The Real Threat to Marriage

Frustrated. Irritable. Tired.

I blamed it on jet lag and dirty hair. And rightly so.

But still. It’s always’s something. We can always find a reason for an interruption in happiness. Even when we are rested on the best hair day.

We stood at an airport in between time zones on the other side of the globe and in a hot minute, my soulmate was hinging on becoming my arch enemy.

Ah, love.

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There’s no guarantee we’ll be happy in marriage.

As a matter of fact, most days we can find a hundred reasons not to be.

And I’m not really talking about the big things like financial ruin, pornography, adultery and differences we can’t reconcile.

I understand marriages end every day with good reason. I understand the choice isn’t always ours.

But if we’re keeping track and letting the small things add up –those dirty socks on the floor, that burned dinner, the lack of romance, the mood swings– our marriage could be in danger.

Big or small–we can conquer all of these with God’s help.

I’ve seen marriages overcome the worst. And I’ve witnessed them end over insignificant irritations.

Because maybe the biggest threat of all is when we simply stop trying.

When we give up.

Quit.

Stop participating. Stop communicating.

When we refuse to forgive the small stuff, bury our feelings, give our spouse the cold shoulder and punish them with the silent treatment–

We always, always lose.

I read an article about a couple who on their 20 year anniversary dinner reminisced about their lives together and then when they got to dessert, they talked about who got the house and who got the kids.

There wasn’t a big reason for the split. They were growing in different directions, didn’t feel connected or happy anymore.

And while it may sound surprising to give up over so little, I think the threat is all too real. Leaving is often easier than staying.

I’ve been there:

We would falter and fail and taste brokenness like we couldn’t imagine. My solid marriage would be unrecognizable, a lot like the pieces scattered around me.- from Chapter 3, the testimony of my marriage in Rhinestone Jesus.

Here’s the thing–no marriage is perfect. Not your neighbors or your pastors. Not mine or yours. How could it be with all that humanity? Some days we don’t feel happy, or loved, or loving.

But we fight. We love. We keep forgiving.  We keep working on our marriage.

Because struggling means we are both trying.

And that beats quitting any day.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    We’ve been married for 20 years with five kids and it’s true there’s always something negative you could focus on. I thought reaching 20 years would make me some kind of expert, but marriage is still just choosing to love and keep going everyday. I can easily do the silent treatment, too, but that never makes anything better. It just prolongs the misery. Marriage is definitely worth the work though!

    • 1.1

      says

      Take it from some one who’s been married 43 years: you know you’ve “made it” when you realize that little stuff just doesn’t matter. Lest I be too cocky….I think if I could take my husband’s retirement with him making the kitchen table his office and the baker’s rack his office storage—I’ve definitely made it. Now I have an attitude that he’s not going to change, so I just have to let it go. So what if he leaves the panty door open 10 times a day—or makes us haul all the recycles home from vacation to the point of no room in the car. It’s better than NOT being together!

      • 1.1.1

        Johnnal Salyer says

        Oh my goodness! This reminds me of my husbands grandparents. They just celebrated 60 years a little bit ago. She said the same thing when he retired. It made her crazy for a while, then she put him in charge of the grocery shopping to get him out of the house a little and decided to let everything else go. For the record he goes to the grocery store sometimes 10 times a week, just for little things most of the time. She doesn’t care though, she says it keeps him busy and he always runs into someone to talk to in their little town. My husband and I have been married 18 years, and every year gets a little better than the last. Mostly because it gets easier to decide to keep working at it when you’ve been at it that long. We are also much better at giving it to God than we used to be. I was just sure I could handle him myself in the beginning. HA HA I definitely love him more today than the day we married. I can’t wait to see what kind of perspective I have at 43 years or 60+ years.

    • 1.2

      Sharon says

      My husband and I are going on our 20th anniversary. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013, which set us on a journey I never would have imagined. 9 months of chemotherapy, 40 radiation treatments, the medical bills, not working until he finishes his treatments. It has been challenging to say the least. Marriage is work. It is a choice to love. I thank God every day for my husband. He is my hero. Keeping everything in perspective is a requirement. Prayer too. God bless.

  2. 2

    says

    Thanks, again, Kristen for putting it out there, speaking up and exhorting us in our marriages. Love your word to the saints. Keep on keeping on!

  3. 3

    Amber says

    This is Great. So glad you shared this! I have been married for 4yrs now and I know thats not very long, however its been a great accomplishment so far. Divorce is a word we don’t use, my parents who have been married for 34yrs (I think maybe longer) taught me that we should never make that an option. However this is my second marriage and sadly Divorce did happen but there was no choice my first marriage was abusive and it started to turn towards me child so it was a life change that needed to happen. However God has taught me so much and it took along time to remarry or even trust. This blog truly hit the nail on the head. It is a choice we make everyday to wake up and love your spouse. Its not just butterflies and fireworks all the time. Learning that and meeting my husband has made me realize what marriage truly is and that its not easy but I will work for it everyday for the rest of my life with Christ on myside!

  4. 4

    says

    Love this. My husband and I recently got advice from a waitress about marriage. She said her parents had been married for 48 years and their number one suggestion on how to stay married is that you both have to want it. Keep trying, putting in the effort daily, and you’re more likely to stay on track. We agreed!

  5. 5

    Dale says

    After 43 years of being married to the same woman, I’ve realize love is a choice,attitude is a choice, believing in God is a choice, believing Jesus wants to be my Savior is a choice, forgiving is a choice, living by I Corinthians 13 The Love Chapter is a choice, being totally unselfish is a choice and I can go on and on!! So it’s a choice to do what’s right!!! No excuses but we have them!!! So I guess having anything in this life with any success is a CHOICE!!!!! Why would we want to live any other way but Gods way!!! Please, God Help Me Make The Right Choices!!!!

  6. 6

    Jennifer says

    Marriage takes work and some days you just have to choose to keep on loving your spouse. I have found my mind wandering lately – the what ifs, and other things. Time to refocus. I choose THIS man and I will keep choosing him every single day.

  7. 7

    UneasyInMarriage says

    Thanks for the reminder and post Kristen. The current season in my marriage is low. Not because of one particular thing, but just so much adding up. Insignificant irritations, like you said. Some days I am just ready to give up. I don’t want to fight for it so much…but I made that vow and this is what God intended for me so I keep plodding ahead. I miss the butterflies and excitement. The monotony is about to do me in. But we will prevail. I know we will.

    • 7.1

      betsy says

      I know there is hard times in marriage. I am praying for you. Over a year ago I had divorce papers in my hand and ready to sign and so was he. Then I heard a series on marriage (corvette marriage 3 part series) and thought am I just giving up I took a vow. We went to counseling and a marriage retreat and still have some rough times, but who doesn’t. I have realized I have to not let the little things pile up there is so much more than that. I pray for your marriage and don’t give up trust me not being with that person is much harder than you think and it is worth the effort!

  8. 8

    says

    Such a great reminder! It’s so easy to think marriage should always be happy and easy, but it’s through the struggles that we grow stronger. It’s not easy, but nothing good ever is!

  9. 9

    Franke rudzik says

    We will be married 44 years next month. It is not perfect, but neither is life. I just know he loves me and gets me like no other and I love him and I get him. We still quarrel but I go to bed and get up every morning happy and grateful that God put us together. And I realize that God must have some sense of humor to have done so!

  10. 10

    says

    {Kathy} Wow! I agree. Apathy is something that we can’t work with. As long as we care enough to CARE, then marriages will have a chance. Giving up is so scary because you can’t make someone care.
    I am thankful that you have called out the enemy of apathy. Here’s to caring enough to care!

  11. 11

    says

    Great post and some how well timed with my life. In our wider social circle my husband and I have seen another marriage break apart. When these occurrences happen we always feel uneasy and feel like we’re the last couple left still trying to communicate, the make up, be friends, and all the rest of it. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.

  12. 12

    Alice says

    I enjoyed and agreed with this article! Thanks for the wonderful perspective and reminder! Keep up the great work!

  13. 13

    says

    I applaud those who understand that marriage, and all good relationships, takes time and effort. I see hundreds of couples-in-distress each year, and in my 22 years of counseling couples, I know that most say “lack of communication” is a key issue. IF your marriage/relationship is troubled, I urge to find a therapist that can help BOTH of you communicate and work through it. Here’s a link to some articles on the warning signs that you need professional counseling.
    http://www.doctorbrawner.com/articles/

  14. 14

    kelly says

    AMEN!!!!!!!yep! you got it Kristen..we will be celebrating our 20th year next week…and we will be apart because he is going on a mission trip with our kids and church. I applaud ANYONE who can make it another year married because its not for the faint of heart(s) and it is a struggle sometimes to love/forgive your spouse. But in the end…IT IS SOOOOOOO WORTH IT!!!

  15. 15

    TJ says

    Wow what timing! Definently God was leading me to see this today! I never read articles on FB but today I did and I’m thankful! I’ve begun to think and believe the lie that I will never be truly happy or content consistently in marriage because I’ve had 1 marriage fail when I was younger and after 18 yrs of marriage to my second husband, I have times when I just want to quit! I allow my mind to wander and fantasize what it would be like to have a different life, what it would be like to be with someone that has the same interests as me! In reality I know the truth but the struggle continues in my mind. It’s simply comforting to me to know that I’m not alone, and I choose to fight with Gods help for His glory!

  16. 16

    says

    Thank you for the inspirational words. It’s true, the dirty socks on the floor and the annoying little habits can be, well, annoying. But letting them build anger inside of you is detrimental to your marriage and your happiness. When I get irritated by the little things I take a deep breath and walk away until I’m not feeling so negative anymore. Because this is the man I love, with all his faults. And if I want him to love me with all of my faults, I have to be patient with his.

  17. 19

    says

    My husband has said that apathy is even worse than fighting in any relationship, because it means you’ve ceased caring. It’s a good reminder to care about the RIGHT stuff and to let go of the things that really don’t matter.

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