Derek and Missy Irvin Discuss the topic, "Is Marriage Hard Work?"
I recently sat with a group of couples who were discussing the question “Is Marriage Hard Work”. It was interesting the different opinions that were shared. One guy immediately answered with an emphatic, “yes!” He had been married for nine years and expressed that when he got engaged everyone congratulated them, but no one shared with him that marriage requires work. Another couple shared concern that when we stress the hard work part of marriage that we make marriage sound like a chore rather than a gift. A third couple pointed out that marriage requires attention and energy and a fourth couple felt like when you love someone it should be easy.
It’s interesting that there are so many different opinions around the same topic. Why is that?
The simple answer is there are times when marriage is easy and times when it is hard. A healthy marriage is one of the best things in the world. Having your person who knows you, loves you, and is there for you is an incredible gift. You know each other’s likes and dislikes. You have inside jokes and shared history.
What makes it hard is when we hurt each other and drift apart. It’s easy for unresolved conflicts to turn into resentment and bitterness which leads to active fighting and cold distance.
When you drift apart you start to feel lonely in your own marriage. The person who is supposed to be your partner, friend, and confidant becomes the source of pain.
The two biggest culprits to staying connected in marriage are unresolved conflict and distraction. Conflict is like pain. It shines a light on what needs attention. If you know how to resolve the conflict, you can get to the root cause of the pain and adjust. However, most couples don’t have a predictable way to resolve conflict. The conflict flares up and then leaves the couple feeling cold and distant. Ultimately, they come back together as if everything is ok because they have a household to run. But if the issues are not resolved, the friction and distance will continue to leave them feeling disconnected.
The other thing that keeps couples from staying connected is busyness and distraction. Life gets busy and many urgent tasks compete for our attention. Spending time with each other and going on dates together get put on the back burner. Unlike toxic conflict, the drift of busyness and distraction is much more subtle. Because you don’t feel the immediate effects, it is easy to underestimate the impact it is having on your marriage.
Think about this, when a couple gets married, they feel so connected that they pledge before their friends, family, and God to spend the rest of their lives together. However, many marriages fail to make good on that pledge. If couples put the same kind of intentionality and effort into their marriage that they put into winning their spouse’s heart in the first place, their marriage would be much healthier.
As you consider the time between when you first met your spouse and your wedding day, there was a great deal of intentionality, focus, and pursuit that made this possible. It didn’t just happen. You came to see that you could rely on each other and finally decided to commit the rest of your lives to each other.
But then, after the wedding many couples let their guard down. They fail to give their relationship the same level of focus that they gave it during their courtship. Most couples don’t realize that the natural state of a marriage is to drift. They don’t understand that for their marriage to be healthy they will need to cultivate it. Staying connected doesn’t just happen. Drift just happens.
Therefore, a healthy marriage is an intentional marriage. The focus of every marriage should be, “how do we stay connected” during the various seasons of life. Do marriage on purpose. Prioritize your relationship. Look for ways to connect daily, date weekly, and get away together regularly. Create structure and rhythm to keep you connected.
If you find yourself in a marriage that is disconnected for whatever reason, get the help your marriage needs. The Hopeful Tomorrows Marriage Intensive is a good place to start. It will be hard work getting your marriage back to a good place, but it is possible and worth it. The hurts can be repaired, and the love rediscovered.