Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Happiness in marriage
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Rodney Dangerfield, a comedian known for his witty, extreme sarcasm, once said, “My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.” While that may have made you smile, as it did me, the truth is that there has always been a fascination with the relationship between being happy and being married.
For the last 20 years, from the casual prognosticator to the serious research scientist with volumes of statistical analyses, questions have been tossed around and around. Such as:
Does being married make you happy?
Are married people healthier and capable of living a longer, healthier life?
Is there a “marriage benefit” to quality of life?
Many studies, many opinions, many thoughts abound. For today, let’s just examine the practicality of the matter:
- Perhaps it’s not marriage that makes you happy, but it’s a HAPPY marriage that makes you happy! I believe that married people may be happier because the single best predictor of human happiness is the quality of social relationships. What better relationship to invest in than the one with your life partner! On the flip side, people in unhappy marriages experience a spike in happiness once the broken marriage is dissolved.
- Perhaps those who are happy in life to begin with will be more likely to attract a marriage partner and to build an enduring and fulfilling partnership! In my experience working with couples who have extreme hurt and anguish in their marriage, it seems that when they find ways to return to the core values of the marriage covenant and equally commit to investing the best of SELF without blaming the discord on the partner, a happiness beyond what has ever been experienced can develop. It is exciting to see a marriage that seems hopeless begin to turn toward hopeFULness!
- Perhaps the growing body of evidence linking marriage with better health is actually true! Of course, the level of commitment to the covenant of marriage plays a big part in a couple’s absolute determination and intention to feed and nurture that marriage. But the residual result? Enjoying life, living a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, and supporting one another through life’s struggles as well as rejoicing together over life’s joys no doubt will make quality of life better overall!
- Dig in with intention and purpose to “feed” your marriage with quality time, affection, fun times and a robust intimacy!
- Make your mate your first earthly priority, as evidenced by healthy listening skills, attention and a love that is noticeable in your actions/reactions/words/body language!
- Do not fear rough waters, but immediately set a priority to discuss and resolve and remedy.
- If you have been in a broken and dismantled marriage, take heart! You have worth, value and a God-given identity that will survive and supersede the loss. You are never identified by your brokenness, but instead by your resilience and tremendous value!
- If you currently are in a very broken marriage, you may want to seek professional help – but only with one who first seeks help from the Maker of marriage – God Himself!
Marriage may have many valuable side benefits — so of course it is worth investing in and giving your best to … every day! Regardless of what Rodney Dangerfield says, let’s make the best part of our lives the ones we get to spend in the marriage covenant – which is a gift from God! The life benefits make it very worth it!