Marriage Was Not Designed To Make You Happy

BY: - 18 Feb '11 | Best of BMWK

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by Denise Anderson

I posted the following as my status on Facebook yesterday:

Marriage was not designed to make you happy, satisfied, or whole. If you go into it for any of the aforementioned reasons, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Some of my friends asked me to expound, so I guess I’ll take a stab at it here.

First let me preface this post by saying that I in no way claim to be an expert on marriage. My husband and I have been married a little under four years and we’re still learning a lot of things about being married. If you want expert advice, talk to someone who’s been at this for decades (and let me listen in). I can only share what I’ve learned so far. Further, I assure you that, despite the tone of this post, I really love being married. However, I don’t want people to be delusional about what marriage is or is not. So let me share with you what marriage cannot do.

Marriage cannot make you happy.

I think it’s safe to say that many people who want to be married think that marriage will make them happy, but I maintain that’s just not true. We’ve all grown up with the fairy tales where the princess finds a prince, gets married, and lives “happily ever after.” Simply put, nothing can “make” you happy. Absolutely nothing. Happiness is a personal choice and is not contingent upon one’s circumstances. There are plenty of happy poor folks and miserable millionaires. If you aren’t happy before marriage, chances are you won’t be happy in it. And unfortunately, a lot of people get dejected when they enter a marriage and realize they’re not as happy as they thought they’d be. Learn to be happy independent of outside influences.

Marriage does not equal satisfaction.

Let me be clear: you will not be completely satisfied in your marriage 100% of the time. You’re talking about two people who were raised by different mothers, were taught different standards, and somehow decided it would be a good idea to join together and become a unit. But because they are still two very distinct people, clashes naturally arise when expectations don’t align with reality. He has different ideas about cleaning than you do. She has different ideas about money than you do. You both thought sex would be more plentiful than it currently is. Somebody is going to be disappointed occasionally.

There is not a single person on earth who can completely live up to your expectations because all of us fall short. Whomever you marry will likely disappoint you, and I’m sure you won’t do much better. And don’t think you can change the things you don’t like about him or her. That’s a dead-end road, and even if you did “fix” those things, chances are you’d only find more things later that need to be “fixed.” Go into a marriage expecting the other person to fall short (within reason) and decide preemptively to extend some grace when they do.

Marriage cannot make you whole.

Everyone wants to feel complete, whether it’s in their careers or their personal lives. They somehow don’t feel like they can sit back, relax, and enjoy life until they have something they’ve always wanted. Sadly, plenty of people put their happiness on hold for some hypothetical day in the future when they have everything they want, including a marriage and family. If partial contentment is your status quo and the way you live your life, I can guarantee you that once you do obtain the things you think you want, you’ll find a reason not to be happy with them. Something will always be out of place.

Oh and another thing”… do NOT go into a marriage expecting your spouse to make you better, fix your hurts from your past, or give you everything you ever thought you’d need. Only God can do that. Please, if you have personal issues that you’re aware of, work on them before you get married or you will sabotage yourself. Your spouse is not your therapist or your fairy godparent.

So, why get married in the first place?

Well, only you can answer that. But I can tell you one indispensible prerequisite for a successful marriage: be prepared to work. Marriage is beautiful, blessed, and sacred, but it’s not for punks. They say it takes work, but I say it more than requires work “” it is work personified. It is a full-time job requiring a lot of spiritual, mental, and emotional strength. When you hear the words “for better or for worse,” imagine what the “worse” could possibly look like and honestly ask yourself if you have the wherewithal to thrive in those situations. If you don’t have it, that’s fine. There are far worse fates in life than to live it as a single person. But if you feel you have the fortitude to fully submit to another person until one of you leaves this earth, by all means go for it.

There is honestly no nobler thing than to dedicate your life to someone other than yourself, which is essentially what marriage is. You have to have the heart of a servant to do this thing correctly. Can you still fix him a plate even after he’s thoroughly pissed you off? Would you still put gas in her car for work tomorrow even after she’s stepped all over your ego? After days of fighting and arguing, can you still muster the humility to pray for one another? These are the types of things successfully married people do. In this job, you don’t clock out just because you’re not “feeling it.” That’s a hard thing for people to understand in a culture of selfishness, but it is what it is. Strong marriages are comprised of strong people, so you must ask yourself before you get to the altar, “Am I strong enough?”

Read Part II: What Marriage Was Designed For Here

Denise is a wife, mother, professional web designer, and minister-in-training living in the D.C. area. Check out her blog, How Mama Got Her Swag Back.

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183 WordPress comments on “Marriage Was Not Designed To Make You Happy

      1. Edward

        So would it be possible to say that marriage is one of those things that amplifies your happiness if it is there? Of course it doesn’t create it.
        Though the article seems a bit one sided in the sense that it really seems to be for husbands and wives who maybe got married too quickly.
        In today’s world, marriage should be only after a short or long while because divorce is so easy…

  1. Ascott_2

    My wife and I got married when we were 18 and 19 respectively.  I think she would agree that 28 years later we could not be a happier couple.  27 of those years we’ve moved at a minimum of every 3 years around that country and overseas as is typical of a Marine Corps family.  Our separations have been many; typically 6 months at a time as duty calls.  We probably have different opinions as to why our marriage has been so successful but from my perspective it is apparent – I do what she asks me to.  In return I get a great partner who puts a lot of energy into making me happy.  The turning point in our marriage (circa year 6) was when I realized that she was her own person, with her own likes, own views, and own personal goals.  Therefore, I should not attempt to control her, determine what she should like or mold her into what I think she, her views, and goals should be.  For instance, Eileen likes shoes while shoes are nothing more than a necessity for me. Therefore, when she comes home with another pair that to me look just like several others that are already in the closet and proclaims that she somehow saved money because they were on sale, my response is nothing more than to let her know how great she looks in those new shoes.  I understand that I don’t have to understand her fascination with shoes – they simply make her happy and the 60 bucks that the shoes may have cost is a small contribution towards our happiness.

    1. Lori

      Ascott_2, thanks for your wisdom nuggets. Building a life with your spouse and being able to appreciate her own, distinct being is admirable. That is truly the point and I believe more couples would be at peace and enjoy marriage with that understanding. Perhaps you can become a contributing author on his blog! God bless you and yours.

    2. Debt

      The shoes sound like a recipe for serious debt, if there are no limits and restrictions.
      Marriage is a partnership. Both partners need parameters to work within.
      Vanity can be a huge killer of weath.

  2. Pingback: Marriage Was Not Designed To Make You Happy | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family « brandyleedotnet

  3. Mrsasyoung

    LOVE this truth! How I wish somebody would have laid it out for me when I married 6 years ago. My hubby and I learned many if the truths the hard way. I’m recommending your site to a newly engaged couple so they will be a step ahead. Bless you my Sister!

  4. Pingback: 5 Reason Why and 3 Reasons Why Not to Get Married | Black and Married With - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

  5. MPC

    I agree, this is quite a profound article regarding marriage. My wife and I have been married for over 10 years now (we got married at 21 while still trying to complete college). We had 3 kids within 4 years after getting married. I can truly say that my wife is my “other half”. Our personalities balance each other.

    One thing that probably sets our marriage apart from many others is how our relationship was BEFORE we got married. It’s very rare for couples these days to be together for at least 1 year before getting married. I was with my wife for over 2 years before I proposed to her…and waited another 1 year before we got married. During this time length of time, my wife and I cultivated a very strong friendship. We got to know each other in a very deep way…and when people say “my spouse is by best friend”, we know fully what that means. Our friendship is our bond…and even when we have gotten in heated arguments, the one thing that keeps us together is that we don’t ever want to lose each other’s friendship.

  6. Francis Nmeribe

    This is frank and courageous.   I have always wondered about marriage.   I am married and I see my marriage more as a duty of worthiness than as any other thing.   My wife, children and I work at it and create a lot of fun and happiness.   However, I cannot get away from the feeling that love itself is not merely a feeling but a sacrifice.   Thanks for sharing this thoughts.   It is very supportive of the important role of families.

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  9. Leonard Hicks

    Divorce Allowed

    So strong is the ideal of marriage in the NT, that even if the wife is not a Christian, the husband is “not” to divorce her, and so too if the Wife is a Christian and not the husband. But nonetheless, if one decides to divorce, so be it. God wants “peace” in the home, not strife and war. Thus, Paul says, “let him or her leave.” (v 15) Which is to say, let there be a divorce.

    1Cor. 7:12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.

    1Cor. 7:13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

    1Cor. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

    1Cor. 7:15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

    1Cor. 7:16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

    1Cor. 7:17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in call the churches.

    A Christian, whether a man or woman, is not to live in “bondage” or in an abusive situation. (Anyone who is committing adultery is not acting like a believer, even if they claim otherwise.) Thus if a spouse wants to leave, “let them leave.” V15.

    1Cor. 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

    1Cor. 7:28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

    Note that v 28 says that if a person is released, (divorced), and the person marries again, they “have not sinned.”

    Tom Norris for All Experts.Com & Adventist Reform

  10. Cindynmoultrie

    Wow is the first word or response that I can give after reading your blog. It saddens me to read “so why get married in the first place” marriage is honorable by God.  Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. I’ve been married for 5 years. My opinion is many women and men are broken before getting married by dating men/women that was not the will of God so when they do decide to marry they have extra emotional baggage and pain that hinders the current relationship that they are in. The only person that can   complete anyone is JESUS CHRIST! Yes marriage is work but when you work together its enjoyable work!


      Very well said. I like that, this is my second marraige and I said I would not go into this one with the same mind frame I had with the first one. We have been married eleven years and it was rocky at first. But oh glory be to GOD once we put him in it, it now works. Wonderfuly, I now see I married my best friend, the love of my life, my protector, the one that I can tell my deep dark secrets to and will hold them in his heart as the writer above said. Some one that will go to God for me when I am weak and hurting inside. I thank God each and every day for him.

  11. Fimark Home-Online

    You are five years into your marriage. So yes, it is going to be work.  I am 31 years into my marriage. I an now cashing in on what has been invested and enjoying the fruits of our labor.  

    The dividends are coming from the Originator of the union as a result of putting full trust in His principles and purpose. Marriage and family life can be a happy one. There are many couples who laugh, peacefully sigh and rejoice almost all their days together.  How is this possible?  It involves seeing and doing all things in harmony with the One who is the Architect of marriage. Remember this. All things that God creates, including our roles in life do indeed make us more complete, more whole and therefore happier. Such wholeness improves our mental, emotional and spiritual health. It gives us endless reasons to rejoice.    Often we are so caught up in earning a living, keeping up with pretenses and trying to juggle loyalties we become exhausted and turn inward.  We soon lose faith in the words “There is more happiness in giving.” and the words “Trust in Him and do not lean on your own understanding”  Our reward, our happiness,  has much to do with how we give. If we are feeling beaten down we will give  begrudgingly.  Our giving will not be laced with a depth of love, deep respect or creative in other ways.  Such giving does not inspire gratitude as the  receiver  seems unaffected.  Marriage and family gives us permission to share the finer things we have been give. To relive our childhood, To express our own love  creatively  and discover and develop gifts we did not know we were endowed with. These things make us more sound, balanced and yes complete.  We learn to forgive freely overlook and understand the limitations that others have. There are always  specific reasons mentally, physically and spiritually that cause people to act they do. We do well to find out what the underlying reasons are instead of reacting to what  appears  on the surface.  And when a situation seems beyond us to resolve there is much room for growth here.  We discover in ourselves the ability to develop a  love that “hopes all things and endures all things. ”  From this love comes a deep satisfaction and joy as we are molded and draw closer to God, the originator of marriage.  


  12. supafabs

    WOW. This is so well written (as most of your articles are)! I felt compelled to comment. I went into my marriage thinking that he could “make me happy” and that caused so many arguments whenever I felt like he wasn’t living up to my “fairy tale.” After almost five years, we have separated (duh) and this (and therapy) have helped me to see why. Thank you.

  13. Pingback: The Blood, Sweat, and Tears in Marriage Are What Make It Work | Black and Married With - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

  14. Vivica

    Exactly why I plan to stay single. I have a job already, and I dread it the majority of the time. Definitely don’t want another one. I always thought marriage was something to be enjoyed and not endured. But I guess I was wrong. I knew there would be bad days, but when the bad days outweigh the good ones then what’s the point? Married life? You can keep that ish. I’ll just get a puppy and call it a day lol

  15. Demonassassend

    Good God ALmighty she is preach’n well. I dont need to go to church this Sunday, just pass the hat for offering. No I need to go for this very reason. Yes marriage is alot of work. My W.I.F.E. and I, we have been married going on 12 years now and buddddddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy let me tell you something. It aint 50/50, it aint picked fenced oriented, it aint roses (with valentine’s day) petals, it aint you in love with your spouse all the time, sometime you feel like drop’n their buts off at the nearest spousal disposable unit #realtalk and keep it moving by yourself. But that is part of the pruning process, You are to become ONE Flesh, it hurts to become ONE!!! Marriage can be something to NOT behold, meaning it can where your a_ _ down. I gotta keep it real!!! But it is doable, in truth, it can be lovely but you must know your part in it and maintain that. You are NOT God, so your job is not to lord or try to change someone (Lord knows NOT TO CHANGE ANYBODY). I am learning that marriage is for God’s Glory…period!!!

  16. Natasha

    Wow! I’ve been married 2 1/2 years currently separated for a month. After 4 yrs of courtship, ignoring red flags, keeping the faith in my mate that he would make changes within himself to be the provider, protector, father he is supposed to be we separated due to lies and deceit. I constantly go back and forth wondering if I made the right decision. We are dating again and just starting over. I’m hopeful that hr will be able to show me he loves me and really has what it takes to be married. Our biggest issue is finances and parenting or lack thereof. It definitely takes 2 working hard to become great. I ask for u all to pray for us. Who wants to be 70 and alone? But definitely don’t want to be the main one working hard for this.

  17. Toni

    Well I have some experience here cause I have been married 47 years going on 48 this June.

    I think that you do need to be positive about yourself and your partner and one of the top secrets is to have fun together and have a sense of humor.

    However, I feel that being the right person for each other spiritually and emotionally is super important. I feel that giving each other space to be an individual is important too.

    That said, I do feel that I have found extreme happiness being married over all. Yes there are times that will test your marriage – sickness, life’s problems, etc. but I am so glad that I am married to my husband and he feels the same. How do I know? He tells me he loves me every single day at least once and he says it with feeling.

    So the bottom line is, marriage for us has brought us immeasurable
    joy over the years and I would not trade it for anything.

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  19. NICOLE

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