Marriage, singleness and happiness

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One of the biggest delusions about marriage is to believe that you will be happier when married than when single – that somehow, the ring has a magic wand that suddenly lights up your life even when it was gloom while single.

Nothing could be further from reality.

Sure, everyone gets to be on a high during the honeymoon stage or just after the wedding.

Like winning a lottery – we’d all be on an emotional high initially, until the money runs out.

Honeymoon is a phase that fades away and leaves you with everything you had inside you before the wedding.

In fact, your new spouse will quickly help shine the spotlight on whatever the causes of your unhappiness.

If you are an unhappy person before marriage, you will bring that toxicity into your marriage, and both of you will be unhappy.

Marriage doesn’t change you, but it exposes and magnifies the reality of your attitude, and gives you the opportunity to be Christ-like.

In other words, your marriage is as good as your singleness. It is happy singles who make happy marriages.

The idea that if you’re uncoupled or unmarried you’re missing out on happiness is fallacious. It is also dangerous and has unintended consequences like the following.

We fail to celebrate singleness

Too often in our society, especially in our religious culture, single equals incomplete and married equals complete.

This belief often causes single people generally to feel “less than”, in a culture and within institutions meant to point everyone towards fulfillment and happiness.

Not everyone is keen on marriage, and therefore, not everyone is meant for marriage.

But we are all deserving of fulfillment and happiness irrespective of our marital status.

We are all complete individuals and should be whole and happy whether we get married or not. In fact, we are more ready for marriage when we are happy being single, in spite of our age, than believing we’ll be happier when married.

People need to desire to pursue their life’s purpose and calling, whether married or single
Mo and Phindi

We need to create a culture that celebrates individuals whether married or not.

Singleness offers us ample opportunities to pursue our individual dreams and visions. It offers us far more independence to achieve our life goals, and to actually be selfish about going after what we want.

We are better able to serve humanity because we are solely in full control of our time and resources.

We set people up for disappointment

By pressurising people to marry, not only do we fail to celebrate singleness but we also set them up for disappointment when or if they do marry.

Young people grow up thinking marriage is how people find happiness. But soon after getting married, they realise they are not as happy as they dreamt they would be.

In fact, some days they are downright miserable. Their misery is not necessarily the fault of their spouse and it certainly isn’t the fault of marriage, but they see their unhappiness as a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

“I didn’t sign up for this,” they tell themselves. So instead of working at or cultivating their marriage, they begin to look for a new relationship.

Jesus never said, “Blessed are the married”. But He did say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”.

Marriage does not bring you happiness, but true satisfaction comes when you are hungry and thirsty to live a morally upright life.

People need to desire to pursue their life’s purpose and calling, whether married or single. That’s what will bring them satisfaction, not gold on their ring finger. If they find someone to marry, it should be someone with whom to share that life’s purpose and calling – not merely someone to share a house and babies with.

We turn marriage into an idol

There is a very real sense in which many of us have turned the institution of marriage into a false god at the expense of the real God.

We become idolatrous when we take a good thing God created, like marriage, and turn it into the ultimate thing, with the attitude, “I cannot live without him, he is what life is all about to me”.

Of course the other way we do this is by simply expecting our spouses to do or provide what only God can. People put such unreasonable expectations on marriage, like fulfillment, happiness and completeness, that their world collapses when they discover that marriage simply can not provide these.

When we fail to recognise marriage as a metaphor for something much greater than us, and that marriage itself is not forever, it automatically becomes an idol after which we seek with illegitimate intentions, like happiness.

When we give people the impression that just being human – whether married or single – isn’t enough to bring them complete satisfaction and happiness, we are implicitly saying they’re not enough.

When you don’t depend on your spouse to be the source of your happiness and joy, you allow them room to be human and still be okay with their humanness. You also cease to idolise them, and the institution of marriage.

Singleness is more than enough. Single people need no- one in their lives to fill some imaginary void. If they commit to anyone in that state, they are already happy and are great candidates for marriage.

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