Love + Marriage = Happiness?

By Teresa Tierney © 2012

                Did you get married believing it would be easy? Growing up with the Beatles’ mantra “all you need is love,” the formula worked for us during our dating life: Dan + Teresa = Happiness. Somehow, what seemed like a surefire equation for happiness became a little more complicated once we got married.
                There was the more factor. We married young and didn’t have a lot of money. So we bickered a bit about that. My wants didn’t seem out of line. A few nice things and I would be happy. At one point I went through the Penney’s catalog and tallied up all of my wish list. What a reality check. It was tens of thousands of dollars. More money than I could even imagine possessing let alone spending.
                Even in heaven, where all needs are met, a third of the angels wanted more and lost their spot in that perfect place. That is strong evidence there is not enough of any thing to keep a person happy.
                Then there was the trouble factor – or life as we know it. Blame it on fairy tales or an idyllic childhood or a strong fantasy life, but somehow I reached adulthood thinking there are people on planet earth without troubles.  
                I spent too much time thinking my life was unfair when things did not go as expected. Like when the first house we bought turned out to be next door to a rat trap. Like when our second child was born with brain damage. Like when my husband was unable to work for a year because of a panic disorder. I was unprepared for what I saw as out-of-the-ordinary life events.
                Perhaps as parents, or as a society, we still believe it's possible for someone to have a trouble-free life, so we don’t warn each other.  Or perhaps they warned me and my immaturity kept me from hearing it.
                God tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” I have lived long enough to be convinced. There is not a single person I know who has not had trouble to deal with. If their life looks trouble-free, I just haven’t known them long enough.
                But the biggest challenge to any relationship has to be the self factor.
                We’d only been married a few months when I had a lightning bolt moment. I remember asking myself, “Why do I think I am Queen Elizabeth?”  I don’t remember it being a significant argument, but it hit me that I always wanted my own way–whether it was reasonable or even fair.
                For the first two decades of my marriage, I insisted on having my own way at every turn, no matter the cost to my husband or my marriage. If I wanted to spend the weekend at my parent’s farm–by golly that's where we went. If I wanted to take a job working weekends, leaving my husband to function as a single parent, by golly that's what I did.
                What a price we paid. We fought and bickered and made up and learned not to talk about the issues so we wouldn’t fight. I spent most of those years determined not become another divorce statistic. But there were days I was tempted to believe in a world view that said divorce was the solution to my happiness problem.
                The truth was, I needed to change, not my partner. But I was so focused on what I thought Dan needed to do, I couldn’t see how I needed to change. Then at the age of 40, a job loss interrupted my life. I finally acknowledged how lousy I was at running the world and surrendered to God’s plan for me.
And Jesus took on all the tough jobs I’d been giving Dan.
                Dan no longer had to be my Prince Charming (perfect). Jesus is the only one capable of that. Now I know I need Dan to be my friend and partner—which thankfully, he is.
                Dan no longer had to be my everything. God did not design him for that job. Now I realize God is the only one who can meet all of my needs. (And I am a needy girl!)
                And God changed my heart.
                He helped me stop thinking my way was the only way. Not that I’m perfect by any means – there are still times I want what I want when I want it! While I am still a work in progress, at least now it is my desire is to consider Dan’s needs and wishes ahead of my own.
                He shifted my focus from the pursuit of happiness to a life of purpose. My focus is less about me and more about others. These days I know if my happiness meter is low, chances are my focus has shifted back toward self.
                By God’s grace, Dan managed to hang in there during the 23 years it took me to understand what love is all about. Love without sacrifice is only love of self – you make me happy so I love you. True love puts the other person ahead of self – and I can’t do that without the power of God in my life.
                We now have the perfect equation for marriage: (Dan + Teresa) + God = All The Best Things: Love, Joy, Peace and yes, Happiness.

Rx’d Reading: The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a freelance writer, wife, mother of two, grandmother of three.  She blogs at You may contact her at

1 comment:

  1. In the present scenario of our life style, frankly saying there is no happiness at all. We all are in the state of highly unsatisfied with our life and dreaming for a better life all the time. Most of people those who have already married accepts that there is no happiness in their life. Whether love exists there or not but it lacks mental peace. The things you have simply elaborated here are quite true and I too agree with it. Sometimes we need the help of friends and other relatives to suggest us something better. To continue your relationship in a better way, you need to take the help of a relationship coach, who can guide you in all your decisions to let you live a happy life. Life coach Orlando.