What is the opportunity cost of finding a better marriage?

What is the opportunity cost of finding a better marriage?

Psychologist Barry Schwartz in his now-classic TED talk on the paradox of choices identified a slightly twisted form of Opportunity Cost as one of the downsides to the endless choices we have (indeed, we demand) in our culture today.

“The imagined alternatives induce you to regret the decision you made and the regret subtracts from the satisfaction of your choice even if it was a good decision.”


“The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything disappointing about the choice you made.”

Now let’s connect this rather sad truth of our human difficulty in remaining emotionally committed to the simple choice of a dinner entrée or a car … to our marriages. Hang with me while I link this thinking to the study we are digging through at church.  It has to do with a grumbling heart.  Our pastor’s learned wife taught on the historic truths of our chronic human grumbling amidst uncomfortable circumstances, oftentimes on the heels of miraculous blessings.

Here’s the connection (thanks for hanging): It’s still a choice.  The choice to be committed. If we allow ourselves to grumble about the flaws in our spouse, foolishly believing that the alternative(s) would be better, we succeed in waging our own private war on what could truly be a life-long miraculous blessing.  If we would choose, first, to stop grumbling and waffling.

Entering marriage thinking that the phase (façade) of courtship will be consistent with what occurs after the mask comes off at midnight, is to miss the immeasurable depth of joy in the midst of strain, discomfort and unshakable commitment. I call that Opportunity Cost!

Tim Keller says that marriage by its very nature has the power to show you the truth about who you are.  And that power of marriage can make us holy – bring out our glory-self. (“Finally you can begin to deal with the real you!”)  He says the someone better actually is our spouse … as we grow to be more godly together!  How cool is that!!

Dr. Schwartz ended his Ted Talk with a humorous but sad idea about maintaining satisfaction with our choices.  He said, “The secret to happiness is low expectations.”


But I’m with Keller.  I am certain that God wants us to know the far greater experience of commitment when we choose Him daily …

and His gift of love,

arm in arm with our spouse, flaws and all.





  1. Ray
    Dec 4, 2012

    The formula for happiness: Happiness = expectations / accomplishments. Lowering expectations and holding accomplishments the same will increase happiness.

    Anger usually comes when someone has tampered with one of “my rights” (my expectations). It is a mark of spiritual maturity to understand “I have no rights”, I’m bought with a price (a price I could not pay) therefore anything/everything I receive is a GIFT.

    Our faith is not about everything turning out according to our expectations, rather our faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out.

    The solution, for me, is:

    Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.
    (Php 4:6-7 ERV)

    God’s peace in our hears is the highest and best possession on this earth – and money can’t buy it!

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