Christmas is past, but there’s still a gift you can give. How about a present we wives can give our husbands in the coming year that would mean so much, that could smooth the wrinkles of our relationships and nurture intimacy?
Give him the gift of happiness.
Not his happiness. You’re not in control of that.
Your own happiness.
You see, some of the worst struggles in marriage occur when one spouse is simply unhappy — unhappy with themselves, where they are in life, others around them, and more. It’s hard to be happy in marriage when one spouse is unhappy everywhere else.
Moreover, happy people are more engaging, appealing, attractive. Of course, we want to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), but a long-term, constant stream of unhappiness from one spouse taxes the whole relationship. And we often choose — perhaps unintentionally, yet still a choice — to be unhappy.
Instead, choose happiness.
“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.” Psalm 68:3
Look, I’m not saying this is easy. Indeed, external circumstances make joy quite difficult at times; however, I encourage you to pursue happiness regardless of circumstance (Philippians 4:11). To the best of your ability, decide not to be an unhappy wife who then expects her husband to somehow make her happy.
Because that’s not his job either.
So how can you nurture happiness?
Take care of physical health. We feel better — less moody, more confident — when we eat right, drink enough water, and exercise. Our bodies respond with stress relief and feel-good chemicals flowing through our veins. When we feel physically good, we’re far more likely to feel emotionally happy. (For healthy and happy ideas, check out the Calm.Healthy.Sexy blog.)
Address character flaws. You know those issues that continue to plague you year after year? Perhaps it’s a short temper or a tendency toward gossip or “white lies” or financial mismanagement — or maybe you share my struggle with impatience. It’s time to stop making excuses or say, “That’s just the way I am,” and address those character flaws — head on. Bam!
Stick to priorities. My own unhappy times often come when I feel more overwhelmed than a sand crab in a tsunami. When your to-do list is longer than Rapunzel’s hair, it’s easy to become frustrated and unhappy. Why do we allow this to happen? Even encourage it by taking on too much? Instead, let’s stick to our priorities, engage in what matters and what brings us joy. Life will still sweep over in billowing waves at times, but not because we stirred the ocean ourselves.
Be positive. We need about five positive interactions to balance out every one negative interaction with someone. Which means we’d better invest in being positive — a lot. I’ve joked that the one Bible command I complain about is Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Really? Everything? For many, like us natural pessimists, it requires a conscious effort to stay positive and grasp those silver linings with both hands. But it’s worth the effort. (For more on being positive, see the Happy Wives Club blog.)
Plug in to the Ultimate Source of joy. Regularly. It’s hard to make up your mind one day to just be happy. Happiness is usually a byproduct of other attitudes. Which attitudes? Start with cultivating:
- Gratitude. Count your blessings and express thanks to God and those around you (1 Thessalonians 3:9).
- Peace of mind. Give your concerns over to God in prayer and ask His presence to fill you with calm (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Eternal focus. Keep your eyes on Jesus and God’s eternal plan (Philippians 4:12-13).
Such things are building blocks for happiness, and they come from a right relationship with our Creator.
Be a servant. I once held onto the notion that I would not serve my husband; I would not be the sort of weak female constantly scurrying and serving my husband like a bad 1950s sitcom. When I started serving my husband instead — not because I had to, but because I wanted to — I realized it brought me (and him) real joy.
Sure, my husband can do plenty without me (he’s certainly no weak man), but why not bring him a cup of tea? Run errands for him? Fluff his pillow? Cook his favorite meal? Find ways to turn him on in the bedroom? Why not be servant-minded, kind, generous? Being a servant can bring real happiness into your life. (Get great tips for serving your hubby from the Generous Wife blog.)
So in 2014, give your husband and your marriage this gift: Be happy.
This gift of happiness is what I want to give to my husband, to my family, and to the Lord who blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
How can you choose happiness for yourself and your marriage? What fosters a deep sense of joy for you?