When asking people about their ultimate goal, they often say: “I just want to be happy…” But for many people, happiness is an elusive concept – something that they just can’t quite achieve. And only a few can honestly say that they are happy.

American motivational speaker, writer and consultant, Denis Waitley said: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”

Yes, sometimes you underestimate the role you play in your own gratitude. It actually has a lot less to do with your circumstances than you think, and more to do with your own experience and perception of reality. Some couples choose daily to pursue healthy, happy marriages.

Happy couples CHOOSE…

  • … to intentionally work on their marriages. A good marriage doesn’t just happen, it requires hard work, self-discipline, perseverance and wise decisions. When faced with a difficult choice, they always consider their marital health and aren’t passive puppets in their love story.
  • … to grow independently and together. A healthy couple knows that a marriage consists of two individuals who combine their lives. Therefore, it is important to grow together, but also to retain separate identities. They respect each other’s individuality and allow each other to have their own preferences, dislikes, friends, dreams and opinions. But they also know when it is necessary to turn to each other and grow together.
  • … to live for a higher goal. Happy couples are content with their circumstances and with each other, but also realize that their purpose in life is bigger than themselves and therefore they make an impact wherever they go, in their interactions with friends, colleagues, families and children… thereby honoring God.
  • … love before emotions. We are human, we have emotions and unlike our Creator, we are precarious creatures. That is what makes marriage so difficult. One day you are crazy about your partner’s sense of humor and the next day it is just not that funny. One day you feel like you are in love and the next day you just experience irritation. Love, however, is not a feeling, which is why you cannot trust your “feelings” with your marriage. You have to decide to love your partner. Time and again.
  • … to not get bored. So many couples lose the spark and in the script of a Hollywood movie it sounds something like this: “We fell out of love…” There is no such thing! But boredom does exist. And if you don’t consistently and intentionally stay interested in your partner, you are going to get bored with each other. Happy couples decide each day to learn something new about the person they share a life with.
  • to make sex a priority. Sex isn’t everything, but when it is not going well in your marriage, sex plays a big role! Sex can also be the cause of much bigger problems in your marriage and must therefore never become an “obligation” that is merely rushed through every now and then. Happy couples put effort into their sex lives and try to improve it.
  • Oh, that sounds very boring, right?! No one wants a predictable marriage! But that is not what we are talking about. What we mean by predictability is that your spouse must always know where he or she stands with you. It is wonderful to keep some mystery in a marriage, but if your partner causes you to doubt his or her love or commitment, and puts you in a position where you feel unsure, it is emotional manipulation. Be predictable so that your partner knows he or she can depend on you – and be consistent.
  • to count their cents. Happy couples don’t spend more than what their income allows. They work together to set financial goals, create budgets and to save (no matter how small the amount). One might think that finances do not influence your happiness, but just ask one of the many couples who have gone through financial struggles and they will tell you that when finances creates strain, the whole marriage suffer.
  • … selflessness. On the United Church of God’s website, author and teacher, Jerold Aust wrote that trouble brews when people assume that marriage was designed by humans for their own comfort. No, it is a divine design and therefore the secret for a happy marriage lies in making the right choices that is in accordance with God’s will. “God has put spiritual laws in place that can lead to good or bad consequences – depending on the choices we make. When you obey God’s laws, it will bring forth good things. But if you break God’s laws, you will get bad results. Selflessness leads to good outcomes.”

In the end, people’s lives – and couples’ marriages – consist of the series of continuous decision they make. Some choices create fear and uncertainty and other choices make us happier. If you acknowledge from day one that you and your partner holds the key to happiness in your marriage, through the choices that you will be making throughout your journey together, your chance for success is great.

Additional sources: www.kevinathompson.com; www.goodmenproject.com; www.ucg.org