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Should a Spouse Aim for Being “Reasonably Happy” in a Marriage?

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By far, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of Love and Respect is hearing from others about their relationships. Whether it is in person, at a conference or in an e-mail exchange, it is always a blessing to learn how others are trying to strengthen their marriage and work through tough issues that unfortunately many in this world simply allow to divide them further from their spouse.

Oftentimes, though, some controversial statements and ideas fly across my computer screen from others and I am forced to decide how I will respond. What will I encourage? What will I warn them to be cautious of? Take a look at this e-mail I received recently and think about how you would respond. What do you think is correct about her “solution,” and what do you think is incorrect?

I realized that I had been holding my husband responsible to meet most if not all of my needs. And my standard of perfection was keeping me from being generous with him in my heart. He was sincerely trying to meet some of my emotional needs, and I was standing there with my arms crossed saying “close but no cigar!”

So I was pondering that a bit since Sunday, and I have decided that I am going to aim for being “reasonably happy” in my marriage. Just medium. Just peace most of the time, and a lessening of the arguments. And when my husband is harsh or I get disappointed, I am going to ask myself if he usually is attempting to meet some of my needs and attempting to care for me most of the time. And since the answer is yes I will say “that is good enough.”

It is hard in our society for a woman to “lower” her standards. Our girlfriends and female relatives tell us that we are settling for less than we should. And a woman with good self-esteem and self-respect would not tolerate ill treatment. Really, we put a lot of pressure on each other regarding our relationships with men. This is not the eighteenth century anymore! We are women; hear us ROAR! Aren’t you sick of it?

But the truth is that we are all longing for heaven and we can’t have it here. And I feel that this [aiming for “reasonably happy” with my husband] will free me up to be happy with reality. I don’t mean to denigrate my husband because he can’t meet my needs. I just want to face reality. He’s not a bad man. He’s just a man; a normal, limited human being. And what I am longing for is my beautiful, perfect Savior. So I need to cuddle up to Jesus more, and give the man a smile or two.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. The letter writer opened by admitting, “I realized that I had been holding my husband responsible to meet most if not all of my needs.” This is actually a wonderful realization for a spouse to come to. Why is that? What happens when we rely on our spouse to meet all of our needs?
  2. What is positive about this wife’s willingness to say “that is good enough” concerning her husband attempting to care for her most of the time? What concerns does this mind-set bring up for you?
  3. This wife wrote that “we are all longing for heaven and we can’t have it here,” and claimed that as the main reason why we shouldn’t expect so much from our “normal, limited” spouses. What do you agree with concerning her logic? What corrections, if any, would you offer her?
  4. Do you believe God’s hope for you and your spouse is that you are “reasonably happy” in your relationship with each other? How can a spouse simultaneously remember he or she is married to a “normal, limited human being” who cannot possibly meet every need of theirs and also aim for higher than “reasonably happy”?
  5. Should a Spouse Aim for Being “Reasonably Happy” in a Marriage?