When I was 20 years old, which was not very long ago, I did something that was absolutely outrageous for the time. Even today, almost-complete-strangers will question me on the decision that I made and continue to stand by.
“You did what?!” they will profusely question, “But aren’t you too young?!”
“Yes,” I will politely respond, “I did get married.” Shock horror! A young lady decided to get married at twenty years of age? Before her prime time? Before she had a chance to really look around? Yes, yes I did.
“Well, so long as he makes you happy,” is the usual reply. This is the part when I smile, agree, and change the subject.
Image credit: Coby Rachel Photography
The notion of a prince riding into a princess’s life and heart for her to marry, and being the reason she lives happily ever after is one that has embedded itself into our culture. The truth of the matter is that those stories are fairytales, and fairyland is where they belong. Don’t get me wrong; I love snuggling up on the couch to watch a good ol’ Disney movie any day.
But marrying for happiness is marrying for the wrong reason.
On my wedding day I vowed these words:
I take you to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and health,
until death do us part.
What I didn’t say was I take you, so long as you make me happy.
You see, two people getting married to make themselves happy just isn’t going to work. What does work well is two people who are already happy in themselves and their identity who then choose to commit themselves to each other.
So what makes me happy?
I definitely go through a series of phases of enjoying different hobbies and activities, but I rotate around three main themes: people, productivity, and producing.
People: I am definitely someone who loves seeing old friends and talking like no time has passed; going on random crazy adventures with people; youth leading; watching people grow and change; giving a gift to someone they couldn’t give themselves.
Productivity: I am one of those crazy people who can get a high from cleaning up the house! Crazy, I know. But I enjoy having things in order, and making the environments around me calm and pretty. I love setting personal goals (and lists!) and bypassing them in due time; seeing things change and grow.
Producing: I love cooking a meal I made up in my head; growing plants from seeds; making foods like bread and marinades from scratch; running; creating terrariums (it’s my latest thing); writing; singing; dancing.
I also love a simple bath with some yummy candles and a good book.
These things are part of who I am, and they bring snippets of happiness into my life. I look forward to when I know I’ll have time to try a new recipe, or take my puppy out for a run. I need those things for myself, and to have me-time. But when I first got married I didn’t think I needed me-time. I thought that I was married, and subconsciously believed that it was my husband’s job to make me happy. That’s a hard thing to admit ladies, but I think it’s a pretty common misconception.
You see, marriage is not simply about being happy, or making someone else happy.
Marriage is a promise to stand by another person and share their moments of happiness, and share their moments of sadness. To be opening up the bottle of champagne in their moments of success and triumph, but also to whisper those words of encouragement and be the strong one in their moments of loss and disappointment. Marriage is for the better times but it’s also for the worst times.
And so yes, I did get married young. But I did not get married because he makes me happy. If that was the reason I married my prince, then I would have stolen out into the night after our first fight as a married couple. Someone cannot sustain another person’s happiness. It just isn’t possible. And the pressure of keeping someone else happy all the time? That responsibility is too much to bare.
So ladies, I humbly request, please do not marry him because he makes you happy.
Marry him because he delights in the smile on your lips, the passion in your soul, and the laughter from your heart. But more importantly, marry him because he will stand with you, cry with you, and pull you back up from your fall. Marry him because you want to be the support that causes him to rise up to be more than he could without you. Marriage is the place of sharing.
By the way, you know what else makes me happy? Watching my husband do what he loves, hearing him talk about his passions, his dreams, his aspirations, and knowing that I will be there each step of the way.
The cool thing is that when two people are sharing life so intimately and are happy in themselves, there is a gorgeous spring of joy that flows from that. There is a safety, a comfortableness, a knowingness that is just so beautiful and, well, happy.
Don’t marry him because he makes you happy – feelings are way too flippant and changeable for that to be your grounding reason for committing to share your life with someone – but find the things that make you happy.
Happiness is not found in a person, but it can be shared with one.
Want more posts like this? Check out our happiness series: