Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Q.  Why is marriage so difficult? My husband and I had a loving, fun and contented relationship before we got married. A year or so after we married problems began. Now we argue and differ on many issues. We like the stability of marriage but wonder how to be happy while married. Any ideas?

A.  Our culture misleads us into thinking that marriage is the path to happiness.  We expect to live happily ever after with little effort. When problems begin - which they do in every marriage sooner or later - we wonder what went wrong. In every marriage there is natural tension because two unique individuals are involved. We don’t think the same way. We come from different backgrounds. We don’t have the same opinions. Our biological, emotional and personality make ups are different. In addition we each bring character flaws and immaturities to our marriage. No one has a perfect childhood and we bring our unmet needs and the hurts or trauma from our past into our marriage. 

Life is simpler alone. We can do as we please without paying attention to the needs of others. In marriage we must give ourselves continually, over and over to the relationship. Instead of our fantasy that we will live happily ever after, marriage is more likely to be a test. 
T. S. Eliot has said “Marriage is the greatest test in the world...but now I welcome the test instead of dreading it. It is much more than a test of sweetness of temper, as people sometimes think; it is a test of the whole character and affects every action.”
Joseph Campbell in his book An Open Life describes marriage as an ordeal. It’s an ordeal because we must give up some of our self-centeredness; we must surrender or sacrifice our own wants. In short, we must grow up.
Gary and Betsy Ricucci, in their book Love That Lasts, say “One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, ‘Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!’”
Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage says “Being close to someone - which marriage necessitates - may be the greatest challenge in the world. There is no ‘resting,’ because I am under virtual twenty-four hour surveillance."
In other words, marriage is designed to help us see ourselves as we are, warts and all, and as a result of this awareness we become more humble and more loving. Think of marriage as a boot camp to help both of you stretch, grow and become more mature. The friction between you forces you to face issues you might otherwise avoid. 
How can you change?
1. Learn that love is more than just a feeling. Acting in a loving way increases “feelings” of love. Give more affirmations than criticisms. 
2. Learn that marriage takes work. It takes time together enjoying each other and time listening to understand each other. 
3. Learn that you can only change yourself but when you do, this will help change the marriage. Work on your own immaturities, your own hang ups from childhood or from prior relationships. 
4.  Attend a marriage group to help you understand marriage and see what you need to change. Weekend to Remember, The Third Option and Marriage Encounter are three possibilities.

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Blessings, Dottie

1 comment:

  1. Dottie: You have some very sage advice here for people in all phases of marriage or engagement. Thank you for sharing this.