You Are In Charge Of Your Own Happiness

by Destri on February 12, 2010

I think as mothers this subject can be taken down many avenues; but for today I would like to touch specifically on not relying on our spouses for our individual happiness.

First I would like to give a disclaimer!  I am not an expert, and I am still working on this very subject, all the time.  Having said that, I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on it.  I will keep it short and give an example to get things started and then open up the comments.

My grandma said something to me once that I have never forgotten.  “You are responsible for your own happiness, not your husband.” I have to say I didn’t understand what she meant at the time.  Wasn’t that why you are in a marriage, to make each other happy?  It wasn’t until a year later that what she said started to sink in.  I had to look at it a little differently.

I am in charge of my own happiness, it is my decision. My husband cannot make that decision for me.  He cannot provide a mind set.  He cannot provide a way to look at things.

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  –Abraham Lincoln

Here is an example of a time I had taken charge of my own happiness.

Me and the mister had been married for just under a year when we moved to Houston.  We had been there for a few months and had not made any friends, had no family, no kids.  This left us to each other for sole entertainment.  I am not saying this was a bad thing, it was great most of the time.

One particular Saturday afternoon I wanted to go to the movies and asked him if he wanted to go.  He said no, he hated to go to the movies during the day, it was a waste of daylight.  Instantly I was annoyed.  It was 98 degrees outside with 80% humidity, what was he going to do, go for a bike ride?  So I sat and stewed for a minute.  I knew that if I stayed home I would just be bitter that he had kept me from my fun.  He had made a decision to make me unhappy. I was really mad at him for about ten minutes, until I realized I was making the decision to make myself unhappy.  I was playing the martyr.   So I got up, put on my shoes and grabbed my purse.

“Where are you going?”  he asked.

“To the movies”  I responded in a pleasant tone, and not the passive aggressive one.  Just a matter of fact.

“You’re going without me?” he asked with a perplexed look on his face.

“Ya, you said you didn’t want to go, and that’s fine.  I will stop and grab us something for dinner on my way home.  I’ll be back in a few hours.”

That conversation could have went an entirely different direction had I made the decision to stay home with him.  After a couple hours of my being mad it probably would have went a little something like this:

“What do you want for dinner”  I would have said in a callous tone.

“I don’t care, whatever you want” would be his answer as I stomp into the kitchen “Is there something wrong?” he’d add.

“No, I’m fine” I’d answer in a passive aggressive tone.  After a few more annoyed exchanges and him pressing  I would respond with:

“We could have went to the movies, but no…because of you we sat here all day.  So yes, I am mad, I hope your happy.”   We both would have been miserable.

But instead I happily ate my popcorn, stopped and picked up some of our favorite Mexican food on my way home, then told him all about the romantic comedy he had missed out on.  He had happily watched football, and took a nap.  Just what he had wanted to do.  We were both happy.

That day was liberating….

Of course I still compromise and do what he wants to some of the time, as does he;  but I make sure I am happy with that decision.

Just in case you were curious, he always goes to the movies now when I ask-and it is a decision he is happy with because it was made by him, not a response to my attitude after he said no.  That or he knows I’ll leave him!

Thoughts?

Shared this post with the lovely Finer Things Friday on The Finer Things in Life, and the ever inspiring Chatting at the Sky.


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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Whatever DeeDee Wants February 12, 2010 at 6:48 am

I love that quote by Abraham Lincoln, it’s so true!

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Kate February 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

Oh Destri you always come up with winners.
I too remember being ‘told’ this very same thing, but instead of happiness it was referring to the great complexities of feelings.
Lemme put you in the picture:
It was my first day at the hospital I use to work at, and you know those feelings that go bouncing around in your head…. don’t let there be traffic, where shall I park (in fact I’m one of those kinda people who drive around the day before and check that…but you get the idea) will everyone like me? those conversations going on around about things you don’t know or understand….
I had the radio on in the car and there is a spot, every day called Pause for Thought given in about 5 minutes and no more by various leaders of all faiths. This one was given by Dharmachari Nagaraja, and I remember it well. He is the leader of the Buddist Centre in Glasgow…. any-hoo, he ‘told’ us in the gentle quiet way that, ‘if you are given a present, but refuse it, then to whom does it belong’ only he said it far more elequently than that. So instead of feeling nervous I decided that I was going to feel excited that this was a whole new opportunity.

I still do it now when in situations when feelings start clouding judgement, or excitment or I am just plain not being responsible for my own feelings…. and happiness and husbands fit into that catagory too.

May you have a happy, smiling day filled with magical moments.x

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Destri February 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

Oh Kate,
I love this story, it could be a post all its own…maybe it should be.

Hope yours is filled with some quite moments as well as robust laughter filled ones.
xo

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Brandy February 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

I am trying to explain this concept to my 7 year old. Everyday is the worst day of his life and it is usually because of something that someone did or didn’t do to or for him. It’s hard to understand at that age. But this is exactly what I needed this morning. I was ticked yesterday at my husband. The whole passive tone, your example of what could have happened, did happen here yesterday. And I am still kind of upset this morning, so this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks a million. I don’t want to have a bad day today!! So I am going to choose happiness!!

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Destri February 12, 2010 at 7:57 am

Yay!
As much as you needed to hear that, I needed to hear you say that….I was so nervous to hit publish! I was hoping people understood what I was meaning.
So thank you.

I have to tell myself this very story all the time, weekly usually, just to remind myself the way I can choose to react to things, okay, maybe daily…..hourly….

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Maria February 12, 2010 at 7:45 am

So some of us learned this the hard way instead of having a super wise grandma. Just because something makes you happy doesn’t mean it makes everyone (including your spouse) happy. I think sometimes we think if someone is really our soulmate/one and only, we will always like the same things. HA!! Marriage is about compromising, and sometimes when we do we learn to like something more just because we see how happy it makes our spouse. For example….
I really like inviting people over for dinner. My husband didn’t love it so much at first, but he knows it is something that makes me really happy,especially with us living so far away from family. It may not make him as happy as playing Basketball or fixing cars but now it is something we both look forward to and enjoy.

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Destri February 12, 2010 at 8:00 am

I agree 100%. And I wish I could come over for dinner, like tonight.

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marta February 12, 2010 at 8:12 am

loving this post destri. guess what.. i went to a movie all by myself the other day!! and the experience wasn’t half bad. he was happy and we saved babysitter money for another time.
happy valentine’s!!
xo.

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Destri February 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

Oh it gets easier every time…plus you don’t have to share the popcorn!
Happy love day to you!
luvs

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Lynette February 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

What a great post Destri – just because! Wish I had something insightful to add or say, but y’all have done a standup job – really love coming here. Been MIA for a bit, but have been missing my “daily dose of the TMH”!!

Happy V-Day girls!

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Destri February 12, 2010 at 9:40 am

Okay, I was just wondering where you have been, I even went to check in on you!
Thanks for the pat on the back, they are always appreciated.

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tiffany February 12, 2010 at 9:23 am

it’s so true. we are all in charge of our destiny and our own happiness. it’s a choice. even in the worst of situations, we can still find happiness.

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Mel February 12, 2010 at 9:53 am

I just came across your blog recently and have been enjoying it very much. And I absolutely loved reading this post – very timely right before V-Day. This is a wonderful reminder to appreciate our husbands more – sometimes I find myself blaming him for things that are entirely unrelated to him at all! Poor chap.
“I am in in charge of my own happiness” …I will be repeating this to myself all weekend long -and hopefully longer than that ( in my mind, not aloud, coz I’m not crazy or anything =)

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Candace February 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

i LOVE your blog Mel!

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Candace February 12, 2010 at 10:14 am

Destri,

I laughed my way through this whole post! I’m not sure why I found it to be so humorous…but I did.

Have you ever read the list that has like 10 things women are REALLY saying when they say something like “what.ever.”– (all about that passive aggressive road we sometimes take as women) supposed to be like a code decipher for men. I’ll have to forward it to you..you’d love it.

Great post my friend.

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Kate February 12, 2010 at 10:46 am

Thanks for the great thoughts! Always good to be reminded of. I’ve really enjoyed all the fun, insightful things on TMH.

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Tina February 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

Great post! It took me awhile to figure this little lesson out myself. I can now happily say that I am totally fine doing my own thing and letting Hubby do his. We have shared interests, but I am not relying on his interests to make me happy. We have a great marriage, but one day, I kind of realized: this is OUR marriage, but it’s MY life. I have to make it my own. I have a few girlfriends who have lives that revolve around their husbands: his friends (or wives of his friends), his career, his interests, sports teams…etc. It’s like they disappeared and their husbands grew a new limb.
And FYI…going to the movies by myself? Especially after having a kiddo? Is like a VACATION! I love it!

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Kate February 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Oh Tina, I really should get out to the movies…I need a vacation and a good laugh or cry – not to mention a whole bag of popcorn just for me!

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Aubrey February 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

You told me this story once and I have never forgotten it! Such a good reminder…it would be so easy to let anyone (not just the hubby) put you in a bad mood. There is a kids song that comes to mind…”It’s your attitude that makes you!” I wish you could hear the tune that I’m singing in my head… :-)

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Sarah N. February 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm

i love this topic and you are right now – especially coming from a woman who was married 3 years living across the country from my spouse – and now we live in the same house but he’s active duty and getting ready to deploy again. they are wonderful but you have to steer your day in the direction you choose. there are wonderful times in life when you and your man get to revel in happiness together but there are many more times in the day when its up to you to direct your attitude, activities and hearts desires. thanks for the post!

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Eunice Robertson February 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

Your grandmother was so right. We are responsible for our own happiness. We let ourselves become reliant for our happiness on other people and when things go against our expectations we have a hissy fit. I said the same thing to both of my daughters. We have to build our own “lives” apart from our partners to a certain degree. we should have things (outings we go on, friends of our own, hobbies of our own) that are uniquely our own, as should our spouses.Those things will enrich our personal lives but also enrich our relationships with our partners, because through those things we will develop as individuals.

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Suzanne February 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Good story and surprising that you had the fore thought to do what made you happy and there was no fight. I have learned that I make the decision to be happy but not as early in my life or marriage as you, very impressed. Now I have learned I want to go the movies alone, I kind of like “my time” not to say I don’t like “our time” because I do love that too. Great post Destri!

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Dawn February 16, 2010 at 7:44 am

hmmm… so very true. i frequently tell my kid that i am not in charge of their fun… but i never really thought about the happiness part. but we have a choice, don’t we? i loved your story… brings a lot of light. thanks for giving me something to think about today!

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keLi February 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

Great post — a lesson that is essential for marriage, but one that’s so hard to learn. I actually mentioned this in my last post — how my husband and I, even on a “getaway weekend” — took some alone time to do things the other didn’t really want to do. We both came back from our excursions refreshed and excited to spend time together. A couple of years ago, though, I would have been the passive-aggressive wife that you describe here…

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amanda February 16, 2010 at 11:02 am

what a great reminder! it’s an important lesson for marriage, parenting, and for dealing with just about anything.

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Melissa Multitasking Mama February 16, 2010 at 11:39 am

Those are the choices that create lasting marriages! Great post =)

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Dayle February 16, 2010 at 11:49 am

The sooner newlyweds realize this, the better. Happiness is a choice, and it’s all up to you.

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Alyssa February 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I must confess that I am usually the one that doesn’t remember that my husband doesn’t account for my happiness or UNhappiness. I typically find out after making a big stink, or feeling bad for myself…that I should have just done the opposite of what I did or said.
Your post definitely shined a light on it for me!
Thank you…

Alyssa
lifeoflyssie.com

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Beth February 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for sharing this thought- I’ve been married a year and a half and am still working on learning how not to take the second option you described…. because that happens pretty often around here. I’m glad to think of things a different way!

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Southern Gal February 16, 2010 at 9:35 pm

That is so true. Our former pastor’s wife would teach young women and she said something similar. “Your anger is your own. No one else makes you mad, you decide to be mad.” Different angle, but same goal. Choices. Thanks for sharing that.

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Destri February 16, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Different angle, and I love it, writing that one down.

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dawn February 17, 2010 at 12:17 am

You are very wise. We have a choice.

And as wonderful as any spouse is–they will never succeed in making us happy all the time–they are human. We need to let that expectation go!

Great post.

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heidi @ wonder woman wannabe February 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Great thoughts and revelations shared in this post!

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Amy @ Finer Things February 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Such an important concept. We simply cannot “react” to the things outside of us and change because of them.

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Losaline Latu February 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I was in love with your blog with all the info that you had shared!It has enlightened me to share with you a little on this subject!It is just an additive to your saying, “you are in charge of your own happiness!”
I usually tell myself a quote that is similar that has been told many times, “Happiness is a choice.” I am a mother of the ages of 5,4,3!Enough said, it can get frustrating, its a repeated life story for myself!Due to my husbands schedule I was given the decision to give everything up to be a stay at home mother. I enjoy it very much so, but there are times where I just want to crawl into a ball and cry!
This quote, “Happiness is a choice” came into play and triggered really hard about a week ago. I was preparing some things for church on a Saturday nite, and my husband was watching a basketball game. I asked him nicely, if he could take the kids in the room, put ther jammies on and tuck them in!This being a very complicated task for my husband stared as he looked at me like he would do it once the game was over. There began my frustration I would just have to deal with it and put my things aside and go and put the kids to bed! To my suprise, he did as he was asked….so I watched as I was already like myself planning for failure!lol….he returned and the task was done. About a couple minutes had passed and the kids one by one came out of the room and then was put back in bed by my husband after awhile my daughter came out. There I saw my daughter with tractor blue jammies on. I asked, “hon do you know shes wearing Zeniffs jamas (my son).” He laughed and he continued to put her in bed!
What, all of you dont know is I was taught a very hard lesson that had taked years of teaching. One Saturday nite with a simple scenario had triggered my heart and taught me a most valuable lesson. My husband is color blind, that explains why he had put blue jammies on my daughter. I learned that happiness is a choice I can choose to be angry with him but I chose to stop and not get frustrated but embrace, be grateful for his obeying my asking to put the children to bed.By choosing to stop and think and understand I had chosen happiness over frustration and anger!This taught me to understand and made me realize my husband did his best despite his weakness of beng color blind!
There are so many great blessings when we choose happiness!We learn to be more open minded, understanding, and it eliminates so much anger in our hearts but leaves us blessed and taught and a chance to better ourselves!

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Denise April 1, 2011 at 10:44 am

What a great post! My husband and I are together practically 24/7, 365 days a year. Plus, we now live in a rural area without much daily contact with others. Sometimes the constant exposure to one another really puts a strain on our relationship. I find it really helps to branch out on my own and take in a movie, a concert, etc. Moving to our country home full time and leaving suburbia was my husband’s great obsession. I have to admit I was very reluctant and a bit fearful of making the plunge. Slowly and surely I am finding my niche and carving out a place for myself in our new community. It’s taken me longer than I care to confess to realize that my husband is not responsible for my happiness and contentment in our new place. That is up to me!

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in this endeavor.

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Kathy April 3, 2011 at 8:18 pm

So true, trying to teach myself that! Good read.

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Mindy July 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I did something similar just recently with my husband but it was over going to church.
He turned around that morning and came with me. Married 30 years and still working on this concept. I too love that Abraham Lincoln quote. Happiness is located in our own attitudes and perspectives. Thanks for the reminder.

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pinkcamojeep July 4, 2011 at 6:19 am

What a fantastic post. Love your honesty!! It ties in with the quote “love is a decision.” So grand.

You know what made ME laugh the hardest in your post? Your husband would consider a movie a good waste of daylight so he won’t go to a movie … but he will sit home and watch football and take a nap. That’s ironic. lol

Thanks for sharing your thought pattern. That was great!

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Destri July 21, 2011 at 7:14 am

I know right?! He has come around on that front! I tell you it only takes once. The problem is now I like to go to the movies on my own and I don’t get the chance very often :) I did get to go see Harry Potter last night though. We haven’t been able to find a sitter, so decided we would have to go separately. You do what you have to do!

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Melanie Hanni September 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

I love your website – thanks for excellent information – it is so true our happiness comes from within – no one but ourselves can make us happy – bloom where you are planted.

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Kathy December 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I just stumbled upon this today and I’m sitting here being angry with my husband. Your story came at the perfect time tonight and I am now going to do this for myself. I’m a stay at home mom of 4 girls and have been feeling unappreciated lately. It’s all up to me to change that! Thank you!

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Destri December 19, 2011 at 11:40 am

Kathy, I was having the same night, and your comment made me re-read this post…so thank you! It’s amazing how things happen like that. And your welcome :)

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Shawnie April 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I have had to learn that lesson the hard way myself… My parents are very intertwined and happy & loving…my husband is more independant, which has taught me the lesson you mentioned in your post. I have a 95 year old friend who has outlived her 3 spouses and 1 child and she lives alone. I love to go visit with her just to learn how she does it…living alone at 95 years old… she told me recently that she had to divorce her 1st husband because he cheated on her and he was abusive… She lived waay out in the country and had no one to help her… she decided when her kids were 14 & 16 that she could not stay with her abusive husband any longer and she walked the railroad tracks to get away from him. She had to make the difficult decision to leave her sons behind, because she knew she could not support them.Her life is like a field guide for survival…she is an amazing ole’ girl. She told me (about her 1st husband) that she had decided that “he was not going to live his life, and mine too!” Of course this is an extreme story of survival, but against the odds she is still going strong at 95. She tells me also that my happiness is my responsibility… and that being dependant on my husband to “bring home the bacon” has the potential to be hazzardous to my emotional health… I am a home school mama, and I am trying to start a home based business independant of my husband. We have a home based business together, he does home improvements while I keep the books… it is a balancing act. I realize now that when I married my husband (20 years ago) I placed my life in GOD’s hands, not my husband’s hands. I love and appreciate all that my husband does for us as a family. He does work hard, but so do I in a different way. Marriage is a balancing act…love is a choice and I choose us! (He does too, obviously after 20 years!) I just wanted to share all that for those who are on the marriage balance beam… Mother hood and Marriage do require a measure of dying to self, not always being happy about the stuff we have to do, and I know you all already know that or our kids would always be sitting aroung in poopie diapers, we just do the stuff that has to get done! I love to quote Snow White & the 7 dwarfs…”whistle while you work!” and Mary Poppins, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down… in the most delightful way!” I think those movies are for me more than for my kids!!! hahaha, Blessings, Shawnie

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Destri April 11, 2012 at 6:44 am

Such a great story and I can relate to it in many ways. My mom lost her husband when I was 4 years old and she stayed at home, she was left with three kids and no job. She has always told me to make sure I at least have a trade to fall back onto in case the unthinkable ever happens.
And Mary Poppins is a favorite of mine for the same reason!
Thanks so much for sharing Shawnie

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Nadia June 21, 2012 at 4:51 am

I have to say I was looking for a quote on happiness and destiny and the first thing that popped up in my search was your post. I had just broken up with my long time boyfriend for having many problems about making each other happy. It seemed that we were both disappointed on how we were both treating each other, not looking to help the other be ok with the stressful situation of moving to another country together.

Your post made me realize that he can’t help me and I can’t help him because we both need different things to be happy. We can support each other on this new adventure, but we can’t “make” the other person be happier. Thank you for reminding me that! I hope we can still fix it, thank you for kind post!

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Destri June 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

Oh if I could give you a hug I would. Moving is hard enough, make it another country and I can’t even imagine! I love how you put that “we both need different things to be happy”. Perfect, and perfectly okay.

You’re welcome, and good luck. Thanks so much for your sweet comment!

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alwaysfailinghusband August 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thanks a bunch for this. My wife of just 10monthsand i are now contemplating seperation/divorce. I am agreeing to it finally having realised that I just cannot cope emotionally with the responsibilty for her happiness. I have three kids from a previous marriage and fought tooth and nail for them. I have full custody of them.I love my wife my three children. I want them all to be happy but she alwaysfeels and tells me that i put everybody else ahead of her. I try and try and try some more. I work from home and do domestics that will put most women to shame, we’re effectively a single income family and things are tight but i don’t fret over this as much as i feel weighed down by her laundry list of things i don’t do and how poorly i meet her needs. In fact i now totally loathe the word ‘needs’ right now.

Your post is a great one in that it reminds me that others can affect my happiness but they do not determine it. Please note that I am not absolving myself of any responsibility towards my wife but I have just become disillusioned about my ability or capacity to meet her needs.

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Rebekah Mingus October 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

Great article! A lesson I wish I had learned MUCH earlier in my life. Hubby and I are 100% happier now that we honestly acknowledge what we want, and do it. Thank you for sharing!

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