A couple of years ago, Dave came back to the car after running into a small store as we were heading to his grandparents cottage on the lake.
“That was weird,” he said.
He proceeded to tell me how the woman at the counter had touched his wedding ring as she took the cash from him and had said “Oh, so you’re married.” When Dave confirmed that “yes” he is married, she next said “Are you happy?” “Yes”, Dave answered. Her response, “I guess you’re supposed to say that.”
I won’t even go into the boldness of this woman and how tempted I was to go into that store and give her a little speech about our happy marriage and the inappropriateness of her obvious fliratious inquiry.
Instead as I reflect on this story, what hits me is the assumption by this woman (and a large part of today’s world) that a happy marriage isn’t even possible.
It is possible, but it is increasingly rare. And fantastically hard.
My husband and I teach a marriage preparation class at our church with another couple who have shared this statistic: Of the 50% (roughly) of marriages that survive today, only 10% of those report being happily married.
Translated another way, only 1 out of every 20 couples walking down the aisle today will find marital happiness.
Why is happiness in marriage seem so elusive in our world today?
As you can see, I have a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. If I attempted to answer why there are so many unhappy marriages today, my answer would be something like this…
Many marriages today are unhappy because the process of taking two sinful, selfish, wounded people who have misguided expecations and a lack of understanding about what marriage is really all about, and making their lives meld into one admist all the chaotic priorities, overwhelming pressures and continuous attack of our world today is NOT easy.
And the mantra of today’s world seems to say if it isn’t easy, it isn’t worth doing.
I really don’t even like the term “happiness”. What does it mean anyway and why is it the only motive that seems to hold much weight these days? It seems like an awfully shallow ambition if you ask me.
What happened to commitment, contentment, integrity, honor, courage, service, sacrifice, legacy? Aren’t they much more noble ambitions for our marriages? Is God sole purpose for creating marriage to make us “happy”?
All that being said, it is sad to see marriages where “happiness” is completely abandoned for just mediocre or miserable co-existance. That surely isn’t God’s plan for marriage either. Maybe a spouse was wounded along the way and decided to close their heart. Maybe someone felt like they were doing all the “work” of maintaining the relationship and just gave up. These are the marriages where they announce they are divorcing, sometimes after 20, 25, 30 years, and everyone is surprised…and then you realize, somewhere along the way, this marriage ended long ago.
If you are in a marriage that you find unhappy and you are under the assumption that there are only two options…divorce and seek your happiness or stay in a miserable relationship, go check out this article and the statistics it presents. Divorce is not a path to happiness.
Then read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas and decide if your happiness is really what God is trying to accomplish for you through your marriage.
Why do you think there are so many unhappy marriages? One of the many questions I ponder and I would love your thoughts.
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