Why Depending on a Spouse to Make You Happy Doesn't Work


Fairytales and movies are teaching people that once they find their Prince (or Princess) Charming, all will be right in the world. They tell tales of finding “the one” who will make you the happiest person on earth. The resolution of all of life’s challenges, the deep need to be known and seen, and all the sadness in your heart will disappear once you’re married, the stories say. What a load of crap! These stories are unrealistic, and if you believe them they will set you up to sabotage the very thing you’ve been waiting for. If you’re reading this as a single person, I want to save you and your future husband or wife a load of pressure and anxiety. You can start practicing this lesson now. If you’re already married, then I hope this truth will bring some freedom to your relationship. The truth is nobody can make you happy—not your spouse, not your friends, not your job, and not your parents. Having people in your life can bring joy, but that alone is not sustaining. You have to be in charge of your own happiness.

One of the best ways to ruin a perfectly good marriage is to make it your spouse’s job to make you happy. Happiness is an inside job. Of course I don’t want to be with someone who makes you sad… but happiness is something that you cultivate internally. No person can make you happy except for Jesus Christ who lives inside of you.

The other night, I wrapped presents with my wife Kathy. I love giving, but I hate wrapping gifts. I offered to help her anyway, and we wrapped gifts for hours. Finally, she asked, "Do you like wrapping gifts?" I said, "No." "Then why are you doing this?" she asked. I said, "Because I like being with you."

The truth is, you can find joy even when you're not doing things you like.

The problem we're facing is that we have exchanged joy for pleasure. We marry for pleasure, not for joy. Pleasure and joy aren’t the same thing. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” It doesn’t say consider it all pleasure. So, in the midst of pain you can still have joy.

We know people who have three or four children together and have never gotten married. When we ask them why, they say, "It's just a piece of paper." My response is, "If it's just a piece of paper, then why don't you sign it?" Cohabiting says, "I'm in this relationship for what I can get." Marriage says, "I'm in this relationship for what I can give. I've come to this relationship to lay down my life so you can live."

There's something amazing about this. If you haven't experienced it, it's difficult to describe, but the truth is until you find someone to die for, you don’t really live. You never really find life until you give it away.

What would it be like if all of us, every day, laid down our lives so that someone else could have life? What would it be like if you found a place with God where you gave up so that you could actually live? What if we stopped chasing pleasure and started chasing joy? Joy has a name. His name's Jesus.


So today I want to encourage you to find your source of life in your relationship with Jesus. He is the Giver of all good things. Stop and ask God if you’re putting someone else in the spot that He should be in. Are you expecting your spouse, boyfriend, or future husband or wife to be your source of joy? If so, repent from that today and ask the Lord to take His rightful place in your heart and in your life.

Beyond that, put away your selfishness and set your focus on giving to the people you love. How can you give up living for pleasure and start living for joy? I promise that even if the trade of pleasure for joy can sometimes be challenging, you’ll find life at the end of the exchange. I want to challenge you to do one thing this week to love someone without selfish ambition, and I bet you’ll be blessed in the process! If you’re married then I’d start with your spouse. If you’re single, then take a look at your relationships with your closest friends and family. No matter where you’re at in life, joy lies in loving others.

Originally posted on krisvallotton.com.