The Secret of Happiness

Three weeks into the new year, and already I have gone off of my 2010 bookshelf. I was browsing at Borders the other day and came across a new book from John and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of. It basically seems to be the best points from both Wild at Heart and Captivating, brought together in one book for husband and wife to read.

I loved both Captivating (for me) and Wild at Heart (for Atticus) so very much; I can’t recommend them both enough!

In reading through the book on the plane home from Florida, I couldn’t help but be moved by reading their words on marriage. I’ll just share a few of the passages that really stuck out to me, and the two main themes I’ve picked up on so far.

“Love is a rock, smoothed over by a stream. We want love to be stable and immovable, like a rock. Steady and sure. But that stream part is another matter. Some force constantly washing over us, smoothing our rough edges. We don’t much go in for that. But let’s face it – we’ve all got some roughness to our personalities, don’t we? We’ve all got a bit of smoothing over to do. For this wonderful process, God gives us…each other. Marriage is the rushing stream God uses to shape us into more loving people.”

Oh. Oh I see. That’s why it’s so stinkin’ hard sometimes, to be married. It almost seems to come out of nowhere sometimes. You’re going along — and then, woza! And I know, given that we’ve only been married for a year, that it won’t always be as easy as it is now. But it’s worth it. The hardness of marriage is me being smoothed over and reshaped into a more loving woman.

“This [transformation of marriage] begins to happen when we shift the focus of our energy from needing the other person to change…to asking God, ‘How do I need to change…All the happiness we long for waits upon our willingness to be made holy. To learn to love.”

This is a big one for me. I am sure that my way of doing things is always the right way. chopping vegetables, folding laundry, walking the dog, parking the car. Everything has a right way to be done: my way. Ha! This notion doesn’t just apply to little things, of course, it also has to do with attitudes and ways of approaching life. We come into marriage with all of the baggage of our pre-marriage lives, and it affects how we view the world, though we may not even know it.

I know for a fact this is true for me. It’s something I am praying that God will show me more of, so that I can change and become more flexible in my views.

“The greatest gift you can give to your marriage is for you to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the kindest thing you could ever do for your spouse…The secret of happiness is this: God is the love you are longing for.”

Well of course. We all know this, but how many of us know this? I think this last sentence is something you could spend the rest of your life learning, forgetting, and re-learning. At any rate, I will spend the rest of my life forgetting and re-learning this small but vastly important fact.

My husband is not a well, which I can return to endlessly to fill my never-ending desire for love. The same is true of me; I am not a well either. Only God can fill the never-ceasing desire for love that lives in each of us; because that desire exists to turn us endlessly back to Him.

Just some thoughts while reading through the first 1/3rd of the book. If you’re at all interested, I’d recommend it, especially if you have a husband who might be willing to read with you!

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  • Maggie

    Sounds like a great book…I’ll have to finish the 3 other books I’ve started and then maybe I’ll pick that one up!

  • CM

    Sounds like a great book! I know I loved Captivating. I have to say that God really used it in my life when I was going through some crazy struggles. I can’t say enough about it! Given that I’m not married, I might have to wait for a while on this book, but it sounds great. I hope we get to hear more about the next 2/3’s of the book!

  • ThatMarriedCouple

    Oh, I love the part about marriage being a rushing stream to smooth our edges – that’s beautiful.

  • Rae

    I am not normally a fan of the Eldredges’ work, but this sounds like solid advice! It is so important to remember that it is God, not our husbands, who will ultimately satisfy us.

  • Jessica Snell

    The rushing stream image is a prettier one than the one I’ve always pictured; I’ve always pictured us all like rocks in a rock tumbler. I figured other people knock off our rough edges: especially those we’re closest to, those in our families.

    But I agree so much with the sentiment.

  • Lenae

    I’ve glimpsed Eldredge books before and wondered if they are worth a read; I’ll have to grab this one from the library and give it a go!

  • Dawn Farias

    Hmmm… I like what you said about learning and forgetting and relearning. It is oh, oh so true.