You have to be happy with yourself before you can ever be happy with someone else.
When Pharell's song "Happy" comes on the radio, he wants us all to clap along and feel happy, too. Granted, the tune is catchy, but have you ever listened to the lyrics? "Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof?" Wow. That's deep. He also posits "happiness is The Truth." I wish it were that simple. While happiness has become a big buzzword in psychological circles, what happiness actually looks and feels like in modern society is still not clear. Are our romantic relationships an accurate barometer for our happiness? If we look at our nation's divorce rate, it becomes abundantly clear that not everyone is as happy as Pharell would like us to think.
So why does that blissful, perfect, fairy tale happiness we all seek feel like some hollow promise and cheesy pop song cliche? Probably because it doesn't exist — at least not in the way modern media would lead us to believe. Most people search for someone to love, thinking this will make them happy and solve all of their problems. But the truth is, nobody else can make you happy (or fix you); you have to do it yourself.
When I first met my husband, I had a revelation. This man chose me out of all the women out there. I had never realized what an honor and huge responsibility it was to be chosen. There's a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with every relationship. Unlike what you might believe, that responsibility is not to make someone else happy, but rather, to hold up your end of the bargain to make yourself happy.
If you're with a person you love who isn't happy, there's a distinct kind of misery that comes with that. In most relationships and marriages, people bring their negativity, complaints, worries and fears to their partners. The worst thing is to be trapped with someone who holds you responsible for his or her feelings; it really does make you feel like you've been weighed down with a ball and chain. I want my husband's life to feel lighter because I am a part of it, not like I'm pulling him down. He has chosen to spend his life with me! He deserves a partner who was responsible for maintaining her own happiness. This is the gift I want to give him every day.
We've been married 12 years and are happier than ever. Of course, we're absolutely there for each other during times of need or stress, and we do things to help one another feel good as often as we can. We go through our ups and downs together. Yet we're careful not to burden each other by trying to make our partner also be our therapist. I'd rather take my own issues to an actual therapist or work through them, the best as I can, on my own. These days, we all have a tremendous amount of help at our fingertips: coaches, self-help books, seminars and workshops. In order to find real and lasting love, we need to deal with our own issues first so that we can be open to receiving that love from others. We also can't give to others what we don't authentically have within ourselves.
Not only are you responsible for your own happiness, you're also charged with bringing a certain level of joy, lightness and playfulness to your relationship. It's the greatest gift you can give to your partner. It's also all we really want from another person. This doesn't mean that you constantly have to try to cheer your partner up if he or she is down, or that you should do anything to make him or her happy at your own expense. But it does mean that happiness matters in a relationship (cultivating it within yourself and then sharing it). Now, a song that sings about that I could clap along to.