Marriage is hard. It can be fun and delightful, but it’s hard work. The question is this: How badly do we want our marriage to be good? How hard are we willing to work to make it fun?
Whether we’re striving for a degree, pursuing proficiency in learning an instrument, or saving money for a car, there are things we are willing to do and things we are willing to sacrifice to reach the goal we have in mind. If we’d work at marriage the way we work at these other things, we’d find that even though marriage is hard, it can be more fun than work. What are you willing to sacrifice to make your marriage great?
Somehow we think that we can do all the right things before marriage and everything will turn out right. We can marry with the blessing of our parents, be pure before the wedding day, and find the man of our dreams. You know, the fairy-tale “and they lived happily every after” scenario, where no one dares to suggest that marriage is hard.
Or perhaps we go into marriage having made our share of mistakes and then, finding forgiveness and peace for our past, we somehow think “happily ever after” will come without any work on our part – because we don’t want to reckon with the fact that marriage is hard.
Or, even if we messed up big time and never quite got things straight before we walked to the marriage altar, we somehow think that love will cover our (or his) multitude of sins. We can kiss and make up and go on our merry way without any holes in our good ship lollipop – and all will be peaches and cream! We have finally found Mr. Right and our Prince Charming and we never hear the words, “Marriage is hard.”
Oh my. I have yet to meet one married couple who has found it just that way. That’s because there are some key components often missing in our relationship.
These components all begin with C, so this should be easy to remember (although not as easy to do, I know.) Every single one of these takes work. Our problem is our selfishness; we don’t want to sacrifice to reach these goals. We come by it honestly because we were born with it.
- Commitment. That’s right. We’ve got to be committed to the US in marriage, and not to the Me. You nix that selfish me, and you’ll be on the right path. It’s not just about his commitment. It’s about yours. Your commitment to the marriage, to respect him and to honor him. You’re on the same team. In marriage there is just one team, and both of you are on that team. If you remain on the same team, your marriage will not suffer from disloyalty, unfaithfulness, lukewarmness, or cold feelings. This doesn’t mean emotions will always be hot. It does mean you will stay on that team and not consider checking out players on other teams, even though marriage is hard work. This also means you will look for a way through difficulties in marriage, and not for a way out of marriage.
- Communication. Don’t expect him to know what you’re thinking and feeling. Don’t think you know exactly what he’s thinking or what he wants. If you nix his emotions and down-play his feelings, he certainly isn’t going to share them with you. Communication isn’t just telling each other what’s on your mind; it’s encouraging the other to share what’s in his heart because that is important. Communication is working together so your ship can sail smoothly. You’re on the same team and the goal is to traverse any waters together. We must be able to really hear the other person out, and we must be willing to share so our spouse can hear us out. There’s an art in communication and it needs to be honed. How much time do we spend honing that art, especially when marriage is hard?
- Consideration. The Bible calls that “esteeming others better than yourself.” This is actually a word that means the opposite of selfishness. You want a good marriage? Stop being selfish. Give up the selfishness and pouting when you don’t get your way. Give it up for good and quit trying to use pouting or hurt feelings to get your way. There are many forms of selfishness. Pouting, stubbornness, manipulation, and dishonesty are some of them. Consideration of your spouse means you recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around you. In marriage, it revolves around the team. Sometimes it means taking one for the team; sometimes it means giving in for the team; sometimes it means giving up for the team. We know what this means, and we know what we can do to show consideration. However, it’s a lot easier said than done. How considerate are you of your spouse, even when marriage is hard?
One of the worst things we can do for our marriage is look around and think all the other couples have it great. After all, social media would have us believing that lie. We don’t see inside those marriage walls when nobody else is watching. Stop comparing your marriage to others. Instead, focus on these three C-words. Stay on the same team. It will be work, hard work, but worth every drop of sweat when you come out on the winning team. You’ll acknowledge that marriage is hard, but a great marriage makes it all the more sweet.