Wednesday, April 07, 2010

wifersize wednesday: i've got the joy, joy, joy, joy...

I was reading a New York Times article - forwarded to me by Andrew - which had very nice things to say about marriage. In fact, it links a successful marriage with overall health and happiness. The author, David Brooks, quotes:
Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.
And, later, he mentions a study claiming that "being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year". Most of us know a married couple or two that challenge these findings, and have more of a marital deficit than a surplus, but let's FOR A MINUTE think about the couples that are doing well, the couples that are still in love, the couples that are better for being married, the 50% that aren't divorced or separated. What are they doing right?

A reader left the comment:
The flaw that always exists in happiness surveys is that one never knows if good marriages make happy people or if happy people make good marriages.
which got me thinking. I like the idea of, and have written before about, "epic tales of retrospect". Couples that are most happy are those constantly retelling the parts about their relationship that were the best, that were the happiest, that were the most blessed. Of course stories linger in their past that are difficult, upsetting, disappointing, infuriating, and heartbreaking, but they even manage to tell THOSE stories with a "happily ever after" tagged on the end. Are they delusional? Or do they merely see the glass half (or entirely) full?

I figure it's neither happy marriages making people happy or happy people making good marriages but rather people choosing to rejoice that make both. "Rejoice" means "to be joyful again", and isn't that what epic tales are made of? Let's remember all the good times, again, and feel joy over them once more.

Bill Johnson says: "There's the choice of joy and there's the demonstration of rejoicing. If you wait to rejoice until you have joy, you will only have it in seasons. But if you rejoice to have joy, you can have it all the time."

Brooks warns that "most of us pay attention to the wrong things" in marriage, in our faith, in life. Wouldn't you rather be constantly joyful - if even to be confused with delusional - rather than seasonal?

"Joy is the serious business of Heaven."
- C.S. Lewis


Andrew G said...

lurve it and you

(kirstyn) said...

I love reading your blog. I just told Jared that's it's awesome.

This post brings up so many things from my Psych class this year. The whole correlation of happiness and marriage and not really knowing what causes which, the subjectivity of retrospective self-report, and the studies that have been done that show that married people are actually healthier and happier.

I better get a good grade on my Psych final. haha

PS. I'm officially on summer vaca.