Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is Marriage Really Such Hard Work?

When marriage and work are in the same sentence, marriage usually gets a bum rap and is given a negative connotation. As a sanity check, I asked my husband who has been married to me for 28 years - "Would you say marriage is hard work?" He said, "Hard????" with a puzzled look on his face.  Perhaps our thoughts around work need to be adjusted so we can stop making marriage seem so burdensome.

There are few things in life that don't require work. If something comes easy it's because at some point the effort was put in to make it so. When a baby first learns to walk it's tenuous and uncomfortable. There are spills and falls. But eventually, the baby gets it and for the rest of his life walking is second nature. If something happens to disturb this pattern then he puts in the work again, re-learning how to walk because he realizes that walking is essential. While walking appears to be easy there's a lot that happens to make walking work (see what I did there?); it is synchronized motion.

Work - none of us is exempt from it
Work - usually, comes before easy; the longer you stay married the easier it becomes.
Work - a function of time, effort and maturity
Work - involves discipline which is another word for self-control
Work - affects every facet of our lives including relationships
Work - is compounded in relationships because human nature is variable

The work of marriage involves talking, compromising, listening, understanding, sacrificing, agreeing, disagreeing, forgiving, connecting, loving, accepting, touching, holding. Consider the work of marriage as maintenance - the little things you do to prevent major problems. Consider the act of work to be faith and love in action. This work is not unique and in varying degrees and scenarios can be hard but this is the stuff of life.  From the minute you said your vows there was the implication of hardship in them. The traditional wedding vows attempt to cover the ebbs and flows of life in the extreme - sickness and health, better or worse, richer or poorer, then until death do you part or something along those lines. These vows ensured that you entered marriage with your eyes wide open. We make this more difficult when our focus is on changing the other person, instead of working on ourselves.

The Bible says in this life we will have tribulation (John 16:33); life is hard and marriage is just another facet of life. But the verse doesn't end there; even though life is hard we can be of good cheer because Someone greater than us has handled it already. So it can be "easy"; we can have "good cheer" by living out our faith. Being nice to each other; being considerate; listening as you would to one of your dear trusted friends; having fun, forgiving quickly; accusing rarely and by a willingness to continue to learn and re-learn each other. Kindness and love usually get reciprocated unless you're emotionally barren. But love wins the day.

Marriage is not a prison; it's not where life ends; it doesn't prevent you from following your dreams, and it does not need to limit or cripple you. Work is intertwined with life, and marriage is just another part of life. Not working at your marriage is tantamount to neglect therefore marriage is as hard as you make it. When you feel safe with your spouse, when you have the same foundation, it becomes easier to weather the storms of life. So do the work; put in the effort and while you're at it change your perspective on work because, "Marriage, ultimately, is the practice of becoming passionate friends." Harville Hendrix

And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother. Genesis 24:67

For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:7-8

When asked his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same person, he said, “Ruth and I are happily incompatible.” Billy Graham


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  1. We've been married for 27 years and I'd say there are 'seasons' of marriage. some of them are work. some of them are maintenance. some of them are rest. some of them are full of joy and excitement. some are full of struggle. The key is to realize that just because you might be in a difficult season, doesn't mean it will always be that way. Thanks!

  2. I agree with Karen, there are seasons in marriage. After 36 years, I'm still madly in love - butterflies in my stomach in love. This has not come easy, but it is there. Now, thank God, we play more than ever! Hard times never last...having a partner to rejoice with and cry with is such a blessing!

    Thank you for sharing!


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