If You Want To Have A Successful And Intimate Marriage, You Need To Choose Happiness Every Single Day
While the idea of choosing happiness seems like a pretty simple and straightforward concept, it has never been that easy for me.
When I was 18, I actually found “choose happiness” to be confusing.
I discovered the notion in college when I studied Ancient Greek Philosophy. Many philosophers state that the purpose of life is to be happy. Sure that sounds great, but I didn’t really believe it. I just hadn’t observed the human beings I knew taking actions consistent with pursuing happiness.
Simply put, throughout my young life, I had seen people make choices, express feelings, talk about themselves or others, maintain various habits and spend their time in ways that did nothing to bring them closer to happiness and very often pushed them further from it. In fact, it seemed to me that most adults engaged in behavior that would never make them happy.
I carefully considered how the people around me had behaved and couldn’t wrap my head around it enough to believe that they had actually wanted happiness all along. The choices they made went too far in the wrong direction.
Fast forward to my now 53 year old self. For decades, I’ve been showing individuals and couples how to have meaningful, juicy, passionate relationships. I’ve been showing them how to fall in love with themselves in order to be available for a magnificent loving relationship with someone else.
From the vantage point of my professional experience and expertise, along with my personal experience from having lived another three and a half decades since first encountering these ideas in college, I’ve finally come to understand the truth and wisdom of saying that everyone wants to be happy.
However, most people still do things which won’t lead them to happiness. But the problem isn’t that they don’t want to be, it’s that very few people actually know how to create it.
Before you have the possibility of creating happiness, you first need to understand and practice two of the keys to an intimate marriage which are prerequisties, namely “Embrace Honesty” and “Be Kind”. Once those come naturally to you, the fourth key to an intimate marriage, “Choose Happiness” is a delight.
At that point, choosing happiness in moments when you feel unseen, annoyed, or otherwise uncomfortable, turns out to be incredibly generative, energizing, rejuvenating, and a fantastic way to build uncompromising intimacy.
What’s important is that you don’t choose happiness in order to avoid speaking your truth, in order to avoid making your partner uncomfortable. But once you know how to express your truth well and actively practice “Embrace Honesty” and “Be Kind”, then letting something go and choosing happiness instead is a very powerful and joyous move.
A number of years ago I coached a couple I’m going to call Darlene and Scott.
Scott totally adored Darlene, but he didn’t show it with romantic gestures. I don’t think that he had ever even bought her flowers before I coached them. He is super logical, very analytical, and not the type to catch the nuances or meaning in someone’s tone of voice. Scott is actually a genius who works for a tech company designing all kinds of robotics for the future. He is intellectually endowed, and very much in love with Darlene.
On the other hand, Darlene is juicy, expressive, loves bright colored lipstick and she’s responsive, sensitive and closely connected with her big emotions. She’s also a verbal processor, meaning when she’s having experiences, whether they’re wonderful and ecstatic or sad, depressing, and challenging, it’s safe to say that Darlene is going to want to talk it through.
While they both love each other unconditionally, Scott and Darlene obviously have fundamental differences in how they communicate. Scott desires to get straight to the point because he’s logical, analytical, and wants to extract the relevant elements and proceed. Whereas Darlene wants to continue to swim in the emotions of what it is she’s sharing, going with the ebbs and flow of her mood.
These differences caused some major challenges for the couple. Scott thought Darlene was overly emotional, and Darlene thought Scott didn’t care about her issues. Again, they loved each other thoroughly, but they were getting bogged down by the hurt that comes with not having the same communication style.
So when it came to choosing happiness, it was actually really challenging for Darlene to even see the point of it because she was so content with embracing honesty and having a context for sharing what was living in her soul.
But Scott didn’t meet her and feel things with her. He was a separate person, interdependent, not codependent like her, and he didn’t join her in those emotions.
Yet, she still yearned for him to be more like her.
After a lot of coaching with me, and beautiful growth, Darlene learned to choose happiness. It wasn’t that she was acquiescing to Scott – but rather that she learned to express what she wanted and to also understand that he really was trying to learn how to meet her in her emotional abundance.
Every time she shared, she knew she didn’t want to get trapped in feeling dissatisfied with his response – especially because he was on a steep learning curve and regularly improving in meeting her emotionality well. So whenever they would have a meaningful conversation, she recognized that she was faced with a choice–either she could feel dissatisfied, or she could choose happiness. (Previously, she felt there was no choice other than to feel disappointed and become resentful.)
When Darlene learned to choose happiness, she was able to objectively see that Scott loves her. He was paying attention, and he was learning how to respond with a more emotional flavor. It was as if he was learning to play a musical instrument and, by not choosing happiness, Darlene was choosing to resent him for still being out of tune while he was a beginner who was making steady progress.
Darlene learned to choose happiness, and enjoy doing so.
Naturally, there were a lot of things she needed to work through along the way. As an empowered feminist, Darlene resisted letting go of her feelings. But once she was willing to use the tools I teach for choosing happiness, the results were incredible.
The shift gave her a whole new outlook on their relationship and she went from feeling trapped and restricted in those conversations, to feeling expansive, confident, and more open hearted. She found she felt a lot better when she chose happiness, and Scott did too. He became more relaxed and able to meet her emotionally, in the way that she had been craving all along!
I find that every couple I work with finds one of the keys to an intimate marriage to be especially challenging for them- and once they get through it, the rest of the keys to an intimate marriage flow much more easily.
For Darlene and Scott, their challenging key was to choose happiness, and once they mastered that one, their relationship soared.
For more on this topic listen to this episode of The Intimate Marriage Podcast.
I want more emotional intimacy for all couples, including you. I will help you create the deliciousness & joy of a growth-oriented, passionate relationship.
And in the meantime, if you want to learn more about how to stoke the passion in your relationship, read my book Uncompromising Intimacy.
Or you can learn more about Intimacy Coaching in long term relationships here.