Generosity - Marriage and others...

He who gives when he is asked  has waited too long. 
Author Unknown

Generosity between spouses is a key element to a happy marriage, according to a study by the National Marriage Project.

In essence, Generosity is the amount of giving that goes on within a relationship, which can mean anything from making your spouse a cup of coffee, to ordering flowers or providing a backrub.

In the study, couples who reported a high amount of Generosity in their relationship were five times more likely to say their marriage was "very happy," compared with those who reported a low amount of generosity. All couples in the report had children.

50% of women and 46% of men who reported above-average generosity in their relationships described their marriages as "very happy."

On the other hand, just 14% of each sex with below-average generosity in their relationship described their marriage as "very happy."

One of the researchers, W. Bradford Wilcox said,
Generosity works best if you give your spouse something he or she likes, signaling to your spouse that you know them, and are trying to do things for them that are consistent with your understanding of them.”

Generosity always involves sacrifice - giving up something important to me whether it is my time or resources. It is not giving him something that I don’t want anymore. It is not giving her something that didn’t cost me something - time, money, or thoughtfulness.

Generosity is paying attention to the real needs and desires of my spouse. I don’t do something for him that is important to me, but I do something that is important to him. I have to study my mate to know what is meaningful to him.

Generosity means I put my spouse’s needs and desires before my own needs and desires.

Generosity shows through the manner in which the time or resources are given, not the quantity. A truly generous act or gift requires no response - the only motive is the expression of love from the giver, not expecting anything in return.

Want to take your marriage to a higher plane of happiness?

Practice Generosity daily.


Generosity is impossible apart
from our love of God and of His people.
But with such love,
generosity not only is possible but inevitable.
John MacArthur

Generosity by God’s people goes much beyond giving our money. It is demonstrated by giving ourselves to others, whether it is someone we know or someone in need.

Generous actions may be helping someone that is stranded on the highway or helping a mom and her stroller/kids/diaper bag get out of the store and into their car. We may never see them again.

Generosity is shown in more subtle ways as well - sitting and listening to someone’s story with our full attention, whether we find it interesting or not. We do it as an act of love.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
. Proverbs 11:25


We love to go to Sonic during “happy hour.” If one of us is out doing errands, we always bring a drink back for both of us. Smiles result.    

What about all of the other hours during the day? What brings smiles?

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour." Anonymous

Our happiness is a matter of perspective on life, but also on habits that we develop.

Dr. Cloud presents several other findings in his book about how people influence their emotional state in a positive way. Some of these include:

1. Happy people have faith. [See our last blog.]

2. Happy people have a calling. Having a job that you consider a calling from God, based on your talents, abilities, and passions, rather than seeing your job as a means to provide a living, or merely as a career path.

3. Happy people forgive. Unforgiveness can destroy a person’s life. Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiveness releases you from the person who hurt you.

4. Happy people pursue goals, God’s goals. What He calls me to do, He will equip me to do and provide. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

5. Happy people fully engage. Whatever I do, I do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. (Colossians 3:23)

6. Happy people connect. God created us for relationships. God has not constructed us to be fueled by accomplishments. He has constructed us to be fueled by love. (Dr. Henry Cloud)

7. Happy people don’t compare themselves. If I compare myself with others who have less or who I think are less gifted, then I can become prideful. If I compare myself to those who have more, then I have self-pity. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:4-5)

8. Happy people think well. I am vigilant about my thought life. Believing God’s truth about who He is, who I am, and not believing the lies of the enemy. I can assume good will and ask for clarification whenever people say something to me that sounds hurtful. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) A man's private thought can never be a lie; what he thinks, is to him the truth, always. Mark Twain

9. Happy people are grateful. [Read more here.]

Read more at our last blog post Couldn't Be Happier.

Couldn't Be Happier

We are wired to experience happiness, but we keep hitting the wrong buttons in our efforts to turn our happiness on.  Dr. Henry Cloud                    

How would most people answer this question "What do you think it would take to make you happy?" Most people are going to describe something that is different from the life they have now, a change in the physical circumstances - get married or have a child or get a better job or live in a different neighborhoold.

Achieving happiness is not an ideal found in the Bible. Or is it?

God is not concerned with my happiness. Or is He?

Money can’t buy happiness. Or can it?

Humans seek pleasure. I don’t think any of us would argue with that statement. The pleasure I experience becomes my own happiness ….. sometimes.

God designed humans to seek pleasure. However, I often sabotage my own happiness by pursuing pleasure in unsatisfying ways.

God’s intention was not to deny us pleasure; in fact, He created the world for our pleasure, “put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17b)

The problem is that I think I know how to find happiness. Pursuing my own idea of happiness often results in pain, not pleasure.

Think of the number of people who thought they found the love of their lives. Then, through the years, they are hurt and the "love of their lives" turn into their enemy.

We also see people who work to get a particular job, only to end up disappointed and disillusioned in that position.

Jesus said He came to give us a full life, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10b)

God wants me to find joy, peace, and contentment in my life on earth. He wants me to find them through a personal, intimate relationship with Him. That pleasure will not go unfulfilled.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about His search for pleasure and the meaninglessness of life. When talking about the summation of the book, Walter Kaiser explains, “No one good part of God’s good world will give fulfillment until a person comes to know Him.”

John Piper suggests that our ultimate pleasure in life comes from finding our joy in God. Why would we want anything less than the abundant life?

Too often we settle for a poor resemblance of pleasure and happiness. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “We are far too easily pleased.”

God cares about how I feel. The Psalms clearly show many expressions of despair and anxiety, alongside God’s comfort. (Psalms 55-56)

As I fill my life with Him, He can overflow into other lives through me. How do I allow Him flow through me to others? The avenues I pursue determine much of my happiness.

[See the next blog for details about this idea.]