Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A word on marriage--struggles are normal

I am in the midst of doing pre-marital counseling for a young couple. This and the recent marriage discussion on this blog reminded me of the need to let people know that struggles in marriage are normal. Hollywood overly romanticizes love. It is all about the mountain top experience--emotional peaks. It is about finding a person who fits you perfectly.

Love in Hollywood is not about sacrifice, hard work, or service, nor it is a commitment. Biblical love, on the other hand, is all of these things. Real love is a commitment to another person, and it requires dedication and hard work.

I would estimate that on any given Sunday, half of the marriages are really struggling. That may sound terrible. But the good news is, most of these marriages stay together.

I often talk with young couples who think that because they are fighting, they married the wrong person. That if it were real love, they would not have any issues. Happily ever after every single day.

Look, marriage is a shaping process. And it takes years to beat selfishness out of us. It takes years to get used to understanding how another person thinks.

But the good news is, at some point you begin to better understand one another. You begin to really love your spouse in a new way. You begin to want what is best for them and make them happy more than you.

Becki is still waiting for me to get to that point! :) Seriously, though. The message to young couples is this--don't fall apart when you have real life struggles in your marriage. This is normal, and it is part of the shaping process that God has for us. As someone once told me, there is probably no better way to shape a person Spiritually than to have him or her be married to someone else.

Do you think Hollywood accurately portrays marriage? Did struggles in your marriage come as a surprise to you? How did you handle these?


Anonymous said...

You make a terrific point. Marriage is never easy and to advise someone otherwise is foolish. The work is hard and sometimes disheartening but the reward of a loving and committed marriage is one of the greatest joys in the world.

JB said...

Your first question, I just have to laugh. Hollywood doesn't portray much accurately.
2nd there was no surprise. I grew up with my parents who have been married 30+ years...I know that "disagreements" happen.
Your 3rd question...I handled them better sometimes than other times. But I learned... maybe.

The best marriage advice I ever got was from my parents. 1) Never let your wife feel that she doesn't need you. 2) Never go to bed angry. 3) Always put her needs before yours. 4) and no maatter how hard times get...divorce is not an option.

I say these things, knowing that I don't always practice them. However, when things go wrong, I can see why.

Our "script" was written by God, not some Hollywood screen writer. This is real life.
Arguments happen, "disagreements" happen, hurt feelings happen, but divorce should not happen.

Garth said...

I remember the first time Rebecca saw me pitch a tantrum. I was mad at my college counselor for missing an important part of my degree plan. Which meant I had to take an extra class and 21 hours during my final semester.

The look on her face was classic.

I realize tantrums are silly, and I could tell Rebecca thought so too, but the tantrum did make me feel better.

I'm not sure why I wrote this, but perhaps it will make some wife or wife to be feel better about her husband. Or ... get Rebecca a little sympathy for being marryied such a dolt.

Anonymous said...

I married what used to be considered late, but apparently I was setting a trend. In fact I didn't know if I even wanted to get married. The summer I was seriouly dating, my mother asked me if I was going to marry. My reply was, "I don't know if I love him enough to last a lifetime." Mother laughed and this is her wise answer..."Oh, you don't marry them a lifetime. You only marry them one day at a time." Wow!!! Was that easy to help me make up my mind. Of course I could love him only one day at a time. We've lived happily almost 38 years only one day at a time. Mother and Daddy lived just 3 months short of 65 years of one day at a time. That's all we have....just one day. Make the most of it for the Lord and for your marriage. Isn't that easy? Don't be selfish. Make the other as happy as you can. Don't fight...discuss. Grow up. If you wanted someone to take care of you, pick up after you, cook for you, do your laundry, put up with your bad behavior; then you should have never left your mother's house. Marriage is a bond to help each other get to Heaven, so be a mature Christian and stop being a babe in Christ. Life is too short to waste it on yourself.

James said...

Daddy Dub,

Anyone who says "you make a terrific point" is bound to get a response on this blog! :)

Most good things in life that we really appreciate we have to work hard towards. As you say, this satisfaction of having overcome struggles results in "one of the greatest joys in the world."

James said...


You say that the advice that you got on divorce was that it was not an option. In the same way, I was told to never even bring the topic up--to not joke about, saying, "Let's get a divorce" or entertain the idea at all. I think this was wise counsel.

James said...


We all do things that are a bit dumb. And beyond this, we all do things that our spouses just shake their heads at.

Becki has realized that there are some things that I really care about that she could care little about, and vice versa. We need to give each other some leeway in our marriages.

James said...

To our anonymous friend,

I like that thought of marrying a person "one day at a time." I'm betting that as difficult as I can be sometimes, Becki can probably put up with me for one day. Or cherish me! I certainly can do the same for her.