Help for couples facing relationship problems, including both the victims and perpetrators of spouse abuse. Share your story and your marital advise.

Marriage is Supposed to be a Struggle?!


If you think your spouse should ALWAYS make you happy, I feel sorry for . . . your spouse.

Sure, the desire to make you happy should be high on your’s spouse list of priorities.  But you go too if you think your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy.

Take a moment to view the coin from the other by Tavallai--cc flickr

Can you always make your spouse happy?

No.  So how can you expect more from him or her?

Even if your spouse could “always make you happy,” would that truly be a good thing?

Probably not.  It would far more likely just make you increasingly narcissistic and more of a pain in the ass than you already are!

If it’s not good for your own spouse, siblings, children, or pets to always get their way, why would it be good for you?

Marriage is the Best Path to Self Improvement

Despite all the romantic hopes everyone harbors about finding a soul mate or perfect match, the reality of human nature is that we are all imperfect and therefore imperfectly compatible.

Lori Lowe’s essay We All Married The Wrong Person describes research that shows that there are no perfect matches, and perhaps not even any great matches.  Instead, there are matches of imperfect people who greatly work at becoming better and more tolerant.

In her own riff on this theme, Alisa Bowman “Marriage is supposed to be a struggle.  It’s not supposed to be easy. The only women who have easy marriages have names like Snow White and Cinderella.”

photo by sampsyo cc flickr

In her essay, Dang, Did I Really Just Marry Mr. Wrong?! , Bowman goes even farther, suggesting that through both the ups and downs of a marriage, our interactions with our partners will inevitably “make sure we see all of our faults—our mood swings, our inability to put our thoughts into words, and our many bad habits—so that we can see ourselves clearly. And in so doing, they give us a wonderful gift—the nudge we need to do something about those faults and, as a result, improve our lives.”

In  The Seven Levels of Intimacy Matthew Kelly insists that the true purpose of intimate relationships is “helping someone else become the-best-version-of himself or herself, and receiving the support you need to become the-best-version-of-yourself.”  Any progress toward this goal requires teamwork.  And according to Kelly, “Most teams fail not because they lack talent but because they lack the character necessary to subjugate  personal ambition to a common purpose.”

“Marriage teaches spouses humility, making them realize that the human person is a very poor lover,” writes Alice Von Hildebrand, a Catholic theologian.  According to Hildebrand, it is through the process of confronting both one’s own failings and those of one’s spouse that we grow emotionally and spiritually:

Marriage calls each spouse to fight against himself for the sake of his beloved. This is why it has become so unpopular today. People are no longer willing to achieve the greatest of all victories, the victory over self.

To abolish marriage is, Kierkegaard tells us, is “self- indulgence.” Only cowards malign marriage. They run from battle, defeated before the struggle even begins. Marriage alone can save love between man and woman and place it above the contingencies of daily flux and moods. Without this bond, there is no reason to wish to transform the dreariness of everyday life into a poetic song.

Perseverance in marriage serves both oneself and one’s spouse precisely because, like physical exercise, it strengthens us by working on our weak spots.  At least that’s what Bowman concludes in looking back at her marriage, “It’s not always easy… That’s for sure. But lately, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to look back on the person I was years ago and to compare that image to the person I am now. I am a better person, and I can thank my husband for that.”

Yes, marriage has its ups and downs.  And during the downs, it’s easy to blame one’s spouse.  And sure, some of the blame does indeed reside there.   But during these struggles, always try to remember that on the other side of working through your present struggle, with God’s grace, you may both become better people than you would have been without this struggle.

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?Project: Happily Ever After: Saving Your Marriage When the Fairytale Falters


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