A couple’s happiness in marriage doesn’t just ‘happen’

    What do you imagine “happiness in marriage” to be? Do we think about that or do we just believe we will be happy when we are married? Have we considered any “scenarios” that might affect that happiness?
    Each of these questions is answered in our own minds at the time we marry. The question would be, how are these questions answered, vaguely or specifically?
    Initially, happiness comes when we are married simply because we have achieved the commitment of marrying one another. That was a major step for both people. Most of us believe as long as we are together, happiness will follow.
    Then life becomes real. It steps between us and happiness, tainting life in ways we rarely imagine. How do we get back to the “happy state?” What does the “happy state” look like?
    There is a hint about what creates the “happy state.” The first time we really feel happy as a married person is the day we get married. If this has been our goal, if this is the person we believe we want to share our life with, then we are happy when the day is finalized and we are Mr. and Mrs. Married Couple. A goal has been achieved.
    So how does this concept translate to everyday marriage? Well, our goal in the sacrament is to become one – united – with each other. This is a never-ending goal of marriage. It will require consistent changing on each spouse’s part. It will require change despite the fact the other “doesn’t change.”
    We must endeavor to continually change ourselves to reflect God better and to become so connected to our mate that we begin to lose sight of ourselves. Becoming one with one another doesn’t mean we are attached at the hip; rather, it means we are constantly aware of the other in every aspect of our life. Letting go of those pieces of selfishness, ego and pompous attitude lets our mate know we are more other-oriented than self-oriented.
    Our struggle to become a better image of God requires us to learn how to be in union with our spouse. Every day brings us challenges, testing us to think more as a couple than as an individual. That’s the idea we need to develop – to think as a couple.
Thinking as ‘we’ – not ‘me’
    Often, we think of ourselves as individuals. That’s not bad; however, that type of thinking gets in the way of marriage. Becoming one is precisely what it says – becoming one with each other. Consequently, we have to think differently.
    This type of thinking requires discipline and persistence. Whatever we do as an individual will have its effect on our spouse in some form. Thus, thinking as a couple allows us to sort out the implications and impact on our spouse before we make a decision as an individual.
    Personal happiness comes from knowing we are doing all we are able to accomplish our goals for our life. Our marital relationship should be the highest priority on our daily schedule. If it is, we will soon see ourselves thinking more as a couple and less as an individual. The net result is one of intensifying commitment, deepening intimacy and forging the bond between husband and wife. As a side benefit, one’s happiness in marriage intensifies.
    The ability to be happy in marriage is always there for us. It depends on us and no one else. We can’t blame our spouse if we are not happy, nor can we expect our spouse to keep us happy. It’s all about us as individuals doing what we are supposed to do.
    Deacon Dave Farinelli is coordinator of marriage preparation and enrichment of the archdiocesan Family Life Apostolate. He can be reached at dfarinelli@archdiocese-no.org.

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