Being Responsible for Your Own Happiness
It wasn't until very recently that I learned a huge lesson about myself and my marriage. My husband and I were having an intense conversation about personal goals v. family responsibilities v. expectations. I went into the conversation feeling hurt and upset from a situation the night before. After rummaging through the surface problems and getting to the root, I realized I had given him something I said I never would:
I was handing my husband my happiness. Unbeknownst to him, I had placed in his hand something he did not ask for, nor, something he could deliver.
I had to reflect back and realize I didn't marry Keith for what he could provide to me. I married him for who he was. The fiber of who he is is responsible for all of the things we become together, who he grows into as a person and the mountains we collectively battle. I was too caught up in looking to him to provide what I need that I forgot to look at him. My narrative toward him went from “You make me happy,” to “Make me happy.”
Sure, the person you're with should make you happy. But it is not their responsibility to make you happy. Make sense?
If you don’t see the difference in these two statements, allow me to illuminate. “You make me happy” says that just by being yourself, you bring light into my life. Nothing added or taken away, the person you are in my life brings me joy. Inversely, “Make me happy,” puts your own personal happiness in the hands of your partner. This statement says that you should be doing whatever you can to make sure I am happy and appeased, even if those things are outside of your reach or are unreasonable. One statement, “You make me happy,” is selfless. The other, “Make me happy,” is selfish.
I had heard both of the above statements many times over--even agreed with it and thought I was living it out. But somewhere along the way, I blamed my unhappiness on something he wasn't doing. Instead of finding the courage to figure what was annoying me, it was easier to look outside of myself and transfer the blame to him. No single person can make you happy. One of the keys to love is to recognize faults exist, and to love still. However, this applies to looking at your own faults and loving that person all the more because they look past it all and still choose you. Isn’t that humbling?
This does not mean that you should stand for abuse in any form (mental, emotional, physical, financial, etc). If the nature and core of the person you are with manipulative, belittling and any other characteristic that brings fear or intimidation to your life. This is about finding joy in life, valuing who you are and recognizing those same or similar values in your partner.
If you don’t know where to start, here is what I did.
- Find or rediscover a hobby ASAP. Listen, I don't care if you enjoy watching reality TV or crocheting place mats. Find something you enjoy doing that doesn't have anything to do with your significant other. You could join a Meetup group or create a Pinterest board. I started watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix (ha!). Once you figure it out, do it. And keep going.
- Find out what your significant other likes to do. Once you find out what it is, encourage them to do it. Recommend books about it. Nod and respond when they talk about it. Listen. If you have no idea what they're talking about, say, “That sounds interesting but I'm a bit confused. Could you explain more?” They'll appreciate the gesture immensely. They'll reciprocate by loving you just as hard.
- Don't expect anything in return. Love is selfless. No tit for tat. No expectations.
Love is within and without. Meaning, it is both an inward feeling and an outward expression. For your partner but more importantly for yourself. Don’t forget to love. That means loving yourself. Take control of your own happiness and watch it replicate into happiness for others.