Does Marriage Have to Be Hard?

Ben Affleck’s Oscar acceptance speech has called this critical question into the spotlight.

Editor’s Note: During last Sunday’s Academy Awards, Ben Affleck thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner, in an emotional Best Picture acceptance speech that left viewers divided on the state of their marriage. "I want to thank you for working on our marriage for ten Christmases," he said, "It's good. It is work, but it's the best kind of work. And there's no one I'd rather work with."

Moments after the speech, Twitter erupted in mixed reactions: from appreciation for his candid acknowledgment that, yes, marriage takes work, to speculation that their celebrity marriage is “on the rocks” and indignation that Affleck would dare insult his wife in such a public way. This disparity between these reactions brings several questions to light: Does marriage have to be hard? If marriage is hard, then does that signal a marriage in trouble? These are the questions we’re looking at today.

Sherry and Jake had been married for almost nine months.

When the rain comes, when the wind blows, those who took the unintentional fall of love find themselves unintentionally falling right back out of it.

Nine heart-wrenching months.

Looking back at their relationship, they weren’t really sure what went wrong. Sherry and Jake had met at their campus Bible study two years before as seniors in college, and frankly, it was love at first sight.  

Their connection was instant. They had so many common beliefs, dreams and ideas. Hour-long conversations passed by like minutes, and spending time together never seemed to get old. Their many shared passions only fueled the passion they felt for one another. It was a feeling like they had never experienced before. They wanted to conquer the world together. And after a year and a half of dating, they decided they would and got married.

Fast-forward two years, to Jake and Sherry sitting in my office with tears in their eyes.  The goals and dreams they had together had somehow fizzled in the daily grind of marriage. Their passions for conquering the world had never launched the way they thought they would. Bitterness, anger and selfishness had crept into their marriage in a very real and unpredictable way. They were left with broken dreams and broken hearts, and an emptiness that left them wondering if this marriage had been the right thing to do.

The uncontrollable feelings that had led them to fall in love had somehow taken control yet again, though this time, they were falling right back out of love.

"Falling" in Love

I find it fascinating that our entire society’s view of love is based on such a spontaneous and unintentional action like “falling.” As a professional counselor, I have heard the word “falling” used to describe the act of entering into relationship on more than one occasion. Men and women struck so deeply by the emotion of love that they couldn’t resist it; they just “fell in love.”

Falling in love. An act over which one has seemingly no control. A movement of the heart that cannot be resisted. A desire of the flesh that cannot be satisfied until its thirst has been quenched. A chemistry, a spark, an emotional explosion that can neither be explained nor denied. A feeling that can plague the heart of men and women across all races, cultures and social classes.

It’s a beautiful concept. It’s the stuff fairy tales and Hollywood movies are made of. It’s the heart-fluttering, forehead-sweating, word-stuttering, stomach-knotting disease of love that cannot seem to be controlled by the people it infects. You can’t breathe, can’t think and can’t live without the object of your affection. It’s love, you see. Love at its finest.

When the feeling of love dries up, it is time to call on the reservoir of choice.

Or is it?

Feelings and emotions are a valuable part of who we are as human beings. God gave them to us for a very special reason. They are the compass that points us toward the general direction we need to go. But sometimes, even compasses are not enough. Sometimes, even compasses get it wrong. Feelings are an incredible resource—but they were not made to stand alone.

Excitement, exhilaration, pleasure and thrill are the emotional components to a really great batch of “love.” But what happens when the feelings aren’t so right? Exhaustion, suffering, pain and disappointment. Broken dreams, hopes and even broken promises. What happens to love, then? I have the unfortunate role of seeing the foundations crumble for those who have built their relationships on the emotional sand of “falling in love.” When the rain comes, when the wind blows, those who took the unintentional fall of love find themselves unintentionally falling right back out of it.

That’s the thing I learned about the “feeling” of love—it was never meant to stand alone. It was never intended to be used as a noun: an object, a thing, a feeling, an idea. To do so is to do the concept of love a grave injustice. To do so is to reject the very definition of how God has asked us to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The most dangerous part about the myth of falling in love is that it is based on a definition that has no sense of predictability or control. It offers no guarantees. If you can fall into it, you can surely fall out of it. It’s no wonder our country’s divorce rate hovers around 50 percent, with divorce among Christians tagging right along.

The truth is, love was never just intended to be, it was intended to do. DC Talk had it right when they wrote the song “Love Is a Verb” (or rather, “luv”). That’s the truth.

Frankly, it’s the hardest verb you will ever do. It’s a verb that requires a selflessness and altruism beyond any other experience on earth. It’s a verb that is not always felt but must always be chosen. It is a commitment to do what is right, even though the one standing before you may be entirely undeserving.

A Choice Worth Making

You might be wondering what happened to Sherry and Jake. After a series of sessions and conversations, they realized when the feeling of love dries up, it is time to call on the reservoir of choice. They entered into a commitment to “do” love for the next three months.

They learned to put the other first and committed to loving; even when they were hurting, tired and when they had been wronged. Each one of them had to learn what it meant to see love as a choice. In the end, they found themselves more in love than they ever imagined. That’s the beautiful thing about love—the actions come first, but the feelings are sure to follow.  

Throughout the Scriptures, God’s love for us is not described as a feeling, but always comes in the form of doing: healing, forgiving, befriending, feeding, visiting and communicating. It’s an example of how the best form of love can be shown in marriage. It’s a love that doesn’t depend on feelings that come and go but instead depends on an everlasting choice to sacrifice and love unconditionally. In short: the best example of marital love anyone could possibly imagine.

This article is adapted from one that appears in the July/August 2011 issue of RELEVANT magazine.

44 Comments

Tim Herndon

49

Tim Herndon commented…

Marriage is supposed to be a representation of the relationship between Christ and us (the Bride, the Church). What part of that relationship has not been hard, has not required brutal sacrifice, and has not had an abundance of Love and Joy as well? Marriage is still the same covenant relationship :) Love is both painful and beautiful. It was for Christ, and it is for us too. But Read the end of the book, God is going to take us home to be with Him for eternity and there will be no more pain, just love and joy. How He always intended it to be.

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Aaron Benson

1

Aaron Benson commented…

I was touched by Ben Affleck's acknowledgement to his wife that "it is work, and it is the best kind of work, and that there was no one else he'd want to work with"; and I believe she was too because couples who have a good marriage know that it is work, it's a joint effort. It says a lot about a culture would take offense to someone referring to marriage as work, but all good relationships: friends, family, marriage, raising children... They require work to cultivate and grow. Especially our relationship with the Lord. One does not grow in a relationship if they stay in the same place.

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kevin

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kevin commented…

I hear It is the worst place to work in the planet because Cameron Strang is ahypocriticalprick. Just saying what I have heard. Sorry man your reputation proceeds you. You know you will eventually run out of people to hire and fire instead of looking at the way you run your business.

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William Jorden

34

William Jorden commented…

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Elwood…..

Elwood
Blues Here, How Are You All Doing? That’s Great, I’am Just Setting Here
Watching “Major Crimes” On The Tube. Pretty Good Show. Wouldn’t You
Just Love To Be Eating A Nice Big Slice Of Anita’s Key Lime Pie As You
Two Lovers Are Snuggling There Watching The Show? Then You Two Love
Birds Can Get Into Each Others Drawers After this Episode Goes Off.
That’s Sure What My Love A I Are Contemplating As We Eat Our Second
Slice Of Pie. Well Eat Your Hearts Out, Better Luck Next Time!

“Ah”, Yes, My Little Chickadees, May Each One Of You Enjoy Your Very
Own Key Lime Pie Baked by The Lovely And Most Gracious,…Mrs. Anita
Pelaez and Her Handsome Husband ….Captain Kutchie Pelaez. Together The
Proud Owners Of Asheville’s Own

Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory And GRILL Conveniently
Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate In That Beautiful City. Known
As Heaven On Earth Whenever Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Anywhere Near. “AH”,
The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her KEY LIME Pies. Voted The Country’s
Favorite For The Past 27 Consecutive Year!

…..That Babe Can Bake Me A Pie Anytime She Wants To.

Elwood Blues

Turn You’re Ladies On In Extra High Heat Mode Easily Just By Seducing
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Anita’s KLP Will Light Her Candle And Make Her Hard To Handle.
Guaranteed That She Will Get A-Hold Of You’re Handle Too….Your Boy
Elwood Says,….”AH”, The Magic Of Anita Pelaez ..And Her Key Lime Pies!
“Yeah”, You’ll Be “AH-ING” Too!…Put Your Faith In Anita’s Pies.

Is what they are all saying true about how eating those World Famous Key
Lime Pies Baked In The Carolina Mountains By The Former Miss Florida
USA And High Fashion And Swimsuit Model …”Mrs. Anita Pelaez”, ….Surely
Everyone Has Heard Or Read By Now That Consuming Her Wonderful Key Lime
Pies Has The Ability To Cause The Male Penis Length To Increase 50% Or
More. And The Girth Of The Erect Male Penis To Increase To Six-Inches
AROUND!….”WOW”, And Add To The Fact That Her Pies Have Been Known To
Make Males Multiorgasmic /One Orgasm One After Another With Little Or No
Reflationary Period In Between Ejaculations Is Nothing Short Of
Awesome!. Why, It’s A Miracle If You Ask Me.. ..You Can Count Me In On
That,… That’s For Damn Sure!,….Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Surely The
Undisputed Queen Of Key Lime Pies That’s For Sure……Yes, There Was A Time
For Decadent Key Lime Pies And That Time Is Now At…..”Anita and
Kutchie’s Key Lime Pie Factory And Grille’, Conveniently Located In
Asheville, NC., Near The Biltmore House And Estate….Yes The First Lady
Of Key Lime Pies,..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” States “For You’re Pies Only”.
…Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..Thanks,….Elwood.

I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As
Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well,
Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At
The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your
Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A
Happy Man. End Of Story.

People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex Then You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies!

…One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

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William Jorden

34

William Jorden commented…

Hello Ladies, Please Take A Few Minutes And Enjoy My True Stories About The Wonderful World Of Key Lime Pies As Well As The Magic Of The Most Beautiful “Mrs. Anita Pelaez” Wife Extraordinaire And The Beauty Queen Of The Key Lime Pie World! “Oh”, What An Honor That Must Be.

Elwood Blues Here,

“AAHHH”, Yes, May Each One Of You Enjoy Your Very
Own Key Lime Pie Baked by The Lovely And Most Gracious,…Mrs. Anita
Pelaez and Her Handsome Husband ….The World Famous Deep Sea Underwater Diver And Treasure Explorer And Hunter Extraordinaire Captain Kutchie Pelaez. Together The Proud Owners Of Asheville’s Own "Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory And GRILL", Conveniently Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate In That Beautiful City. That's Known As Heaven On Earth Whenever Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Anywhere Near. “AAHHH", The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her KEY LIME Pies. Voted The Country’s Favorite Key Lime Pies For The Past 27 Consecutive Years!

…..That Babe Can Bake Me A Pie Anytime She Wants Too.

For You Guys, Listen Up Here!
Turn You’re Ladies On In Extra High Heat Mode "Easily", Just By Seducing Her With “Anita Pelaez’s” Ultra-Sexy Key Lime Pies! You Know The Pies That Her And Her Famous Husband Kutchie Have Been Baking The For Last 40-Years Over At Their Key Lime Pie Factory Near the Biltmore House and Estate In NC.,..Yeah, That’s The Ones, You Dirty Minds! (Shame On You.)

Anita’s World Famous Key Lime Pies Will Light Her Candle And Make Her Hard To Handle. Guaranteed That She Will Get A-Hold Of You’re Handle Too….Your Boy Elwood Says,….”AAHHH”, The Magic Of Anita Pelaez ..And Her Key Lime Pies!
“Yeah”, You’ll Be “AAHHH-ING” Too!…So Put Your Faith In Anita’s Pies.

Part-Two,
Is what they are all saying true about how eating those World Famous Key Lime Pies Baked In The Carolina Mountains By The Former Miss Florida USA And High Fashion And Swimsuit Model …”Mrs. Anita Pelaez”, ….Surely Everyone Has Heard Or Read By Now That Consuming Her Wonderful Key Lime Pies Has The Ability To Cause The Male Penis Length To Increase 50% Or More. And The Girth Of The Erect Male Penis To Increase To Six-Inches AROUND!….”WOW”, And Add To The Fact That Her Pies Have Been Known To Make Males Multiorgasmic /One Orgasm One After Another With Little Or No
Reflationary Period In Between Ejaculations Is Nothing Short Of
Awesome!. Why, It’s A Miracle If You Ask Me.. "HELL" It's A Miracle If You Don't Ask Me!..Anyway, You Can Count Me In On
That,… That’s For Damn Sure!,….Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Surely The
Undisputed Queen Of Key Lime Pies That’s For Sure……

Yes, There Was A Time For Decadent Key Lime Pies. Pies made And Baked With Love And Caring With The Original Family Recipe Just Like Grand-Ma And Grand-Pa Baked Back In The 1920'S In Old Key West. And Do You Know What? ....That Time Is Now At…..”Anita and
Kutchie Pelaez's" Key Lime Pie Factory And Grille’, Conveniently Located In Asheville, NC., Near The Biltmore House And Estate….Yes The First Lady Of Key Lime Pies,..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” Named Her Latest Book “For You’re Pies Only”.
…Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..
Thanks,….Elwood.

I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well, Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A Happy Man. End Of Story.

People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex, And Who Doesn't? Then You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies! They Work Every Darn Time!

…One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

It Was Reported Recently That The Famous Captain Kutchie Pelaez Was Spotted With His Old Compadres Down In Old Town At Sloppy Joe's Bar. With Yankee Jack, Micheal McCloud, Captain Tony Tarracino, Jimmy Buffett, Teri Levi, Missing Was The Late Mel Fisher. The Famous Group Of Compadres Were Said To Be Drinking Doubles And Causing Just Mild Troubles, Nothing The Waitresses Couldn't Handle. It Seems All Of The Team Mates Were Wearing "Captain Kutchie T-Shirts! We Were Wondering Where They Might Have Gotten Those T-Shirts?

Kinda Like Captain Kutchie Says "I Bet You Can't Say Happiness With Out Saying Penis".

I Guess No Key Lime Pie Story Would Be Complete Without Saying,
"AAHHH", The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her Key Lime Pies.

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