I’m too miserable to stay in this marriage any longer. I know in my heart that’s not what God wants for me. So I’m leaving; I’ve been unhappy for too many years. God would never want me to be this unhappy for the rest of my life!
Those are just a few of the statements we’ve heard from spouses, which causes them to feel it’s okay to be leaving their marriages to forge a new life. After all, “God wants me to be happy” …right? Well, yes and no. We have to look at the context of what their “happiness” costs on many different levels.
I agree with what Mrs Parunak says in her PursuingTitus2.com article, “Wouldn’t God Want Me to Be Happy?” When asked this question she wrote,
“I think the fact that you apply that question to a situation in which you are contemplating leaving your husband for another man demonstrates that you’ve been fed lies in two critical areas: what God wants, and what will make you happy.”
Same Principles Apply on Leaving Your Spouse
Now even if you don’t have someone else chosen to be the one you will eventually marry after you divorce your present spouse, the same principles apply.
Does God want you to be happy? Of course… It’s natural to assume that as a Father, He would want that for His children. But if your happiness steps on someone else’s happiness what’s the answer then? Is your happiness the only consideration here?
You might THINK that everyone else would eventually be happier if you left your marriage, but are you all-knowing? I’m not. And I have a feeling that you aren’t either.
Leaving, Pursuing “Happiness”
Years ago, my dad left my mom and us four kids to pursue his “happiness” with another woman. He was sure that was what he should do and that this would make him happy. In doing so, he left my mom who was devastated, and us four kids whose lives have never been the same, as a result. This woman left her husband and her children who were also devastated. There were also a lot of other grieving family members and friends that were hurt too, by all of their leaving their marriages. This brought up the following questions: Didn’t God want US to be happy? What about us? Was my Dad and this woman’s happiness the most important thing to God?
Was it God’s will for us to grieve so my dad and this woman would be happy? No. I can’t imagine that this is what God would approve of at all. There’s a problem when our happiness violates other principles that are important to God.
I can tell you as a grandma that I want my granddaughter to be happy. But if she had to elbow my grandson so she could grab his toy, food or whatever, so she could be happy—I wouldn’t be happy about that at all. And neither would her brother be happy, nor her parents. Happiness is not the ultimate goal of life. Sometimes we have to be left wanting or unhappy for the greater good—especially the greater good of many.
Our Character VS Our Comfort and Values
Yes, God wants you to be happy, but not at the expense of the greater good that HE knows needs to happen. He is more interested in our character, than our comfort. God wants HIS values to be lived out, more than our temporary satisfaction and happiness.
We’re told in God’s Word, “The eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Proverbs 27:20) And it’s SO true.
End of the Story
Let me tell you the end of the story with my parents. My dad eventually left the woman he ran away with. Their happiness didn’t last long. They were sure it would. But it didn’t. He realized she wasn’t all he thought she was. He also realized that they weren’t so great together after all. She eventually went back to her husband and family. But then she ended up leaving her husband and ran off with another man she wanted “happiness” with and “loved.”
My Dad came back home; and my parents worked on their marriage and it survived until my mom died several years ago. But my mom’s love and trust level she had for my Dad took a big hit while my Dad was pursuing his happiness. It was never the same. And that’s not all that that suffered. I eventually grew up, married and had marital problems for a long time because of my insecurity in trusting men. (Thankfully, God helped me to get to a better place; and my marriage survived and is now thriving.)
I also have to tell you that when my Dad left, something snapped in my brother. He was never the same. He eventually self-medicated by turning to drugs and alcohol. Sadly, he died a young death from complications of his alcohol abuse. He left behind a grieving widow and siblings who miss him terribly. My other brother and sister have lived with their own emotional scars. (And their marriages and kids have suffered from the negative ripple-effect of our childhood insecurities.)
Our Actions Affect Others for Generations
I tell you all this to say that just because we want to reach for “happiness” and just because it seems that it should be justifiable for various reasons, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for us to do. We don’t live as islands unto ourselves. Our actions can and do affect others for generations. We need to always consider that. God knows it. That’s probably a big reason why He hates divorce. It’s because of all of the damage it causes. He also hates it because it tears up the living picture of His love for the church. (This is portrayed throughout the Bible.) There’s something wrong with this picture, when we have to tear up God’s picture to reach for our happiness.
I appreciate something that Erin Davis wrote in her blog, “Does God Want You to Be Happy?” The following is part of what she said that stood out to me. She was telling of a wife and mom of a toddler that was “unhappy” in her marriage. She was leaving her marriage and divorcing. Erin tried to scripturally convince her NOT to divorce.
“Her response? ‘I believe that God wants me to be happy; and I am just not happy in my marriage.’
“Soon after that conversation she left her husband. She is no longer involved in the church where we used to minister to teenagers side-by-side. I can’t say if she is happier now or not. But I do know that her decision came at a tremendous cost.
“I’ve heard the argument ‘God wants me to be happy’ made often through the years. I’ve heard Christians defend all kinds of decisions based on the belief that God wants them to be happy. But the truth is I’m not sure that He does.
“Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that God delights in our misery. But I’m not sure that there’s any biblical evidence to back up the claim that He wants us to be happy. In fact the Bible seems to teach that He is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.”
And He is. Edie Wadsworth (a former physician —now full time homemaker and part-time blogger) wrote the following that also brings out this point. In her article, “Why Marriage Is So Hard” (which I recommend you read in its entirety) she writes about spouses who sometimes don’t “make us happy.”
But Even So:
“God knew what He was doing when He gave you this particular person. He knew the flaws in your character and personality that this person could sharpen. He knew that this person could expose the sins you try to cover and hide. God knows better than you what you need; and the sooner you submit to Christ and His purposes in your life, the sooner you will see what He is up to in your marriage. This relationship is not for your happiness; it is for your redemption. He is not trying to make you comfortable. He is desperate to make you holy. God will go to any lengths to transform you because He loves you so much.”
Whether God gave you this particular spouse, or you chose him or her on your own, there can still be redemption, even in times where we’re unhappy. Living a life of holiness and obeying God’s commands is much more important to God than that which we think will make us happy. Pastor Gary Kinnaman touched on this point in a Marriage Partnership Magazine article titled, “What’s Wrong with Happiness.”
On the subject of leaving the marriage to pursue happiness he wrote:
“I’d been counseling a couple for several months when a wife came to see me one day. Although she had been married for 25 years, she wanted out. Nothing I said could change her determination; she simply was no longer happy in her marriage. She and her husband divorced. And it wasn’t long after that she turned up at church again. This time she was sitting in the pew with her husband’s brother. When she came to ask me to officiate at her second wedding, she wasn’t too pleased to hear my refusal. She said, ‘But it says in the Bible that God wants me to be happy!’
“Of course, she couldn’t point to a specific chapter and verse. The Bible talks about joy, about contentment; but the Bible doesn’t lift up happiness as an ultimate goal.
“It’s not that happiness is such a bad thing. Who doesn’t like to feel happy? …Happiness is what I’d call a ‘neutral’ value. It’s not good or evil; but it’s a cultural value that can assault Christianity. The woman who deserted her husband assigned such a high priority to personal happiness that it overwhelmed the Christian, biblical value of marital commitment. She valued her own happiness more than she desired to obey God’s commands.”
OUCH! I hope this isn’t true of you. I also hope you will consider something that Pastor Mark Gungor, of the Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage ministry said on this idea of happiness being something God wants for us to grab.
Mark Gungor Wrote:
“Now it’s not that I’m against being happy. I do believe God wants people to be happy, but not to the point that it overcomes the right thing to do.
“…As I travel around the country, I am stunned at the number of people that I talk to who are ready to walk out on their family. They are ready to walk away from their kids, and their husband or their wife. And their pure justification is ‘God wants me to be happy.’ It’s as if this was God’s standard for making His rules. This is ridiculous! I don’t think God was sitting up in heaven, saying, ‘thou shalt not commit adultery, unless it makes you happy. You know, I’m open to that.’ …Who told you God wants you to be happy to such a high degree? Oftentimes, God asks us to do things that make us profoundly unhappy. When Peter was being crucified upside-down, that was a bad day for him.”
True? Absolutely! You have to look at the total picture of God’s will for us, not just cherry-pick and then rearrange God’s priorities for us. Do you want your children to be happy? Yes! But do you want them to have that happiness at the expense of others? Is your child’s happiness more important than his or her growing up to be a good, moral, kind-hearted, promise-keeping adult?
Is Your Happiness God’s Ultimate Goal?
Consider the following written by Bill Elliff:
“As a pastor, I can’t tell you how many people have justified breaking up their marriages by saying, ‘I have to do this. God just wants me to be happy.’ But according to God’s Word, a spouse’s individual happiness is not the purpose for marriage.
“The Bible says in Colossians 3:17: ‘Whatever you do in word or deed, do for the glory of God.‘ While all parts of creation are to glorify God, mankind was made in God’s very image. Through marriage, husbands and wives are to reflect His character and have children who will reflect His character. This applies all the way to the end of time.
“Every marriage knows unhappiness. Every marriage knows conflict. And every marriage knows difficulty. But everyone can be joyful in their marriage by focusing on God’s purposes and His glory instead of individual happiness.” (From the Family Life Today article, 8 Lies that Destroy Marriage)
It’s important to note that there are different types of joy. There is the “emotion of well-being and success.” But there is also the joyful emotion of knowing you are doing the right thing. There’s joy in doing what God would have you. Those can be two different emotions. One leads to a temporary fix of leaving behind the hard stuff to pursue your own happiness, even though you break other hearts in the process. And the other leads to one day having the Lord say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in what was handed to you.”
I don’t doubt that those who are tempted to leave their marriages are feeling miserable. Joy is the last emotion they can ever imagine feeling if they don’t leave their marriage. I get that. God gets that. But that doesn’t justify doing that, which we shouldn’t because we are hurting.
“Some time ago, we received the following email: ‘I’m leaving my husband and our two small children. I know what the Bible says; but God knows my heart. He just wants me to be happy.’ Another woman who was separated recently complained about her marriage. But she said that she was ‘seeking God’s will’ as she headed to Vegas with her boyfriend. I want to shout, ‘WAKE UP!’ Sin blinds us from the truth; and we blame everyone and everything instead of looking in the mirror.” (Shane Idleman)
As Shane writes, we need to WAKE UP! Please prayerfully read the rest of what Shane writes in The Christian Post article:
• I KNOW WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS BUT GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY
And finally, I know I’ve given you a lot to consider. But there is a great testimony written by Carla Anne Coray (posted on Crosswalk.com), which addresses this whole area of wanting out of a marriage that doesn’t seem to be working. Please prayerfully read it. And then I hope you’ll pray some more about your thoughts on happiness being God’s desire for your life:
• Why I Stayed: A Wife’s Focus on God Saves Her Marriage
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Save My Marriage
39 responses to “Leaving Marriage Because God Wants Me to Be Happy”
My wife isn’t happy and wants to leave me. Its been more than a week and last night she got moving boxes and refuses to listen to any thing I say. She wont talk to our pastors wife or anyone other then her circle. I wanted to leave due to the abuse she put me thru so many times because I loved God more then my own happiness, but now it just feels like why did I stay only to be faced with divorce. Any idea what I should do?
Women are women. They are weak. We are warned. We take the risk.
God will restore if you’re obedient. Were you obedient? I rest my case.
I find the article very insightful. Over the years, I’ve learned that some relationships / marriages are toxic! While staying together is the good old fashion way to do things, it can be down right unhealthy for a family especially when people do what can be the worst thing ever… staying together for the sake of children. Sure, they get to see a couple that has no love, affection, communication, sleeping in separate bedrooms, lies, yelling, mental abuse, etc. Yup, that’s a great thing to show a child or children. Great modeling for the kids.
I am a Christian and I believe that fighting for what could be a healthy marriage is a good thing. I’ve seen physical abuse in marriages, verbal abuse, and the list goes on. I’m sure that God does not want these people to endure this type of agony for years on end. Sometimes, divorce is a good thing. My Mom and Dad divorced and met the loves of their lives afterwards and went on to have healthy loving marriages. To date, my Dad is still married and my Mom would be too if my Stepdad had not passed away. They divorced and found happiness. God Blessed them and it’s a good thing great thing that God does not judge us on our good works. May the Lord continue to bless this mission.
I am praying my wife changes her mind and gets closer to God. I need to obey God no matter if I get divorced or not by my wife’s choice. God help me be strong in you.
I feel like I have a somewhat different problem; I could easily sacrifice my own wellbeing, but to hurt others in the process? I don’t want that. I worry that God wants me to surrender my life to an ex who I was absolutely miserable with, even battling the desire to commit suicide. I worry that this would hurt my family, especially my mom, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my most important role models, and mentors, who have tried so hard to help me, my closest friends, everyone who has ever supported me, my siblings, and the person I had been dating since moving on.
In fact, I worry this might lead to even more heart ache for my ex because we would have to spend the rest of our lives together in a miserable way. I’m also worried about having a child with them, if the Bible requires that of me, I’m worried they would use my depression against me, and would eventually leave me and take the child away to punish me. I just feel like, if I chose not to go back, I could save my entire community, my family and friends, all my family members friends and loved ones too, even my ex and the people who care about them, and my ex and I could hopefully just move on without hurting eachother anymore.
I know the Bible says God hates divorce. I just want the nightmare and pain and suffering and stress and worry and fear and heartbreak to end for everyone; but I also do know that God cares more about holiness than happiness.
Lol. God doesn’t want us miserable. We can always ask for forgiveness. I refuse to stay in a sexless relationship. Not team legal roommates.
And yet, many of us good single men were definitely punished by God to be single and alone. If only God had created most women like the old days when they were very old fashioned and real ladies, then many of us single men right now would have been married with a family that we still don’t have today unfortunately. Today women are very different compared to the past, which most women now just like sleeping around with different men all the time, instead of settling down with just only one man. They like to party so much, drink, and get wasted as well. And many of us men would have been very happy, loving, caring, and very committed, had we met the right woman to begin with.
I’m very devoted to my husband like an old fashion one, for me marriage is a sacred union. The sad part is my husband didn’t care and love me at all for 20 years. I stayed, still loving him coz deep in the core of my heart I believed that God’s mercy and love will change and soften my spouse heart even the intimacy he neglected to give me. I did not look for any man; faith and prayers keep me going and believing God has the power to restore everything including trust, patience and unconditional love.
Christians leave marriages all the time because the husband had had a biz failure. My wife did. All women are gold-diggers and anyone who says they are not are just very naïve. My Baptist pastor told me that it even gets worse after menopause … it may be couched as security or I like to travel, etc.
“All women?” We’ve been married for over 49 years, and have built a wonderful marriage (through many, many stormy times). I love my husband more than I could ever describe. But as far as gold and riches? Nope! We are anything but rich financially. And yet, I feel like the richest woman alive… very blessed in every way except financially–things are very tight for us, and yet it is not a big deal to me. As long as we live within our meager means, and our bills are paid, we’re good. I love the Lord, my husband, our family, our friends, and am rich in other ways OTHER than financially.
So please be careful about saying, “all women are gold diggers.” There are many, many of us who place other priorities as more important than how well we’re doing financially. We pinch pennies, buy used clothing, furniture, and don’t place “things” as being very important. God, family, friends, and others are more important.
I’m sorry that this hasn’t been your experience… truly. Men and woman who value money as more important than the Lord and people have misplaced priorities. They are really losing out on so much. This is not God’s priority at all! And it shouldn’t be ours either. I pray you are able to recover from your business failure. And I pray your wife wakes up and embraces God’s priorities, rather than man’s.
I agree with you completely. That is so sad that he believed that statement so much he was able to allow it to be voiced/written. Poor guy!
I need more information. I’m being led that this is God’s will but on many times I prayed and God brought us together. And I’ve said and only after prayer and fasting that our marriage was God’s will. Why am I so double-minded? I’ve filed for divorce and have been seeing him but then not moving back home.
What if the marriage spouse is narcissistic and causing you to sin? By sin meaning become resentful and angered by wrongful treatment. Every time I forgive the person for one thing there’s something else and it never stops because my forgiveness is being taken advantage of? What if that spouse has no intentions on doing right and you know you shouldn’t have married the person in the first place ? I didn’t wait on God for the whatever marriage spouse he had for me. I feel I married the wrong person because I was inpatient and now I’m dealing with the consequences.