My grandparents have been married for 65 years now and I have never heard either of them utter the line, "Remember, marriage is hard." They have been through war, issues post war, jobs that travel,never having money, working harder than imaginable, raising a handicap child, building a life together, watching two sons out of three die, loosing jobs, retiring from jobs, saying goodbye to friends who have died, and now finally, taking care of each other as they age rapidly. Not once, in all of our frank discussions of life and love, have they ever told me that marriage is hard work.
I have not been married for 65 years so perhaps my credibility isn't worth two cents to you until I have some gray in my hair. However, I am going to proceed with a theory that I try to practice and live by.To begin, I do not believe that marriage is hard.
I believe that marriage is intentional.
I have been in a relationship with my husband for 5 years. We have been married 3.5 of those 5 years. In that time, what I have discovered is that there is nothing hard about being in a relationship with Joel. There is nothing hard about loving Joel. There is nothing hard about combining all of our resources and living together. Honestly, it isn't even hard to get into arguments or disagreements because of one thing- we both have made a promise to be intentional in our marriage.
Over the years, I have witness couples who grow apart, break up, divorce, and map out new lives often with a wake of pain rushing behind them. I have had friends who remind me of how hard marriage is and how no one ever tells you how much work it will be.
What being intentional in your marriage means to me is that both partners recognize and embrace the fact that they are going to grow and change continually throughout the course of their lives. They will constantly have new interests, new desires, new dreams, new hopes, and daily experiences that will shape the person they are becoming. I have said it before; if we are not growing then we are dying. The same thing goes for marriage.
Someone once told me you can never date someone and expect to change them. That is true. What you can expect is that they will change.
Intentionality in marriage is being open to that change. It is being willing to become part of that transformative experience. Support the change, grow with the change, invite each other into the transformation so that you can transform together. Marriage is growing together.
The most important thing I have realized is that you cannot expect your partner to be the same person you married all those years ago. In fact, why would you want them to be that person if it means they aren't growing? I am not talking about personality types or fidelity or inside jokes or whatever might be making your hair stand on end right now. Those should remain constant. I am simply saying that Joel and I are so different from the people we were in 2010. Our beliefs have changed, our goals, our non-existent 5 year plan, our hopes, and our love languages. Even little things like who our friends are, how we want to spend our time, or just that we are not as extroverted as we were in the beginning. We have changed a ton, but we have invited each other into that change so that we can support it and become part of it together.
Those moments in our marriage when something seems off usually boil down to a simple shift in awareness or education. We try to be intentional about informing and inviting each other into our personal journeys. Most of the time, it turns out that we are growing in very similar or complimentary way. When we are intentional about communicating our journeys or new ideas, etc, then we can be intentional in supporting one another or finding ways to unite our new visions or goals.
I suppose some people might view intentionality itself as hard work. In my short life experience, I have found that intentionality is a way of experience love. It is not hard to love the person I promised to spend my life with. Being intentional with Joel is exactly what I am called to be.
Anything that changes your life for the better is worth being intentional about.
If you ask me, marriage is not hard. Marriage IS intentional.