Choose Joy. This quote has become super popular over the last few years. If you walk into any craft store you will almost always find a sign that has ‘Choose Joy’ on it.
If we look back at the definition of joy, we see that it means a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Great pleasure and happiness seem like something we would all really want to have, so why wouldn’t we ‘Choose Joy’? That sounds desirable.
I(Hannah) understand that joy isn’t something that just comes naturally to everyone. Some people really have to work hard to feel joy. I feel blessed that I am not one of those people. I don’t say that proudly. I seriously am just a really happy person. People would often watch me work and ask, “You are always smiling. Are you ever not happy?”
There is only one time in my life I felt true depression and felt like I wasn’t happy. That was after we had our third child. She did Not. Sleep. Ever. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s probably better to say, I did not sleep. Ever. Our daughter thought it was great to be fussy and clingy until about 3 or 4 am and then finally settle in for the night (morning?). At this point you might think; “big deal, you get to sleep now while she sleeps.” That’s a great thought, but our one year old son had always been an early riser. So he got up around 4:30 or 5:00 every morning. So for about 6 months I got roughly 1-2 hours of sleep a night. This post is not about tips or tricks to get your children to sleep or how to get your kids to sleep in, so I’m not going to tell you the boring details for all the things we tried. Because we did try. Everything.
Anyway, having joy can require work sometimes. One of the things that I think is key in having joy in our lives and being happy is being well rested. If you’re like me when you are tired, you tend to be a bit grumpy. Or as I like to say, you lose your natural good charm. When I was not sleeping and was exhausted, I really was not happy. For the first time in my life I had to make the decision to choose joy in my everyday life. For years and years I had been naturally happy all the time. And now I literally, every hour, had to make the choice to choose joy or just be miserable.
When things take effort and we have an easier option in front of us, we often choose the easier route. In marriage it can often be easier to just avoid a hard conversation, not have one at all, or leave our honest thoughts left unsaid for fear of making your spouse feel bad. After a while this can leave you feeling miserable. We were not made to hold things in. One thing Jared and I do is have ‘Talking Dates’. This can take place anywhere. For us it’s usually on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. These times are for sharing with each other what has been bothering us, or whatever may be on our minds. We have real, honest, sometimes hard, and open conversation with each other. This has brought so much joy to our marriage. We encourage you to give it a try! Just talk.
Having joy with another person requires different things than having joy within yourself. I often find for myself, that I have the most joy when I’ve had a good nights sleep and wake up before everyone else to have a few minutes alone at the start of the day. Other things that make me happy are going for coffee by myself, playing with my children, seeing friends, etc.
In my relationship with Jared, I find true joy in doing things that make him happy. He enjoys when I take the time to make him his favorite meal for dinner, or when I take time out of my day to write him a letter. He loves when I go on date with him, or hold his hand while we’re driving somewhere. Jared also makes it a point to do things for me that bring me joy in our relationship and I really love that. The more we do things that bring joy to each other in our relationship, the more joy we have as a couple!
Our relationship is filled with great pleasure and happiness when we’re each filled with joy. If your relationship isn’t bringing you joy, please feel free to reach out to us and we would love to help by offering some resources and even chat with you about things that could possibly help. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your spouse what you could do for them that would bring them joy, and don’t be afraid to let them know things that bring you joy as well! Please, do the things that make you happy. Marriage is one of life’s greatest blessings and it should be filled with joy!