Friday, July 20, 2012

More Holy than Happy

While I was engaged to my husband, I read several books on marriage that made a big impression on me. In addition to planning our wedding, I felt that it was important to also spend some serious time thinking about and preparing for our marriage itself. I've been wisely taught by my parents that marriage is difficult--that its rewards are enormous, but that it takes hard work and patience. I had about a year and a half between the time we got engaged and our wedding day, and I spent a lot of hours in that time reading and thinking and praying about how to become the wife I want to be.

One book that resonated deeply with me was Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage.  I was completely in awe of his brave and bold conclusion, which is that marriage is designed more to make us holy than to make us happy. In other words, marriage gives us an opportunity to serve another human being, day in and day out, forever. Marriage provides daily, hourly, opportunities for forgiveness, humility, patience, kindness, self-sacrifice--qualities which, when put into practice, make us better Christians in addition to better spouses.

Now, obviously Thomas is not claiming that happiness is not desirable, or that holy marriages are not also happy marriages. Absolutely not. He is simply ordering things differently. If a marriage is mostly about the two people being happy then the results can be (and often are) tragic. Happiness can be a vague and fleeting emotion. The moment things become difficult happiness starts to feel far off, and if happiness is the goal in marriage, then why stay when times are hard?

But if both spouses instead aim for holiness--praying for each other when going through difficult times, choosing to be patient instead of critical when one spouse is having a bad day, being vulnerable to each other, forgiving even when it seems undeserved--then the marriage will be rewarding, fruitful, charitable, and committed, even when things become tough.

This book taught me that the most wonderful way to be a husband or a wife is to let the love you show your spouse be a reflection of God's love. Not easy! But an opportunity not to be passed up.


  1. I'm so happy to read this. I've read the book, too, and I actaully know Christians who took offense to it. But it is SO true. After seasons of difficulty in our marriage, the Lord has led me to the conclusion that everything we go thru in this life is to be more like Him--holy! And I've found that the closer I am to Him, the happier I and out of my marriage. :) Thanks for posting!

    1. Katie, how great that you read the book too and that it's been true and useful for you in your marriage. That's wonderful! I thought it was such an inspiring and brave book, really. Thank you so much for your comment!


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