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Is it your goal to have a happy marriage?

We’ve all heard the phrase enough to think that a “happy marriage” must be essential to living a fulfilling life with your partner.

Today we’re going to address the age-old question of “What makes a happy marriage?”

  • You’ll hear why this might actually be the wrong question to ask
  • I’ll introduce you to a book and a podcast that examine this subject from a different point of view
  • I’ll offer you a discussion and a habit so that you can deepen your relationship by asking a different question


If you’d prefer to read a transcript of this episode, click here.

A story about marriage

I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s new book, Tom Lake. It’s a gorgeous story about marriage.

There is a moment in the book that takes my breath away:

Lara Nelson comes to bed. Her hard-working husband, Joe, is already there. He’s fast asleep after a long summer day spent working in their cherry orchard.

Lara looks at her sleeping husband. His hand on his heart. She puts her hand on top of his and says, “live forever.”

The thought hit me as soon as I read this beautiful scene: This is a happy marriage.

Her hand on his tells a Whole Story.

These characters share a life. And their life together is about so much more than happiness.

The book reveals this deeper truth.

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Why shouldn’t I want a happy marriage? 

If you’re in your 30’s, the moment when Lara puts her hand atop her sleeping husband’s hand might not resonate with you.

It doesn’t occur to you to want your partner to live forever because you’re just trying to survive this moment. You’re trying to make dinner with one hand, because you’re holding a baby in the other. Or you’re racing through the grocery store and you practically fall asleep in your driveway you’re so tired.

This is the age when you ask the question, “What is a happy marriage?” You want all the synonyms that go with happy: gleeful, ecstatic, ebullient.


The question of a “happy marriage” changes over time

At 24, you want the sparkle. You ask yourself, “What makes a happy marriage?”

At 54, you want a lifetime.

The question that’s most compelling changes as you live longer and longer with your partner.

In your 20’s you most want adventure, and freedom, and excitement. In your 60’s you most want trustworthiness, and loyalty, and companionship. What you want from your marriage changes. You realize that happiness alone is overrated.

Date Night Discussion

This week I invite you to talk with your partner about the enormous variety of questions you could ask yourself about your relationship.

When you learn how to ask a wide variety of questions about your marriage, your marriage will expand to meet your curiosity.

So discuss among yourselves. What else do you want in addition to a happy marriage?

Ask a different question about your marriage

“What is a happy marriage?” is the wrong question. Or at least it’s not the ONLY question.

Marriage is filled with all sorts of moments: some blissful. Some boring.

There are moments when you want to run far, far away and never return.

It’s not always happy. Some people would tell me it’s rarely happy. But it’s beautiful. So beautiful that you don’t ever want to imagine an end to that love and beauty.

So you put your hand atop the hand of your sleeping partner and you whisper, “Live forever.”

Another podcast you might like

Here is a link to the conversation Krista Tippet had with Kate DiCamillo. I love Kate DiCamillo’s description of love, “E.B White loved the world, and, in loving the world, he told the truth about it: Its sorrow, it’s heartbreak. It’s devastating beauty. He trusted his readers enough to tell them the truth.

“And with that truth came comfort and a feeling that we are not alone.”

How about you?

I’m beyond curious to know what questions you come up with. Please text me and let me know what questions you found. I’m at 970-210-4480.

I can’t wait to hear the questions you find that help you cultivate a marriage that inspires that hand-on-top-of-hand-“live-forever” whisper.

Click here to read the full text of this podcast episode.

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