People get married for a lot of reasons:
- To feel appreciated.
- To have the wedding of their dreams.
- To feel loved.
- To be served … at least occasionally (of course, no one likes to admit this one).
Notice that all of those ideas have one thing in common: Each is about what my spouse can do for me, for my happiness.
Personal happiness is what the culture teaches us to seek from marriage, after all. Look at the marriage advice that’s out there. A lot of it is about what our marriage can do for us instead of what we ought to be doing for our marriage.
That is why author Gary Thomas asks couples this question: “What if God designed marriage to be about our holiness, not our happiness?”
Your first thought might be, “Oh, great! God doesn’t care if I’m miserable in my marriage.”
But hold on. That’s not what Gary is saying. He’s pointing you to a deeper truth: that God uses marriage to help us mature, to burn away our selfishness, and to mold us into the image of Christ. And the more selfless and Christlike we are, the happier we’ll be.
A few generations ago, the divorce rate was lower because people better understood that marriage required a lot of character and hard work. These days, couples get married seeking personal happiness and fulfillment. They’re shocked when they discover how much a relationship requires of them. Only those who learn to give sacrificially survive and thrive.
Gary says, “Behind every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepentant sin.” When you boil marriage down to its essence, you discover that you can’t be selfish and have a happy relationship. A strong, healthy marriage requires two people who acknowledge their sin and crucify it. When they do and enjoy marriage as God designed it, men and women become greater individuals, which leads to greater personal fulfillment, which leads to a more intimate relationship and greater happiness.
It all starts with understanding that marriage is about becoming a new creation, about serving one another, giving to one another, and being patient with each other.
Gary Thomas is with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Embracing God’s Desire for Your Marriage” to fully explain the connection between holiness and happiness in marriage.
Holiness versus happiness can be a challenging topic, I admit. But I believe it can transform your marriage. I hope you’ll tune in today to your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app. Gary is a best-selling author, speaker, and a writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
After you listen, comment below about Gary’s statement, “Behind every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepentant sin.” I’d like to hear what you think. Have you found that to be true in your own life? How has the pursuit of holiness impacted your marriage and happiness?
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