There are a lot of books on the market that claim to know the secret to happiness. Those books have never interested me. I’ve always felt that happiness was subjective. What makes you happy most likely is different from what makes me happy. When I was young my happiness tended to depend more on circumstances: wether the sun came out that day, or if the cute guy I met called me back, or if I got the job I interviewed for. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where my happiness is based on my decision to be happy and not the circumstances surrounding me.
Learning to be happily married has been another challenge. If you’re married you know, this is an institution we all want to be part of but it’s very difficult to stay in the club. I don’t mean to make light of marriage, but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying…..
I’ve been married 21 years now. Of that, I’ve spent the last 11 trying to be happy with someone who I felt is not the person I married 21 years ago. But to be fair, are any of us the same we were 21 years ago? I wanted him to do this and that, and act this way, and stop doing that, and on and on….I wanted him to be who I wanted him to be, not who he is or who he wanted to be.
So I was miserable, I wanted to leave, or him leave, or somebody leave. I was only able to turn things around in our relationship when I decided to love him unconditionally, focus on the good and not what I thought was wrong with him, and appreciate our amazing family including our three children.
I wish I could take the credit for doing this on my own, but truthfully it came with much prayer, bible study, and encouragement from other women who had braved challenges in their own marriages.
Recently, we decided to go on a second honeymoon. An all inclusive trip to Jamaica at one of those couple resorts. I was so excited! In all those years of marriage we had only gone on one vacation and our toddler daughter had been with us. Between the time of deciding which resort and coordinating the date with our kid’s school schedule the price of the air fare went up significantly. This caused my husband much consternation, and then the yelling commenced. I was frustrated, disappointed, and angry all the way to work. It hit me. He didn’t want to go! He likes to stay home and watch tv. He doesn’t like expensive gifts. He doesn’t like to spend money. He’s simple and understated.
On the other hand…I love fancy, glamorous, and on occasion will go for the expensive. I like concerts, plays, nice dinners, and traveling. And because of jobs I’ve had, I’ve been able to enjoy these things. And that’s when the revelation hit me. It was a quote from one of my favorite life coaches, Dr. Cindy Trimm. “You do you, and I’m gonna do me!” Fancy vacations are not my husband. Why get mad and say he doesn’t love me because he won’t take me to the Caribbean. He loves me very much. He shows it in other ways.
So we sat down and had a nice talk. I told him he didn’t have to go. I wasn’t angry or disappointed. He could stay home, and I would plan a vacation with my best friend. And he was ok with that! So now I’m going on a dream vacation to Paris!
I allowed my husband to be authentic. True to himself. And I didn’t judge him or punish him for it. I allowed myself to be authentic. True to myself. And I didn’t let my husband make me feel bad for it.
This is what I call happiness: you do you, and I will do me. And we will all live happily ever after!