Happiness. What do you think of when you hear that word? Loving life, enjoying life, being content, feeling satisfaction, having a smile on your face…
I hate this word. Hate is a strong word too, but I actually do hate the word “happy”. Society has created a persons success to be very heavily dependent on their happiness. And happiness is the carrot before the horse…close enough to smell but never close enough to grasp. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that we tend to put way too much faith in.
Happiness is one of the biggest ‘reasons’ that I left my marriage. It was a lie. A big, fat, lie.
“I’m not happy, doesn’t God want me to be happy?”
“I’ll be happier living my own life.”
Lie lie lie lie lie.
I hate the word “happy”.
There’s many lies that people will say before they leave their marriage and from what I’ve learned, many many people are deceived by these exact same lies. It makes me SO MAD to think of how unoriginal satan is and that we allow him to get away with such boring and over-used lines.
1) I’m not sure if I ever loved my spouse and / or I only loved my spouse as a friend.
2) God would want me to be happy.
3) I’ve been struggling for years.
4) I’ve tried everything and nothing is working.
If you have been tossing around one or more of these thoughts, I have two suggestions. One: Force yourself to make time to spend with God. I know this could be really hard. It might seem impossible. It might feel claustrophobic to do this. Forced and ugly and oppressive. It might be the very last thing you feel like doing. You might think that it’s pointless and that you’ve already tried this. Trust me, I’ve been there, I know exactly how this feels. But do it anyways. Tell someone the truth about how you are feeling and ask that they help you. Have a phone date with them if you have to, and if you can only read one verse together, and pray a short prayer, that’s ok. It’s taking the step to do this that is important. Don’t make this a one time thing. Every day, take this step once more.
I remember laying on the couch, crying for no particular reason, feeling like I was drowning and not knowing what to do. Feeling so lost and dark and abandoned. I remember that even the sight of my bible was overwhelming. I remember being disgusted at the thought of praying.
These thoughts were hard, but I know that doing this would have been the best thing for me. I know now that satan was lying to me. My hubby tried to tell me this, he tried so hard to help me see. I couldn’t listen at the time, but I hope that if you are feeling any of these things as you read this, that you’ll be able to hear my words and take a step towards God. Even if it’s a tiny baby step.
My second suggestion is that you speak to a counselor. This was one of the hardest things I had to do before I left my hubby and I’ll be honest, it didn’t work for me. Then why would I suggest it? Because it didn’t work for me because I chose to hide something during counseling. I chose to not be completely honest about something I knew I should share with my husband but was afraid.
“Counseling” is a scary word. It makes us think that we have problems, big problems. It may even make us embarrassed to admit we need to go to counseling. I remember sitting in our car as we drove an hour and a half to another city for counseling. I shook the entire time. My teeth were actually chattering with nerves. Counseling was the last thing I wanted to do. I was afraid the counselor would tell me I was wrong, that what I was feeling wasn’t “Christian”. But it wasn’t like that at all and it actually felt like a part of my burden had been lifted when we walked out of our session. I felt like there was a bit of hope on the horizon.
There’s a quote from Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas, that I love: “What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy. . . but holy?” Sometimes this is the last thing we want to hear, but I think it’s something we need to allow ourselves to process.
Let’s go back to that secret I was keeping from our counselor, but more importantly, from my husband. When I was little, very little, I started having reoccurring dreams of a man forcing himself on me. These dreams lasted for several years and were in such detail that I know with no doubt that I was molested as a child and these dreams were memories of it happening.
If you are keeping a secret from your spouse, I challenge you to come clean. It might take a mediator to help you both process the information and you need to realize that working through it will be a process, but I honestly believe that there shouldn’t be any secrets between spouses regardless of what our culture says.
My secret was kept because satan was lying to me. Telling me that it didn’t matter, that I could deal with the issue on my own, and that I needed to protect the information because of the other person involved. Satan was telling me that my secret wasn’t really affecting my marriage. I look back now and realize that these are all scary lies. My secret did matter, it had affected my marriage from the very start in ways I only see now. I wasn’t dealing with the issue on my own, I had no idea where to start. I didn’t even realize it was affecting me as much as it was, how could I deal with it??
Your spouse and you are a team. This means that you need to attack life together, fight together, love together, pray together, strengthen each other with encouragement. I realize that not all spouses will know how to be a team, some people don’t know how to be a strong partner or don’t know what this involves. I know I was like this! But that is what prayer is for. Our God is incredible! He can teach our spouses things without us even saying a word. He can show us how to be a better teammate. He can strengthen weaknesses, he can break down walls and opinions. He can put things on our spouses heart and all we need to do is pray silently beside them.
Pray that as you share secrets or hidden details with your spouse, God helps them process the information. Pray that they are filled with the Holy Spirit and that they are able to be kind and compassionate and gentle. Pray that they surrender their feelings to God and that God will guide them through the healing process that may be needed. Pray and ask God to prepare their hearts for the information you will share with them. And pray that God will show you when the timing is best for you to share.
Marriage is hard! Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be a mirror image of our relationship with God. It’s not about being happy, it’s about pressing forward into our relationship with God and allowing him to work in us and make us more holy through our experiences. It’s about drawing closer to God and in turn watching him draw us closer to our spouses. And as we press forward, we will find more joy. Our lives will have the gratifying, fulfilling feeling of pure joy.
Joy is a lasting feeling. It’s a feeling that you can have in the middle of pain. It’s not fleeting, it’s heart-satisfying. It’s knowing that although there are hard times, joy WILL come in the morning.
I love that happiness seems so easy to describe. But joy…joy is so big you can barely describe it.