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Why Is Marriage So Hard?


Page Highlights: find out why marriage might not be as hard as some say

People ask that question because everybody says it: Marriage is hard work!

And there’s a reason we say that. We don’t want people going into marriage with unrealistic expectations.

What are unrealistic expectations in marriage? To think that marriage is going to solve all my problems. Or, that this person is my one true soul-mate, and there’s never been another person in the world I could have been happy with.

I’ve used the inventories in premarital counseling, like FOCCUS and Prepare-Enrich. If the premarital inventories come back from scoring and you’ve got issues in the area of expectations, those are major relationship red flags that you have to address.

But to just make a blanket statement that marriage is hard work. I’m just wondering if people hear that from everyone and begin to wonder if they really need more work to do. I work all day and come home and I’ve got to work on my marriage?, they ask themselves.

Some people need to be talked out of marriage, at least until they ready, but we don’t need to talk everybody out of marriage. To make marriage sound so difficult that no one in their right mind would get married.

What Might Be Harder Than Marriage

Marriage is hard work? Ok, life is hard. The first words of the book The Road Less Traveled are “Life is difficult.” Scott Peck, the author, goes on to say that until a person accepts that truth they make the adjustments that are necessary along the way to keep from going nuts.

Marriage is hard? Ok, single life can be pretty hard too.

There are a lot of single people that would like to be married. There’s a well know saying, “Two cords of strand are not easily broken.” It’s really helpful to be able to share life’s tasks, the bills, the challenges, the headaches, all the hard stuff about life.

Any “Hard Work” Is Worth I

I’d like to turn this one more way here.

Even the hard part about marriage is good news.

Does marriage require making adjustments? Does it require learning to be unselfish? Does it require learning how to love another fallible human being? Tell me what’s bad about that?

If we understand what marriage is really about, we see that we weren’t given marriage just so that our needs would be met. We were given marriage to be brought into the most intimate of human connections to meet the deepest needs of another human being.

And in doing that we learn what it really means to be a human being. And that by giving to another human being we find greater joy.

More Fun than Hard Work

Marriage when done right is a lot more fun than it is hard work. Here’s a quote from Willard Harley author of the best sellers Love Busters and His Needs, Her Needs.

Good marriages are not hard work. In fact, they seem to chug along quite nicely with very little thought. It’s bad marriages that are hard work. Good marriages become bad marriages when mistakes are made that ruin the romantic love spouses once had for each other. These mistakes fall into two categories: (1) failing to meet each other’s emotional needs, or (2) making each other unhappy (love busters)….

The good news is that if you put in some effort – if you want to call that work, fine – but if you put in some effort, you can have a good marriage.

Another Way to Think of It

If you still want to think about marriage as hard work, then think about it as a job you really like. It is work, but you enjoy doing it. You like the people you work with. And there are mutual benefits when you work together for common goals.

You have problems at work, there are setbacks and challenges, but you don’t think a moment about quitting. You find your work fulfilling and it’s too much fun along the way.

The Truth About Marriages and Happiness

Some would have you to believe that most marriages are unhappy. Not according to a  national poll reported in Parade Magazine (September 21, 2008).

88% of the couples rated their marriage as happy or at least reasonable content.

The majority had been faithful to their spouse. The majority said they would marry the same person if they had it to do over again.

And did you know that even most bad marriages improve over time. Permanent unhappiness is rare.

One study found that 86% of couples who stayed together despite having marital problems self-reported being much happier 5 years later.

Marriage Benefits

A final point I would make is this, and this may be slightly off topic. But the verdict is in: marriage is good for you. I want say much about this one. There’s a ton of research on it.

  • Married people, generally, are healthier and live longer. I can only speak for myself. If I weren’t married, I’d eat nachos and banana pudding everyday. I’d been dead long ago.
  • On average, marriage increases income by about $1,800 for every year of marriage. A combining of talents can help. He knows how to fix the car and she is good at managing money.
  • Married people report more frequent and more satisfying sex than others.
  • There’s much more. There’s even a whole book on the subject called The Case for Marriage.

The point I would emphasize is that it is marriage, and the ensuing creation of a family, that brings many positives to people’s individual lives and society as a whole.

When we marry and start a family, we make a commitment. We feel a responsibility, and rightly so, to our mate and the children we bring into the world.

And that’s much of what love is. My wife loves me, so she won’t let me eat banana pudding everyday. I have kids to feed, to clothe, to get through college, so I get up and go to work everyday, even when I don’t feel like it. I try to be as productive to society as I can be, motivated largely because I am a husband and a father.

All of that not only helps me and mine, but it helps you too. Our communities are better, and our country is better off.

Yes, marriage requires some effort. But the benefits are well worth the effort.

Give me some feedback:

  • Do you agree or disagree with my alternate view on the “marriage is hard work” idea?
  • Why do you think most people say marriage is hard?
  • In your view, what are the benefits of marriage?


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4 comments to Why Is Marriage So Hard?

  • Aldo & Beth

    I agree that Marriage is not that hard if you are willing to work together and not work for you own gain.

    I think most people say marriage is hard because they go into it for other reasons other than sharing a life together.

    Marriage give you a perm. support system. And allows you to need as well as be needed without being weak.

  • Amy

    I HATE the “marriage is hard work” meme. It sells marriage short. I agree with your take completely. Life is hard. Marriage makes it easier because you have a support system to face the world with. But tell any group of people (even single ones) that marriage is not HARD and you’ll be told that you’re doing it wrong or haven’t had any real problems but you will and it will get hard and it will be awful. I know too many women who settled for bad relationships, some of them borderline abusive, because they believe this lie that relationships are supposed to be “hard work” and a big dramatic emotional struggle all the time. It is actually very sad.

    • marrprep

      Amy, thanks for your thoughts. Just trying to get people to look at this from another angle….and hope they will rather than as you say have an immediate negative reaction. And your application to abusive marriages is a new insight. -Ralph

  • Dave

    I agree with you that marriage is a lot of work but can also be beneficial. I have been with my wife since we were 18 years old and neither of us has ever been with anyone else. We are now 24 and I can definitely see the benefits of a financial partnership but when is it time to say “I need to just figure out who I am?” I feel like I’ve been in this partnership for so long that I don’t even know where to separate her from myself and that is the hardest thing. I feel an attraction towards other women, of course as most men do, but I feel that our issues stem from a deeper source of miscommunication and misunderstanding. This seems like an older blog but perhaps your still around? Most of the others seemed religiously oriented and I really connected with your financial based logic.

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