Why should everyone be an advocate for healthy marriage? Some of us aren’t married, or don’t believe in marriage, or can’t get married. Some say that marriage is a dying institution. It’s true, divorce rates are incredibly high in the U.S.. But I disagree that this means marriage is obsolete. Yes, any committed relationship is a tough gig. At the same time, it offers so many benefits. Numerous studies have shown that married couples are more likely to be healthy, happy, and financially secure than singles. Children raised in two-parent homes are better off than those raised separately.
Even more than this, I believe that the happiness of one person ripples out to increase the happiness of everyone else they are in contact with. You can see the exact opposite effect destroying many marriages. When one person is grumpy or negative, he tends to drag down everyone he comes in contact with. Misery, so they say, loves company. It takes an incredibly strong will–and lots of skill learning from couples counseling–not to get sucked in by your spouse’s unhappiness.
On the other hand, when we are happy internally, we tend to make the the world around us a better place. We smile at a stranger, laugh more, tend to be more generous, loving, and forgiving. Those onto whom we pass our good mood tend to pass it on to others. I guess I can call this concept “paying it forward”. Paying it forward is the idea that when someone does something good for you, you consciously pass on that kindness in turn. There’s a lovely Liberty Mutual commercial that you might have seen illustrating this of a whole chain of people doing good deeds for each other.
When married we have the tendency to take sacrifice, compromise, and suffering as our given lot. And yes, being married does involve giving up some old things and taking on new and not always pleasant responsibilities. Certainly having children is a big wake-up call that your life is no longer all about your personal needs and wants. At the same time, you don’t and shouldn’t have to be unhappy. Your personal, deep happiness matters. It matters a lot. You should never “just settle” for a mediocre marriage because it “works”–i.e. you can keep a home and feed yourselves and support the children etc. etc. At the same time this doesn’t mean you should get a divorce! Not at all. This is why programs like PO2 and other online marriage counseling free trial services exist–because most marriages have the potential to be fully happy with just a little bit a help and training such as learning how to communicate with your spouse. Counseling can seem really intimidating, so we offer a free trial so you can see for yourself that these are useful and fun skills to learn.
This is why I stand behind helping marriages stay strong and healthy. Every time a couple learns the skills to make their relationship joyous, they send out a ripple of happiness. Who knows how far that ripple will carry?
To get that Happy ball rolling, enjoy this sweet music video from artist Segal Anat called “Come&Go”.