Posts Tagged ‘the work of marriage’


May 21, 2018

(Originally written 10/12/14, and updated)

Make no mistake about it: Marriage takes WORK. And having a GOOD marriage takes GREAT work—great both in quantity and quality.

On July 31, 2018, we will celebrate 19 years. My first marriage lasted a FULL (in both senses of the word) 25 years—and would likely be still going if my first wife had not died. So I feel I can speak with some authority on marriage. I may have failed at many things I’ve attempted, but I have made marriage work.

It doesn’t seem logical that marriage should require work—but then again it does. Much of our concept of modern-day Western marriage is based on romantic notions of love that have not historically prevailed. As a result, we have an illusion of marriage that often doesn’t fit reality.

Marriage is a practicality that enables two persons to bond together very disparate personalities. Thus, accommodation is required. Adjustments must be made. Adaptation is necessary.

Longevity requires an unspoken belief in the “till death do us part” part in our depths, whether we realize it or not. Interestingly, it often does require a sort of death along the way—death to our self-will, our habits, our preconceived notions. And if this commitment is not there, the changes we undergo individually will undermine the marriage, and it is destined to fail.

Also, in today’s culture, work is required to resist the swell of public opinion and cultural bias against marriage. Even tax structures in the US discourage marriage. The prevailing opinion seems to be, “Why bother?” Even religious favor is not as popular. It has not always been so. A century ago, social and religious pressure was the only factor keeping some marriages together, but it was strong enough to do just that. Duty was enshrined, and sanctity of marriage was at least believed in if not practiced.

The work required comes in all areas, even the most intimate. Yes, there are rewards, and fun, and good times, and those sustain and propel the work portions. It is not all work and no play, but set your mind to the fact that it does require work, sometimes at the most unexpected times and in ways we hadn’t planned on. Life slams us with sickness, accidents, and more, and sometimes it even becomes the carrying of one by the other for extended periods—I have known several men and women who sustained marriages that made outsiders wonder how and why they felt it worth it, but they kept trudging along like Admiral Peary seeking the North Pole. One such person is my father-in-law. If my mother-in-law had lived till May of 2017, they would have been married 70 years! And the last 11 years or so he stayed focused and committed through her increasingly debilitating Alzheimer’s disease. He is one of my heroes.

No one else besides you can decide whether marriage is indeed worth the investment. A man’s mind is his own. But we do not live in a vacuum—we are definitively influenced by the opinions of others. If we choose marriage, we must surround ourselves with others who agree, who help make it work.

The value of marriage makes it worth the work, but that’s another story.