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Success tip: The paradox behind a happy marriage


26 July 2015

This morning I gave my twenty-sixth "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.

I decided to talk about the key ingredients for having a happy marriage. I realised recently that there is a paradox involved with two key aspects of a happy marriage; what you do before you get married and what you do afterwards.

You can read it below.

Thought for the week

The religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all regard marriage as fundamentally important. Almost everybody wants to be happily married, although sadly many people are not. Later this year, God willing, my wife and I will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary.

Thinking about our marriage, I realised recently that there is a great paradox underlying marriage.

My reasons for getting married were completely selfish. I wanted a companion. I wanted a mother for my children. I wanted someone who would get on with my parents. I wanted someone good looking and educated. I wanted in-laws I would get on with. My entire mental list was all about what I wanted.

After three years of searching I found someone who met all the requirements on my list.

The girl I married had her own mental list of requirements. She had turned down lots of men before me, because they were not what she wanted. Fortunately she said yes to me!

Your choice of marriage partner should be based entirely on what you want. It’s your life, not your parents’ or anyone else’s.

However within a couple of years of getting married, I realised something.

I cared more about my wife’s well-being than I cared about myself. Her happiness had become more important to me than my own. It was impossible for me to be happy if she was not happy.

The paradox underlying marriage is this. Your reasons for getting married should be completely selfish. However to make your marriage a happy and lasting one, you need to become completely unselfish with your husband or wife!


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