I recently gave the “best man speech” for one of my boyhood best friends. Instead of telling inside stories that only two people in the room understood, I wanted to give him a meaningful charge – one that he could take with him into the future. Similarly, I hope that these words will encourage other young men who are stepping into the great mystery of marriage.
The role of a husband is to cultivate joy. Notice that I did not say “conjure joy” or “create joy.” You can’t conjure or create joy any more than you can conjure or create a corn stalk in a field. But you can cultivate it. You can prepare for it, plant it, water it, feed it, protect it, and harvest it.
If you’re a husband, you’re a farmer. You’re a farmer of joy. Consider these four ways to cultivate joy in your new home.
1. The first way to cultivate joy is to sacrifice for your wife. She is worth your love, your commitment, and your many sacrifices. And there will be a lot of them. If there aren’t, you’re not doing it right. There will be small sacrifices like daily chores and dropped hobbies, and consequential sacrifices like forfeited job opportunities and friendships that wane – all because you are married to her. Let me tell you now, these sacrifices are normal and noble. A marriage is like an investment account: invest as much as you can as early as you can and as often as you can, and it will pay you back with interest. Sacrifice for your bride, and you will reap a reward of joy in the end.
2. The second way to cultivate joy is to incline yourself towards action. When an issue presents itself in your home, go about fixing it as soon as you can. When an opportunity presents itself for your family, chase after it before the moment escapes. When a mediocre day is in your midst, do your best to make it either productive or pleasant, or best of all, both. A joyful home is full of purpose and passion, neither of which will happen without action.
3. The third way to cultivate joy is to pursue children. That’s right – get on with your business! Fine, fine – take a little time if you want, but not too much. The ease of childlessness can suck you in; don’t let it get ahold of you. Of course, some couples cannot have children, and God will supply them with joy from his own bounty, even if through tears. But if you are able, you will be shocked at how much joy children can bring into your DINK life. Jerry Seinfeld was asked once if he had any regrets in life. His only answer, “I wish I had more kids.” If you want joy, then my friend, what you want is kids. Start cultivating.
4. Lastly, to cultivate joy in your home, you must have the key ingredient – the je ne sais quoi. This is a French phrase that means, “I do not know what.” The phrase is used to express the unknown essence of something that makes it so special, so distinct that it cannot be put into words. Like a key ingredient in a recipe that makes the dessert pop, but it cannot be discerned. Do you want to know the key ingredient to the joy recipe? Jesus. Jesus is the je ne sais quoi of joy. You have him, you have joy. It is as simple as that. Cultivate lots of Jesus in your new marriage.
My friend, you are starting a new chapter of life. You’re the man of your own house now. You will make your own memories and you will establish new family traditions with your new bride. But the most important thing you will do is develop a new culture. As you start this new home, farm for joy and reap the future harvest!