A long, long time ago, in a livingroom not-so far away, Megan and I talked about the subject of marriage with another married couple. During our gathering, the subject of unhappy marriages and divorce came up. We talked about what makes marriages break apart (finances, affairs, the un-true belief that the grass is always greener on the other side, etc.). But then somebody said something completely unexpected. He said, “I’m not really sure what’s so hard about marriage. We don’t find marriage to be difficult at all.” Even more amazingly, his wife sat nodding in agreement.
Honestly, Megan and I can say with certainty after 12 years of marriage that the marriage relationship isn’t easy. It’s not easy at all. It takes a tremendous amount of work. In fact, we’d probably go so far as to say that if one believes marriage is easy, they’re probably not doing it very well. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons couples do break apart to see just how difficult the marriage relationship is to live out well:
1) Finances / What’s Mine Is Yours:
The mentality of “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” doesn’t go over very well with 99% of people. Even in marriages where one spouse earns a very high salary and the family has little to no debt and is able to purchase any needs or wants at any moment, finances are still a point of contention. Learning to live with another person and share what’s yours with them doesn’t come naturally. Therefore, to have a happier marriage relationship, couples may choose to either:
a) …live within their own perspective salaries. If both husband and wife work, they live with a mindset of, “I earned this, so I can spend it whatever I want.” Their spouse lives by the same edict, and on the outside they are seemingly content living this way. The truth is that they’re not living in the “oneness” of marriage by operating in this manner. They will over time grow further apart than they will grow closer together, and will be left wondering what happened to their marriage relationship after living a life of personal contentment and personal satisfaction (rather than marital satisfaction) for so many years.
b) …accept debt as a way of life. Sad but true, many couples just accept debt and choose to buy whatever each person wants, not really caring how badly their debt piles up. Inevitably, they find themselves in a terrible situation in which each spouse blames the other for their financial woes.
c) …live within a “what’s mine is yours” marriage relationship. This goes well beyond the area of finances (but finances are a great place to start.) A “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” mentality covers finances and all things personal. Cell phones, facebook, email, etc. It’s giving your spouse permission to spend the money you earned, trusting them to do the right thing. It’s also giving them permission to read your texts, email, facebook, and so on. This type of trust is essential in a marriage relationship. Of the three options listed here, it certainly isn’t “easy” by any stretch of the imagination…but it’s certainly worth it when the goal is a stronger, healthier marriage.
2) The grass is greener on the other side.
Of all the reasons couples break apart, this one is very much a summary of all of them. The “grass is greener” mindset covers finances, sex, and any other “pleasure” one may be seeking in life. Sadly, those who live with this mentality have never once found greener pastures. They’ve always thought things like, “When I get married I’ll be happy.” But then it doesn’t happen. “When I have children, then my true happiness with begin.” But then it doesn’t happen. Inevitably, it turns toward, “It’s my spouses fault. I need to become romantically involved with someone who can really sweep me off my feet.”
Those who live with this mentality will never, ever find greener pastures. The marriage relationship isn’t easy. It takes serious work. Making a decision to get married, have children, or to buy a new tv or car isn’t going to bring marital bliss. If you know of anyone living with this mentality, encourage them to work towards experiencing a healthier marriage. Encourage them to take opportunities to experience life together with their spouse. Encourage them to experience difficult financial situations together. To experience raising children together. To experience one another, through good times and bad, together. Encourage them to make their marriage relationship the most important relationship they have.
In your opinion, what’s the most difficult part of the marriage relationship? How do you and your spouse work through this difficulty to keep your marriage relationship strong?