Happiness in Marriage


My wife of 25+ years has decided that she wants to separate. She has moved out and left me with our one child still living at home. She has said that our parish priest told her that she needs to do whatever makes her happy as she has a right to happiness, and for her, that means moving out and not working on restoring our marriage and basically doing what she wants (which she admits is selfish).

Why would a parish priest tell a spouse that they have a right to be happy in their life and thereby allow the spouse to just decide, “Hey, if I want to be happy I have to leave my spouse? After all, it is what I want to do and our priest said I should be happy.”

Is life all about being happy? Is this a church teaching? What is marriage rally about? Happiness or something more?

This sounds like what in the legal biz they call “hearsay.”

Suggest to your wife that you go together and talk to the same priest. You may find that that’s not what he thought he said to her.

What Xantippe said,
Also, there are some slightly off-kilter priests, sad to say, I equate them to nurses: for the most part nurses are knowledgeable, caring, intelligent people, but you get a few who I wouldn’t trust to give me a flu shot.

No, it;s not church teaching. Life is about doing the will of God, and pleasing him.
To answer your question, you probably already know the answer: marriage is about helping each other get to heaven. Happiness is usually a byproduct of doing what’s right. It’s not something we can seek without that.


I’m so very sorry to hear about this. I don’t know your heart or your wife, therefore I cannot judge what is really motivating her to do this. But, I think I can help you with some resources.

It’s not supposed to make someone miserable all the time. But “it” is really about joyfully giving oneself to ones spouse in every area of life. My thoughts are that within marriage someone will get what they give and that should bring happiness and joy. It’s not always easy but it is possible and fulfilling when both spouses understand what love is and how to love.

Don’t despair! I think and (I hope) that these resources will help you. Please do not hesitate to delve into each suggestion I post here.

  1. A book. Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West

  2. A book. Men, Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri

  3. A book. Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West In case you’re thinking “I’ve been married for 25 years and I have a child. I think that I already know about sex and marriage and all that.” These books may SAVE your marriage. It’s not that the books will take away what you’ve already learned. It will add to your wisdom. I’m actually in the process of reading this book and all I can say is that I THOUGHT I heard it all… But as I read it I understand why I’ve been feeling hopeless (as a single). The world has fed me despair and doubt about love. This book feeds me hope and revives me. You may think you know a lot about your wife, but this book will show you what the deepest desires of her heart are as a woman. And yours as a man. And will answer your question *“What is marriage really all about?” *

  4. A book. When Divorce Is Not an Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love by Dr. Gregory Popcak.

4a. A movie. Please watch it. It will relate to what you are going through right now and also give you tools to reclaim your marriage. It’s also on Netflix if you are a subscriber. Fireproof

4b. A website. How to apply “Fireproof” to your own marriage. This website has several other website and PDF links which will be very helpful.

  1. A website. Happy Wives Club and the article about Happy Husbands.

  2. A website. Fierce Marriage – Article “The 15 Second Kiss” experiment.

  3. A ministry. Retrouvaille. If you’re wife is seriously thinking about ending your marriage, I have heard that Retrouvaille can help.

Now, we all can understand that your wife is in the wrong for leaving you. But I want you to look at her faults and reflect them onto yourself. For example, is she unromantic? Disinterested in intimacy or the marital friendship? Emotionally distant? OK. But are you? Please do not misunderstand me. I’m NOT blaming you for her leaving. I’m saying that usually the Golden Rule works here. And Luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”

I really hope and pray that marriage will be a healing experience for you both.

There are a few things I wanted to say. First, I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. Second, if indeed that is what the priest said, that is in error. The Sacrament of Marriage is about sacrifice and honoring God, not about personal “happiness.” What greater happiness can there be than fulfilling your vocation and helping each other get to Heaven? That said, I agree with another poster that you should talk to this priest, as well, to both make sure that is really what he said, and in which case, tell him that this is in error. Praying for you, your wife, and the priest.

maybe the priest suggested some time apart to regroup? and she wanted to hear separate permanently. Marriage isn’t a trap, but it is a lifetime commitment. I pray all works out for you.


Talk to him yourself, ideally with your wife present also.

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