By Dr. Harold Sala

For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying–well, that’s better yet! Philippians 1:21, Living Bible

He was in his late 40’s; she was a bit younger. Married for 17 years, he was an account executive, and she was busily involved in social and church work. They had a near picture-book family: three normal kids, a lovely home and a beach cottage where they often spent weekends. They had finally reached the place in life where they weren’t terribly concerned about money. Yet with so much, they had so little of real happiness.

“At the very time we should be able to enjoy life, we’re miserable,” explained the wife. And how did the husband feel? He was angry, plenty angry. He was angry with her, with friends, with his family. Angry with God, too! But he didn’t know why he was angry; he just knew that he was, and at the very time that they should be able to enjoy the fruit of many years of hard labor, what they had worked for now seemed to be unimportant.

The couple that I have described, which is a composite of thousands of people, have so much and yet have so little. What’s gone wrong with our families, with each other, with ourselves, that happiness should be almost in our grasp and yet elude us?

Should we blame each other for being bored and unfulfilled? Should we say that our expectations in marriage are unrealistic; we have watched too many soaps on TV? Should we say that society expects too much of us, or we expect too much of it? Or should we blame God, thinking that after we have worked so hard for so long, He owes us more happiness than we have?

Believe it or not, some folks would check one or more of the above, but understanding the cause of unhappiness today doesn’t solve it.

Before it is too late, take to heart the following guidelines.

Guideline #1: Get a grip on God’s hand and begin to walk with Him.  Most of our problems are compounded by our failure to include our heavenly Father in our hearts and homes. When things begin to go bad, we often blame God, when in reality we deserted Him long ago. Blaming Him is not an option; finding Him is.

Guideline #2: Begin communicating at a deep and mature level.  The longer you wait to learn, the more difficult it becomes, yet communication is a skill which can be learned no matter how long you have been married. What men most fear in marriage, women most need, and that is the ability to share your lives at a deep and intimate level.

Guideline #3: Take time for what really counts in life. The use of time is our number one priority for families today, and sadly enough, too many wait to take time for each other and our kids until it is too late because they have left the nest or moved out.

Guideline #4: Get your priorities straightened out.  We put far too much emphasis on having things instead of working on relationships which alone bring the fruit of happiness.  So what if you have the larger home, the expensive car, and the time-share apartment at the beach if there is no one with whom you can share it?       Guideline #5:  Do it now.   Like what?  Like sending flowers.  Like writing the letter you intended to write.  Like taking the vacation you’ve planned to take when you retire.  Like coaching the team you’ve always want to coach.  Like going back to school, or getting involved in the choir.  Learning the proper importance of today is one of the secrets of joy and happiness which eludes many.  Yes, do it today.

Resource reading: Philippians 1.