Today I’m just thrilled to feature Annie Deddens on The Catholic Wife! Annie and her husband John-Paul started and currently run the wonderful Pray More Novenas ministry and Annie write at her own blog Catholic Wife, Catholic Life offering her own thoughts as well as syndicating others’.
Written by Featured Guest, Annie Deddens
One of the most harmful expectations about marriage, or any relationship – really, is that our happiness can be found solely in our spouse, and that that relationship will bring us fulfillment. By expecting our spouses to make us happy, we’re over-burdening our marriages, and actually misunderstanding its purpose altogether — which is not our happiness, but our holiness.
It’s hard to say that today in our world, because we’re all so busy trying to figure out how to be happier — always looking for something that we think we want or need, but I tend to find that happiness is not particularly something I’ve been able to find by seeking happiness itself. Rather, it’s something I’ve found when I’m seeking Christ.
So in that way, yes, my husband can contribute to my happiness; he helps me seek God. He encourages me to find Him in my everyday life. He reminds me of His plans and His purpose in my life when I’m feeling particularly down. And these things contribute to my happiness, but my husband doesn’t fulfill my heart the way that God does, and he just can’t — no matter how hard I try! My husband just doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of making me happy, and honestly, neither does God.
I’ll be the first to admit, though, that there have been times when I’ve expected my husband to do that for me: to fulfill me, to make me happy, to know what I wanted and to give it to me; and in each of those moments, I was disappointed – and it was inevitable that I would be. I was expecting the impossible, and I know that if you do this over and over again, it can really be disastrous for both husband and wife. You end up feeling like he let you down, you feel upset with him. Additionally there’s an impossible pressure put upon him, which in turn, hurts you both.
So in those moments, my expectations were off, and I think it’s pretty common nowadays, actually, because our culture has a problem of misplacing our love. And in the end, when we do that, we miss out on the greatest Love altogether — which is God.
The soul hungers for God, and nothing but God can satiate it.”
– St. John Vianney
Any other way of looking for fulfillment and happiness from someone else will leave you disappointed and unfulfilled. So a spouse-centered life and a me-centered life won’t bring happiness. Our happiness will only be found in a Christ-centered life.
But if we’re getting down to semantics here, I will tell you there is one possible way that looking to your spouse can bring you happiness; and that’s when you look at the needs of that other person, you place them above your own, and you serve them for their good will and sanctification; seeking and imitating Jesus in the process.
For more thoughts and reflections from Annie Deddens, visit Catholic Wife, Catholic Life.