Do You Believe Marriage Is Hard?

Monday, 18 June 2007 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

It’s June. Lots of people getting married this month. Over in my personal online journal, lots of friends and friends-of-friends complaining about their husbands. :) And the same thing always comes up. It’s almost like the only thing you need to say to someone who says that their marriage is going not that well at this time.

Marriage is hard. Marriage is tough. Marriage takes work.

I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it has to be hard or take work. I think that’s something that we keep telling ourselves so that we can NOT make any changes. After all, that’s all we heard growing up. Marriage is hard and takes work! So what kind of relationship seems perfectly poised for marriage? The hard one that takes work! We have NO expectation that marriage can be better than that. Growing up, was there ANYBODY who told us how GREAT it was to be married? How joyful it was? How it just kept getting better without even trying? Nope. So we all keep going with the message. We believe it and we spread it.

Seth Godin’s new book has a quote from the Declaration of Independence, but it’s fitting here:

All experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Exactly. We’ve all learned to lower our standards when it comes to marriage (and dating). To me, bad relationships take work. They’re hard. Man, they are tough. Good relationships just ARE. They’re good. Think about your best friend or sibling or that special non-spouse who’s been in your life for years. You don’t have to try to make that relationship work. No trying required. That person probably never demanded that you change. He/she probably never gave you a list of the things you have to start doing, stop doing, do more often, do less often, and do better so that he/she can be happier. You didn’t get dragged to a therapist to find out why you don’t get along better. You probably just have real care and a real connection. So it’s effortless. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t require work. I’ve never heard anybody say that friendship is hard and requires work. So what’s up with marriage?

For those who might write in and say that you don’t live with your best friend or great sibling, I say don’t live with the man or woman with whom you are having problems or may have problems. Use your best friendships as a standard. If the love, understanding, communication, and connection are there, living together won’t cause major problems.

I think people are marrying the wrong people because their standards are lower than their standards for "friend." I read friends’ journals, I talk to people, I see random people on TV. They all thought they’d get married and then he/she would change in ways that the other spouse wanted. Where did we get that idea? Who told us to marry someone who wasn’t exactly what we wanted but to keep hoping that they’ll change or pushing them to change? Who told us that our happiness relies on who someone else is, and that we should try to change their natural selves to placate us? Who the hell do we think we are trying to change others because we think our happiness depends on someone we "love" being different than the person we supposedly love?!

What if we told our children (and then each other) that marriage can be effortless… like those great friendships we have? What if we had grown up learning that the standard for who you marry was about having communication, understanding, support, and consistency even better than you have with your bestest friend? What if we lived by example? What if we CHOSE the person who fits that standard, and then taught our children that? What if we stopped telling our friends marriage is hard, which just creates marriage being hard?

Imagine that. Imagine a world where you marry someone who is a better friend than the best friend you’ve ever had. Why marry someone who isn’t and then blame it on "marriage"? Marriage is a word for the connection between two people. One that is hard, tough, and not going well may just not be the right match. It’s about standards, and I think it’s bad marketing that we’ve all learned (and then probably reinforced it with others) to marry below where our standards could be, and then bitch about marriage. It’s not marriage. It’s who we’re picking and how we see those relationships.

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

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