MARRIAGE Happy, Holy or Horrible?
by Michael Tummillo
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I’m surprised at how many Christians believe that God’s main desire for us is that we be happy. Joyful, yes! Happiness is an emotion that rises and falls with one’s circumstances; Joy is a Fruit of the Spirit, evidence that the Spirit of Christ dwells within us.
The belief that God only wants us happy is a very self-centered, immature concept of Christianity that aligns itself fully with our Hedonistic, All-About-Me culture. Truth is, God’s main goal is to conform us to the image of His Son, Christ Jesus, whose Spirit dwells within us but is far too often left unrecognizable because our flesh looms so large. Like giant babies, we want our way and we want it NOW! “Somebody make me happy this instant!”
Somebody like, a spouse, for instance?
Too much you and me; not enough Jesus. This explains a great deal about the dismal failure of our Christian marriages, over half of which end in divorce.
Marriage is a conscious choice to cease to exist for the sake of your union. Far too often, both parties are married yet insisting on having their own way.
Anything with two heads is a freak!
Communication, Sex and Money are the three most common inroads to a Divisive Spirit in any marriage. Give the devil an inch and he’ll take a mile.
In the late 80’s, the Institute for American Values conducted a famous survey. Out of 5,232 married adults interviewed, 645 reported being unhappily married. Five years later, these same adults were interviewed again. Some had divorced or separated and some had stayed married.
The study revealed no evidence that unhappily married adults who divorced were typically any happier than unhappily married people who stayed married. Even more dramatically, the researchers also found that two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy five years later! Imagine that! In addition, the most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds: among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost eight out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.
On average, unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. Divorce did not typically reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, or increase a sense of mastery. This was true even after accounting for race, age, gender, and income. Even unhappy spouses who had divorced and remarried were no happier on average than those who stayed married.
Why doesn't divorce typically make adults happier? The authors of the study suggest that while eliminating some stresses and sources of potential harm, divorce may create others as well. The decision to divorce sets in motion a large number of processes and events over which an individual has little control that are likely to deeply affect his or her emotional well-being. These include the response of one's spouse to the divorce, the reactions of children, potential disappointments and aggravation regarding custody, child support, and visitation orders, new financial or health stresses for one or both partners, and new relationships or marriages.
As I see it, it’s in BOTH partner’s best interests to work things out, only this time making subtle changes in the way you interact. You wouldn’t eat an elephant at one sitting, right? Take small “bites” of change, doing small things like focusing on your own spiritual life and leaving your spouse up to God. How about seeking assistance with finances rather than trying to resolve those issues yourselves. Perhaps some counseling is in order. Point is, if you continue as you have been, you’ll wind up with what you had. If doing nothing is all you intend to do, all the while expecting change, that’s insanity! If business-as-usual is all you’re willing to invest, go ahead and file and suffer the consequences.
Bear in mind that God is no Respecter of persons. What He did for those once-unhappy couples who, years later, reclassified themselves as “Happy,” HE will do for you.
In truth, nobody has a perfect marriage. No marriage CAN be perfect because they involve imperfect people. One of the purposes of a marriage is to develop Christ-like characteristics in both partners. Marriage is a proving ground, revealing what we’re made of. What comes out of you when your cup gets shaken? Marriage will reveal that, just like a string of tangled Christmas lights will reveal what a man is really made of.
Divorce and unhappy marriages WILL have an impact on job performance, Workplace interaction and may jeopardize individual careers. If you need counseling or prayer, just ask.
Thinking about Divorce? THINK AGAIN! God allows the tests of life to see what we’re made of. If we flunk the test, He’s gracious enough to let us take it again and again until we pass.
Pass the test NOW!
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