This scripture translates into that traditional saying "You can't make someone happy until you're happy with yourself". When thinking about relationships this should really reference joy not happiness. Joy is a mindset and a constant choice we have to make, where happiness is usually the result of temporary circumstances. So happiness is very much possible in relationships when the money is rolling in, the wining, dining and vacations are often, the gifts are frequent and the bills and life responsibilities are of no struggle. But joy is what will get you through when all those things are gone or fading.
Back to the scripture. When you read the entire chapter it talks about marriage and how the man should love the woman as he loves himself and the woman should be subject to the man. Two issues come to mind. One: if the man doesn't love himself or have his joy to hold onto than how can he love his woman the way he should? Two: if the woman is to be subject to the man but he has no joy and doesn't love himself or her sincerely, than how can she be subject to him without losing her joy, what role does she play? (Sidenote: References to man and woman can easily be swapped in these examples. The woman could lack joy or inner love and the man be the one trying to hold it down or leave.)
The first part is a no brainer, the man can't love the woman the way God says to if he doesn't love himself. He may bring her temporary happiness and may want to love her in that manner, but his lack of inner love and joy for himself will always present challenges. The second part reminds me of a comment that "the woman has to be strong in her Faith or joy and the man will follow suit". I've said it myself at times "I'll let my man be the leader when he learns how to be a leader". This mindset isn't right because even the Bible says women are subject to their men. A lot of us woman do desire a strong man to "wear the pants" in the relationship, but what about when he needs help and encouragement so he can get to that place of joy and be the man God intended him to be? Are we women simply giving up on them and walking away to have the same problems with the next man? Or are we staying and building ourselves up while we encourage our men to do the same? The grass ain't always greener and I'm sure God intended for us to stay and lift each other up or else why would divorce be so frowned upon? God would be like "Oh its cool, you don't like this husband, here let me give you another one".
My point to all this is simply that I realize that relationships can be challenging, they will be challenging. But if we're always picking up and running to the next one without stopping to heal and understand the root issues history will repeat itself. I feel if we stop and look at some of those root causes during the relationship then maybe there's hope for a Godly relationship or at least healing before we enter the next one. I do realize that both parties have to understand the definition of joy and seek it out. If its not a two way street, that woman attempting to be strong and encouraging may ware herself down taking on the responsibility. So its important to understand that we must encourage our men but not do it for them or force them. And that if the man truly desires to love himself so he can love his woman like God said than he has to appreciate his woman for the encouragement in the process and do his best. Regardless of the circumstances, it takes patience and prayer and a willingness to walk it together.
I don't claim to know everything and I'm coming to these realizations through prayer and honest talks with God and girlfriends. But I do know I will keep working on my joy so I can have that Godly love. Amen and Amen!