So I wanted to hit on a topic today because a couple months ago I read an article claiming why marriage isn’t hard. It was actually a good read and I understand the points that were made; however, I simply don’t agree with the underlying statement of “Marriage isn’t hard.” I believe if done the “right” way, and by right way… I mean the biblical way, then I can see where she is coming from by saying that it is not hard because *her quote* “I can’t imagine “hard” being the picture that God intends to paint as the perfect love between Christ and the Church.”
There is no such thing as perfect love between humans on Earth. She states that since God made marriage to be a love that reflects our love for Jesus and the Church then marriage simply cannot be hard. My arguing point is God also intended for this world to be without sin, but we chose sin instead.
Just because God designed something doesn’t mean it is easy.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials … so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2, 4). God puts us through trials and hard times for us to grow stronger. People can’t say life is hard because of sin but marriage is not hard because God intended it to be perfect. That is the biggest contradiction I have ever heard. God intended this world to be completely different than it is now, but because of Free Will, we messed that up so what makes it any different when it comes to marriage? Some people may disagree with me and agree with the article I am not 100% for, but telling people if you just believe hard enough then everything will work out is false advertisement and sometimes that is not in God’s plan to give us what we desire but rather what is best for us.. like any parent.
Life is hard and dealing with my own sin is hard, now add another person with another life and with other sins:: makes it a little harder to juggle. However, there are some easiness in marriage: waking up next to my best friend every day is not hard. Having someone by my side, knowing the depths of my soul, both good and bad, yet still choosing to push me toward the goodness of God, growing a family together (others may disagree that I put this in the easy pile!), traveling and exploring life together, always having a plus one and someone to lean on, laughing at our mistakes, building up a home together, planning the future, taking pictures and putting them on social media and stating “life with you is easy” – out of those few examples, that doesn’t sound too hard.
But having two people from different childhood backgrounds, different pet peeves, different taste for food (whew, food is what we argue over most! ha!), having different parenting styles: all of that can add up to it being a little tough sometimes. My husband and I have been together for almost 7 years and lived together for almost 3 years. I have learned some things about Will and I am still learning! For a couple, we honestly don’t argue a bunch. We discuss many topics, however, arguing has never been the way we handled conflict. (I can thank the Lord for that!)
I don’t want to tell you to expect disagreement and hardship because then you will be looking for it; however, I don’t want you to be painted this perfect Nicholas Sparks picture either.
Your husband will forget that item on the grocery list that you have reminded him a million times about, you will end up using all the shampoo leaving your partner will nothing but watery shampoo they had to make themselves last minute, you will argue over what to eat for a date, things will break in the house like your favorite seasonal discontinued candle, you won’t always be in the mood to watch their shows, ya’ll won’t always do something for the weekend: sometimes it is spent doing absolutely nothing which sometimes is fun and other times you want to blow up the house for being stuck in it for too long. Or simply, they just breathe the wrong way and you think you are about to explode. Let’s go a little deeper. Y’all may not have the same love language. Ya’ll may not have the same desires. Ya’ll may have different drives and goals. Ya’ll can’t seem to get the whole effective communication down pat. You may hate each others families or friends. You may have different priorities when it comes to what to spend money on. Not every day is perfect and to some people those imperfect days add up to be weeks and months and then they are at that point of a fork in the road.
Marriage really is a beautiful thing, but at the end of the day, we are all human with flaws and with mistakes and with future mistakes. My biggest fear is getting a divorce. When Will proposed to me, I thought… what if this doesn’t work? (I know, awful thought on such a memorable moment) But I know I am not the only one that thought : “Oh heavens, I will forever be tied with this person. Until DEATH!” It is scary and mostly why I feared divorce so much is because “50% of marriages end in divorce.” I researched some of the major risk factors of divorce.
The major factors that determine a couple’s risk of divorce include:
- Cohabitation: cohabiting couples (couples who live together before marriage) have a 50-80 percent higher likelihood of divorce than non-cohabiting couples.
- I can totally agree with this. Under my circumstances, I had to stay with Will and my future in laws at the time. That was a whole different level of toughness, however, even though we KNEW we were going to get married.. it was hard. We were a team, but something about having rings on your finger makes that team so much stronger. It was like a light switch and we were so thankful to be married and have our own house. Even though we saved ourselves for marriage, it wasn’t anything new. He already knew what I looked like in the morning, I already knew his nighttime routines. It just put us on a “been there, done that” train and it didn’t help us.
- Age: those who marry after age eighteen have a 24 percent reduced risk of divorce.
- I personally don’t know how you could get married under the age of 18 anyways. Most girls didn’t start their cycle until 13 or 14 so that is only a 4 year difference! Plus, you grow so much in your late teens, early adult years. I am 100% not the same person and having met Will when I was 17; that is sometimes a challenge. I feel like I am this different person with different desires and in the beginning, I wonder if committing that young was a mistake. (Now I know it’s not.. however, there are times when we clash because my desires have changed and him being being old enough when we met (23) he has just about stayed the same. So I grew, and he stayed. (which isn’t a bad thing, it is just common for teens to change)
- Age Difference: marriages where there is a significant difference in age have twice the risk of divorce than those in which the couples are close in age.
- 6 years isn’t too bad for us. But there was a time when we were in totally different chapters in our life and that was a tough pill to understand and swallow. I understand the age difference in a second marriage, but if the first marriage is 10-15 years, you want different things. You grew up in totally different times.
- Education: only 27 percent of college graduates will divorce by middle age.
- Family Background: having parents who have never divorced reduces divorce risk by 14 percent.
- Marital History: being previously divorced markedly elevates one’s risk of divorce.
- Income: having a collective annual household income of $50,000 or more is associated with a 30 percent lower divorce risk.
- The biggest disagreements will come from finances. NO matter how much money you make. I want new carpet but he wants new appliances or a new motorcycle… it is about priorities and compromise and struggling with money will put a strain on ANY relationship. You just have to remember why you got married in the first place and work together as a team.
- Beliefs: going into a marriage with husband and wife holding a strong personal conviction that marriage is for life protects against divorce.
- Religion: those with a strong common faith have a 7-14 percent lower risk of divorce. However, having a nominal faith has no protective effect.
- Childbearing: having one’s first child after marriage reduces divorce risk somewhere between 24 and 66 percent.
- Desire for Children: a marriage in which the wife desires children but the husband does not is at a 50 percent greater risk of divorce.
- Sexual History: marrying as non-virgins is associated with “considerably higher” risk of divorce and “dramatically more unstable first marriages.”
- I have heard SO many people say well “what if it isn’t good enough for me, I have to try it out before I commit” I almost have to take a step back and try to wrap my mind around that statement. A emotional connection will get you through more trials than a sexual connection. Having 5 years in the bag of nothing but emotional; I am truly confident that we can get through anything because we don’t use sex as a distraction. We use our words. If you only have a sexual connection, what is left? Nothing. Because when you get older and that libido decreases, you’ll have that emotional connection to keep the relationship strong.
- Smoking: couples in which one partner smokes and the other does not are markedly more likely to divorce compared to couples in which neither spouse does. Marriages in which both smoke were more than twice as likely to dissolve compared with non-smoking couples.
So while the 40-50 percent projected rate of divorce risk is true and reliable, there are important personal characteristics that put everyone at different levels of risk, some dramatically so. Many people of serious faith and practice, even with some of the above risks, have a tremendously high likelihood of lifelong marital success because of the values they hold regarding sex outside of marriage, the sacred and covenantal nature of marriage, and its importance as a vocation.
There are many factors that can play into divorce and that is being completely separated from being two different people no matter how similar you and your spouse thinks you are. So with all that being put into play, marriage is hard.
Because it is a promise we have to keep for the rest of our life and some make that promise at a young age.
But as a Christian, I know how much strength God can give people and how much wisdom, courage, patience, and understanding that God gives us as well. Being a Christian doesn’t make YOU invincible, it just means you have a God who is invincible and will protect you when He sees you need it.
Atheists and Catholics actually have the lowest divorce rates at 21% and Protestants have the highest at 34%.
That was an interesting study that I found. I would think it would be the opposite, didn’t you?
The point is, don’t think everyone’s marriage is easy while you seem to be the only one struggling. Marriage is hard no matter who wants to admit it or not. But yet, it is such a blessing. <3
Until next time, Kels
Glenn T. Stanton is the director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family and the author of eight books on various aspects of the family including The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage (Moody, 2011) and Loving My LGBT Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth (Moody, 2014). Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute.