This week, a man few of us have heard of wrote a post on marriage that immediately went viral. In his short but extremely important post, “Marriage Isn’t For You,” Seth Adam Smith, a young video producer and writer, recounts some surprising advice his father gave him just before his wedding 18 months ago. That advice, and the impact it’s had on Smith’s life and marriage, have made the post an internet sensation in just two days.
As Smith explains, he was going through a bad case of pre-wedding jitters on the eve of his wedding, filled with doubts about whether he was making the right decision.
After he poured his heart out to his Dad, the older man gave him this advice:
Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t FOR you. It’s not ABOUT you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
As Smith says, this advice is in direct opposition to what he calls the
Walmart philosophy – that if it doesn’t make you happy, you just take it back and get a new one.”
Today’s divorce rates would indicate that this is the mindset behind many of our marriages as well. Of course, some marriages rightfully end because of abuse and other serious factors, but many marriages end simply because one or both partners isn’t happy.
Although Mr. Smith’s advice was for a young man not yet married, those of us who are married and have been for years can still apply that advice to our own relationships. Essentially, it’s a fresh way to look at our marriages and see if we’re approaching them from the wrong perspective.
Are you operating under the idea that your marriage exists to make you happy, or that you’re in the marriage to make your spouse happy? What would happen to your relationship if each of you decided to make your marriage all about making the other happy?
Smith concludes his post by telling his readers,
I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love. And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.”
Just imagine if each of you put the other’s happiness first. What would happen to your marriage, your outlook and your life?