People are inspired to write books for several reasons.
Some want to create great international novels to reach and inspire the masses. Others have life-altering experiences and feel that telling their story can help others through similar challenges. Still others just jot down their thoughts without ever thinking it will become a published work or that someone will be inspired by their musings and homegrown wisdom.
I guess I fell in the last category. Wendy and I had been coaching couples for years and dispensing advice based on our failures and successes in marriage. Since we both are second-timers, we had plenty to share. So, as we jotted down these thoughts, we never knew what an impact they would have on couples as those thoughts became a full-blown book. And since we were starting over with each other, we determined that this marriage would be a real “till death do us part” experience; we somewhat jokingly add, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
So, for us, the mantra “Marriage Ain’t for Punks” is more than a book title. Anyone who has been married for more than six months I’m sure will quickly nod in agreement. This saying is more of an attitude. It’s a way of life for anyone who desires stability, success and fulfillment as goals in their relationship.
Now, you’ll notice, I didn’t use the word happiness as a relationship goal. That’s because, as I’ve outlined in the book, happiness is not a goal in marriage. I know this sounds crazy to some who are reading this. Every bright-eyed bride and groom has carefree thoughts of living happily ever after on the wedding day. And that’s the way it should be. However, when we talk about goals in marriage, there are a few elements that should be present. And believe it or not, happiness is not one of the criteria.
A goal is encompassed in the acronym S.M.A.R.T. It should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Happiness is none of these things. It’s not specific, in that it may be experienced differently for each person. It’s not measurable: Who can actually calculate their level of happy? It’s not achievable because a lot of people aren’t sure when they have it. It is, however, always relevant and timely. So, I guess two out of three ain’t bad. But it’s still not a goal.
In our marriage, we’ve learned that the goal is threefold. First, we strive to create a future that will emotionally, spiritually and financially enrich ourselves. Secondly, we will foster an environment where our children can thrive and become their best selves. And, lastly, we are determined to selflessly be positive agents for change in our culture and community.
As we accomplish these tasks, we encounter happiness with each success. We are happy because we are moving in the same direction toward our real goals. We are seeing the fruit of our labor. We are not just waiting for some vacuous joy to fall on us. We create it! We argue, make up, try harder, love, forgive and experience the best of each other because we work at it, all the while understanding that marriage ain’t for punks!
Ed. Note: Pastor Cal’s latest book, Marriage Ain’t for Punks, is a straightforward and unapologetic dive into why people fail or struggle at marriage. More than a book about marriage, it’s a book about achieving relationship goals and how to manage life with another person. You can find your copy on newsstands nationwide.