First, let’s be clear about one thing: An epic marriage is one of the best and hardest things ever, period. Plus there are probably legions of difficult things and relationship problems men need to understand about marriage. Next, let’s not forget the fact that any relationship of a high caliber demands constant adaptation and change. Finally, strong marriages are as much the result of struggle, stress, challenge, pain, obstacles, and near disaster as the smooth sailing romance that got two people to the altar.
Difficult truths about marriage are not negatives so much as they are real life. But that’s the point. No matter where we are (married last weekend, celebrating a five-year anniversary or several decades in), it’s important to understand the role that honest struggle plays in great relationships. Marriages involve real people and dynamic relationships that count for anything are no fairytale; marriage is complex, wonderful, demanding, fulfilling, loaded with joy, and full of unexpected twists and turns. Consider the following 6 difficult things men need to understand about marriage.
1. Commitment is more important than love.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote the following to an engaged couple:
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” – Letters and Papers from Prison
2. Being right is overrated.
There is no winning and losing in marriage. There is no winning and losing in marriage. If someone feels they have won, then you both lose. Conflicts are either resolved via win-win or lose-lose.
3. Change is part of the definition of “alive.”
We tend to dig in, especially when we are comfortable. In biology, the definition of “life” involves growth; the same is true in marriage. There are many variables that shift and evolve from day-to-day, and adaptation must be a constant if our marriages are to stay vital. Adaptation is not always easy, but the alternative is death.
4. “My hopes and dreams” must submit to “our hopes and dreams.”
Once we are in a partnership – and marriage is a partnership – we can no longer live with an egocentric focus. This is a difficult shift for some of us, but it’s critical that we understand.
5. Denial is never a real-world solution.
Closing our eyes and wishing a problem away doesn’t magically make it disappear, it actually magically makes the problem bigger.
6. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond.
The good news is that there is no difficulty, no problem, no falling down on our face that has the power to completely derail our marriage. The answer is in our willingness to face up to troubles, put our ego to the side, be willing to grow, and move forward from this point. The difficult truth here is that difficulty is inevitable; the companion word of hope is that difficulty is exactly where growth begins.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What is the hardest part about being married? What is the best part?”