Down in Georgia they have a saying: "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It's a reminder that one person's moods affect the entire household, but indirectly it points to a larger problem. The truth is, Mama never can stay completely happy, and neither can Daddy. In short, ain't nobody happy for long.
I know some people who seem to be perpetually cheerful, and others who have learned to take joy in even the small pleasures of life. But that's not the same as being "happy."
Happiness is something most people pursue, and it's a big element in bringing couples together. How many marriages were born in the sincere but naive promise: "I'll make you happy"? Unfortunately, that's a commitment that can't be fully kept, and the attempt can become an impossible burden to bear.
My wife, Leisa, and I never promised to make each other happy. But after ten years of marriage, I found I had somehow assumed responsibility for her happiness. If she woke up in a bad mood, then somehow it must be my fault. If our plans didn't work out, I surely must have contributed to her disappointment. If the furniture we bought turned out to be uncomfortable, if the car we bought turned out to be a lemon, I felt bad that my wife was displeased.
I don't think Leisa was expecting me to make her happy in every way. I was the one with unrealistic expectations. In any case, it all came to a head one day not long after we'd moved to another state and built a beautiful new home. I'd made a difficult job change, taken on considerable debt and put my graduate degree on hold at least in part because I knew she longed to get out of our cramped housing situation and live like "normal" people.1