"I think that for my mom and dad, having a happy marriage wasn't even an objective," one man we interviewed, Jim, told us about his own parents. "My dad fought in WWII. Feelings? I don't know if he even had them! He didn't expect happiness; he never saw it as the goal."
We're not out to suggest that happiness should not be your goal—just the opposite, in fact. But after talking with lots of married men and women, we did come to the realization that we need to think about "happiness" much more carefully and proactively. We entered adult life with lots of big ideas about what would make us happy—a husband, kids, a job, a house. And while these are centrally important to our lives, they are not what we should be relying on to make ourselves happy. Complicating matters, when those things don't make us happy, we tend to blame our marriage, when in reality we can only be as happy in our marriages as we are in ourselves. The job of producing personal happiness is really up to us.