How to be Happy (or happily married)

Once I had a doctors appointment, and while I was waiting in the office I went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. On the wall was a poster titled “How to be happy”. The only one from the twenty-odd bullet points I remember is this: Marry the right person. For some reason that one seared itself into my brain. At the time, I wasn’t married at all, but I’d been married to the wrong person before, so the advice really struck a chord in me.

 And last June Time magazine came out with an issue and on the cover, in huge lettering, were the words “How to Stay Married (and why)”. It became one of the magazines best selling issues that year. Time had all sorts of dramatic covers, yet that one struck a chord in the hearts and minds of America as well. 

So when I recently ran across an article about a 75-year study on relationships, it got me remembering. The article found good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. And, as anyone who ever suffered through a divorce can attest, marrying the wrong person can suck the happiness right out of you. 

I carried a book in my salon called “Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress” by Michael Drury. Drury recounts a weepy conversation she had with her father one rainy night about her husband and their impending divorce. “But, I was such a good wife to him!” She wailed, feeling wronged and expecting sympathy. “There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ wife,’ he told her. ‘Only the right wife for each person’. Or husband, or significant other, or partner. Or best friend. 

So just how does one discover that right person? The important answer is also the most elusive—Be one hundred percent authentically who we truly are, and maintain a high level of happiness in our own authenticity. My mom used to say, ‘There’s someone for everyone in this world’, and it’s true—I’ve seen it. 

Like attracts like—It’s a physics principle. We need someone to love us for who we really are, so we need to be that person whole heartedly. And we also need to let them be them, wholeheartedly.  Then, choose well.

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