Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough. More joy in one ordinary day.
Psalm 4:6-7

Every couple about to be married, whether they admit it or not, harbors dreams of a “perfect” life together. Many newlyweds have told us how “lucky” they felt on their wedding day.

At some point, however, every husband and wife realize that they are not a perfect match. They don’t think, feel, and behave in the same ways. Merging their two personalities and backgrounds is more difficult than they expected. That’s when they resign from the hope of living happily ever after.

But there is an alternative.

Marriages can never be perfect because people are not perfect. Being human, every bride and groom has faults as well as virtues. We are at times gloomy, cranky, selfish, or unreasonable. We are a mixture of generous, altruistic feelings combined with self-seeking aims, petty vanities, and ambitions. We unite love and courage with selfishness and fear.

Marriage is an alloy of gold and tin. If we expect more than this, we are doomed to disappointment.

So, how can a couple live happily ever after?

Not by depending on externals. Too many couples view marriage as winning the lottery: They got lucky, and now they will have interesting and exciting experiences. Now they will be loved and affirmed. Now they will be fulfilled. But marriage is not like winning the lottery — at least not like we think winning the lottery would be.

An unexpected cash windfall would certainly make you happy. But only for a short while. Researchers have discovered that a random event (being “lucky”) occurring without your input does not create long-term happiness. You need a sense of mastery, of control; the feeling that something good has happened because you caused it to happen.

Living happily ever after only works when you make it work. When you take the raw materials of marriage — the good and the bad that you’ve brought together as persons — to design, create, and build a lasting bond, the result is an enduring and meaningful sense of genuine fulfillment.

If, on the other hand, you are counting on the magic of marriage to make you happy, the relationship will leave you crushed, lonely, feeling like a failure, and resigned to your despair.

Happiness is an inside job. That’s why living happily ever after need not be a myth.

Reflect and Respond

What’s one specific attitude adjustment you can make this very day to bring more happiness into your marriage?

Go ahead, tell us in the comments.

Related Resource

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Explore the science, the art, and the practice of happiness in marriage. Drawing from real-life examples, Drs. Les and Leslie offer insights into how your brain and relationship affect each other as you make happiness in your marriage a conscious, delightful habit.

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