If it makes you happy...

>> Thursday, June 12, 2008

... it can't be that bad, right. Or so the song goes.

I have mentioned before that hubby and I have been going to counseling for almost a year now. We reached a point last summer where we felt like little more than co-existing roommates and were having some troubles with conflict resolution. We decided that we would go and get some help before things got too bad. We realized that we needed some outside help learning some tools for resolving conflicts 'cuz we didn't seem to be making much ground on our own. The past year has been so amazing. We have learned to fight better and talk better and just overall communicate better. It hasn't always been fun. In fact, it has been (and still is) really hard. But it has made a huge difference in the way we interact with each other and the way we love each other, practically and romantically.
But this isn't meant to be a "good for us" post about working on our marriage.

Today is our 9 year wedding anniversary. That is 9 years of ups and downs and laughs and cries. I got the most beautiful peach roses (my all-time favorite!) today and hopefully we will be able to go out to dinner or something soon. It has been a good day. But recently (actually at his sister's rehearsal dinner), hubby dropped a bit of an emotional bomb on me. In a conversation with his brother (whose inhibitions were somewhat lowered by a couple beers), hubby was defending his views on birthday celebrations (which are somewhat unorthadox- but that is a whole other topic). In this conversation, hubby was accused of not wanting to be happy. His response stunned me. Without going into too much detail, this whole conversation launched us into an emotion-filled discussion of what it means to be truly happy and if that is a mark we should realistically strive for. But also, how much of our spouses' happiness are we responsible for?

Hubby was confused as to why his professed lack of overall happiness would leave me feeling insulted and somewhat unclear of where I stood with him. "My happiness is not your job," he said. But while it is not my job, it is my heart's desire and thus something I work towards. Or at least am ever mindful of.

I know it is not technically my job, at least I think I do. I cannot control his response to life or make him feel any certain way. But I do feel that it is part of my God-given responsibility as his wife (of 9 years!!) to create an environment in which happiness is the most likely response. If I am contemplating what to make for dinner and I am deciding between lasagna and beef stroganoff, I will probably choose the stroganoff because I know he really enjoys that meal. If it is an early morning wake-up call with Lucas and I know hubby has not slept well or is really tired, I will try at least to repress any feelings of sleep entitlement and get up so that he can get a few extra minutes. Why? Because I think that is what will make him happy. Now, I am far from good at this. I am not the saint I may be painting the picture of. I grumble to myself when feeding Lucas breakfast or other less-than-gracious things. And hubby does get up with Lucas and let me sleep sometimes too. But do you see the point? I WANT him to be happy and I will do whatever I can do to make that so. So to hear that he isn't sure if he is or not is kind of a blow to me.

To his defense, he is not claiming to be UNhappy. He is just in a place of figuring out what it is that makes life truly enjoyable for him and how he can make the most of life and feel ultimately fulfilled by it. It is easy to say that happiness is found in spending time with our spouse or our children or with God or whatever. But I think if all of us are truly honest we will admit that there is more to it than that. And I am proud of hubby for getting to a place where he is brave enough to admit that and embark on an introspective journey to discovering what happiness for him will truly look like.

But in the meantime, where does that leave me? My admittedly somewhat co-dependent tendency to want to make him (and most people) happy makes this journey of his very hard for me. We were slow-dancing at his sister's wedding reception, just a day after the original comment so still very much in the hurt phase of this, and hubby very sweetly and romantically looked in my eyes and said that even if he wasn't completely sure what happiness looked like, he felt happy in that moment holding me close and dancing together. I got teary, still do just thinking about it. But I can't reproduce that moment every day. That is not what everyday life with a toddler and busy schedules looks like. How do I make him happy in the day to day? Or is that even my concern?

He says it is not. And that he just needs some time to figure this all out. And in our counseling times we have been talking about it and have begun to work it all out. But I still feel unsure of my proper response to this journey of his. Of ours. Because it does not just affect him. My happiness kind of rides on this too.

9+ years of lots of happy moments. Some not-so-happy ones too, but that is life. Put all of it together and you have the reality of living in a less-than perfect world with a less-than-perfect spouse. Thank you hubby for being on this journey with me and striving for whatever will make our family, our marriage stronger from here on. I am commited to living and loving this journey with you, no matter what.


Literacygirl June 14, 2008 at 9:51 AM  

Farrah- you look absolutely gorgeous in this picture!

TwoSquareMeals June 14, 2008 at 3:11 PM  

Happy Anniversary! I struggle with that, too, trying to understand that the hubby's bad moods are not something to take personally but still wondering what to do when they affect our family. This marriage thing is worth all the work, though. Miss you both!

Baby Love Slings


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