hard truths about marriage

5 Hard Truths You Can’t Avoid in Marriage

I sat in a room with a few men I knew well. We talked about how our marriages were doing. One of the men said, “I can count on one hand the number of times my wife and I have had major arguments throughout our whole marriage.” Most of the guys nodded and smiled politely. I jumped in and said with a smile, “I can count on one hand the number of major arguments I’ve had with my wife this week!” Several guys chuckled and said, “Yeah, me too.”

While it’s true that some marriages come easily, this is not the norm. Most marriages, even very healthy ones, take a lot of work. And there are some hard truths about marriage that we need to recognize if we’re going to build a marriage we love even when it’s difficult. Here are 5 hard truths you can’t avoid in marriage.

1. “Love is a verb.”

I’m not sure who coined this, but the point is good. We often think of love as a feeling. But love at its best is not a feeling but an action. It’s a choice to give of yourself for the sake of another.

Your commitment to your wife is one of love. But this is not “weak in the knees” love. On the contrary, this kind of love takes someone who is willing to serve rather than be served. You’ll still have conflict. Love isn’t about giving her what she wants. One of the hard truths about marriage is that love means you work for her good whether or not you feel “loving.”

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage because there is no such thing as perfect people.

2. You have work to do.

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage because there is no such thing as perfect people. Marriage is the union of two deeply flawed individuals. Therefore it is certain that there are ways you could improve yourself. In short, you have work to do.

This work could be significant or it could be relatively minor. But the reality is that you have blind spots and idiosyncrasies. Because she lives with you, your wife knows what they are. The question is, do you? One of the hard truths about marriage is that there is always more work to do.

3. Money can’t fix your relationship.

Money is a frequent source of conflict in marriage. As a result, we tend to think if we just made more money, we’d argue over it less, or if we go out and spend some money on our wives, they’ll get off our backs.

However, one of the hard truths about marriage is that your money arguments are more than likely not about money. They might be about conflicting values or fear of not having what you need or constantly coveting what your neighbor has. The key to addressing these problems is in identifying and dealing with the deeper issues.

4. Affairs come in many forms.

You know that having sex with a woman who is not your wife is a great way to destroy your marriage. But an affair isn’t only physical. In fact, psychologists will tell you that most affairs aren’t really about sex; they’re about connection, intimacy, unmet needs. Because of this, it’s quite possible to have an affair that isn’t sexual. And it’s not just relationships. You may look to fill unmet needs through work or entertainment as well.

One of the hard truths about marriage is that connection takes work. When we find ourselves feeling disconnected from our wives, it’s easy to try to get those needs met in other places. When you pursue these needs elsewhere, you end up widening the gap of disconnection with your wife, which leads to bad places quickly.

5. Marriage is hard.

The podcast Hidden Brain has an episode called “When Did Marriage Become So Hard?” I won’t spoil it for you, but of course the podcast exists because marriage is, in fact, hard. No one tells you that when you’re dating or getting engaged. It kind of sneaks up on you when you get back from the honeymoon and realize someone needs to make dinner.

One of the hard truths about marriage is that marriage is hard. But most things worth doing are. Whether it’s exercise or eating well or learning an instrument, few good things come easily. Stick with it, get some help, and keep putting love in action. All good things take work.

Sound off: What other hard truths about marriage have you learned?

Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What are the hardest truths we’ve learned about marriage so far?”