Last week’s post was all about 4 things that are really difficult when you’re single. This week’s is focused on hard things about marriage. To be honest, I thought that being married would be way easier than being single. In some ways, that’s true. There are things that are easier about being married.
However, everything in life comes with its unique challenges and problems. Getting married solved some of the problems I had as a single person, but it also brought about new problems. While every marriage is different and every married person is going to have slightly different problems, here are 4 common problems that come up in marriage.
Everybody has an expectation of what marriage will be like. This expectation is based on your family of origin, your personality, and the way marriage has been portrayed to you in media and other outside forces. Some expectations are realistic. Others are not.
The truth is, most people expect that marriage is going to make them feel complete. They expect their spouse to fill all or many of the holes in their life. In reality, no person can ever completely fill those holes. No person (except Jesus) is perfect. Because they’re not perfect, they’re never going to perfectly fulfill your expectations.
Unmet expectations go two ways: towards your spouse and towards marriage in general. You may find out that your spouse isn’t entirely who you thought they were. We all put on our best behavior while we’re dating and engaged. In marriage, the shine can really come off once we see ALL sides of a person.
Even if we don’t find ourselves disappointed in who our spouse really is, we can also become disillusioned with marriage itself. You find out it’s not all like the honeymoon. Maybe your spouse travels a lot for work and you didn’t realize how difficult that would be. Perhaps they’re going through a stressful time at work and they’re bringing that home. Marriage can be disappointing in many ways.
You’re Uniquely Tied to Another Person’s Brokenness
When two broken, imperfect people are joined in marriage, you are both impacted by twice as much brokenness and imperfection. The hard part about that is that you can’t do a whole lot about the other person’s brokenness. You can work on your own brokenness and try to find healing. You can’t force your spouse to do the same. There may even be broken things in your spouse that they don’t see. You can try to help them see them, but you can’t force them.
What this means is that you can be hurt by your spouse’s brokenness and there’s not much you can do about it. You can pray. You can try to find healing for your own brokenness (as sometimes something you think is broken in your spouse is actually broken in you). Still, you are vulnerable.
Vulnerability is a big part of marriage. We usually talk about it in the positive, focusing on having someone to tell everything to and share everything with. We don’t talk too much about this negative side of vulnerability. It is there. Whether you’re married or single, you should be aware of it. Your spouse can hurt you in ways that no one else can.
It just seems like communication shouldn’t be that hard. If you’re married to someone, you should know them well. Therefore, it should be pretty easy to figure out what they want. Somehow, it is that hard. So often we assume we know what the other person is thinking or saying, and so often we are wrong.
It can be hard to say what you want (I struggle with that a lot). It can be hard to hear what the other person is saying. Sometimes, you just can’t figure out what they’re is saying. It’s almost like they’re speaking a different language. Not only that, in the midst of work, kids, and life in general, it can be hard just to find time to talk to one another anything.
It’s not just that talking to one another can be hard. What makes the communication problem worse is that communication affects everything else. It affects your schedule. It affects how loved, valued, and appreciated you feel. Bad communication makes everything more complicated, and yet it’s so hard.
Complacency Can Set in
So here’s a weird thing that I never expected about marriage: it’s easy to just coast. You can live together and even do things together and still not really be connecting to one another. Life can turn into a routine of watching Netflix together without ever really talking.
Marriage has to be a priority. It’s not just a default thing that you do after you get married. You actually have to work at it to make sure you’re doing it well. It’s easy to let other things become the priority (i.e. work, kids, hobbies, etc.). You have to go out of your way to keep things fresh, make sure you’re connecting with one another, and loving each other well. That takes some creativity and some some prioritization.
I hope in reading this post and last week’s you’ve come to see that it doesn’t matter whether you are married or single, you’re still going to have problems no matter what. The problems might be different, but they are problems none the less. Don’t be surprised when a change in relationship status doesn’t bring you what you thought it would: and easier life. Feel free to share below anything that surprised you or anything you would add to the lists.