When I was twenty-three, I got pregnant with my first child. My father pressured me into living with the father of my child, who is now my husband. We have been together for fifteen years and have three children, but I have never been able to love him…. I know that he loves me, and I do want the best for my children. Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel. I’m not really happy.

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for keeping your children’s welfare as one of your highest priorities. Unfortunately, there are many people who care more about their own happiness than about what is good for their children. We are thankful that you are not one of those selfish people.

Hopefully all your children are loving and respectful. But what if they were hateful and disrespectful? Would you still love them? Children, especially teenagers, have the tendency to cause upheaval and stress. But the interesting thing is that no one ever tells us that they don’t love their children. Instead, they continue to love them even when they are rebellious and their actions cause anger and frustration.

Assuming that you are not clinically depressed, you have the power to be happy even if you don’t feel love for your husband. Just as you make a decision to keep considering a wayward child as part of your family, you can make a decision to keep considering your spouse as part of your family. You don’t get rid of your spouse just because he or she doesn’t measure up to the standards of romantic love in the movies or doesn’t cause you to “feel” love. As we have said many times, you cannot measure love by feelings because those feelings will vary from one day to the next.

We believe that you are mistaken about the source of happiness. Happiness does not come from circumstances, nor does it come only when everything in your life is perfect. Instead, happiness is a choice. When you wake up every morning, you decide whether you will be happy or miserable. No one else has the power to make you happy or unhappy. It all depends on the decision that you make.

The Apostle Paul was beaten and falsely accused. He spent a lot of time in dark prisons, chained between guards. In fact, it was while he was in prison that he wrote these words: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”(1) Paul was saying that he had chosen to be content even when his circumstances were the worst. When we read his other writings, we see that he never let his circumstances control his attitude. He never let others take away his contentment.

We wish you well,

1 Php 4:11