Stop Calling Marriage 'Hard Work'

Yes, marriage can be difficult, but it's so much more than that.

The last two years have been the years of continuous weddings for my husband and I as a multitude of friends have tied the knot.

It’s always interesting to hear what marriage advice is given prior to the special day. Christians and non-Christians alike seem to make it their personal duty to inform everyone considering marriage, especially engaged and newlywed couples, for what exactly they are signing up.

Although I appreciate (what I hope is) the caring heart behind these sentiments, it is extremely discouraging to repeatedly hear that all marriage brings is a lot of hard work.

As followers of Christ, we believe the first marriage happened in the garden during creation when, in Genesis 2:18, God made Eve for Adam. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Jesus references back to Genesis when He later teaches on marriage in Mark 10:6-10, saying, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

In marriage, the union of two imperfect human beings, there are plenty of challenges, for sure. And, no, life is not a fairy tale. However, let’s not miss that God designed marriage not only to stretch us beyond our selfishness to become more like Jesus through trials, but also to bring great joy to our lives with the myriad of gifts marriage provides.

God designed marriage not only to stretch us beyond our selfishness, but also to bring great joy to our lives.

Marriage Gives You a Life Partner, a Friend, a Permanent Date.

Yes, relationships have their ups and downs. Marriage takes work. But your spouse is an invaluable resource, a strong shoulder to cry on, an intelligent mind to make decisions with, someone to watch your Netflix shows with, the father or mother of your potential future children, one who makes you feel special, cherished, loved.

The gift of a partner through marriage is a precious one to be treasured, protected and never taken for granted.

Marriage Gives You the Chance to Be a Picture of His Grace and Love to the World.

Recently, my husband and I attended a wedding between two of the most amazing friends we are privileged to know. The God-honoring celebration of their love was truly phenomenal; their love story shouts His grace in every facet.

Their marriage, even in its young state, is a picture of God’s grace to the world. It is only by His grace and His strength that we can truly even try to selflessly love another human being the way we should. The picture of the Gospel message found in marriage is often much more powerful than all the cliché church language, the tracts or the Bible stories we could ever share.

We all want to change the world, we all long for significance, and we have the chance to be a witness, an example in our own marriages. What a gift it is to be able to honor God by loving, forgiving and extending grace to our spouse.

Marriage Gives You the Opportunity to Create Your Own Family.

Families can come in all shapes and sizes with many differences, but the principle remains: In marriage, when you join two lives together, you create a brand new family unit. No matter your family of origin—whether your parents celebrated 30 plus years of marital bliss or you didn’t even know one of your parents—you now have the gift of a new beginning to continue the legacy or break the cycle.

A partnership between two flawed human beings can never be effortless—but from the great work marriage requires comes immeasurable reward.

Building your own family can be a road fraught with twists and turns. No one’s beginning or ending will look the same, but endless possibilities await you as a newly formed family through marriage.

Marriage Gives You the Deepest Intimacy—Spiritual, Physical and Emotional—This Side of Heaven.

For Christians who believe in abstinence until marriage, we sometimes think marriage will solve any sexual issues from our pasts and instantly erase any sexual baggage we might be carrying. We think easy vulnerability in communication and amazing sex will be synonymous with our wedding night. That’s usually not the reality, but marriage does bring with it the gift of pure, God-sanctioned intimacy and vulnerability as we seek to love our spouse well.

It doesn’t happen overnight—it takes effort. Being intimate with another person includes taking down barriers, relinquishing control and giving away the deepest parts of our hearts. It can reveal deep fears long buried, but it is a gift that comes with the marriage commitment.

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The ability to truly be vulnerable, to let ourselves enjoy all forms of intimacy with our spouse is a gift that comes solely with marriage. Don’t let it become a duty or a chore.

Marriage Gives You Much Reward for Much Work.

Have you ever worked on a project and felt discouraged because despite your best efforts and dedication, it felt as though nothing was accomplished? This is not the case for marriage. Marriage does take hard work. A union, a partnership between two flawed human beings, can never be effortless—but from the great work marriage requires comes immeasurable reward.

As you strive to love your spouse well, to pick your battles, to enjoy the small things in life, to remember all the qualities that caused you to say, “I choose you!”—you are building a legacy of love, of marriage, of family. While you work, play, laugh and thank God for another day of life together, you paint a masterpiece of His grace and mercy, which thankfully are both new every morning, especially in the journey called marriage.

Whether single, engaged, newlywed, or a marriage veteran, all of us can benefit from the reminder that although marriage does require hard work, the most rewarding things in life always do, and marriage is well worth the investment.

Top Comments

Andy

43

Andy commented…

All of the benefits and wonderful things you mention about marriage are spot on, but to keep those things going and well maintained takes HARD WORK. There are periods of time where it comes easier than others, and there are periods of time where it requires gut wrenching self evaluation and selfless effort. Too many people enter marriage thinking it will all work out because they love each other. However, we all know that love is far less a feeling than it is a choice, and that choice will require self sacrifice when you feel like you have nothing left to give, grace and mercy when you feel you are justified in feeling wronged, seeking the best for your spouse when they are not doing so for you and so much more - again, hard work. I have no problem telling people that marriage is hard work. They need to know it because the benefits you speak of only come through solid relational, emotional, and spiritual effort.

Anna Mosena

9

Anna Mosena replied to Andy's comment

Maybe the author doesn't like it when people make marriage sound like nothing but awful hard work, and forget to talk about how great it is? I don't know, just trying to give the benefit of the doubt.
I'm with you, though. I've been married 4 years now and holy freakamoly, it's been 4 of the hardest years of my life. Rewarding, amazing, and worth every minute? Yes. But nobody prepared me for how much hard work it would be. Neither of us were prepared, and there was a time when it nearly fell apart before we were able to apply that "gut wrenching self evaluation and selfless effort" you talked about. I'm all for giving positive encouragement and celebrating marriage, but I want to be realistic and be honest about things people were not honest with me about.
Honestly, I like everything the author wrote and agree with it. I just don't appreciate the title, and the imperative **stop** calling marriage hard work. I'm kinda like . . . what?! But it is? Fight for more balance between positive and negative messages? Ok -- but don't tell me to "stop" telling the truth. :p

21 Comments

Michael Johnson

265

Michael Johnson commented…

Sharing this post with the Future Marriage University (FMU) community at https://www.facebook.com/FMUniversity

You wrote: "In marriage, the union of two imperfect human beings, there are plenty of challenges, for sure. And, no, life is not a fairy tale. However, let’s not miss that God designed marriage not only to stretch us beyond our selfishness to become more like Jesus through trials, but also to bring great joy to our lives with the myriad of gifts marriage provides."

At FMU we agree wholeheartedly with that.

But marriage is still hard.

That's why we think it's imperative to PREPARE! And ideally that preparation should start BEFORE You date, not after you're engaged. Hope you'll check out this fresh perspective on dating from our FMU blog: http://f-m-u.com/Blog/date-to-serve/

Carolyn Robe

72

Carolyn Robe commented…

I have a great idea prescription for avoiding the hard work of marriage: Stay single. How could it be that staying single and remaining single is a selfish and lazy option?There is precedent for staying single in the Bible. Why is marriage the prize and the goal, no matter what....? There are many fine, hard working people who stay single:( Jesus, for example..) There are many successful contemporary examples of singlehood. Joel Osteen says there is someone for everyone--Just have faith! I beg to differ. If marriage seems as if it will be characterized by drudgery, toil, and woe, avoid marrying at all costs. A social or economic benefit is not enough.

Richard JeannaLynn May

1

Richard JeannaLynn May commented…

We've decided to change our wording. We will still use the word "hard" to describe the marriage relationship, but we have quit using the word work because when you think of work you think:

1. I should have some days off.
2. I better have a regular payday.
3. One day I'll get to quit.

We've thought of other parallels, but that's enough for now.

Now, we talk more about investment. We like it better.

Kathy Rushing

3

Kathy Rushing replied to Richard JeannaLynn May's comment

Great concepts! Wholeheartedly agree

Kathy Rushing

3

Kathy Rushing commented…

It is a picture of grace that we do, indeed, have the ability to start a brand new branch, no matter how flawed the "trunk" we came from. We just celebrated 36 years, and are enjoying this stage of life as we watch our grown children soar in their own path. Love the freedom that comes with this stage! Kathyrushing.com

Noah Hurley

13

Noah Hurley commented…

I'm single, fairly young. But I know enough married folk to know it is hard work. I don't think people are going into marriage expecting it to suck. Yet most successful married folks, I imagine, would sneer at this a bit considering how much 'work' does go into it.

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