Marriage Is Hard. Period.

hard marriage

Back during the Oscars Ben Affleck gave a lovely speech praising his wife and acknowledging that they have worked on their marriage.

Immediately there was controversy. People were upset claiming that marriage shouldn’t take work or be difficult. And if it is you shouldn’t be married.

I don’t know why this surprised me. This is why marriages end 50% of the time. Because when it becomes work a lot of people bail. (I realize this oversimplifies things and I don’t want to be callous towards anyone who has gone through a divorce. But I think even people who fought for the survival of their marriage and lost can acknowledge that many barely put up a fight.)

If we are married and we don’t acknowledge the realities of marriage we are doing others who are married and unmarried a disservice.

It is one of the reasons Ryan and I are passionate about our marriage ministry. We try and teach from a place of realness and transparency. And it is why we bring in other couples to help teach who will do the same. It is why posts like these from Mary and Lisa and Casey are so important.

I get the difficulty of laying private stuff out for public consumption. And I am not sure I would ever advocate sharing your marriage troubles with the world while you are going through them.

But when you are on the other side of them. When you have fought to stay together and won. When you can stand up in a better place and say, “Stay. It is so worth it on the other side.” Can I beg you then to tell your story?

Our airbrushed, Pinterest ready lives are really lovely and all, but they are rarely reality. And they can just be one. more. thing. that defeats a person hanging on by their fingernails. I think most of us are craving a little more “real” in our lives, from our social media world and from our friends.

So I’ll be the first to boldly proclaim as a happily married woman. Marriage is hard work. Often times, along with parenting, it is the best possible hard work. But it is not natural to forgive and be selfless and sacrifice and pick up the 300th sock that instead of being inside the basket, lies just next to the basket (seriously. almost 13 years in. Seriously).

And I bet those way further down the road of marriage would say it still isn’t easy. That it never really gets to the point where you coast in to the finish line. But if you are willing to keep loving and forgiving and sacrificing, it is worth it. So keep working.


  1. Denise says:

    I. Love. This.

    I fully agree with you!

    And I say that with all my heart as my husband and I are currently miffed at each other. Oh yes, going on 16 years and we still have “I love you but I am not really liking you right now” moments.

    That’s real life.

    And marriage is worth every bit of the work because I didn’t think it was possible to love my husband more and more and more. Even in evenings he started – and finished – the movie we were watching without me. I mean, come on!!!

    Marriage is a ride that I am glad we are on.

  2. I think one of the things I enjoy most is knowing that others have had it rough too.
    I don’t want to know the dirty details, I also don’t want to be front and center during the really ugly parts, but I always like to hear that it worked out in the end.
    (And saying I don’t want to be around for the down and dirty, it’s more that I don’t want to enable any anger or bitterness in a damaged relationship, that stuff needs to be saved for unbiased parties (counselors) or the absolute BEST of friends who know the relationship and the people in it.)
    Staying private in the thick of it is important, coming clean about your success in the end gives hope to so many others stuck in the thick of it.
    Casey-moosh in indy. (@mooshinindy) recently posted…when you spend your birthday at disneyland.My Profile

  3. Two years into our marriage we hit the rocks… like boulder sized rocks. In the span of a year we had two miscarriages, we were both laid off from work and my husband battled depression. With our world turned upside down, we didn’t know how to cope, how to give grace to each other or how to push through and for two years we fought like cats and dogs. Back then I knew no one willing to admit that marriage is hard and I felt so alone. I couldn’t think of any married people to talk to– especially within my faith. After God brought us through that time, we promised each other that we will always be honest with people about marriage so we can be an example of a hard fought marriage that won the battle and a resource for those who needed us. Not too long after that period we were given the opportunity to give another couple hope that reached out to us. Refusing to share our real story, only keeps that 2 year period as a dark time in our past. But God allowed us a way to turn that awful time into something that can help others– redeeming those years for a greater purpose.

    I truly appreciate your call for folks to tell their stories. Because I hope no one ever goes through those rough patches and believes that all is lost because they don’t know anyone willing to share those not so pin-worthy moments.
    Cris Goode (@crisgoode) recently posted…Peanut Butter and Jelly French ToastMy Profile

  4. I definitely agree. Marriage does take hard work from both. I don’t know why people criticize others who admit that they have to work at it instead of commending them. It is just another part of the sad world we live in where people just want to bring others down instead of lifting them up and encouraging them. I think you are right and that the people who think marriage shouldn’t require hard work are the exact people who just give up when things get a little tough. It is just sad! I think the troubles we go through as a couple definitely make our stories that much more beautiful. I compare my husband and I to Allie and Noah from the Notebook…we fight like cats and dogs, but in the end, I think we’ll have a beautiful story to tell our grandkids someday! :-)
    Sherry recently posted…Celebrating Brody’s 2nd BirthdayMy Profile

  5. Truth. Just so much truth. After writing about struggles in my own marriage, I had “friends” (people I know but rarely speak to) who started contacting my friends asking if they had heard the news that we were facing a rough patch. One friend responded “If you’ve been married 8 years and haven’t hit a rough patch, you’ve done something wrong.” I was so thankful for them saying that. Because it’s true. People’s rough patches may look different, but seriously, if you’ve been married for any length of time and haven’t had a point where it’s hard, then something is a miss – like not being real with each other.

    And even in good marriages, things aren’t always smooth. You have to stay in it. You have to put up the good fight. And you have to realize that over half the time it really isn’t about changing the other person, so much as letting God change your own heart.
    Sarah @ loved like the church recently posted…The Tragedy with Tragedy – How the Boston Marathon Bombing Is Effecting MeMy Profile

  6. Great post. I think most marriage vows today have “until we don’t want to do it anymore” hidden between the lines. And the reality is, there will be times when at least one of us feels that way. But even the most ideal marriages are far from perfect. And even the most flawed are worth fiercely fighting for.
    Jenny from Mommin’ It Up recently posted…I always knew it would come to blowsMy Profile

  7. Heck yeah, it’s hard. After almost 22 years it’s still a daily remembering of a commitment that we made. That commitment includes forgiving – even when you aren’t asked – and overlooking sooo many things. I just remind myself of all he has to overlook in me. There’s nothing awesome or amazing or monumental that doesn’t take work. Entropy and decay are what happen when there’s no work. Pretty sure I don’t want that kind of marriage.
    Amy Tilson recently posted…When I Start to Believe My Own HypeMy Profile

  8. Oh yes. It’s hard – every day. And we have a great marriage! It’s definitely not something that comes easily :)
    Becca – Our Crazy Boys recently posted…When Your Tweens Travel Alone: Tween/Teen TuesdayMy Profile

  9. Karen Pahl says:

    Thank you for this wise words on marriage…. Even after 21 years of marriage it is still work and we keep working at it day by day. We still have our arguments, discussions and celebrations as well. It’s all part of the vows we took for better or for worse. I look forward to starting some kind of marriage ministry where I am soon and hope it is helpful in some way… Thanks

  10. I might be in the minority here. I think life is hard, but my marriage isn’t. Yes, it is work- but I love that work, and maybe that’s what makes it not hard.. Yes, sometimes days aren’t fun at all. Yes, sometimes we get frustrated. But where life is hard, my marriage is my hiding place, because it isn’t.
    Rae @ Motherhood Handmade recently posted…What a WeekMy Profile

    • I actually think we are staying the same thing and using different words to say it. Marriage is a lot of work, but in the end it is so worth it. My point was more if we don’t share the rough patches and our happiness on the other side of them, people don’t often know how worth it the work is :)

  11. You are right. Marriage is hard. I am 15 wks pregnant and have a 2.5 year old little boy. I have been married for 7 years & my husband moved out today. I never ever thought that would happen. I am praying for our marriage to work. Husband says he needs space. It is hard.

    • Oh Elizabeth I am so sorry. My heart is breaking for you right now. Will he pursue counseling with you?

      • Yes we are going to our second counseling session this morning.
        Elizabeth recently posted…Write this day down in the history books.My Profile

        • I don’t know how you feel about prayer, but I am praying for you and your marriage. Please make sure to read the posts I linked to about marriages that have survived very rocky times. I pray your story will be added to that list.

  12. Jill,
    Yes, absolutely. Marriage is fun, awesome, and challenging in the same space.

    I think we can say the same of any real relationship–parenting, true friends, etc. I can’t imagine a scenario in which you care so deeply for someone and you don’t occasionally trip over the baggage of life.

    Thanks for being willing to discuss this truth…I think it’s a gift to let others know having a “good marriage” doesn’t always mean flowers and sunshine. (But it definitely means flowers and sunshine sometimes!)


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