TV Review: Making Couples Happy

TV Review: Making Couples Happy

Testing what it takes to be trully happy in marriage

By Mark HadleyWednesday 27 Feb 2013TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

'Making Couples Happy' explores what it really takes to make each other happy.

Rating: PG
RELEASE DATE: Thursdays, 8:30 PM 

In a country where one third of marriages end in divorce it’s worth asking, ‘Do we really know how to be happy together?’ This is the front-and-centre question for Darren, one of the four husbands involved in the ground breaking television series Making Couples Happy :).

“Marriage is really, really hard. You go to school for everything else but when you get married there’s no book that comes with it.”

The series opens by introducing us to four marriages on the brink of collapse. They are being overwhelmed by a range of problems – a lack of appreciation, respect, time and even outright contempt – but they all contain couples that believe there is still something worth fighting for. As an emotionally choked Paul puts it, he knows he has the strength to walk away if he chose, “… but to me that’s an easy choice … but I have to fix this.”

Making Couples Happy 🙂 is brought to the ABC by the same minds that produced Making Australia Happy. Heading the happiness team are John Aiken, a clinical psychologist and relationship specialist, and Desiree Spierings, a sex therapist and relationship counselor. They’re backed up by Anna-Louise Bouvier, a mind-body expert who concentrates on the connections between our physical and emotional states. The premise is similar to the first series: science has uncovered the road to happiness and can help couples get back on to it. The program “… allowed basic practical relationship techniques to be put on display in a way that viewers could see and use for themselves,” Aiken says. “The stakes are high, though, because the participants aren’t just looking for a little extra buzz in life. These marriages are hanging by a thread.”

Clearly the producers believe science is the answer. In fact the word is repeated so often it left me wondering whether the scriptwriters were overplaying their hand. Promising to turn relationships around ‘In only eight weeks!’ smelt a little of snake oil. It’s true the practical tips provided are helping the couples involved, but the underlying philosophy still needs qualifying. If happiness is the greatest goal then it must be said that some of these husbands and wives might be happier without each other. However they persevere because what’s really attractive is the oneness marriage promises.

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When God ushers marriage into the world He introduces it as the relationship where, “… a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Psychologists may observe the power of this bond and doctors quantify the characteristics that promote it, but neither science can claim to bring it about. This is God’s gift and even if happiness is diminished for a season we should be very cautious before pulling it apart. Marriages are more than just life-support systems for personal happiness. They are new creations that result in new identities. As a husband I’m no longer seeking my greatest happiness, I’m seeking my wife’s – and paradoxically serving myself in the process. This is God’s secret marriage tip: personal happiness is something you find in marriage when you stop making it your goal.  

There’s no doubt that Making Couples Happy 🙂 is a valuable addition to any husband and wife’s viewing schedule. It’s ironic, though, that its science ‘reveals’ fundamental principles like mutual submission, sacrifice and respect that have been well known since at least the days of the Apostle Paul. My wife and I will continue to watch because we want to understand our own short-comings and be the best servants we can be – but we won’t fool ourselves. God gave us marriage and we will need His help to sustain it if we ever want to be truly happy.