A couple of months ago a sweet friend of mine posted a link to a blog titled, “Marriage Isn’t Hard.” My first instinct reading the title was, “Ha!” Even after reading the first few paragraphs where the author admits to having only been married for 10 months I wanted to write and invite her to a coffee where I could share my wisdom with this dear, sweet, naïve young woman. In the last 19 months I’ve become a single mom, finalized my divorce, started grad school and closed a business. After experiencing the kind of heartache I did I was reading this post thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me! What do you mean marriage isn’t hard?!”
In my almost 9 years of marriage my ex-husband and I experienced 3 layoffs between the two of us, moved 6 times, fell behind on bills more times than I’d like to count, had 3 miscarriages, had 2 children after that, fought and battled more than I’m proud to say, and ultimately our marriage failed. The writer talks about how in 10 months they experienced a pay cut, adding a mortgage and balancing time, and yes, I wanted to laugh in her face. I mean, how could she seriously say any of that was hard? Did she not realize the real challenges her and her new husband would surely face, possibly sooner than later?
Then I kept reading.
The truths this young woman shared showed that she is wise for her age. And when I allowed my emotions to settle and really think about my own personal situation from an unbiased perspective I realized she was right, but I threw a twist on it, because, after all, I am a divorcee. I’ve learned much about myself and my ex since becoming single, and in no way will ever excuse his actions that ultimately ended our marriage, but to say I didn’t contribute to our failure isn’t true. What I now realize is…
Marriage Isn’t [Meant To Be] Hard.
In my failed marriage we wouldn’t settle arguments; we’d yell, scream, throw names and accusations at one another to heighten the sense of resentment, hurt and disappointment the other caused. “You promised! You vowed! Why can’t you just….?!” Week after week, year after year, our relationship became more and more poisoned with resentment and disdain for one another. We allowed the difficulty of life to take hold of what was supposed to be most important – Fighting for one another instead of with one another.
When money was tight we’d fight and place blame – “You’re not making enough money! You’re spending too much money! You’re not following the budget! You’re not updating the budget with what you spend!” Round and round we went. We were so good at getting on that crazy cycle that spiraled us downward!
As I read on in this post I slowly came to realize something. What’s really hard is life, not marriage, not love.
Your wedding is meant to be special. Whether you get dressed up and have a big ceremony, or run away together or with a few people and elope, there’s a sense of excitement and euphoria that’s impossible to replace. You come home and the typical saying of, “The honeymoon’s over,” sets in. You adjust to blending two different lifestyles, sharing holidays, doing laundry, cooking dinner, sharing the bathroom, getting woken up by snores, adopting a dog, and the list goes on….
After time life gets really hard. You start to experience your first grown up disappointments, and sometimes major, expensive changes together. Like I mentioned above my ex and I experienced 3 layoffs between us; two in a row for him when the economy crashed in 2007/2008, one for me when our oldest daughter was just 6 weeks old. Life got really hard.
Looking back though I realized where I was disrespecting my husband without realizing it. I wasn’t creating a peaceful happy home, I wasn’t encouraging him to pursue better things or to be his best, I wasn’t pushing my fears and anxiety out of the way of my anger and resentment. I was making things harder, as life just got harder on its own.
Please, let me reiterate, the emotional and verbal abuse I now realize I was living under are not excused by me recognizing where I too failed and contributed to my divorce. I’m simply learning from my past, because you see, when you’re given an opportunity for true love, it’s important, and mature, to grow as people.
I’ve learned in my late 20s and now 30s that we must grow and progress as survivors of pain. If we don’t we will fall into the trap of victimization and expect the world to cater to our bad attitudes, pushing away the people who love us most and ones we truly need in our lives. For years I lived with this mindset of, “I am who I am. Take it or leave it.” Oh, how immature and heartbreaking for me, because that attitude didn’t invite people in to love me well, thus throwing away the opportunity for me to do the same for others! I’ve come to learn now that the hardships I’ve endured in life are blessings, because I’ve chosen to grow through them and have come out on the other side with the ability to love well with compassion. I can respond with empathy when a woman who’s experienced infertility, miscarriage, abuse, single parenting, job loss or divorce comes into my life. I can be a true reflection of Christ if I allow the Holy Spirit to work in me as He sees fit instead of trying to control outcomes.
Now that I have a good and true love in my life I feel that I can return that love in a form that holds no expectations. We both experienced divorce last year for the same reasons, so yes, there’s a camaraderie there that initially brought us together, but we also just work really well together. Both of our past relationships were riddled with unhealthy habits, and we’ve both learned from them and grown in a beautiful way. We choose to respond in love first rather than condemnation. We choose to communicate and talk things out, no matter how awkward, rather than allow our hurt feeling to fester resentment. We choose to plan and dream together, even if the reality of those dreams are years away. We choose to remember that we’re working together, not against one another.
This is what the original blog post was trying to remind us all of! When you stand before a large crowd or by yourselves and you say, “I accept you, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live,” it means, “No matter how bad or crazy shit may I get I’m in this for you, no one else! Not for future kids, a house, car, jewelry, money or titles, but for you! You’re worth fighting this fight with, because life will get hard.”
Married folks, please remember this! Both my love and I are in agreement that divorce sucks and it’s something we never want to experience again! When there’s kids involved there’s so much hurt, confusion and pain experienced with constant change and separation of households. Even when there’s not kids involved, as with him, there’s still feelings of disappointment, anger and betrayal. As one pastor previously illustrated, when two people are married it’s like gluing two pieces of paper completely together, one on top of the other. They stick together in all areas, and when you try and rip them apart after the glue’s dried pieces of one another are torn and left on the other. There’s never a clean separation.
Please, if nothing else, remember that Marriage Isn’t [Meant To Be] Hard.