while happiness is not part of the marriage vows, it is implied and the expectation is that my spouse should make me happy. If for some reason this expectation is not met, then I must have married the wrong person. This is a partial truth that needs to be exposed particularly to our millennials.
We live in a world that is driven based on self-fulfillment. A world that is driven by me, myself and I. This is what I want, this is how I feel, this is what makes me happy etc. While it is important to express your feels and not subdue them, it is important to understand the place of feelings and happiness and ensure that you put them in perspective. You see your feelings are driven in most cases by your perception which is driven by information. The information you perceive is created by words. Our feelings are subjective to the words we hear and your marriage is one places that lots and lots of word are spoken either verbally or through actions. These words can very well create how you feel. For example Kunle loses his job and calls sola to express the news.
Scenario 1: Sola responds by saying, don’t worry you will find another one. I know this is the second time this year but we will figure something out. I am confident that God will provide you a better job. These creates a certain type of atmosphere in Kunle’s and Sola’s marriage.
Scenario 2: Sola responds saying, seriously, Kunle? You need to get yourself together. This is the second time this year. I am tired of not knowing what to expect with you. How will we pay the bills? (Like Kunle doesn’t already have does thoughts racing through his mind). This response certainly creates a different atmosphere from the first scenario.
“You can certainly use your words to build up your spouse, this ultimately affects how they feel”.
While your feelings are important, marriage is not primarily built based on how you feel. You see, “it is easier to act yourself into a feeling than to wait until you feel like before acting” Pastor Emmanuel Adewale. Marriage by definition is a promise which is irrespective of how you feel. You see, to be successful at anything you need to understand the place of feelings. Any couple that has been married for a long time will tell you that your feelings are constantly changing and how you reconcile that feeling is key to the success of your marriage. If you don’t believe, ask your parent’s, uncles or aunties. You can also ask the medical student who is maintaining a 12 hour study session at the library how he or she feels about studying and the responses will very well be, I will think about my feelings when I pass my board exams. You can also ask a woman who went through 18 hours of labor why she wants a second baby after experiencing all that pain and you are very well to get a response along this lines, what pain are you talking about?. The joy of motherhood is worth the discomfort of childbirth. My point is that we as human beings cannot function effectively if we solely made decision based on how we feel and marriage is no different. Your marriage cannot function if you had decision solely based on how you feel.
“It is easier to act yourself into a feeling than to wait until you feel like before acting” Pastor Emmanuel Adewale
You hear people say “I am not happy in my marriage and as a result, I want a divorce”. Feelings are subjective to change based on information which is why no sustainable relationship can be built primarily on feelings. You see happiness is a function of happenings. This is why it is very easy to blame your spouse if you are unhappy in your marriage. You read it as my spouse is not doing things to make me happy and as a result, I must have married the wrong spouse because I am not happy. This is based on the notion that the right spouse will always make me happy. Happiness in marriage is not derived from your spouse, happiness in marriage is a bye product of a healthy marriage. If you are not happy as an individual, in most cases it is difficult for your spouse to make you happy.
Having established that happiness is a function of happenings and no meaningful relationship can be built on this, my advice to Charles and Susan is to dig deeper to remember the reason you married this each other in the first place rather than dwell on the feeling of not being happy.
I will live you with this, the day you lose your desire to fight for your marriage is the day divorce starts knocking on your door. Invest in your marriage, develop your character and watch your marriage flourish. Reality is that only you can make you happy and contentment is a first step to being happy in your marriage.
As always, marriage is a journey and not a destination. The bible is the blue print while the Holy Spirit is your guide.