Is a Successful Marriage Really Hard Work?

I don’t think so.

Whenever I hear a discussion on marriage everyone talks about the hard work it takes to make it successful.  I contend that it is not hard; it is merely inconvenient.

[Disclaimer #1:  When I say that marriage is not hard I am not including those marriages that include abuse, addiction, or fraud.  Those are very hard and I don’t want to minimize that.  I am talking about the average Joe and Sally (in as much as there can be such thing). Disclaimer #2: I am also assuming both parties desire a successful marriage and are participating as such.]

I wrote a previous post on the Importance of Inconveniencing Yourself.  In it I discuss that nothing really great happens because it is convenient to you.  This is especially true with marriage.

I have a little experience in this department.  I have been happily married for 28 years.  We are still having fun, we’re still best friends, and we are still a team.  It was never hard but it most certainly was inconvenient.

We all take vows.  More than promises, vows are a contract.  And that’s where it gets inconvenient.

To Love

This means love as a verb.  To show it.  Everyone wants to feel loved, be shown love.  What makes this inconvenient is that everyone has a different concept of what that means.  It is beyond frustrating when you are trying show your partner love and they are not recognizing it for what it is.

There is an excellent book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It changed my perspective dramatically on how to communicate love to another person. I found this so valuable that I get this book for every family member who gets married.  It discusses how people show and receive love differently.  There are five languages: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service.  Now we all want a little bit of each of these things but in general each person has a primary and secondary language that is far more valued than the others.

In my case, my primary love language is Acts of Service and my secondary is Words of Affirmation.  For my husband it is Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. While we have the Words of Affirmation in common, imagine my frustration when I would do something for the Mister that would take something off his to do list and he was not impressed.  I was showing him how much I loved him by doing for him what I wanted him to do for me.  The same was true when he tried to spend a significant amount of time cuddling on the couch- he was using his love language on me and it wasn’t what I wanted. I had to learn how to love him the way he wanted to be loved and vice versa.

It is inconvenient to love someone that way.  I have to remember to love him with (extra) hugs, hand holding, and snuggling and he has to remember to love me by filling my gas tank, taking out the garbage, and reaching for things on the top shelf (so much easier when you are six foot tall).  Remembering is inconvenient…but not hard.

To Honor

Honor is defined as “high respect, as for worth, merit or rank”.  That means making the other one number one on the priority list.  That means before the parents, the kids, the friends, the hobbies, or the dog.  This does NOT mean that every single one of their needs or wants comes before anyone else (because I am assuming in this illustration that everyone is a mature adult).

It means that consideration for your spouse’s feelings and needs come before others. Who wants to take the time to negotiate just to make sure you are on the same page?  And then compromise to come to a win/win situation?

It is far more convenient to put our own needs and wants ahead of everything else and always get our own way.  Unless you are a narcissist, however, that doesn’t really get you want you want in the long run.  It only gets you what you want right now.  

That all takes time and that is inconvenient…but not hard.

To Cherish

A slightly old fashioned word that means “to care for tenderly”.  This has inconvenience written all over it.  Isn’t it always more convenient to just take care of ourselves and leave others to their own devices? Being unselfish, actively caring for another person, deliberately nurturing another is all inconvenient… but not hard.

In Sickness and in Health

Health is always taken for granted.  Sickness, on the other hand, puts a damper on things.  That is life being hard not marriage.  It will never be convenient to drop what you are doing to run your husband to the hospital while a kidney stone is causing him to scream in your year ear during the whole ride (yes, true story).  It will also never be convenient to rearrange your social schedule due to your wife’s chronic migraines (also true).

Chronic and/or life threatening diseases are hard.  They are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  Again this is life being hard, not marriage.  Single people with these conditions are having it just as hard.

Again, inconvenient…but not hard.

For Richer or Poorer

I have been middle class my whole life but have experienced both the lower and higher ends and am working toward the higher end again.  The higher end is definitely easier than the lower. (I willingly offer up my husband and I as test subjects for anyone wanting to see how wealth impacts marriage if they would like to fund that research.)

Poorer is harder but if everyone is doing their share to make the finances work it is not marriage being hard, it is marriage being inconvenienced.

Is it convenient to have to negotiate how you deal with money?  No.   Is it convenient to be married to someone who loses their job?  No.  Is it convenient to strategize on how to make the last $10 last for 5 more days until the next pay check comes?  No.  Is it fun to take on more responsibility or have less access to your spouse because one or both of you is putting in extra time in your job or business to secure your financial future?  No.

It is life that is being hard.  When you are a team, it makes it easier.  Being a team player is inconvenient…but not hard.

For Better or Worse

Dealing with mood swings, funks, bad habits, annoying quirks, someone else’s phobias, and insecurities are definitely inconvenient.  You could be spending all that time dealing with you. But it’s not all about you.  For more clarity, start reading this post from the beginning. Still inconvenient…but not hard.

As a small aside, a sense of humor can really aid you with this part in particular.  Being able to laugh at yourself is a stress reliever and just helps things go more smoothly.  I know I do this weird eye roll when I get frustrated.  I know I can’t hear when I am reading.  I know that jumping out of the bed with enthusiasm in the morning is not what normal people do.  I know all that so when the Mister takes a few jabs at it, I can laugh along with him.  It makes the worse a little better.

Marriage only becomes hard when you have to fix it because it is broken. Click To Tweet

Forsaking All Others

If someone outside your marriage is offering up the goodies it can be very tempting to succumb to the temptation.  It may be extremely inconvenient to say no.  However, if you go in to marriage with the personal integrity to keep your word it might be inconvenient to decline…but not hard.  If you look at the long term ramifications it might be inconvenient…but not hard.

Til Death Do You Part

If we go into marriage with the intention of forever (it’s part of the contract) than we need to inconvenience ourselves.  It’s when we do NOT inconvenience ourselves that it becomes hard work because then we are trying to fix something that is broken.

Do you agree thaa good marriage is inconvenient but not hard?

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