Marriage, Personally Striving, Preparation for Marriage

Growth Trumps Happiness

I was talking to my husband, Jon, the other day about an engaged couple.  My husband told me the guy felt that no matter what he does, the female is not satisfied.  She says that she wants something, he gets the item or performs the task, but still she complains.

Jon said he chuckled, thinķing, “Been there!”

I smiled.  Admittedly, I have had to work on being content.  I am certainly not where I need to be, but thank God I no longer occupy a space of mostly being discontent.

Hearing about this couple made me think, made me want to blog, to share.

Contentment is a difficult space to occupy… for me at least.  Before I met and married Jon, I felt like I had just gotten to a place of contentment.  I was pleased with my spiritual growth.  I loved my job, my church, my friends.  I was  content with my life.  I was happily free in this space.  Were there things that I wanted, goals to achieve?  Of course!  All I’m saying is that I was happy with where I was.  I was not pining away, or crying myself to sleep any longer because I  wanted more right then.

Anyway, after Jon and I married, well after we moved in together (refer to Falling in Love, Again…), things got shaky.  Because of other insecurities I started to occupy a space of discontentment.  Jon, being the caring husband that he is, tried to bring me happiness, contentment.  He didn’t realize it, but he was feeding a monster.  There was nothing that he could do to make me content.  Don’t get me wrong, his love was great, but I was unsatisfied within myself.  Only me and God could fix what was broken because only we could see into me.  My discontentment was eating away at our marriage.

So, how did I get out of this space?  Good question.  I had to go to the source of my happiness, my contentment.  Christ.

One day Jon anď I had an argument about who knows what and I pushed him to the brink.  He left.  He said he couldn’t deal with me anymore.

I sat on the couch dumb founded.  “What the what?!” I thought.  “Where did he go? Is he coming back?  O my God, is our marriage over?”

I cried.  I cried hard.  I tried calling him but his phone was off.  I cried harder.

I started to pray.  I said something like,

God fix me.  What is going on?  Who am I?  Where am I?  
Lord, I want my marriage.  I want Jonathon.  
I want to be the things I promised in my wedding vows.  
Fix me.  Bring Jon home.”
Y’all I was hurt.  I hurt bad.  Even thinking back on it now…it hurts.  I don’t know why I was so discontent.  I don’t know.  Maybe for this moment right now.  Father, bless someone after reading this post.  Let the power of your love radiate into the lives of the young man or woman who needs you right now.  Amen. 

As I sat on the couch, a mess of tears, my eyes fell on a book laying on the coffee table.  Simple Secrets of a Great Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.  I had never looked at it before, but the title grabbed my attention.  I wanted to know the secret.  The authors begin by discussing growth versus happiness stating, 

   

     “Many couples are swept up in the fantasy that happiness is the supreme goal of           marriage.  Now there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to be         happy.  Happiness is a good and positive thing, and a gift from God.  Psalm 68:3             says, “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; May they be happy and           joyful.O  But in reality, happiness is not a good goal for life or marriage.  A much         better goal is growth, and one of the byproducts of growth is happiness” (Cloud &         Townsend 19)

Right away something clicked for me.  My discontentment came from my lack of personal growth.  Before I met Jonathon I was focused on my spiritual growth, professional growth, academic growth, and relational growth.  I was digging deep into myself to be the person God had called me to be.  After I got married, I sort of stopped growing.  I know it sounds crazy, but I had achieved the ultimate goal…right?  I was married.  Now what?  Now you change your name, merge your bank accounts, get a new driver license, move to a new city, leave your friends, find a new church, submit.  Some where in all of that I had lost site of myself, my personal goals and the importance of my personal and spiritual growth.  I didn’t think this at the time, but looking back, I see now that I was operating under the misguided notion that Jonathon was now supposed to bring me happiness.  My marriage was supposed to bring me happiness.  This may sound crazy to some, but there is more to me than my role as wife and mother.  I have had passions long before I was blessed with either of these roles.  I felt like I had to stop being who I was and become something else, something other women, society, and the media told me I had to be.  Things I was not at my core.  Things Jonathon did not expect me to be.  Although this truth is clearer to me today than it was then, reading this book gave me what I had prayed for.  It had given me the perspective I needed to get back to myself, back to the woman God called me to be as a wife and future mother.
Well, almost five years later, I still struggle with being completely content.  Life’s challenges lead to times of discontent.  I strive to be like Paul who tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content in all situations.  There are times when I am more successful than others.  When I find myself being discontented I immediately examine my growth.  Having the support of my husband is invaluable.  There are times when I don’t even realize I’m starting to lose myself, but he sees it.  He knows how important it is for both of us to continue growing both individually and collectively for the strength and success of our marriage.
Always Striving,
Joce
    
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