Happy-Maker NOT!


***Marriage is not a happy-making contract!***

wp-1465060137939.pngThe seemingly accepted “wisdom” on dealing with infidelity–especially emotional affairs–is to look to the marriage relationship for what was “missing.” In other words, why was the cheater unhappy? 

Besides being predicated on a sociologically proven false premise–i.e. cheaters only cheat when they are unhappy in their marriages (see Dr. Shirley Glass’ book in RESOURCES)–it is premised on a faulty and ungodly understanding of marriage.

God does not tell us to only honor our marriage covenants as long as our spouse makes us happy. He warns us to honor our marriage covenants and keep the marriage bed pure with no reference to our state of happiness or unhappiness in that relationship.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. -Hebrews 13:4, NLT

Maybe I am missing something here, but where in this verse (or the whole Bible for that matter) is the warning to faithful spouses to keep their partners happy or God will let their spouses cheat on them? The Bible I read does not contain such a warning.

But perhaps all those “wise” pastors and Christian leaders asking about “what was missing” in the infidelity violated marriage see something in Hebrews 13:4 that I am missing?

Reducing a marriage to a happy-making contract dehumanizes both parties. Such an understanding of marriage essentially states that the only reason one is married is to extract happiness from the other. As soon as such happiness is no longer a gain, then the relationship is over. The other spouse is no longer person but rather a means to an ends–i.e. someone being used to get personal happiness.

This is a horribly pagan and heathen notion.

Christian marriage is to mirror Christ’s relationship with the Church (e.g. Ephesians 5:23ff):

What if Jesus approached that covenant as a happiness-making contract?

If He did, I doubt He would have gone to the Cross.

You see, crucifixion is a real buzz-kill to personal happiness. I am told they had to invent a word to capture how incredibly painful such a death was–i.e. “excruciating.” Yet Jesus did that in order to win His Bride and glorify His Father. 

Please do not get me wrong: I hope every marriage is full of happy moments and memories. However, I am troubled by a Christian world that blindly accepts the “happy-making contract” concept of marriage and reinforces such a concept when dealing with infidelity.

God has a much higher view of such relationships. He gave us marriage as a picture of His deep and abiding commitment to His people. A commitment that prioritized the relationship over the personal pain of even God’s Only Begotten Son.

Christian marriage is not reducible to a happiness equation.

This means the happiness or unhappiness is not the primary focus here for godly marriage. The primary focus is upon keeping the covenant–aka commitments–made to each other before God and each other on the wedding day.

It is not that I think God is uninterested in our happiness. But that is not what He teaches us as the primary area of focus in honoring marriage. The primary focus is upon keeping the marriage covenant and not violating it as a cheater does. And only the person choosing to violate the marriage by committing adultery has the power to choose otherwise.



Instead of asking why the cheater is unhappy, a more constructive question to ask is what made him or her think it was okay to disobey God’s clear teaching against cheating. That is the real issue from a biblical standpoint. A cheater needs to dig down internally to deal with what led to his or her open defiance of God.

11 thoughts on “Happy-Maker NOT!”

  1. Well said as always.

    In reference to my post about the conversation I had with my friend about forgiveness: what would you say to someone who asserts that being a bad spouse does not justify the other spouse to cheat, but makes it easier for them to cheat?

    1. Getting passed out drunk might make it easier to rape such a woman, but the rapist is still fully responsible for choosing and committing the crime.

      1. I saw a story on Facebook where this happened. A college woman was passed out drunk behind a dumpster. A guy came up to her and raped her. Two other guys intervened and apprehended the guy. He got brought to trial but got a light sentence. My first thought was “What kind of person would rape her instead of calling 911? Shouldn’t you be concerned for her health when she’s passed out drunk?” Note that the other two guys felt this was wrong enough to intervene.

  2. Both spouses are supposed to do their best to bless the other and bring happiness. Circumstances may intervene, but the devotion of a spouse to contribute to the other’s happiness is one of the most obvious indicators of love. The cheater is showing a lack of love by not regarding the vows (which cover more than just sexual faithfulness) and only caring about his/her own pleasure (often relabelled as happiness). The *cheater* is usually the one who is destroying happiness.

    I do think it is possible to make someone miserable. I even think that may put the other spouse in the way of temptation. That is sin, but that doesn’t remove any guilt from the cheater. Satan beguiled and was guilty. Eve ate and her guilt was her own. Eve tempted Adam and was guilty. Adam ate, and his guilt was his own. In fact, God told Adam that the ground was cursed because he listened to Eve. Saying that Eve tempted him was factual, and important, but it had no bearing on Adam’s guilt.

    Using the “they didn’t make me happy enough” excuse after they have destroyed|defrauded|cheated seems very common. I think it is a strategy that is mostly about inviting outsiders who will insist on sharing the blame and immediate forgiveness. They don’t give a rodential hindquarters about the honor of the marriage bed or honoring their spouse — or giving their spouse happiness.

    1. I feel like my ex-husband didn’t care about my happiness. In fact, his cheating and rudeness made me miserable. Not to mention the neglect that goes along with his tending another woman. For the last year or so “I” was the one who always had to proposition him and it took some effort sometimes to convince him to have any kind of physical intimacy. Assuming he was even home and wasn’t out with his “best friend” (the OW). I even mentioned that I felt completely starved for any kind of affection as well. But, I didn’t cheat. Why? Because I’m responsible for my own actions. I do believe there has to be a reward from God for that kind of faithfulness. But, sometimes it just hurts because I so want my own needs to get met. It feels like you do the right thing and just get hurt for it while those who do the wrong thing flourish. I know I’m not the first one to feel that way. The book of Malachi has people who are trying to do the right thing saying the exact same thing. And God reminds them that someday they will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked (Malachi 3:18)

      1. I felt the same way. Very confused by his treatment. It all seems so unfair that my devotion and faithfulness were rewarded with betrayal. I own responsibility for staying but I did so believing in forgiveness. I did not know then that it required true repentance. Since it has ended I see the bad and not the good in people. I know I will be single for a while. I have my children to raise and that will occupy. But emotionally i feel depleted. It does not help that while I was down he kept kicking. And yes. What is it with this happy at all costs mentality?

  3. When the cheating spouse says the faithful spouse didn’t make them happy, it is blameshifting designed to make the faithful spouse feel guilty. It is salt being rubbed into the wound of cheating. The cheating spouse does not want to be held accountable for what they know is wrong and a sin, but they will not take responsibility for their actions. The cheating spouse is often verbally if not physically abusive to the faithful spouse and during these times it is obvious that the cheating spouse does not care about the happiness of the faithful spouse. The faithful spouse will often “walk on eggshells” and put themselves last in an attempt to ensure the “happiness” of the cheating spouse. The cheating spouse, who claims to find “happiness” with their affair partner, which is infatuation, will often be emotionally abusive to the faithful spouse during the time that the affair is going on.

    1. Yes. My ex said some very hurtful things to me. Before he was unfaithful, he once aimed a rubber band at my butt and left a welt. After we were trying to reconcile for the last time, he was ‘helping’ me practice for my martial arts by throwing punches toward my face. I was new at it and missed one, resulting in him punching me in the eye accidentally. Granted, he didn’t hit very hard, but still one has to ask why he thought that was a good idea. We also talked all about how my counseling was going. I was doing the pick me dance pretty hard. I told him the counselor said she didn’t think I should identify myself by my shyness. His only response? “BUT YOU’RE NOT NORMAL!!!!!!!!!”

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