We were sitting in a small office in the basement of our church, ready to complete another requirement before we could get married. For weeks we’d been meeting with another couple who was mentoring us on ways to build a successful marriage, and we had also attended a marriage preparation retreat.
One by one we were checking items off our list, and with each task completed we would pat ourselves on the back and think just how great we were at this marriage prep thing. Surely nobody had ever breezed through everything quite like us.
On this day, we were meeting with our priest to go over the results of a compatibility test, of sorts. We had been given a series of scenarios for which we would select how each of us would respond and how we would expect the other to respond. I, a pretty good test taker, approached this test much like I approached my SATs. I analyzed each question carefully before I penciled in a bubble to make my selection. It really did feel like a relationship standardized test. I was sure I’d aced it and I was excited to get our results.
When our priest arrived the first thing we discussed were the results of our test, and wouldn’t you know? Just as I had thought, we did great! Our priest remarked that he was surprised to see just how alike my future husband and I saw our relationship, our future, and our families, and we were clearly very compatible with one another. We were so in love, a little arrogant, and frankly, very naïve.
My then-fiancé and I had met when we were 17, and within months we were planning our wedding, naming our future children, and deciding our future careers. We went away to the same college and were engaged four years later. Nothing that had tried to come between us before had kept us from getting to where we wanted to be. We were determined to make all of our dreams come true and we really thought we had it all figured out.
I remember our priest asking us, “Do you think you’re the only ones who can make each other happy?”
“Yes, of course!” we both answered.
“Well, you’re not,” he said, and then paused for dramatic effect, I’m sure. In my mind I heard the record screech, like in the movies, where a love song was playing before. I was shocked, and not just at the fact that he said I was wrong about something, but to say that we’re not the only ones who can make each other happy. I mean, then why were we here?
He said he could tell we saw our relationship through rose-colored glasses, and while that was beautiful, it wasn’t how we should enter into a marriage. He told us we were both wonderful people and that anyone would be lucky have either of us as a partner. He told us we were both worthy of finding happiness anywhere. The choice we were making was to only seek happiness within each other.
He then moved on to other subjects that I’m sure were equally important, but I really couldn’t tell you what they were because that bit of wisdom was all I could think of. It was such a change in perspective for me and one that would have a great impact into how I would approach my marriage and my relationship with my husband.
Over 10 years later, I still think of those words often. They’re a reminder of why I chose to spend my life with the man I call my husband. A reminder to be grateful for the love we share and the marriage we’ve built.
Financial strain, drastic career changes, a miscarriage, familial turmoil . . . there have been so many difficult seasons in our marriage. So many times when it felt like there was no joy to be found and when it really could have been easier to just go our separate ways. But that was never an option, it is not something that is ever considered. We know that easier isn’t worth it. We know that happiness outside of our marriage could exist, but it can never compare to what we can find within it.
“You’re not the only ones who can make each other happy.”
I find these words to be so powerful. I know that I am worthy of being loved, and my husband is worthy of being loved. We could find love elsewhere, and there are others out there who could love us and make us happy. But we choose us. We choose our happy. Always.
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