Things I want to say
Don't Read This if You Are Already Disillusioned
Published on June 2, 2008 By charliemama In Marriage

There are a lot of things that people say when certain subjects come up that everyone is supposed to agree with automatically, as though they were saying, "Sugar is sweet" or "the sky is usually blue". The trouble is lots of generally accepted statements just aren't true. A while back I wrote an article on parenting that falls into this category. Now I think it is time to discuss marriage. The statement is, "A good marriage is a lot of work" which you hear all the time but is nonsense.

Well. I have been married to the same man for forty years. You can't really see into someone else's marriage but I still feel I can speak to the hordes of folks out there who cling to false pronouncements while bored, stressed, unhappy, or even divorced.

A good marrige is not "work". And if you think it is supposed to be, you might have a self- fulfilling prophecy on your hands. You "worked" really hard, why did your marriage fail? Here it is: marriage is meant to be a partnership in which the work of life is shared. It is meant ease burdens, to give rest and comfort when you are weary, and sunshine to the hum-drum of ordinary days. Life itself takes effort, but you have to do that anyway and it is a lot harder alone. Marriage is, of course, improved by the good behavior of the partners, but you are supposed to behave yourself even if you are single. Treating a person kindly, considerately, and even adoringly is not "work". It is love and it's a wonderful privilege.

When BFD and I got married, you can bet we weren't thinking that we had a big job ahead of us to make our marriage "work". We were in love and although we had a lot to learn in terms of sharing a life, we just put our marriage first and forged ahead, leaning on each other when life got heavy and expecting to be defended and protected whenever problems intruded. If you take this attitude, any problems you will have all come from the outside and your marriage will be solid. You're a team! You're sharing the hard stuff and consequently it's not so hard. The secret is to keep putting each other first even as the years go by, children come, and the world and folks are telling you that your marriage should be the last thing on your list. If there is any work involved it should be what we call "a labor of love".

This advice is for basically average folks who want to have a good marriage. I know there are some evil folks out there who have ruined marriage for innocent people but still - a good marriage is a precious thing.


Comments
on Jun 02, 2008

Good job, Mama.

on Jun 02, 2008
Good to see you join and post! NOw we can get the real story about BFD.

Great article as well - from the real source, not a writer that just read other books.
on Jun 02, 2008

Welcome to JU!

I agree and disagree.

I've only been married 21 years, but some of those years were VERY HARD work.  Each marriage has its own challenges because every marriage has two unique individuals.

No one broad sweeping definition is gonna be right.

I guess the thing in your article which sticks out most to me is

We were in love and although we had a lot to learn in terms of sharing a life, we just put our marriage first and forged ahead, leaning on each other when life got heavy and expecting to be defended and protected whenever problems intruded.

I agree with this for the most part.  

It's not always possible to be defended and protected by another though is it?  In our marriage when real work comes into play tends to be when hubby is gone for long periods of time.

I am sure you are familiar with "nothing goes wrong till hes gone."  A lot of military wives whose husbands are gone for 6 months, a year, a year and a half, have to defend and protect themselves and their children.  There's is no immediate "team" and no one physically to have your back.

It is a very difficult transition to go from that to a team mentality again, knowing that in a few months, maybe a year, you will need to do it all over again.

It is also a lot of work to stay connected on an intimate level with someone who is across the world experiencing a whole diff life style, a whole diff life.  The kind you can't "share."

People grow and change while apart, and when re-united it is hard work to get to know the changes, adapt to them, accept them, and move on with life...until the next time.

What I'm saying is, your marriage may not be work...but that doesn't mean someone who struggles and fights and yes, WORKS, to stay connected to their spouse, to keep the kids connected, has anything less, or is working a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Marriage ebbs and flows imo.  Sometimes its dam hard and requires a lot of work on the actual marriage, tweeks if you will as each individual has personal growth, the marriage has to expand/absorb those changes.  Some changes aren't conducive to a team and have to be discarded all together or modified.  Habits that must be eradicated, which is very hard work.

One size does def does not fit all when it comes to marriage.

 

 

on Jun 02, 2008

Hey Mama!

It's like with hobbies.  They can require a lot of effort, can be time consuming, frustrating, and expensive, etc.  But, we enjoy the challenge, relish the process, and never once think we are working. 

on Jun 03, 2008

I appreciate the warm welcome.  You've all been so generous. 

Dr Guy:  Thank you for the compliment.

LW:  First of all I want to say I think you are absolutely right.  The word "work" has a negative connotation but it is not like the effort we make in marriage is unimportant or non-existant.  It's just transformed by love.

Tova:  21 years is a great accomplishment!  You are both to be complimented.  I am familiar with the difficulties of a lifestyle that involves separations.  It was hard for me not to be angry at BFD for the problems that went along with it but eventually I realized that these problems were external.  We still put each other first even though we couldn't be together. 

A further comment about separations and especially reunions.  BFD would come home totally unaware of the problems and issues that came up while he was gone and of course, I had no way of knowing what he had been dealing with.  This is the point at which you have to put your marriage first even if it is hard for both of you.  That is what promises are for, when things are hard.  This goes beyond work and is what I think you mean.

I just don't want anyone to think that marriage is mainly ordinary drudgery.  In my experience, sometimes people say marriage is a lot of "work" accompanied by a facial expression that looks as if they just smelled something bad.  BFD says that marriage is a symbiotic relationship:  the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  That moves it into the realm of mysterious and magical.  If I sound idealistic, it's because I am.  People give up on their ideals too easily.  Of course, it is one of the greatest challenges of life for two very different  people to make a great marriage.  But it can be done.

You are right, marriages are as individual as the people in them;  but however much we might protest the idea of a fairy tale ending, somewhere deep down we are all hoping for a "happily ever after".

Mamie: You and Joey are lucky to have each other...love you.

on Jun 04, 2008
I just don't want anyone to think that marriage is mainly ordinary drudgery. In my experience, sometimes people say marriage is a lot of "work" accompanied by a facial expression that looks as if they just smelled something bad. BFD says that marriage is a symbiotic relationship: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That moves it into the realm of mysterious and magical. If I sound idealistic, it's because I am. People give up on their ideals too easily. Of course, it is one of the greatest challenges of life for two very different people to make a great marriage. But it can be done.


I agree 100%.

The word "work" isn't a negative word to me. It represents, challenges, problem solving, negotiations, etc...all things I love. heh.

Good article.
on Jun 04, 2008

as long as we concentrate that effort on self-improvement rather than spouse-improvement

That is a great line LW...and it will be repeated, you can bet...I'll try to remember to give you credit for it.

 

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