Marriage Isn't For You

Marriage Isn't For You

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Kim and me after cutting the cake.

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “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.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

Now available as a beautiful gift book on Amazon.com! Click on the picture to order a copy!
Now available as a beautiful gift book on Amazon.com! Click on the picture to order a copy!

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even a sworn bachelor or bachelorette—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.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

About the author

Seth Adam Smith

Seth Adam Smith is a best-selling, award-winning author and blogger whose writings have been translated into over thirty languages and featured on Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, the Today Show, and many other news outlets around the world.

A survivor of a suicide attempt in 2006, Seth is an advocate for resources and understanding concerning depression and suicide prevention and regularly writes about these topics in his books and on his blog. He recently finished "Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern," and is currently working on a series of historical novels set in Colonial America.

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23 Comments

  • Thank you for this amazing story! So true and coming from someone that’s been married for 22 yrs now, this just made my heart melt even more.. <3 🙂

  • I know that fear and anxiety. Thank you for sharing this! I’m going on six months myself after battling that fear. My husband has been just as amazing as your wife. Congratulations on making it a year and a half now!

  • I agree with that mentality to a certain point, although if it was true and the selfless consideration of others and the forgetting of our own wellbeing and happiness was all that mattered, then would it not be true in all aspects of life? Why don’t we give away all our belongings to the poor or devote all our time to charity work? Because ultimately we wouldn’t be happy with what we’re left with. So our happiness is, to a degree, a factor in our own decisions. Also, is it fair to marry someone if you doubt that they can make you happy? How will they feel if they know they have an inability to make you truly happy about being together? Although it’s a great ideal I feel that ignoring ones own happiness completely is dangerous in the long-run. There should a balance and reciprocity in the level of contentment you feel before going into a life long commitment. (Thoughts subject to change with a compelling argument).

    • You’re right, focusing only on someone else’s happiness could leave you hanging… if it was one-sided. That’s why marriage is about BOTH people focusing on their spouse. It’s not “ignoring one’s own happiness” when making that person happy makes you happy. In fact, it’s actually a round-about way of taking care of your own happiness.

    • I think an important question to ask is, can I make this person happy? In the marriages I know of where one person is giving everything, the other person would never be happy no matter what. They are unhappy people. If you can make the other person happy, or if they would be happy marrying who you are, then it will naturally reciprocate. But there is something to the old adage, go into marriage with your eyes wide open, and continue through it with them half shut. When I got married, my dad pulled me aside and told me this is the one decision in life I’m allowed to be totally selfish about. But his definition of “selfish” was, is this who I want my kids to be raised by. So thinking of my children rather than my fiance. If you are able to make this person happy and prepared yourself to parent a future family, then I think you have what 99% of people getting married do not.

    • The bottom line on marriage is that it is really for the person who ultimately finds one’s own fulfillment in making another happy – at all costs, even one’s life.

  • After 54 wonderful years with the greatest woman and partner I must agree 100 per cent. I can not imagine life without her

  • I love my family! I love my marriage with my husband. I love our 8 year old son. I can’t imagin them not being around. See, the smart thing both my husband and I decided to do was not just rush into marriage. We got married on our 10 year anniversary of meeting each other. Our son was already 8. It’s been great because we’ve slready been living the married life together for all of our son’s life already so it’s still a regular family day for us… $;-)

  • That’s not Walmart philosophy , that’s big name brand, designer stuff philosophy… !! It’s new , it’s cool , gotta have it to be happy …. !!!

  • I’ve read this article 4 times in the last two days. Even round 4 brought me to tears. I’ve pondered on my own selfishness within my first marriage and now again with a relationship that just ended. I stopped giving. I got busy and focused on my stuff. I realize what I have lost. And it hurts. What i do know is that it is possible to truly love someone and lose the direction of giving instead a just taking. Thank you for sharing this.

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