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  • Gary Malone, LMFT

Quit Trying to Make Your Partner Happy

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

It's not your job.

I am going to tell you something that I wish you heard a long time ago. It might sound ludicrous, but hang with me and hopefully I’ll be able to clear it up.

Your job isn’t to make your spouse happy.

Let me say it again just in case you thought you misread…


I’m not recommending you turn toward your spouse right now to them know. I need you to keep reading because a sentence like that needs context. Without context, you might end up sleeping on the couch.

Here’s the issue when happiness is the primary goal in your relationship: you’ll fail. Who wants to feel like a failure? Because if happiness is the goal, then you’ll feel like that a lot of the time. Do you know what two feelings people dislike the most in a relationship? Failure and rejection, but that’s for another blog. Let’s focus on this happiness stuff. Happiness is based on situations and possessions, it is here one minute and gone the next. Kind of like when you spend too much money on a Christmas present for your kid and a week later they’re no longer playing with it.

If happiness isn’t the goal, then what is your job then? That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked.

Your job as a spouse, as a partner, is to love your counterpart well.

Is there a difference? Yes! Huge difference. Huge. Will loving them well make them happy? Sometimes, but, sometimes not. For example, conversations about unmet needs, budget, or parenting preference tend to not always make people feel ‘happy’, but they are necessary.

Having those necessary conversations, and not stuffing them to allow resentment grow, is loving them well. You’re choosing communication/love over resentment.

Loving them well also means being present. It means listening. It means having an understanding of their ‘love languages’ and trying best to meet those every day. It is their job to be/choose happiness, it is your job (honor, privilege, opportunity) to love them well.

***This same concept of love over happiness can be applied with our children. If yours are anything like mine they would be terribly happy playing video games and eating candy all day. No real food, just Twizzlers, Snickers, jelly beans, and cookies in one hand and Fortnite on the Xbox. But, loving our kids and wanting the best isn’t allowing that on a daily basis even though that would make them happy.

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