If I’ve learned 1 thing about marriage over the past 23 years, its this truth…
Marriage is HARD!
Anyone married longer than a couple years can attest to that truth. But have you ever wondered why?
Why is something that is supposed to be so good, so hard?
- We think the honeymoon should last forever – I’ve heard it said, “One of the reasons marriage is so hard is because we go into it thinking it will be so easy.” If we think marriage will be, and should be, so easy, the difficult times have the potential to surprise us and in some cases completely derail us. We are most vulnerable to struggle in our marriage when we think its not possible that we will or should. We should be prepared for the hard times. They will come to one degree or another. In this world you will have trouble – Mark 16:33. Those who marry will face many troubles – 1 Corinthians 7:28. Successful couples see seasons of marital satisfaction as opportunities for preparation for hard times that might be looming on the horizon.
Successful couples see seasons of marital satisfaction as preparation for hard times that are looming on the horizon.
- People change – Richard Needham said, “You don’t marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as a result of being married to you.” Your spouse will change over time. That’s inevitable. Your commitment to them shouldn’t. Don’t let how your spouse has changed shape your commitment to them, but rather let your commitment to them shape how you respond to the ways they have changed.
- We don’t want to change – I’ve heard it said that marriage is one of God’s primary workshops for change. Why? As you live with someone day in and day out it becomes harder and harder to hide what’s going on underneath the surface (typically our weak spots). The exposure of these problem areas present us with an opportunity to change. Our willingness to change will lead to a healthier marriage. Our unwillingness to change will create more division. The best marriages are on a purposeful and lifelong journey of pursuing personal change for the betterment of the relationship.
- Complacency – We have what I call a “ladder’ mentality when it comes to marriage. We think we can climb the “relational ladder” and stop when we want to take a break. Or worse, we think we’ve reached the top of the ladder on our wedding day. When in reality, we would be wise to adopt a “Hot Air Balloon” approach to marriage. In order for our relationship to reach new heights and experience increasing intimacy, we have to constantly be pulling on the “relational burner.” If we stop pulling on the burner, we will eventually crash into the ground. Our marriages will always drift towards ground zero unless we do something to resist it: 22 Ways to Turn Your Love Around
- We don’t understand the purpose – You wouldn’t tee off with a putter, nor would you attempt to mix the ingredients of a cake with a spatula. You could, and might be successful with a lot of patience, practice, and perseverance, but why would you when you could use a driver and a whisk? In the same way, I see many couples look to marriage to do what it wasn’t designed to do and consequently experience much frustration and confusion. When we start to understand what the purpose of marriage is, we will start to enjoy much more of what God has in store for marriage. Here are some of the most common lies we believe about marriage and its purpose.
- Comparison – When we compare our marriage to someone else’s we place ourselves in a position of superiority (which can lead to arrogance), or inferiority (which can lead to envy). Both attitudes are destructive to your marriage. As opposed to comparing your marriage to others, be willing to learn from those who have something to teach you (humility) and pour into the ones that need help (service). Humility and service are 2 keys to building and sustaining a great marriage.
- Comparison – No, its not a typo. Comparison to other marriages is dangerous, but comparing your efforts to the efforts of your spouse is equally, if not more, destructive to your marriage. If you’ve ever thought, “I’m the one that does all the work (or even a majority of the work) in our relationship“, you’re probably guilty of comparing your effort to the effort of your spouse. The quickest way to send your marriage in a tailspin is to start assigning percentages of blame and comparing levels of effort. As opposed to comparing, assume the primary responsibility for what’s happening in your marriage and do something about it. Contribute, don’t compare.
- Bitterness – Nothing kills a marriage quicker than unresolved conflict. I’m not just talking about the big ones either. The accumulation of 1000 tiny unresolved conflicts can feel the same as 1 “big” one. Regardless of what the size of your conflict, be committed to work through it. A good place to start? Confession.
- Satan – Regardless of your opinion of who Satan is and what he is capable of, the Bible says he is real and he is hell bent on destroying your marriage. Satan is out to …”seek, kill, and destroy” people who love Jesus (John 10:10). He is on a mission to paralyze anyone, and any marriage, that is living for Christ. Satan knows if he can take down your marriage, the breakup will send negative ripple effects through your kids, family, and legacy. If he takes enough marriages down, the impact will start to affect the very society we are living in (kind of like the society we are beginning to see and experience today). You have an enemy, and it’s not your spouse.
Be aware of the battle, but don’t be paralyzed with fear or hopelessness because if it. If you resist the devil, he will flee (James 4:7), and with Christ’s help you can overcome his temptations (1 Cor 10:13).
- Sin – I saved the best, or worst, for last. The single greatest threat attacking your marriage is not anything that comes from the outside, but rather something that resides inside you…sin. Sin causes us to be self-sufficient, self-centered, and self-gratifying. See the theme? Selfishness. Show me a successful marriage and I’ll show you two selfless people. Show me a marriage that is struggling and I’ll guarantee that selfishness in one or both spouses is to blame. Successful marriages realize that the only remedy for sin comes from outside of them, not inside of them. We can’t manage, fix, subdue, minimize, control, or get rid of sin by ourselves. That’s why our marriages need Jesus more than anything else.
Understanding why marriage is hard won’t fix your problems. But, clarity of the problem will help you apply the right solution.
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.